Thursday, June 17, 2010

Top Chef DC Episode One Recap!

The earliest episodes are often the hardest for me to recap because there are too many people. And this season there are too many people with similar names: Kenny Kevin Tiffany Tanesha Timothy Alex Angelo Amanda Arnold Andrea. Ok, those names might not seem so similar to you, but my grapheme–color synesthesia can often be as much of a hindrance as it is a handy mnemonic device. In other words, too many purple and green names.

On with the show:

Although it seems like a season of Top Chef just concluded, here we are with a brand new one. This time our intrepid cheftestants battle for fame and fortune in the city of Washington, DC. We meet some of them as they wander the streets of DC, and others as they congregate on the roof of the Newseum, picaresquely located across the street from the Capitol Building. There we find that Tiffany wants to be the first African-American Top Chef and it would be a great thrill for her to win in "Obama City." Tracey is a more feminine attractive version of Rosie O'Donnell with a crazy laugh. Lynne doesn't have "tattoos or crazy hair." (Ah, a woman after my own heart.)  Arnold tells us that he went to a stylist and had a facial before filming started. (I'm thinking Team Rainbow has at least one member this season - aren't there usually three?) Timothy is playing for his dead wife whom he knows is watching him (and the men in the white coats are watching you too, Tim!) John has a serious midwest accent and an even more serious rat's nest on his head. "Here cyums Pyahdma and Tyom."

Indeed Padma, who is still packing on the baby weight, and Tom arrive in a few minutes and without haste they give the first Quickfire Challenge of the season. It's a mise en place tournament with four rounds:

1. Peel 10 potatoes - 12 chefs go to next round
2. Cut 10 cups of onions in a brunoise - 8 chefs go to next round
3. Break down 4 chickens into 8 pieces each - 4 chefs go to next round
4. In 30 minutes, create a dish with chicken, onion, and potatoes - one winner

This is also a "High Stakes" QF with the winner getting a cool $20,000. Needless to say the chefs hurriedly set to peeling and chopping. Angelo prophecies: "whoever goes up against me, there's going to be blood on the stage."

Amanda proves herself susceptible to suggestion when she slashes her palm open and bleeds all over her potatoes, while Kenny proves himself to be a quick draw who finishes first in the first three rounds. He wants to be known as the alpha male in the Top Chef Kitchen. Boy - isn't Top Chef a testosterone-fest every season?

By the fourth round, we're left with Alpha Male, Timothy, Kevin, and Inigo. It seems close between Inigo and Alpha, but Inigo wins the challenge with his roasted wing and thigh with curried onion jam. Next he must defeat the Six-Fingered Man.

Without wasting any time, the Elimination Challenge is announced. The cheftestants must create a dish that represents the area they're from. They will be cooking for 300 young successful Washingtonians attending a opening party for the Cherry Blossom Festival at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium. This is an unusual type of team challenge. The top four in the QF - Kevin, Inigo, Alpha, and Timothy - each get to choose a team of chefs against whom they want to compete. These teams go head to head against each other, with the winner of each team up for the EC win. One least favorite member of each team will be up for elimination.

Each chef gets $300 to spend at Whole Foods, four hours to prep in the Top Chef Kitchen, and one hour to set up at the venue. But first...the cheftestants head to their new home for the next six weeks.

Already I don't like this John Somerville guy. He puts his filthy shoes on the furniture, for God's sake! It's bad enough to do that in one's own home on one's own slobby dorm-room-era furniture, but on nice furniture that belongs to a complete stranger? Pig.

And the dreadlocks seriously squick me out. Sorry. I once saw an episode of What Not to Wear in which a woman with giant, matted, snake-like appendages growing out of her head had them clipped off. The amount of dust, dead skin, and who-knows-what-else that cascaded out of her hair was completely nauseating. And he works in a kitchen?

Meanwhile, the innocent-looking Kelly Liken is grilling the other chefs.

She learned this lesson from choosing Jose Garces as her competitor on Iron Chef America. He hadn't been on TV long enough for anyone to get a good grasp on his techniques and tricks. Bobby Flay would have been a better choice, since anyone who watches FN would probably figure out what he's cooking next. She'd still have lost though.

The next day, they head to the store. They didn't really show the shopping scenes on TV, but they do in one of the two pathetic previews Bravo offered this week. I'm hard up for images from the show, so we're going shopping. Because I'm the Alpha Female on this blog. So there, Kenny.

Apparently the chefs all run to the meat counter to make sure they get what they want before someone else grabs it. Good strategy.

After shopping, it's off to the Top Chef Lotsa Sponsors Kitchen, located in the Washington Hilton, to get to work.

Jacqueline wants to make a statement with her food, so she's making chicken liver mousse. Yes, poultry organs always make a bold statement! Especially when one does not push them through a tamis to get a nice smooth texture. Right there we know her ass is grass.

Meanwhile, Arnold is trying to make a statement with his mad decorating skillz. Orchids and lemons are so in this season.

Cooking time is up and the chefs pack their stuff and head to the Mellon Auditorium. Scores of people flood in to taste their wares, and eventually the judges make their way to each team's tables. First up, they taste the dishes from Kevin's team, which includes Amanda, Jacqueline, and Arnold. Alpha's team goes next: Tracey, Lynn, Stephen, and Ed. Tim's team follows (Andrea, Tanesha, Alex), and then finally Inigo's group of John, Tiffany, and Kelly.

The cheftestants that started out strong in the Quickfire stayed strong into the Elimination, as the winners from each team were Alpha, Inigo, Kevin, and....Alex. Well, Tim made it into the judging, but as part of the bottom four, along with grainy-mousse Jacqueline, hideous-hair John, and Stephen. Inigo's dish most impressed the judges and he was awarded the win. He said that he wanted to be the first cheftestant to win EVERY challenge, and he's on his way. Until next week. In the meantime, let's hope the boys try to keep posturing and swordfighting to a minimum. It's hard to get blood out of carpeting.

As for the bottom feeders, Jacqueline lost major points for her grainy mousse which she claims to have served hundreds of times but couldn't make correctly because she didn't have her recipe. Tom called her out on that one - after making it that many times she should have the recipe memorized.

Dreadlock John served soggy store-bought pastry with maple cream that had no discernible maple. Erik said it was "not pleesant in ze mouth," and so he was given the boot. See what hyappens when you put your shoes on the furniture? Karma's a bitch, ain't she?


Kristine said...

Inigo! Classic. Am I the only one that thought he said "I want to set a "presidents," instead of precedent? Perhaps he was confused because he was in D.C.

theminx said...

Heh - didn't notice "presidents." I probably miss a lot while I'm taking notes. :(

Anonymous said...

After the show aired, John got a call from the James Beard Foundation demanding their 2009 nomination back!

David Dust said...

Dearest Alpha Female -

Aaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh. That's the sound of my satisfaction after coming home and reading your fabulous recap.

So, it's unanimous then - Padma's funbags, at least during the time when they taped the show in D.C., were actually bigger than Gail's.



Cliff O'Neill said...

Marvy recap, doll! And so glad I won't have to gaze at that freakshow for more than one week.

And, yes, dear, doubtlessly three Team Rainbow members.

Also ... Boy, am I glad I wasn't the only one to note Padma's baby weight!

TheSlapster said...

I'm pulling for Angelo early, if only to see how many Princess Bride references you can make this season. Off to a great start!

Allison said...

He totally said "Presidents". I had to rewind that 10 times to be sure.

Great recap!