The new season of Top Chef! The new season of Top Chef! Now that they’ve pretended like it mattered where they filmed this show–as if the whole thing couldn’t be done in the back lot of some Nevada exurb–in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Miami and Chicago, they’re pretending like it matters that they film this show in New York City! I’m not saying that isn’t exciting. It is exciting. I am just saying that good food can be found everywhere, and it’s not like just because they were in San Francisco every dish had to include Ghiradelli’s and hemp, or when it was in Chicago every challenge was to make a deep dish hot dog pizza. Only six of the challenges involved deep dish hot dog pizza. But whatever. New York! And, as if this show was put together by the Literal Metaphor Haus school of design from the Showtime House, the quickfire challenge involves apples. BIG APPLES.
The first quick fire of the season is actually really tough. Good job, Top Chef. Hold these n00bs’s feet to the fire. Get it? You cook using fire. That’s the joke. Cook their feet! What? Make it work! Whoops, wrong show! Moving on! So, they all have to peel bowls of apples using only a paring knife. The first eight people who peel their apples to Tom’s standards (I think you’re supposed to use his head as a guideline) will be safe. After that, the remaining nine people have to brunoise the apples, which is Fancytalk for “cut up.” The first five to Fancy Cut Up the apples will be safe. The remaining four will then have 20 minutes to use the apples in a dish, and whoever has the losing dish will be the weakest link, goodbye. That is a lot of quickfire challenge for one quickfire challenge. In the end, it’s the 23 year old recent culinary school grad Lauren is eliminated. I know that it’s way too early to care about anyone on this show, but I was kind of glad Lauren didn’t make it. She just gave me a bad vibe. I don’t know what it was.
Oh that’s what it was. HUBRIS!
For the first elimination challenge, everyone is split up into teams of two, and each team is assigned a designated New York neighborhood with a specific culinary tradition. This makes sense for Little Italy and Chinatown, and even Brighton Beach makes sense. But I’m calling bullshit on Long Island City’s “middle eastern” designation. It would have been funny if the people who got Long Island City had to cook traditional “storage warehouse” and “brand new highrise” cuisine. Zing Island City. Also, the chefs are introduced to their new home, which is a multi-story condo in a Williamsburg skyscraper. There is going to be mad kickball this season (McCarren Park joke. Google it.)
The celebrity guest judge this week is Jean Georges Vongerichten. He is great at cooking! Everyone presents their dishes, and again, it’s way too early and there are way too many people to get too invested in anything. Although I am calling the whole thing right now for Stefan. He was the first to finish peeling his apples in the quickfire, and he wins the elimination challenge with his middle eastern lamb duo featuring lemon hummus. The man is a monster. He’s going to nom nom nom the competition.
Patrick, the 21-year-old CIA student and Ariane, 41-year-old owner of a 4-star restaurant in New Jersey (there are 4-star restaurants in New Jersey!) are in the bottom two. Patrick took a chance on some black rice noodles for his Chinatown dish, and Ariane took a chance on not being able to cook Faro risotto for her Long Island City dish. Former Top Chef competitor Spike Mendelsohn was twittering the whole thing, and had this to say:
Spike wore all those crazy hats to keep the genius from escaping!
In the end, Patrick is eliminated. Oh well. I thought maybe he was going to be Top Chef’s Christian Siriano. Nope. But also he’s 21, so whatever. I can’t worry about children. By the time he’s my age we’ll all be jacked into the Matrix as fuel for the robots anyway, and the frustration over losing at Top Chef will be but a distant erased memory.
Chefs to watch: Fabio! Hosea! Eugene! Leah!
Also, our good friend Max Silvestri will be covering Top Chef all season with his own recaps over at Eater. May the best man SHARE!