Last night was the first episode of the fifth season of Top Chef. Given our new BFF status with Tom Colicchio (that's our Maggie B. with the blue-eyed devil at our Taste event last month), I felt a little more, I don't know, IN I guess. Not that I know what's going to happen, but I bent his ear on a few things, and let's just say that even though he told me nothing, I'm sure he wanted to.
On to the skewering. The first episode is always a little mishmashy, what with seventeen new faces and little personality to identify with. It's like speed dating all the cheftestants during their little blurby intro, trying to decide if they're root- or boo-worthy. As for the first quickfire being an elimination? OUCH. Can you imagine hauling your cookies all the way to NYC, with the confetti from your bon voyage party still wedged in your underwear, just to get booted over a twenty-minute dish? Interesting, though, that a smart knife-skills and quick-thinking challenge bled out the two youngest and inexperienced. Too bad for the girl. Don't even remember her name, but I think she had nice skin.
Then we're all back at the groovy chef pad, drinking and bonding and eating. Given the abundance of hairy men, thank golly there's no hot tub this year.
The neighborhood challenge was brilliant. For all the chefs who were hiding behind the, "I don't know much about that cuisine," I wanted to scream at the screen. Hello, did you not know you were coming to compete on a food show? Would you have gone on Jeopardy and not studied up on your Potent Potables? If I were selected, I would have been knee-deep in cookbooks and ingredients from all over the world, spending a week living and breathing each cuisine I could think of.
I like the head-to-head challenge, and when all the plates were tasted, the winner was Stefan the Fin, who had immunity anyway. One to watch I think. The losers came down to The Puppy and the 40-Lady. The 40-Lady needs to chef up if she's going to last. There is no room for timid on this show. I felt bad for the puppy, what was he doing there anyway? I can't believe they let a student compete with seasoned cooks. They were so surprised that he went formulaic with bok choy and then felt OK about delivering a lecture on expanding his horizons. When has the kid had time? He hasn't even finished chef school! He still needs to sweat it out as a line cook and learn how to clean 600 pounds of squid before he can earn chops enough to stand against chefs. But maybe that was Colicchio's subtle point and secret message to all the young bucks in the world . . . hmmmmm. Bye-bye, Puppy.
All in all, it looks like a good season, but I don't see a major forward-thinking chef such as Marcel, Hung, or Richard in the bunch. We already know who's ballsy, but we'll see who sifts out as truly talented (like sneaky Stephanie last year).
And finally, the Bravo text poll: Who would you rather see, The Euro Duo or Team Rainbow? Really? On Bravo, really?