What my friends and I can never get over is how Top Chef is so interesting to watch, even when you can’t taste any of the food. I mean, considering the number one way people tell something tastes good is by tasting it, it’s kind of a miracle these producers can make the show captivating. And yet time and time again I find myself drooling over the tiny pieces of art these chefs call food, trusting every word that Tom Collichio says, and nodding my head along with him as he says, “Wayyyyy too salty.” (PS I so agree, Tom; how could they have put so much salt in it!? I mean really...)
Last night’s season opener was no different; my stomach growled as I watched the contestants prepare their food, rushing around the unfamiliar kitchen (although didn’t it seem like they were moving at a snail’s pace compared to last season’s winner Hung who darted around the kitchen like a jack rabbit?). The contestants were overwhelmingly from San Fran and New York (I really was hoping for some Boston representation! How much would you be excited if say Michael Schlow turned up? Man that would be amazing!) and weren’t very diverse racially, either. The big “surprise” was that there is a lesbian couple on the show. I wonder if there will be any drama about them teaming up or getting an unfair advantage in a challenge… gosh I hope so!
The first quickfire challenge (my favorite part of the show) was creating your own signature deep-dish pizza. Now, I don’t know if I’m being unfair here, but if you knew you were going to Chicago, wouldn’t you have at least guessed this would have come up somewhere along the way? I mean, at least glanced at a recipe or tried your hand at it one once before? But alas, clearly some did not think ahead.
Some of the pizzas looked so yummy, although the ones they singled out (the peach one, the New Zealand chef’s vegemite one) as the best were not the ones that appealed to me. Some of them looked even kind of comical, like Nikki’s white pizza that had way too much crust and looked like she had used enough dough for 4 pizzas. And how much do I want Padma's job? Seriously, she has the best job on the planet. Forget Vanna White; Padma gets to try all these amazing foods and get paid for it!
The quickfire “winner” group got to pick who they would go head-to-head with in an Iron Chef-ish battle in the elimination challenge. However, the loser got to pick which “classic” dish the other would make. I thought that was kind of unfair—that seems like a huge advantage to pick the dish, no? But I really liked the head-to-head competition idea.
The duck that ended up being the winning dish did look delicious, with that spring roll on the side. I also would have wanted to taste both of the eggs benedicts. It reminded me that it’s been way too long since I’ve had eggs. And how crazy was the dish with the fog rolling out of it when he “smoked” it? Not to be sexist, but that’s such a guy-chef thing, playing with toys to make food into a huge spectacle. But poor Nimma. Never have I not wanted to try something so much… a couple of dinky pieces of shrimp and some sort of off-white looking baby food on the side. Blech. But clearly she was going to be the one to go home as soon as they showed her climbing into bed and not socializing with the other Top Chef contestants—you could almost imagine the producers being like wow she is boring, and running in and dumping salt all over her shrimp when she wasn’t looking. Poor Nimma.
All in all I thought it was a good first episode. I hope they have some fun quickfires to come, like the one where they had to make stuff out of vending machine snacks or the one where they got to choose out of the one specific aisle in the supermarket.
Any early picks for the winner?