A new batch of Cheftestants made their debut last night when Season 11 of Top Chef rolled into the Big Easy.
Host Padma Lakshmi wasted no time getting the newbies started on their first challenge—a "Soiree in the Swamp." But before sixteen of the culinary world's finest could begin preparing alligator, frog legs and turtle, they had to familiarize themselves with their new kitchen.
In this behind the scenes footage, we see their reactions to working in the Top Chef kitchen for the first time. "Stepping into the Top Chef kitchen was wild," says Sous Chef Stephanie Cmar.
Travis Masar, an executive chef, said, "Watching Top Chef on TV and then actually being here, is so different."
While some chefs were uncomfortable and disoriented being out of their own work space, others were excited by the upgrade. "There are so many cool gadgets for us to play around with and for us to cook with," said California Culinary Academy graduate Shirley Chung.
NOLA local Michael Sichel was also impressed, gushing, "I've never seen so many different types of equipment." Sous Chef Ramon Bojorquez notes a lack of space in the Top Chef kitchen, "You think it's big but when you've got 19 chefs in here, whoo, it's small."
Make that 18. Ramon helped solve the space problem when he packed his knives and went home after the judges took issue with him adding ice to his soup stock.