Over the first few days it became clear that this season was going to be different. Call it the Las Vegas effect. Being together in that over-the-top wonderland provided a kind of camaraderie that was missing in previous years. Wandering around the hotel in the middle of the night we’d come upon one another in the casino, the restaurants, the bars. Then too, it was amazing to be staying in such ridiculous luxury. My room at the Cosmopolitan was bigger than the apartment that I live in, and waking up every morning to lights and music was strange and rather wonderful, a little dose of unreality.
Then the first challenge came, slamming us straight back to earth. Losing Missy at the outset was a terrible blow -- I was expecting her to be one of the last chefs standing. It was a serious injury and she was remarkably brave. There is something so bittersweet about watching her teammates trying to prepare Missy’s dish while she’s in the emergency room, but it offers insight into this season’s chefs: this crew has heart.
At tasting time we sat down, in the midst of all that Las Vegas hoopla, sharing food with people dressed in the most amazing costumes. Until you get used to eating with almost naked men, it’s a little hard to concentrate.