Hello Top Chef fans! Thank G-d this season has finally started. Although it's a privilege to get to watch the episodes early (and I've watched it about three times now), it really is a burden -- I have to be really careful about what I say in all the copy across the site so as not to spoil anything, but no more! You are all now caught up on the first episode. As I mentioned in a previous post, I got the chills when the Top Chef theme music played -- I have love for all our shows, but Top Chef is my No. 1. My colleagues brought in a copy of Metro (a free NYC daily) for me today where Padma, Tom, and Gail were featured on the cover because only I would get excited about that. In tonight's episode, Padma and Tom didn't waste any time in issuing a Quickfire Challenge. (Did anyone else giggle when Tom said "inspect your apples?" Just me? OK.) Anyway, I was ambivalent about the challenge. I love me some technical cutting contests, but it usually occurs later in the season. I guess it makes more sense to try and weed out the chefs who can't cut the mustard (har har) from the get-go. Poor Lauren and Patrick (or Li'l Pat as we call him.) But it seemed that Tom liked Pat's just a liiittle bit more than Lauren's, so she had to go home. In Gail Simmons' blog, she says that she thought this was "way harsh Tai." OK -- she didn't say that, but that's what I was thinking. I gotta say though Tom seemed a little strained with the verdict, so I'm guessing it was pretty close. Anyway, the little student that could pushed on through to the elimination. I really loved the concept of the Elimination Challenge. As much as New York is known for its first-class restaurants (and trust me you'll see plenty of them and their chefs throughout the season), New York's diversity is what really makes it special. So, each chef was tasked with a different cuisine based on the various ethnic neighborhoods of NYC, and overall I was pretty impressed with how easily the chefs went out of their comfort zones to create foods they may not be used to cooking. I was honestly most impressed with Gene, whose Indian food thoroughly impressed Padma Lakshmi. I have to admit I have never liked Indian food (I have a very mild palate), but I kinda wanted to try his. Gene really endeared himself to me at our promotional shoot because all he talked about was Spam. And while I've never tried Spam, you gotta love a guy that is so committed to it. Also, um, Jean-Georges in the first episode?! We're really bringing out the big guns this season and our guest judge roster is -- as Rachel Zoe would say -- am-ah-zing. But, how funny was it when Jean-Georges said he didn't like Richard's "technique" of overcooking his lamb. Ouch!