I was never nervous during my participation on the show last year. You just do what you do - it's no big deal. But, I was terribly nervous for the new bunch of chefs as they found out that their first Quickfire challenge was actually an elimination. Holy shit...
What everyone needs to realize is that every contestant's worst fear is being the first one out. So, to know that you might not make it to the first real challenge had to rattle some nerves. I thought it was a great reveal from a viewer's perspective. And let's face it - it's a lot more exciting to witness the agony of defeat than the thrill of victory.
The skills test seemed easy enough. Peel 15 apples with a pairing knife. First one gets immunity, the next few are safe. I was a bit freaked out by the bloody apple incident. It's a game, so I know the rules, they probably didn't mention blood as a disqualifier. As a chef, I think you have to treat all the food with the respect that it will be eaten. Thomas Keller once told me that it's not a football game. Now, Top Chef is a bit more of a football game, but still.
The remaining chefs have to brunoise the apples. Great idea here. If they're peeled correctly, that will be easier. For the record, a tight brunoise of what looked like a quart or so is difficult and it's a technique that drives me crazy. To really get it tight is a precise, tedious task. I still look at the paint job in my new house and it makes me want to kick a window in when I notice the slightest imperfection. Brunoise, and BTW Lauren it's not pronounced "Brun-wah," is NOT a very tiny chop, which it often becomes. Tom picked through a few containers, but he was pretty lenient here. I mean, he actually called Dale Talde's monkfish a filet in our season's skill relay (sorry buddy).