I like people to be strident and confident, but you have to be prepared for it to bite you in the backside, and the first episode may not be the place to pee on your territory. Micah comes out of the gate saying that he’s going to smash everyone in his path. Now he’s no standard chef… oh wait -- he is. He’s the chef at the Standard Hotel.
The Craft L.A. kitchen is about 20 times as big as mine. I remind myself that it’s not size that counts, but how you use it. This makes me feel a bit better. Lizzie begins the walk of the Craft kitchen by making tortellinis, with good skills. Anthony is wandering through the kitchen but wondering whether anyone will notice that he’s there. Apparently he is not being very strident at all. It’s a fine line between showing up with gusto and not showing up at all. He’s given ducks and pulls out his paring knife. Tom thinks the knife choice is ridiculous. Anthony’s inner voice says, “It’s not size that counts but how you use it.” I have a strange déjà vu. For the record, and this is completely innuendo-free, I also butcher with a small paring knife, but it’s really sharp. Simple tools for clean, pristine results.
John Tesar is “Yes, Chef” all the way and is making a good case for being “misunderstood.” He wants to show his new nice-guy side to the world. Micah is hacking the bass. Not the prettiest work ever. Micah went from being a dishwasher to being an executive chef in one week. No stops in between. This is not recommended. Maybe it was his stridency.
Meanwhile, the chef from the Rocky Mountain butchery restaurant is flailing on, well, butchery. Jorel says he butchers blindfolded but doesn’t tell us that the blind results are horrible. I picture a hanging chicken, stuffed like a piñata, and Jorel swinging a dull machete at it, like a Richard Rodriguez scene that never made the cut. Love the moustache though. Very hipster. He would be loved in Seattle but yearn for Portland. Then he gets strike two on a salt-laden buerre montee. Jorel is on the fence.
Emeril has his troop make soup. He seems to have gotten the beautiful chefs club. Josh is freaking out. Simple but complicated this soup challenge is. They rush the Table 10 stoves as Emeril wanders around making them really uncomfortable, but in the nicest way that a chef ever could. I will go on record right here and now: I like Emeril a lot. He’s just a sincerely honest man who has made our lives as chefs easier in every way. When I opened up my first restaurant in 2000 the path had been paved by years of Emeril. He, amongst others, had taught America about ingredients and techniques in a way that made it stick. He is an ebullient jester of food who instead of letting his ego run amok, has only become completely modest, compassionate, and more genuine as he ages. Now I get to pick his brain and learn about how he does all he does, and I am very thankful for that. OK, back to bombastic reviewing.
The soups begin to take shape:
Jeffrey - Busy busy gazpacho. Winner winner chicken dinner
Josh - Roasted corn soup with mussels
Stephanie - Good job with lobster, cauliflower
Tina - Seafood and chorizo soup. Garlicky. Balanced.
Kristen - Pea soup with lemon, tendrils
Stephanie and Tina are cut. Never easy words to hear, but two chefs cannot fit into one blue jacket. Emeril was very impressed with Jeffrey, the winner, and Kristen and Josh push on through as well.
"Too propane-ey" ...Seriously? Propane has no flavor, Hugh. End of story. Molecularly speaking, even if it hasn't gone through complete combustion, you can't taste it. Nobody can. Time to bone up on knowing what the heck you're talking about.
Argentus74 You do know a sulphur agent is added to these odorless gases we use so that you will smell a leak before you die from it? Also you CAN taste said agent and it is not pleasant.
Welcome back Hugh for another great season ! I look forward to all of your posts more than most bloggers. Your humor, insight and sincerity are always refreshing. I'm stoked you are on this season !
Wolfgang was waay too soft on the aspiring chefs. I thought Tyler should've been cut because most of his omelet looked overcooked and I noticed a good inch around the edges looked undercooked. Not what I expect from a Top Chef. And Carla is just a hot mess.
Hughs back and with a blog. Cant wait to see how the Seattle show goes, and finally in Washington State! The omelets kinda cracked me up because I thought they were suppose to be kinda crispy when done. Now I know, see Top Chief is an educational program. Keep up the greatness!!!
Thanks for your witty, literate blog. Seriously, would you have advanced any of the chefs who presented scorched omelets?
Hugh, love your blog. Keep up the color. Watching what happened to Gina reminds me of all of those really bad singers shown on auditions of American Idol who just plain suck. But when they are told they suck, they cannot believe what they are hearing.
Hugh, you have hughlarious, I love reading your blog. I enjoy the snarkasm as well. You are always spot on when you describe the contestants. Looking forward to this season as always!
So happy Top Chef is back with real challenges - so worried they would have to work like they are trying out for Olympics again like last season. Good job!
I liked that the first challenge demonstrated individual ability without having 20 versions of chicken or something of the same. 45 minutes of salad really gave people enough time to present a great dish - did wonder if it made some people over think their dishes though.
Chef Acheson! I'm so glad to see you on the show. I love your blog too cuz you always make me LOL. I applaud all the judges for not giving in to the gratuitious flatterers or chefs who are full of crapola. It came down to skills and taste and that was that. I also liked that the chef that stood around a lot and let everybody else run around him got the boot haw haw. A sense of urgency is needed in team challenges, which does happen on this show, and those chefs who let everybody else work like dogs and then take the credit for the win just irk me. Good job to Chefs Colicchio, Puck and Lagasse. Bam!
I've been watching Top Chef from the beginning and was growing so frustrated with recent seasons. The focus seemed to be less on cooking, more on gimmicks. There are some exceptions, but I wasn't tuning in regularly for the show.
This season's premiere was a welcome return to cooking and watching chefs use their skills. Last season, the American Idol style quick fires lost me. I thought it was a waste of time and uninteresting. This season, the different challenges were all fun to watch, but really unique. Loved getting to see all the judges work in their own way.
I'm thrilled you'll be on the whole season, Chef Hugh! Am a big fan of yours from all your Bravo TV appearances. Your blog is hilarious and I look forward to reading your insight every week!
Chef Hugh, I am glad to have you back! Some days I am not sure what I am looking forward to more, the next Top Chef episode or reading you blog about it. keep up the great work!
Love your blogs as always - just wondered why you didn't touch on Jorel ("Jor-El") and his name?
Very enjoyable blog. Your take on the first episode hits all the highs and lows of the first round eliminations. I look forward to reading more.
I guess you are a good chef--I've never eaten your food. You are, however, a GREAT writer. Love the play-by-play. As a lover of "snarkasm", I found it a hilarious read. Kudos.