Team Top Chef

Pride hurts some chefs competing for the chance to compete in Seattle.

on Nov 6, 2012

Welcome back, my little Belgian knights! It's been a little over a month since I"ve had the pleasure of recapping for you (Masters), and much longer than that since Top Chef 9. Maybe I'm getting ahead of myself! My name is Monica, and I'm Senior Editor here at I'm also a huge Top Chef fan and a total foodie (for lack of a better term.) I'll be recapping this season of Top Chef: Seattle.

I'm so excited about this new season of Top Chef, and I kinda loved this premiere. Last season, we aired casting, which we've done again, but switched up the process a bit. This time, the contenders faced four of our judges in challenges created by the chefs. As a viewer, I loved seeing Tom, Wolfgang, Emeril, and Hugh in their natural habitats, and seeing the chefs put in a real kitchen right away.

First, we find Tom at Craft in Los Angeles, where his chefs had perhaps the toughest challenge of them all -- to perform in the kitchen during a real service. We've got tortellini, butchering, sweating! We learn quickly to never "nick a breast." Heed these words carefully, men!

We meet John, who is apparently the most hated chef in Dallas. He's been in the industry for quite some time, and at the age of 54, has a reputation for being hothead. He does not look 54. 

We meet Micah Fields, chef at The Standard Grill. I love The Standard. Not only is the food great, but the ambiance and servers are awesome. I actually enjoyed a lovely Autumn Bramble the other night in my attempt to patronize downtown restaurants in the wake of Hurricane Sandy and met a lovely group from Denmark in town for work and the marathon. They asked me about my cocktail (brambles are one of my favorites), and we bonded. It was a true New York moment, and I'll just thank Micah for that, even though he had nothing to do with it. Unfortunately, although Micah might be bringing people together on the East Coast, he's tearing fish apart in Tom's West Coast kitchen. In fact, Tom has to instruct Micah on how to filet a fish more efficiently (effishently?) Then there's Anthony who's fileting duck with a paring knife -- a choice Tom quickly questions. Jorel is butchering chickens, but doesn't ask Tom how'd like them and cuts the meat off the bone -- something Tom didn't want. Whoops!

Next, we head to one of Emeril's Vegas restaurants, Table 10 at the Palazzo. First thing I notice is that we already have two chefs with handlebar moustaches. In case you weren't counting. Emeril's challenge? To cook soup, saying, "It's a true test to see if you're a great chef." If this doesn't show what a student of Escoffier Emeril is, I just don't know what does. Auguste Escoffier is quoted as saying, "Of all the items on the menu, soup is that which exacts the most delicate perfection and the strictest attention." Try to think back to some of your most memorable amuses or dishes, and they very well may have been soups,. I'm thinking of one right now -- John Besh's cucumber soup at August in New Orleans. One of the best things I've ever consumed.