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Max Silvestri: Whoa, Grayson Is Back?

Comedian, writer, and Top Chef superfan, Max Silvestri breaks down episode 1.

By Max Silvestri

Hi, my name is Max Silvestri. I'm a comedian and writer and the host of Bravo's upcoming show Recipe for Deception. Also, I'm SUPER SASSY. That is the main thing about me. Just kidding; who would ever introduce themselves as "super sassy?" That'd be so embarrassing. Oh, Renee did that in last night's premiere? Whoops! But seriously, it's actually a very cool way to talk about yourself.

How to Watch

Watch the Top Chef Season 21 premiere on Wednesday, March 20 at 9/8c on Bravo and next day on Peacock.

Some context: I spent many, many years recapping Top Chef for a website called Eater, so when Bravo asked me if I'd be up for blogging about Top Chef's lucky season number 13, I said, "No, thank you!" But then they pushed back and I didn't want to come off as difficult so then I said, "I'd love to!" But honestly I am very excited to dive back in. Plus, because I moved to LA three months ago, I'm already an expert on California. I am a total insider now. Every morning I hike to the Hollywood sign and kiss the "D." That's what we all call in this town, "Kissing the D."

Rather than fully recapping or reviewing whole episodes each week, I'm just going to run down the interesting parts. There are lots of other places you can go to read about the plating!

  • This is the 10th year, but 13th season of Top Chef, which, damn. I looked it up, and the traditional gift for a 10-year anniversary is tin, or aluminum. Is Reynolds Wrap sponsoring this season? They should.
  • Tom says this is the strongest group of chefs they've ever had, which is for sure something I've heard them say before. I believe it, though. Everybody seems to be an exec chef or a chef/owner or a James Beard nominee. How do these people have time to take off work? Go back to work.
  • But there's only ONE "super sassy chef" this season: Renee. She has zero time for haters. She says, "I like my life. If that annoys you, go like your life!" "Go like your life!" really rolls of the tongue. Also, her bio on Bravo's website links to her Google+ account. I think we all agree we can't get enough of Google+.
  • Whoa, Grayson is back? Grayson was on Top Chef: Texas, but she says she, "mentally gave up." I don't remember that. She seemed fine then. She wasn't drooling or anything. But now, four years later, she says she's, "a little bit older." Four years older! I checked.
  • The first Quickfire has all the chefs RUNNING. I love when they run and do things fast. "Behind you!" One of the many things Top Chef has taught America is yelling, "CORNER!" when you come around a corner. I do that in my house. Thanks Top Chef.
  • Phillip was grown in a lab for cooking show competitors. He has a man bun, lots of tattoos, and he hates when he gets juice in his eye. (Who doesn't!) He brags that he's won episodes of Chopped, Guy's Grocery Games, Cutthroat Kitchen, Cupcake Wars, America's Next Great Red-Haired Chef, MasterChef Senior, Boil This Meat, Paula Deen's Wrestle My Husband, and Why Is The British Millionaire Yelling?
  • After a Prep Race, round 2 is Exquisite Corpse but with food, for immunity, with teams of three. One chef cooks at a time while the other two wear a blindfold. The blindfold they give the chefs brings back memories of the first Top Chef Cruise, which I went on. During one of the dinners we were given these exact blindfolds. It's scary to be at a table with strangers wearing a blindfold. On a boat no less. This is why people get Norwalk disease on cruise ships. Keep an eye on what you put in your mouth.
  • Phillip loves bloggers. "I'm familiar with many of the bigger bloggers." That is an amazing brag. "I know all the big bloggers' faces!" Cool cool.
  • For the Elimination Challenge, Jeremy is making fish. He says, "I have always grown up on the coasts." Always? How many times have you grown up? I guess he believes in reincarnation. "I'm going to make crudo because in the 17th century I was an immigrant French fisherman named Jean-Pierre trawling for cod in the Boston harbor. I died an old man, at 31, the way most people of that time died: a loom fell on my head."
  • Frances wants to use the bold flavors of bitter melon. She says at first many people think they are eating something poisonous when they taste bitter melon. That is a great pull quote for your restaurant. "Tastes like poison. Is it? Eat more to find out."
  • Wes is a real bull in a China shop, making an insane mess. He then throws a tomato sticker into the blender like a boss. The taste of adhesive and paper really ties the dish together. He seems like a guy that might order a really sloppy falafel at 2 in the morning and not give an F when he takes some bites of the wax paper. "Whatever." (Also, I'm that kind of guy too.)
  • Carl is stunned by the presence of Emeril. He says when he was in school he used to race home to catch Emeril on TV at 2:30. This probably made all the ladies in his class too horny. "May I be excused? Carl is making me too horny."
  • Angelina says, "Tom scares the shit out of me." Uh, me too! He's very nice, but scary. You can be both.
  • Garret says that Mike Isabella serves one the worst bastardizations of Italian cuisine in the world. Wow! Shots fired. Mike is a Top Chef LEGEND. He will hug you until you explode. Garret also criticizes people who have their head up their "culinary ass." (I thought he said "colon-area ass" first, which is so specific.) In the same breadth, he says, "It's the study of aesthetics, gustatory aesthetics." Have you checked where your own head is?
  • Frances and Renee decide to be roommates, then it's revealed that Frances's wife looks almost exactly like Renee. Renee says she'll "sleep with one eye open." Haha very funny, like in case Frances decides to assault you.
  • Padma reveals she's never been to Kansas. Scandal!
  • At the DineLA event at Lake Hollywood Park, there are lots of bloggers. Some of my favorite food blogs are represented, like PopSugar and People. JK.
  • The Grossest Thing to Happen in Top Chef History?
  • Phillip starts smoking some of his vegetables with dry grass he found at the park. As another chef points out, there are dogs wiping their asses on the grass in plain site. It's like that old saying, "This grass tastes like ass and I'm gonna SMOKE it." Jokes aside, Lake Hollywood is like a known dog spot in LA; that grass is mostly pee and poop.
  • Padma compares Grayson's meatballs to something she'd get with her meatball sub at a local pizza place, which I'm sure is a very common order for Padma. Grayson flips out. "I made 400 balls!" Top Chef is all about QUANTITY.
  • In the end, Jeremy, He of 1000 Past Lives, wins with his crudo. And Garret is the first to pack his knife and go. I guess the judges didn’t understand gustatory aesthetics. I certainly don't.

Many great chefs this season! No real duds. And California is an excellent setting. I can't wait for all the drought-themed challenges. Thanks for reading this. Byebye!

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