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The Flames Have Begun's Editor loves molecular gastronomy and its practitioners. And she's not afraid to admit it.

Another season of Top Chef. I honestly could not be more excited and have to apologize for not blogging the premiere -- it was a little crazy around here getting this site to you guys, and well, something had to give. So, I will talk about the premiere right quick and then move onto to tonight's episode -- "Zoo Food."

How to Watch

Watch Top Chef on Bravo and next day on Peacock.

First let me preface that although I obviously enjoy every show on Bravo (and I'm being totally genuine), I have a special affinity for Top Chef. My nickname around here may or may not be "Superfan," and it's a nickname I wear with pride. I'm a foodie wannabe and I'm not ashamed to admit it, so I'll take any tips you guys want to give me. I welcome them. (I'm actually going to Chicago for the first time in May, so I will take any suggestions I can get.) OK -- onto the new season. I literally got chills when Padma appeared on the screen to premiere the new season. For some reason, this season is seeming more like Season 1 to me than the last two. The last two seasons, I called the winner from the get-go (OK -- I totally called Harold too), but the personalities were really distinct, i.e. the chefs were drama queens. It seems like for the most part this season, the chefs are, well, nice, and it's throwing me off my game. I have an instant connection to Richard because he's a Uniondale native, which is right next to my hometown, and frankly I dig the molecular gastronomy (Yes -- I was a Marcel fan.) If you haven't seen Homaro Cantu's appearance on Iron Chef America, you're missing out.


Anyway, the chefs meet, and Zoi and Jennifer drop the bomb that they're a couple. Everyone kinda gets over it, and the chefs are quickly thrown into their first Quickfire Challenge (shocker!). The chefs had to create a deep-dish pizza -- essentially the perfect "Welcome to Chicago" challenge. Some of those pizzas were looking pretty gnarly, and Padma and Guest Judge Rocco DiSpirito seemed to express the same sentiment. But, let's go back a sec: What would you do if Rocco DiSpirito appeared at your door? Oh man -- I'd die. I can honestly say that he is not only nice and serious about his food, but he's even better-looking in real life than he is on TV. OK -- so I have some blogger crushes. And Rocco's one of them. After tasting the pizzas, Rocco split the chefs into his favorites and least favorites. I was a little sad to see Andrew get off to a rocky start. I always love the little feisty contestants (Marcel, Hung, Christian), and thought maybe he'd be sassy, but fierce. Oh well. I do want to take a moment to address the cursing comments though, and boy were there a lot. I actually spoke to our SVP of Programming Andy Cohen about it, and he said that Bravo bleeps curse words and will continue to do so. We don't condone cursing but we also aren't going to change the content of what people say. I have to say that I curse like a sailor, and even I noticed the cursing. BUT I promise it gets better, and you have to admit that Andrew's "Casa Motherf***er" was maybe the funniest line of the whole episode. Also, the piccata. Oh, the piccata. Well, piccata isn't in fact drenched in egg, but I will say that the point to be focused on is probably the breadcrumbs. The damn breadcrumbs. Oh, Ryan. Ryan is super-hot, but his whole bit about his father firing two chefs when he was 11 had me rolling my eyes a little bit. OK -- a lot.

But I digress, the Elimination Challenge brought Anthony Bourdain and Rocco DiSpirito to the same table. And I was in heaven. I can't even tell you how many of my guy friends bring up Bourdain's show No Reservations on a daily basis. That man is a wonder. The challenge also brought challah bread to the table. It's kind of ironic that Lisa put bacon (non-kosher) on challah bread, a traditionally Jewish item. But, if one more person learns to use challah as part of an unbalanced breakfast so be it. If you're not making your french toast with challah, you're not making french toast. But let's also call out Lisa for calling it "hallah." It's challah. Really use your throat on that one. I'll also call out Valerie for saying "Hairy Coverts." Oy. (We'll get to "blini" later.) Long story short, Stephanie wins, and secures a status as a force to be reckoned with. Could a woman win this year? Wouldn't that be something. One woman, Nimma, did go home. Although Nimma did seem like she had an interesting story, I fell asleep before she could tell it. OK -- that was mean. But I'm from Long Island, and I can't deal with slow-talkers. (But, I did love her purple headband.)

OK -- onto tonight's episode. Both challenges were pretty ingenious. First, the chefs had to create a dish with five ingredients they got at the Green City Market. Poor Mark forgot one of his bags, and that pretty much sealed his win for the Quickfire. Did you notice the canvas bags the chefs were using? Green is Universal, people! Anyway, cutie Mark (I could listen to him read a speeding ticket) forgot an item, but rather than flip out, in the immortal words of Tim Gunn, he made it work. And Guest Judge Wylie Dufresne praised him for it -- as well as his awesome sideburns.

As an aspiring foodie, Wylie Dufresne is probably the chef that intrigues me most. While he is into molecular gastronomy, he knows that it's ultimately about the flavor. His restaurant, wd~50 is at the very top of my "Restaurant Wish List," which is a list of the restaurants I would like to try. What's on yours? Anyway, every week we're going to speak to our guest judges and ask them some questions, and Chef Dufresne was nice enough to answer some of our questions this week.

Onto the Elimination Challenge. I thought this challenge was pretty amusing. I thought for sure Andrew would get in a fight with someone, but it seemed like he not only played nice, but had some pretty innovative ideas that actually worked. And, he won. So, he's back on top of my "Must Watch" list. He actually also stopped cursing so much. Yay. It looked like Team Bear's mushroom could have sent Nikki or even Dale home. Frankly, I don't like most mushrooms, so the whole mushroom-blueberry-Pecorinno combo was kinda nauseating to me. As far as not tasting your food, I think that may be against one of the Top Chef Ten Commandments. It's up there with not speaking up in a group situations, not seasoning correctly, using scented candles during Restaurant Wars, and serving a heavy meal in the middle of Summer. But, I think what saved them was the fact that overall, their team effort was better than Team Gorilla's.

Team Gorilla, on the other hand, had a couple -- OK I'll say it -- yucky dishes. Just the thought of eating watery crab salad or that blini makes me happy I can't taste the food sometimes. So, I think overall Team Gorilla had the worst menu, and so someone on their team had to go -- and it was Valerie. Even Wylie asked when the blini were prepared, which signaled that it's common knowledge they need to be prepared a la minute, literally meaning "at the minute." Yup, that's right. I took French in high school.

So, we're down two women, but I don't think that means we should count the ladies out --I think this might actually be the strongest female pool we've had in all four seasons. I'm very excited for next week's challenge because the fabulous Ted Allen is back at the Judges' Table and Chef Rick Bayless, one of Chicago's top chefs, is Guest Judge. Just a quick note: Ted was not joking when he said he sent his blog while on vacation. That man is dedicated. So, if you leave a comment for him, chances are, he might actually respond to it.

Let me know your thoughts below -- I can't wait to read them.

-- "superfan"

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