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Top Chef S5, Ep1 (JP Recap)


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We start off the season in the greatest food mecca in the USA: NYC. I didn't realize that the previous 4 seasons were all in different cities. The cheftestants are introduced, but really only like 8 of them really get to talk, the others are just shown. Immedieatly off the ferry, the 17 (such an odd number) are set for their first quickfire challenge...and this one has a twist. The winner of course gets immunity, the loser gets kicked off before even getting into the kitchen. I LIKE IT!!!! Already there are some annoying people I want gone from my TV watching life. Patrick, Ariane, Lauren...they annoy me. I don't know why, but I really hate the fact that Patrick and Lauren know each other. I understand that the cooking world is smaller than it seems (yes there are 690K or so people working in the industry as Padma said, but Bourdain, Colichio, and Boulud have all mentioned in writing or in interviews how most cooks will run into each other and how small the industry really is), but I hate it on reality shows when out of a group of contestants a couple of people know each other and are friends. This was one of the reason's I couldn't stand the lesbian couple from last season. But I digress...

The quickfire challenge was first to peel 15 apples (the first 9 are safe), then brunoise the apples (the first 4 are safe), then the remaining 4 are given 20 minutes to cook an apple dish. The two friends, Patrick and Lauren really must know each other because they make freaking salads...SALADS!!!! As our friend Sarah said, that's something we can do. You are on a freaking cooking competition where you have to WOW the judges to stay on the show, and you cook a freaking SALAD?!?!?! IDIOTS! The other two, Radhika (one of my sight unseen favorites already in trouble...) and Leah make a pork apply chutney and an apple scallop dish and are both safe. I wish Padma and Tom would kick off both of these cheftestants, but it's only Lauren. (This is probably a good thing, because if Lauren stayed on the show, we would be overwhelmed by her whining about how her husband is in Iraq as she tries to play the sympathy card to stay afloat in the competition.)

The cheftestants then have to pull out a knife from the knife block and they pair off to cook a dish from the ethnic neighborhood listed on their knife. The chefs will be battling it out in pairs, with the winners being safe and the losers up for elimination. Jean George was the guest judge. This might be the first time I've seen JG without a young Asian lady (or 5) on his arm. Seriously. Every photo, every interview, every TV spot I've ever seen JG, he's surrounded by pretty Asian ladies. When one of the cheftestants remark that JG really knows his Asian...I'm not so certain they meant the cuisine. I'm not going to go all into details here, but Stefan (another one of my early choices to kick ass) wins and it's between Patrick and Ariane up for elimination. I like it when I can predict who's already going to go home before I even watch the show. Go me! Again, I wish they would have just let both of them go...I see nothing good out of either of them, nothing that screams innovation, nor great cooking skills. They choose Patrick, and we'll have to deal with the lady from a 4 star restaurant in Jersey for at least another show. (That brings up the question of what the hell is a 4 star restaurant in Jersey...just like Ted Mosby, I am not a big fan of Jersey, so obviously my bias is showing here. I do hear they make a mean fried hot dog though.)

Anyway, the good: I like the Europeans, Stefan and Fabio. I thought Fabio would be a douchebag, but I kinda like him. The accents are really what I like. These are the good "I might be straight, but I sound gay and your women will want me" European accents. Always good on TV. (Unlike the bad accent of say the Boston/New England accent. Seriously, have you ever walked around Boston or been on the T and seen an incredibly hot chick that you just want to take home and provide for? Then she opens her mouth and that annoying Revere or Melrose accent comes out and you just want to bash her head into a wall to shut her up? No? Am I the only one that feels that way about this area's accent? And I'm not advocating for abuse on women, just abuse on people that can't talk correctly.) One of my other unseen favorites was Jeff. He totally looks like he has the skills, but nearly screwed himself because he wasn't paying attention to time. My last unseen favorite was in the bottom of both challenges, so maybe her connection to Vikas Khanna didn't really translate as much as I thought it would. Gene, Hosea, Danny and Carla were very enjoyable as well. Normally someone like Danny (as Abby calls him, "Joey from Nuu Yawk") would bother the hell out of me, but he seemed pretty cool in the first episode.

Now for the bad: Team Rainbow. They already have a freaking shirt for them available on Bravo's website for you to buy. Holy crap!!! Seriously, not every season needs a freaking T-shirt! I don't ever recall CJ saying "Big Time" except for the reunion show...and they make a T-shirt for it. Reach much? Anyway, neither Patrick or Jamie did anything that I enjoyed, though I hold out hope that Jamie will wow us later. For some reason I think she has some chops and can do some interesting things. (One more thing about Team Rainbow, Bravo did the vote text again and it was basically who you liked better, Team Rainbow or the Europeans. I mean, has there been a more obvious lopsided vote since Barack kicked Mccain's ass? You know the Bravo viewership is going to vote for Team Rainbow. As Abby says, "The gays love Bravo and Bravo loves the gays." And some of you might say that being European is very similar to being gay, and you might be right, but not tonight my friends, not tonight. 70% for Team Rainbow.) Melissa...I don't like her haircut at all...that's probably not a reason to want her off the show, but it's not a good impression. And finally, Gail...I'm so sick of her. What does she bring to this show? (Abby did not like her dress, but I think it matched her face pretty well...as in UGLY!) Where was Ted Allen? Why not have that 3rd non-guest judge be a rotation of Rocco, Ripert, and Bourdain? That would be so much more enjoyable! I mean, you guys are in NYC...Ripert and Rocco have to be available, right?

Anyway, this seems to be a good season in the making. They show clips from future shows and so it seems that Rocco will be a guest judge at one point along with Martha Freaking Stewart! Anway, we'll be in for a good ride.


I hate Ted Allen...I want to know his credentials for being allowed to judge on this show. I feel like he adds nothing of value. He made over sloppy men on his previous show and now he is allowed to judge other peoples cooking? Cmon!
I heart Gail...she is my favorite. She's feisty and I love it! Obviously, I love Tom too. I thought the gay guy gushing about Tom was pretty funny too. We need to make a trip to Foxwoods and hit up Craftsteak....mmm!

At least Ted is good for at least one or two good lines. Gail, she just bothers me. Padma wasn't that bad last night...she wasn't in her normal "parrot" mode yet. Maybe one or two more episodes and some more drinks and she'll get into her groove.