by Xani and Erin
Well, TC4 has started and its shaping up to be a great season! Last night's episode introduced all 16 chefs, and let them show off their culinary skill and style. The quickfire was a Chicago-themed challenge where the chefs put their own spin on Chicago style deep-dish pizza (judged by Padma and guest judge Rocco DiSpirito). The "winners" (did it bother anybody else that there was no clear winner? Just 8 chefs who were good and 8 who sucked? Maybe just us...) then drew knives to determine the order of the elimination challenge. Each winner challenged one of the remaining chefs in a head-to-head preparation of a classic dish like Eggs Benedict, lasagna, Duck a l'orange or souffle. The chef who cooked the superior version of the classic was in the running to win the challenge, the chef who cooked the weaker dish was up for elimination. In the end, judges Padma, Rocco, Tom Collichio and (our favorite!) Tony Bourdain sent Nimma home, and named Stephanie as the challenge winner!
I thoroughly enjoyed the first episode. As you all know, we're making this season a little more interesting with our Top Chef Fantasy game (Our catchphrase: "It's time for a SNACK DOWN!" It's not too late to sign up-- you can still create your own team here. And once you have a team, make sure you join the BCD group by following this link). My team for this week (you can change every week) was Nikki, Andrew, and Manuel.
Things were looking bleak when ALL THREE of my picks ended up in the bottom half during the quickfire-- crap! But Andrew's near-constant string of curse words had me racking up the points. Of course, then he "forgot" an ingredient needed for his crab cakes during the elimination round (minus one point, but seriously, the Top Chef kitchen doesn't have mayonnaise? I was surprised, too.) which sparked a passive-aggressive mayonnaise battle between Andrew and Richard (aka Haircut). Manuel was something of a non-starter with his steak au poivre, which the judges liked but didn't love. I had high hopes when Nikki ended up in the top four! Would she win the whole challenge and earn me four points?! Alas, it was not to be. In the end I earned a measly 10 points, all from Andrew! Eleven for cursing and minus one for forgetting the <BLEEP>ing mayo!
Dish I wished I were eating: Stephanie's duck a l'orange-- I think the judges got it right with this pick. That duck spring roll looked killer!
Favorite chef at the moment: Andrew. He's kindof a pain in the ass but he's funny, entertaining and might just know how to cook.
First, I have to comment that Richard (aka Haircut) used leg meat in his crab cakes, while Andrew did it the RIGHT way and used lump. He still lost, but it's the principle, right? All my Marylanders with me here?? Anyway, my team this week was Spike, Ryan, and Mark (aka The Hobbit).
While they all three "won" the quickfire with their deep-dish pizzas (by the way, I can't believe Mark used MARMITE (the Kiwi version of Vegemite) in his pizza!), two of my three were in the bottom four for their crappy versions of classics (Ryan for his Chicken Piccata and The Hobbit for his Duck a l'orange) and I was on the edge of my seat. Luckily, Nimma got the ax for her overly salty Shrimp Scampi and my team was spared. In the end I got 12 points for the three quickfire wins and a couple people cursing. The points for cursing is silly here - don't they know that chefs are potty-mouths??
Dish I wished I were eating: Like Xani, I'd have to say Stephanie's duck looked amazing (especially the egg roll), but so did Nikki's lasagna.
Favorite chef at the moment: Although I didn't really like him in the beginning (especially his overly manicured facial hair), I kinda like Erik. He's a badass like Howie of last season, without being as annoying (yet). I also really felt for him when he got picked to make souffle - that's gotta suck. I also am a fan of The Hobbit, but he looked pretty scared at the elimination last night...maybe I shouldn't get attached.