Top Chef
First Impressions

Episode Report Card
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Tastes Like Chicken

Joey Paulino, twenty-nine, wears a huge expanse of an Italia soccer jersey and a gold cross. He's the executive chef at Café des Artistes in Manhattan and wants to give all his winnings to his mother. He already knows he's going to win because, in his words, he's the "biggest, baddest, motherfucker yet." And he's from New York, which also means something huge in his mind. But if you missed that Joey is from New York, you will have many reminders that Joey is, in fact, from New York. Joey's actually from a very special area of New York that still flips up its collars in a most preppy way that doesn't quite jibe with Sopranoesque Joey Paulino.

Dale Levitksi is a thirty-three-year old chef/consultant for Cru Café & Wine Bar in Chicago, and he's currently working on opening his own place. He embraces simplicity in cooking and staying true to his own heart. We may have found our new Dave, but hopefully with much less water damage. Flying in from Dallas is Tre Wilcox, 30, who is the chef de cuisine at Abacus. Tre tells us about his tattoo on the underside of his forearm that reads: "Yougottahavepassion." The unfortunate thing is that the bottom of the tattoo looks smudged. Like he scrawled it on himself with a Sharpie just as he was landing in Miami and then forgot and put his arm on the armrest before it was dry. Tre is a bit of a voyeur as well, he loves to watch people eat his food.

More cheftestants pull up to Casa Casuarina, which is of course, the very same place where Gianni Versace was murdered. Good vibes, people, good vibes. Hung Huynh, twenty-nine and executive sous chef at Guy Savoy, announces that he is "the loud one, the opinionated one" and he also proudly bears the title of CPA: "certified professional asshole." I wonder how hard it is to be a professional asshole. Given the amount of them running around out there, it must be a fairly competitive field. Hung looks uncannily like Yen, the Chinese acrobat in Ocean's Eleven. Micah Edelstein, who bears more than a passing resemblance to Kara Janx, is thirty-two and owns The Wandering Chefs Caterers. She thinks cooking is an art and compares it to Michelangelo painting the Sistine Chapel. Sandee Birdsong, of the skunked mohawk, is a thirty-nine-year-old executive chef at Tantra in Miami. She became a chef three years ago because she wanted her career to be her passion.

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Top Chef




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