Well, it's that time again, and there's change afoot at Top Chef -- new city, new cheftestants, new recapper. They've moved the whole shebang to Chicago, unearthed a new crop of hungry chefs, and hauled me out of the TWoP graveyard. So, hey there -- it's nice to be back. Thanks to Keckler for a great run; I've got some big shoes to fill, but I also have enormous feet. And while I enjoy my cocktails, I won't bore you by reprinting a dry martini recipe every week, since that's about the extent of my homemade repertoire.
As much as things change, they also stay the same -- Padma, ensconced in a cobalt Leger-y looking bandage-y thing, intones in her trademark, simultaneously wooden and come-hither way, that things are "now tastier than ever." A new crop of sixteen chefs will compete in 24 challenges to win the now-standard Food & Wine spread, the showcase at the Food & Wine Expo in Aspen, the Evian-fueled dream vacation in the French Alps, and $100,000 courtesy, again, of Glad (too bad it's not $100,000 worth of Glad products, which would both be funny and suck), and, of course, the bragging rights that come with the ultimate prize, the title of Top Chef.
Padma's back -- obviously -- along with kitchen daddy Tom Colicchio and regular judges Ted Allen and Gail Simmons (who are not regular enough to be there tonight). With that, the credits roll, and we're off. To the airport, as the cheftestants arrive in Chicago (complete with plenty of establishing photos, which make Chicago look lovely and, yes, kind of windy -- I've never been, which is a sad situation I hope to rectify in the near future).
Ryan Scott (San Francisco, 27, Executive Chef, Myth Café) has been in restaurant kitchen since the age of eleven -- his parents "signed the waiver" and he joined the line with his dad, who "fired two people after the first two or three weeks because I outcooked them at eleven." Oh, were you eleven, because I wasn't sure you mentioned that? Maybe your dad just knew where to get plenty of free labor. We'll see. ["Seriously, that story doesn't so much make Ryan look cool as it makes his dad look like a total a-hole." -- Joe R]
Nimma Osman (Atlanta, 26, Line Cook, Repast Restaurant) has a different sort of daddy issue -- she is an observant Muslim woman, and her parents feel she should live at home until she marries, but she wants to be free to do her thing. She worried her father would not support her decision to participate in the show, but she's arrived in Chicago with his blessing.