Clearly aware that others might ascribe an advantage to a couple, Zoi points out that the emotional strain could be a huge problem. Me, I don't care one way or the other -- but hopefully some solid drama will spring from this unexpected new twist.
As if on cue, Padma and Colicchio show up, and after Colicchio assures the cheftestants that "this will be one of the toughest experiences of your career," it's time for the first Quickfire, a challenge with a Chicago twist. Finally -- get to cooking, people!
The gang descends on the new Top Chef kitchen, and she is a beauty, piled high and pimped out with everything a chef, or I, could want. The foxiest part of the whole set-up, though, is the brown junior-high lockers that will be given to each cheftestant, for equipment and stash stashing (they were allowed to bring up to $200 of items they "cannot live without"). Looks like Whole Foods will be enjoying major product placement this season.
The Quickfire is, of course, deep dish pizza -- each cheftestant must create their own signature pizza using ingredients from the Top Chef kitchen or from their own collection, and part of a big slab of dough that, in its current form, looks like decidedly non-tasty leftovers from a neighborhood lipo clinic. They have 90 minutes to get everything ready for delivery to this round's guest judge.
Everyone scatters -- animated Andrew reveals that he likes "busting my ass and running around a lot," and nervous Stephanie cuts herself while chopping onions. Dale Talde (New York, 29, Sous Chef, Buddakan) explains that he tries to get his distinct point of view across in everything he does, which in this case translates to a pizza with sausage, pickled kohlrabi, scallions and sriracha sauce. Valerie Bolon (Chicago, 32, Personal Chef/Instructor) comes from a fine dining background, which doesn't include pizza, so she dives in with both feet with a meat and potatoes pizza. Certainly sounds like traditional Midwestern fare.