So this season, they are bringing in twenty-nine contestants and then narrowing it down to sixteen. And Emeril is a judge! They divide the potential cheftestants into three groups (which makes me think there were supposed to be thirty to start out), and have them compete in a challenge. The tops in each group will actually get to be on the show. When did this show turn into Top Model? Anyway, each group will present their dishes and then the judges will vote on whether or not they get be on the show. But if the judges are undecided, the cheftestants can be put "on the bubble" and they will have to cook again to try to get on the show in sort of a losers' bracket.
The first group has to prepare a feast using a whole pig for Tom, Padma, and Emeril. They get to choose what part they want to work with (sort of) and this one nerd, who couldn't shut up about how he had cooked for celebrities, grabs a giant hunk of pig and claims he can butcher it and get the pieces he needs as well as some other poor lady's tenderloin. He makes a wreck of it and ends up screwing up her loin as well, and Tom just sends him home before he even starts cooking! It was awesome. Another guy gets sent home because he made a mess of his plates and the judges didn't even taste his food. They send five people through and put Molly and Grayson (poor tenderloin lady) on the bubble.
The second group will be judged by Tom, Padma, and Gail. Their challenge is to agree on an ingredient from a table full of them, and then they all have to make one dish using that ingredient. They choose rabbit. One poor lady spaces out while plating and time is up before she gets the rabbit on her plate, so they just tell her to leave. This shit is hardcore. After tasting all of the dishes (those poor bunnies), the judges send six people through and put Ed (rabbit wasn't thoroughly cooked) and Janine (forgot her sauce) on the bubble.
And that's it for this week! Next week we get to see the final group and then the Bubble Cook-Off. There are some real personalities (and huge egos) in this group. My favorite was Chris from California, who referred to himself as a chef and a culinary artist, and then right after him, Janine totally ripped on him by also calling herself a culinary artist. I hope she wins the Bubble-Off. Other early favorites (of mine) including the giant ex-con from Wilmington who cooks seafood and the multiple ladies from Chicago. Let's worry about learning their names once we actually have a full cast. I would be pissed if I were that final group though – they only get a maximum of four people going through, assuming they are leaving one slot open for the Bubble-Off.
The preview for the season seems reeeeeally long. Do they need a teaser to make people watch the show at this point? Don't people already know the show exists? Given how many cheftestants they have this season (29), I would rather they spend a little more time letting me get to know the cheftestants and their food, so I might actually care who stays and who goes home.
Anyway, all 29 cheftestants arrive at the Alamo, where Padma is waiting. Isn't 29 a weird number? Do you think there was supposed to be thirty and someone dropped out at the last minute? Did they not have alternates? The first cheftestants we meet are Richie, who is wearing a pink bandanna and has really crazily-groomed facial hair, and his boss, Chris. So you know they're both going to be on. Or maybe only one will make it. Wouldn't it be funny if the boss got cut and the underling made it? We also meet Chef Tyler Stone, who has tiny baby teeth and zero lines on his face and he's freaking me out. It looks like he's wearing a mask.
Padma explains that they will be put into groups and have to compete in one challenge, and only sixteen of them will make it through to live in the house. Everyone's like "Oh, shit."
The first group of ten walks into the Top Chef kitchen. Chris, who is apparently our narrator this season, explains that he walked into the kitchen and first he noticed the ingredient, which is a whole pig, and then he noticed who was standing next to Colicchio: Emeril! And we have our first BAM! Reference of the season. Thank you, Chris. You have won a prize. Not really, dude. That was pretty obvious. Don't do it again.
Tom welcomes everyone and introduces Emeril. I have no problem with Emeril being on this show. He pretty much made the Food Network into a legitimate channel, and has many years of experience running restaurants. He's no Guy Fieri or even Rachael Ray (who I like okay, but I can understand why true foodies don't respect her). Anyway. Tom has everyone go down the line and introduce themselves quickly. More than half of these people are leaving in like ten minutes, so let's not bother with the introductions. I'll just tell you the people that the producers want you to remember: Tyler the Arrogant Baby Teeth Dude, Heather from Chicago, Nyesha Who Worked for Robuchon, Molly the Cruise Line chef, Richie the Moto Underling, Chris the Moto Boss, Grayson the Currently Unemployed, Sarah from Chicago (Chicago is a trend this season), and Colin the Pale Vegan Guy. Got all that? Heather from Chicago is getting a lot of interviews, and in one of them, she says that she's sacrificed a lot of her personal life to be a chef, and she wants to be on the show more than she thinks she's ever wanted anything.