Padma and Tom show up and everyone is excited, especially John from Michigan. Oh, John. John has white guy dreads and hipster glasses. Much like white pants, that tells you oh so much about who he chooses to be. He's in his 40s, so he can't even blame youthful exuberance for his decisions. If I saw that guy in the kitchen while I was eating in a restaurant, I would be grossed out. He just doesn't look hygienic. Call me judgmental, but I like my food minus E Coli.
Padma welcomes everyone. Did I mention they are on the roof of the Newseum? After Tom welcomes them, Padma introduces the first Quickfire, which is a mise en place tournament. First, they have to peel ten potatoes. The twelve fastest move on to round two, where they have to brunoise ten cups of onions. The eight fastest move on to round three, where they have to break down four chickens. The four fastest move on to the final round, where they will use the potatoes, onions, and chicken to create a dish, which will be judged by Tom and Padma. AND, it's a High Stakes Quickfire (why do they still call it that when we're not in Vegas anymore), and the winner will receive $20K. Tom lifts the lid on a silver platter to reveal the saddest, most wrinkled stacks of money ever. I mean, I would love to have that money in my hands, don't get me wrong. But for maximum visual effect, they couldn't get some crisp new bills? Also, it's weird to go into a Quickfire and we've only been introduced to twelve of the seventeen cheftestants, isn't it? Who are some of these people?
The cheftestants take their positions and don their white jackets. Padma tells them to start and Tom blows his whistle. Tom freaking loves that whistle. I think he longs to be a high school basketball referee. They have to peel the potatoes with paring knives. I wonder what's wrong with a peeler? Is it a badge of honor to use a knife? My mom used to use a knife and when I bought my first potato peeler, I was like, "Why? Why was I forsaken all these years?" It's so much easier. Kevin says that he was still on his first potato and he heard Kenny's first potato hit the table, which worried him a bit.
Hey, more introductions! Amanda, also from parts unknown, explains that she's not as experienced as some of her competitors, and she sliced her palm open in the first round, which made her feel dumb. Hey, it wouldn't be a mise en place competition if someone didn't bleed on the food. I would imagine the adrenaline would make it tough to control yourself. I was in a typing speed competition once (not to brag, but I won -- try to avoid being too impressed) and when I first started, my hands were shaking so badly that I almost couldn't type. Luckily, it's tough to cut yourself on a keyboard.