A fresh crop of cheftestants has been harvested and what a tempting, if slightly imperfect, lot they are. My amuse bouche impressions are that Marcel with his avant attitude and his Heat Miser hair (tm sundevilpeg) can't be anything but the new Stephen. I mean, the dude pulled out his knives as soon as he got a roommate and started comparing blades! Rotund and shiny Michael looks like Flounder from Animal House, and Otto is totally Creed from The Office.
The Quickfire had the chefs scrambling to flambÃ© stuff, which was sort of cool but not dangerous enough for me. I wanted to see big blue flashes and singed eyebrows. Stubbly-faced Sam, who was voted one of the top ten sexiest chefs in New York (ugh) and who is clearly the new Harold, won the immunity-drenched Quickfire Challenge.
The Elimination Challenge split the cheftestants into two groups: cooks and judges. The cooks opened a mystery box of ingredients containing whacko combinations of food like escargot and Kraft cheese slices and frog legs and peanut butter. The judges judged and then switched roles. Ted Allen's clone, Ilan, wins the Elimination Challenge. Just like Harold won the first Elimination Challenge. Which Harold, the guest judge, was on hand to point out. Thank you, Harold. Sadly, the one to go home is the British and unpronounceable Suyai for an all-around terrible showing with her mystery box.
Interestingly, Colicchio takes some time in the beginning of the episode to specifically tell us that he's NOT a mentor, he's a judge. Not just that, he's "Head Judge." Yeah, "Bald Head Judge."
My jury is still out on Padma. Honestly? I'm not sure how much better she is than Bot. She's got a skosh more life in her, but I still didn't see her exhibit much of an opinion about anything. Also, if they're going to do any more flambÃ©d food, I would recommend she put on a few more items of clothes. At least over her breastal area. A napkin or something. Maybe a bra. Just a suggestion.
Now that I've had Duran Duran's song, "A View to a Kill," in my head all week, shall we get to the new season?
Our new host, Padma Lakshmi, drones to us about what Top Chef is all about. She also introduces Colicchio and Gail, and I am psyched to see glimpses of an upcoming episode where Gail will get to say, "That dish made me nauseous." Heh. Padma (how long before I can start calling her "Queen Amidala"?) introduces herself as "Judge, cookbook author, and a lifetime lover of all things culinary," as we get cutaways of the first Indian Supermodel shoving stuff in her mouth. She might as well add that she's the lifetime lover of all things Rushdie as well. We learn that this year's finale will be in Hawaii and, having returned from a nice long trip to Big Island and Oahu last month, this makes me irrationally excited. I wonder which island it is. The other prizes are still a kitchen full of Kenmore appliances, a feature in Food & Wine magazine (which, having seen last year's feature, is no big), cooking at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, Colorado, and $100,000 to "kick start their culinary career." This year, the prize money comes from GladWare kitchen products. $100,000 gets you a lot of Tom Bosley.
We get the same opening as last year: the song without words that the Evil Dr. Mathra was humming all summer while I caught up on season one recaps, interspersed with shots of the contestants. The captions call it "upbeat techno."
We're in LA, and it's all so unfamiliar to me! Sad. Oh well, let's meet the cheftestants. Josie (if you want last names, go to Bravo and read the unreadable bios) arrives at the airport. She's from New York, where she's a sous chef at Marlow and Sons in Brooklyn. Dipping into Josie's application video, we get shots of Josie's girlfriend, Caitlin, so we know Josie's A LESBIAN. You know, just in case that fierce mod-Asian mullet didn't give it away.
We move on to Betty, who tells us she used to be an actress. Cutting away to Betty's application tape, we see Betty doing really unfortunate jumping jacks. Betty goes on to say she's already a cook and happens to own an "award-winning restaurant in Los Angeles." Her restaurant is Grub, and Betty thinks the prize money would really help her out. Looking at her menu, I think that the money could go a long way towards buying her some creativity. Truth be told, I just don't see the next Top Chef being one who does tap-dancer jumping jacks in her application video. It's just a hunch.