The real shit begins with the first Quickfire Challenge. The chefs pack into the cars and drive through the city. They arrive at Fleur de Lys, a restaurant my in-laws ate at in the '70s. It was great then, it's great now. We get some basic lip service letting us know that at least some of the chefs have an inkling about how awesome an institution Fleur de Lys is. The Katie Leebot welcomes them and oh Christ. Does she really have "food writer/host" on her chyron? The host thing, fine. The food writer thing? Where, Katie BilLee Joel? WHERE? The Katie Leebot introduces them to Tom Colicchio and to the chef and owner of Fleur de Lys, Hubert Keller. That's pronounced "Hoo-bear," people. Don't make the same mistake I did and think that it rhymes with "Q-Bert." It's a bit embarrassing. The Katie Leebot explains that Colicchio is the head judge of Top Chef and she's sure they all know how wonderful he is. Colicchio stands in silence, not meeting any of their eyes, and looking important and gourmetish. The Katie Leebot explains further that each episode will have a Quickfire Challenge and an Elimination Challenge. Whoever wins the Quickfire gets immunity and cannot be eliminated that episode.
Colicchio forces his bald way into the proceedings and informs them they should feel honored with this Quickfire. They get to work in Keller's kitchen, and the challenge is to "hold the line" for thirty minutes. Cynthia interviews -- around her crazy blonde hair and black glasses, which are positioned so far down her nose I'm afraid they risk becoming "foreign object contamination" -- that line cook is "one of the most brutal jobs you could possibly do." Is it more brutal than say, Owl Vomit Collector? What about Deadliest Catcher? Mmm, I love me some Discovery programming! Crabs popping their legs off because of extreme cold? Tasty. "If you can't cut it," Colicchio goes on, "you'll be asked to walk out of the kitchen. We're going to find out very quickly who deserves to be here." Well, if "quickly" means "in thirteen weeks," then yeah.