Wow, it feels like we recently were talking about Top Chef. Oh wait, Masters just ended last week! Bravo better watch out, between Top Chef, Masters, and the name-dropped Just Desserts (hosted by Gail!), Bravo is dangerously starting to approach CSI levels of overexposure to their tent pole program. But not yet!
And now here they are in my backyard. Our Nation’s Capitol. You can see my office in almost every shot. And you can see my house from Whole Foods! I feel like I am part of the show, except I can’t get anywhere near Padma with that darn restraining order in place.
And let me just say, because it needs to be said, that somehow having a child has made Padma even better looking than before. And that is saying something.
But I must remove myself from my unhealthy obsessions with our lovely host and focus on our 17 chefs and their first challenges. So far this season we have another Voltaggios vs. Kevin professional rivalry heating up, except instead of Michael Voltaggio’s quiet arrogance, we have Angelo and his over-the-top arrogance. He is already getting on my nerves and we are just one hour into the season.
And note to Angelo – when you are in the DC Metro region, references to “being a sniper” are poor word choices. It’s like being in Top Chef: New Orleans and talking about taking out the other chefs like a hurricane crashing over the levees.
But we have the usual chef cannon fodder and the early favorites. We have the hot female chef (Amanda), we have the older chef (Lynne), we have… HOLY CRAP! Why is Andy Samberg doing a character on this show? Is this NBC synergy at work? Wait, that’s not actually Andy Samberg, it is a real person. I am totally distracted by this dude. I mean it is like SNL is doing a Top Chef parody with Samberg getting his freak character in there talking about maple flowing through trees in Michigan.
Um, where was I? Oh yeah, around the corner. The show starts on top one of the many free museums in DC and clearly down the street from the Canadian Embassy (flag in the background is Canadian, so we are either in DC or they are cutting costs and shooting in Ottawa). And we meet our 17 chefs:
Alex Reznik, 33, from California via Brooklyn. Exec Chef of Ivan Kane’s Café Was in Hollywood. He is of Russian descent and looks like Moby.
Amanda Baumgarten, 27, from LA. Sous Chef of Water Grill in LA. She is easily the most attractive non-judge this season on the distaff side.
Andrea Curto-Randazzo, 39, from FL. Chef/owner of The Water Club, Talula restaurant and Creative Tastes Catering in Miami. We barely see her, which does not bode well for her future on the show.
Angelo Sosa, 34, from NYC, via rural Connecticut. Chef/owner of Xie Xie in NYC. He is just a bit full of himself, and is clearly talented based on his Episode 1 performance. The dude is good-looking but once he starts talking, he seems to get uglier by the second.
Arnold Myint, 32, from Nashville. Chef/owner of Cha Chah in Nashville. Well, we know who the gay chef is. He also made a “Myint” Julep as part of his dish, and I will really try not to hold that against him.
Ed Cotton, 32, from NYC, via Boston. Exec Chef of Plein Sud in NYC. He gets about four seconds of screen time, centered mostly around being the odd man out from the schoolyard team pick.
Jacqueline Lombard, 33, from Brooklyn, via Boston. Chef/owner of Jacqueline Lombard Events in Brooklyn. She doesn’t do much other than badly make pate for the best French chef in the world.
John Somerville, 43, from West Bloomfield, MI, via Ohio. Chef de cuisine at The Lark in West Bloomfield. This is Samberg in disguise. He is clearly an escaped mental patient, evidenced by voluntarily making a dessert in his first challenge. Instantly I called his elimination while they were in effing Whole Foods! He coupled that bad choice by purchasing frozen puff pastry. Why didn’t he just rub Tom’s baldhead, grab Padma’s newfound cleavage and call Eric Ripert “Toby”?
Kelly Liken, 33, from Vail, CO, via Pittsburgh. Chef/owner of Restaurant Kelly Liken (not a very creative name!) All I know about her from this week is that she is from Vail. I was hoping for a good pierogie dish from her to honor her Pittsburgh roots, but that was not to be.
Kenny Gilbert, 36, from Telluride, CO, via Cleveland. President/Owner of Passionate Culinary Enterprises and chef/partner of G’s restaurant group. He tore through the skills challenge and finished 2nd in both the Quickfire and Elimination. Clearly I will have to root for him, if only to prevent Angelo from winning.