The judges’ panel for the new show is:
Gail Simmons – The Canadian native worked in the business in the kitchens of Le Cirque, Vong, as special events manager for Daniel Boulud and as a food critic. She’s now the special projects editor for Food & Wine magazine, and a regular on Top Chef: The Original. By the way, all these Top Chef: Fill in the Blanks make me think of the Spaceballs joke.
Johnny Iuzzini – From this point on will be known as Elvis (the hair). He started working at 17 and skyrocketed in the business – including a stay with Boulud as well. He later went with Jean Georges Vongerichten and was the James Beard Awards winner in 2006 for Best Pastry Chef.
Hubert Keller – Affectionately nicknamed by yours truly during his stint on Top Chef: Masters “Theoden” after his resemblance to the King of Rohan from The Lord of the Rings. He’s been called a “Rebel with a Cuisinart” for his advanced veggie menu. Few chefs have been more respected worldwide.
Dannielle Kyrillos – Editor-at-large of DailyCandy. She’s given the title on the show of lifestyle editor. Not really sure what that means. Who gives anyone the right to edit a lifestyle? She also works for Plum TV as an on-camera host. Part of me thinks these media outlets are made up names.
Ok, so the show. I must admit that it was a lot more enjoyable than I expected. It is better than Masters, but not as good as TC Classic. The formula is identical to Classic, and I like the judges so far. I have a feeling this will work, Elvis is not on Tom’s level but I think he has potential. Gail has clearly been getting lessons from Padma, as she seems to have slightly tweaked her style to be a bit breezier, a la Padma. Perfect for being a host rather than a judge – but still has the chops to unleash a critique when needed.
What I am not sold on yet are the chefs. The first episode has come and gone and no one really made an impression on me – other than Zac. And that one was not a good one. Zac is going to massively get on my nerves – he’s every reality contestant stereotype wrapped into one guy. The desperate need for attention, the manufactured drama, you name it.
After the meet and greet on a double decker bus, in what appears to be LA, they head to the kitchen to do their first challenge:
QUICKFIRE – Make your signature dessert. Yeah, right. The fact that they were shocked that this was not the full challenge was very surprising. Soon into the 90 minutes they have to cook, Gail and Elvis come in and instruct them to make that dish into a cupcake. Panic ensued.
Tania – Chicory Mousse Cupcake with Mesquite Flour and Crème Fraiche Caramel
Seth takes home the win and tells us that he thought he was being “Punk’d.” How very 2003 of you, Seth. Ashton Kutcher – before he was known for who he married and what he tweeted.