Welcome back to Top Chef – assuming you didn’t get your fix from Masters, which just ended about a month ago. But anyway, it’s not like Bravo lets this series breathe or anything. So we are back – with Top Chef: Original Recipe, Season 10. While the season will be in the Pacific Northwest, we are not going there this week for the premiere. Instead, as with Season 9, we will have Top Chef: The Trials first. Instead of 29 chefs gathering in one location to cook in shifts for judgment, with some landing “on the bubble,” this year there are 21 chefs divided into groups of four and spread out among Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Beverly Hills and Atlanta.
It seems our four regular judges this season – Tom, Monobrow, Emeril and Wolfgang Puck – are putting the potential chefs through a test in order to weed out the better chefs. I said this last year, I like the drama that comes with these trials, but it just seems like a waste of chef talent for future seasons, and kind of mean to these poor aspiring chefs. However, that’s what we have, and these four tasks were a lot of fun.
Three of the four gave the chefs a basic task in order to see what they could do with it – a salad, an omelet and soup. Meanwhile, Tom was more interested in makeup. He put his group to work in his restaurant in order to see how they perform under pressure. While the other three tasks were good, Tom’s was really creative. I loved his idea. They structured the show around Tom’s task – starting there, and then sprinkling the drama there throughout the episode, before closing with Tom’s decisions. I’ll get to Tom’s task last and start with the more traditional glorified Quickfires.
Viva Las Emeril At Emeril’s Table 10 restaurant, we meet the five chefs, who are given the task of making soup in an hour. Emeril says soups are simple, but involve creative seasoning, with depth and passion.
Josh Valentine – He’s got a handlebar moustache and a full beard, and resembles a 1920s silent film villain.
Jeffrey Jew – Yep, he’s gay. His last name is also Jew. I can imagine he’s led an interesting life.
Stephanie Cmar – Very cute. Awesome last name. And a jaunty ponytail. I love the jaunty ponytail.
Tina Barbeau – Heretofore known as Marge Simpson thanks to her hairdo.
Kristen KishYowza. Um. She pretty. She and Ponytail are also buddies. And close buddies. So close that they work together, live in the same building and got matching spoon tattoos. Ponytail dismisses the immediate lesbian rumors. Kish is a former model – and yeah. I believe her completely.
The five scramble to make their soups. Marge is going for a heartier soup as she sees the others going for purees. JJ is trying to make a gazpacho, but Emeril is skeptical that he could chill it enough in one hour. He puts the soup in a shallow pan and shoves it in the freezer, and prays. Old Timey Villain has a pregnant wife at home, and should he make the cut he will ensure that he will miss his daughter’s birth. That’s one understanding wife he’s got.
Ponytail – Cauliflower Soup with Corn, Lobster and Pea Tendril – Emeril wanted more cauliflower flavor.
Marge – Shellfish and Chorizo Soup with Croutons and Garlic Mayonnaise – Emeril comments on the garlic, but the delicate shellfish was not overpowered.
Kish – English Pea Broth, Lemon Peel, Apple and Seared Scallop – She explains how she poached it three times to kill the bitterness. He thinks the scallop was perfect.
JJ – Chilled Watermelon and Tomato Gazpacho, Peppers and Ceviche – Emeril loved the presentation, and it showed great depth. JJ is Chef #1
OTV – Roasted Corn and Coconut Soup with Mussels – He’s never made this dish before; he wants to push it. Emeril found it sweet and was waiting for the chili flavor.
Emeril tells the roommates that only one of them has made the cut – ouch. Ponytail gets the boot, and she feels like shit, but is happy for her buddy. That makes Kish Chef #2. In fact, her soup was one of the best Emeril has had in a while. Also joining Ponytail in elimination…Marge. Two hairstyles down. That makes OTV Chef #3