No longer do I find myself adrift late on Wednesday nights, when I get home from church ... Top Chef has returned!
It's Season #5 of Top Chef, the #1 food show on cable, and one of the few 'reality' programs that I truly enjoy watching. This season, Tom Colicchio, Padma Lakshmi and the cheftestants are taking a bite out of the Big Apple, New York City ... I guess if they can plate it there, they can plate it anywhere. However, the first episode of the new season did manage - through the selection of this year's cheftestants, and the first episode's Elimination Round - to highlight New York's status as that most international of American cities.
Speaking of elimination rounds ... a little twist to the new season was the decision - in the first episode, at least - to double the displeasure with a double elimination. The winner of the Quick Fire Challenge still earned immunity in the Eliniation Challenge. But this time around, the loser of the Quick Fire - in this case, Lauren Hope, a Chef Tournant (relief chef) at Jag's Steak & Seafood in Cincinnati, Ohio - was sent packing ... OUCH! Something I liked about this Quickfire was the multi-tiered levels of competitions within the overall challenge. I also liked the way it tested basic knife skills before going on to test conception and execution of a dish.
So, what happens in the actual Elimination Challenge? No big surprise in the end, really, but a lot of fun getting there, as cheftestants paired-off to prepare dishes inspired by NYC's various ethnic districts (Italian, Russian, Chinese, Jamaican, etc.) and, again, engage in multi-tiered competition. When the knives were stilled, the flames had died and the smoke had settled, Patrick Dunlea, a student at NYC's Culinary Institute of America, was told to pack his knives and go home.
A few other points ..... with just the first episode to go on, Stefan Richter looks like a formidable opponent, as does Hosea Rosenberg, Gene Villiatora and Leah Cohen ..... it's hard to remember an episode of Top Chef that was bleeped so little, which was a pleasant surprise for someone like myself who never appreciated the Gordon Ramsay School of Culinary Cussing ..... the emphasis on some cheftestants' sexuality and 'gay pride' had me wondering if they would be equally please if one of their opponents was so vocal about 'straight pride' ... all in all, it looks to be another good, entertaining season.
Top Chef airs Wednesday nights at nine o'clock (central) on Bravo TV network (channel 63 on Suddenlink cable).