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Top Chef Seattle - Ep. #1 - 11/07/12 (Spoilers)

OK, girls and boys - we're back. And we're in the Northwest this time. Let's see if they *really* get back to basics and cooking as they've said they're going to do this season!

There are 21 chefs to start. Are they all going to be here at the end of this first episode? Doesn't look like it - they'll be tested in the restaurants of 4 of the judges and each judge will move several of them into the next round. And just who might they be? Tom Colicchio, Hugh Acheson, and Emeril Lagasse, and they're being joined by Wolfgang Puck!

Five chefs meet up at Tom's restaurant, Craft, in Los Angeles. They'll be working a service in his restaurant, making the dishes on his menu. Tom tells them to check out the kitchen, where he'll check their knife skills and see how they mesh with the other chefs in his kitchen. One makes tortellini, one breaks down whole ducks, one filets and portions salmon (this one is a 54 year old chef!), another filets black bass, and the last butchers whole chickens.

Emeril gets another 5 chefs at Table 10 in Vegas. He wants them to all make soup in 1 hour. Two of his chefs are good friends and work together, and live in the apartment building. Another is married and his wife is due with their first child in 3 months. Another tries to chill a gazpacho in a few minutes in the freezer in a shallow hotel pan. (Sorry - that's disjointed - personal life to cooking. Trying to get back into the swing of things.)

Emeril tries the various soups...the chorizo and seafood soup looks very good. The one who chilled his gazpacho (Jeffrey) gets a TC coat - he's the first off to Seattle! The other four are waiting to see what happens to them after Emeril tries the rest of the soups. The two who work together end up split up - one goes home, along with another chef. The chorizo and seafood soup (Kristen) and the guy who plates a bit early (Joshua) end up moving through.

Back to L.A. at Craft. Service starts, and Tom starts calling out orders. Tom asks one of his kitchen staff how John, one of the cheftestants, does and his staff said he did well - so he moves on for cooking halibut very well.

Off to Beverly Hills at Wolfgang Puck's restaurant with 6 cheftestants. Wolfgang wants an omelet - and they're being judged not just on the taste of the eggs, but on presentation. They have 45 minutes. He has a Japanese cheftestant in his kitchen. To the Colorado chef, Wolfgang suggests something with a little steak. He says "I'm an easy guy - as long as they do it the way I want it!" Carla, the former wife of the Rao's owner, seems like a crazy one in the kitchen. Tyler's omelet looks SO overcooked.

Wolfgang tries Tyler's omelet first. He seemed to like it. Kuniko's omelet looks really good! Daniel's omelet is a little overdone, but Wolfgane would like it if he ate it in the dark and didn't have to look at it. Chrissy's omelet is a take on her heritage, the Filipino torta. Puck said it could use a bit of salt. Eliza made the steak and eggs. He thought it was going to be overly complicated, but he liked it. Carla went with a Mediterranean omelet. Only 5 are going to Seattle, and Daniel didn't make it because of the messy presentation. The rest all take their chef coat and are heading to Seattle.

Next up? It's off to Hugh Acheson's restaurant, Empire State South, in Atlanta. He gets 5 chefs to test. What does he want to see? They have 45 minutes to create a beautiful salad. And can I just say I'm THRILLED to see Hugh back on the show? :-D And there's a knighted chef, Bart. Hugh asks "Do you wear a suit of armor in the kitchen?" Bart says "No, we don't." Hugh replies "Good."

There's a chef from Hawaii as well, and this chef, Sheldon, wants to showcase the flavors of Hawaii. There's also someone who is the founder of a community food program (Gina).

Bart's salad was VERY big. Hugh said there was a lot going on, although the spiny lobster was cooked perfectly. But Bart's nervous watching Hugh's face. Brooke's kale salad puts her through to Seattle. Gina's salad was a bit overdone with parts of her cooked veggies. Danyele's grilled watermelon and tomato salad was plated nicely. Hugh says that 3 more will walk out with TC coats, and Gina is asked to pack her knives and go.

Now we're back to Craft. Micah, Elizabeth, Anthony and Jorel are the remaining chefs. Tom notices that Anthony is hanging back and it doesn't look good. Micah jumps in and Tom likes the way he works. Jorel oversalts his beurre fondue, but Anthony seems to do well with what he finally makes (hamachi) and he gets a "nice job, Anthony!" from Tom.

Tom chooses Lizzie and Micah. Both Jorel and Anthony didn't get past the first hurdle.

And that's it for the first episode (I got more on the page than I expected here!). The previews of showing who will be judging and future episodes makes this season look good on the cooking side, but also filled with more drama than I'd like. We'll see.

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  1. Minor factual correction: chorizo and seafood soup (which did kind of look amazing to me) went home with half of the pair. I was very surprised - thought she had really played up to Emeril's Portuguese roots wisely there, and I want to eat that soup.

    Loved this episode...not so much for the specific challenges, but for the way the judges handled them. Especially Tom...he took the time to teach, and cut the unteachable. I have a lot of respect for that.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Wahooty

      Oops - sorry - I thought Kristen was the one who made that soup. Thanks for the correction.

      And I agree - I liked that Tom was teaching in his kitchen. And loved watching Wolfgang make an omelet in the "in-between". Having to make 80 of them for the staff meal on his first job will definitely imprint how to make omelets on your brain.

      1. re: LindaWhit

        So - for clarity's sake:
        Kristen Kish ("one half" of the pair) made Pea, Lemon, Apple & Scallop soup – she goes to Seattle.
        Stephanie Cmar (the "other half" of the pair) made cauliflower, lobster, pea tendril & corn soup – she goes home.
        Tina Bourbeau made the chorizo & shellfish soup – she goes home.

        1. re: huiray

          Thanks. I wasn't yet rewinding the DVR while I was watching the show. All I could remember while typing/watching was that Kristen got to go to Seattle.

    2. Nice to see you doing write-ups again Linda.
      Random thoughts:

      - I liked the episode. The kinds of tasks tended to highlight actual cooking skills, and that's what I felt was missing from last season. I had faint hopes that the show would start with a smaller group of chefs (I think there are 15 left now), so that the early episodes don't lean too heavily toward group catering challenges, but that was too much to ask for. And anyway, my favorite season (6) started with 15 or so. At any rate, this was a decent start and I hope the rest of the season follows suit.

      - Likewise, I'm shocked (pleasantly) that the obnoxious lady in Hugh's group got the boot. I'm sure reality TV producers hate passing up on a surefire shit-stirrer like her. While I'm on the topic, am I the only one who simultaneously thinks the judging for quickfires and elimination challenges is more or less straight-up and honest but assumes that the judging for this kind of episode where the first 15 are chosen is done with a lot of input from the producers? Just seems to make more sense to me. If the judges had wanted to cut all but 8 chefs, do you really think they could have? I don't.

      - I'm a little surprised how much trouble the chefs had with making omelets. Not necessarily because it's easy to make the 'perfect' omelet, but just because the technique is so iconic. OTOH, I always have to remember that not everyone learned to cook from videos of Pepin over and over again.

      - Did they ever say why the chorizo and seafood soup lady got the axe? Maybe I missed the telling bit of criticism, but it was a surprise to me when she got the boot.

      36 Replies
      1. re: cowboyardee

        emeril was clear enough about what he wanted in the soups. they probably edited out what specific critiques he had with the rejected Iberian style stew, and flaws in execution like overcooked seafood (easy to do if you want that soup properly hot) can't be discerned on t.v. emeril did make positive comments when things were perfectly cooked, and that dish didn't get such praise.

        the chef from d.c. who flubbed the bacon grease omelet was overconfident, and we did not see him make a test omelet, which wouldn't hurt if he was attempting something unfamiliar.

        1. re: moto

          I'm sure there was some reason or another. But it's unusual for Top Chef for someone to get the ax (or even almost get the ax) without the producers going out of their way to give the audience an idea of what they did wrong. Cutting her without actually airing any significant criticism is jarring.

          1. re: cowboyardee

            Was the chorizo & seafood soup one from the roommate of the model turned chef? With the cauliflower? Because that one he mentioned during tasting that he didn't really taste the cauliflower so it might have been a matter of it being very bland?

          2. re: moto

            Hmm, did all the other cheftestants in Wolfgang Puck's place make a test omelet? We saw Eliza Gavin make one – and scrape off the ingredients to use for the 2nd omelet because she didn't have any more ingredients left to use, heh – but I don't recall seeing anyone else do so...

            Tyler Wiard and Chrissy Camba also used bacon, besides Daniel O'Brien (the guy from D.C., with glasses). Yes, he was overconfident. Didn't take it well when he got booted.

            BTW1 in Hugh Acheson's blog he says that O'Brien "...also misses the Omelet 101 class by Wolfgang." That seems to be contradicted by the video of that segment on the bravo website, where WP appears to show *all* of them how to make one. There is a quick view of D. O'B. towards the very end when WP turned away and starts to walk off - there is a view of D. O'B, the only one with glasses and a chin-patch in the group, in the background.

            Link to Hugh Acheson's blog:

            BTW2 Hugh Acheson also seems incredulous that anyone would pair oysters with an omelet. Well, Hugh, millions of people do so and eat oyster omelets. Y;know, the Taiwanese, Fujianese, Chaozhou folks, many of their neighbors and many of their compatriots in SE Asia and in the Chinese diaspora worldwide. It's called "Oh Chien" in Hokkien.

            1. re: huiray

              once the components are prepped, the cooking time of an omelet is short enough to allow for a test omelet. a top chef would have sufficient quick technique to get the prep done to allow for it. some of these cooks might be out of practice if their places don't feature 'em.

              calif has a variation of the oyster omelet going back to about 1850, but if it was introduced by a Chinese cook, details have been obscured by time. it would not be the only contribution from the earliest Chinese immigrants to calif that's been forgotten.

              1. re: huiray

                But I see Hugh responded to the comment you left on his blog.

                ETA: Assuming you use huiray on multiple sites).

                1. re: gaffk

                  Yes, that was me on Hugh Acheson's blog. It was generous of him to respond as he did.

                  1. re: huiray

                    I thought his response was so respectful, and I loved his blog. This season might be a winner. I, too, was so happy to see them cut the leader of all movements. Good gosh, woman! Thanks for the recap, Linda.

                2. re: huiray

                  In San Francisco, an oyster omelette goes by the name of "Hangtown Fry". Origins date back to the gold rush days.

                  1. re: huiray

                    Cool that you got a positive response from Acheson himself! I am so happy that you're still doing yeoman's duty again, Linda! I was too tired to read last night after watching and couldn't stand to read you before watching the show. I waited until after dinner tonight, and am happy to have waited and thrilled to see you! Now on to the rest...

                    1. re: huiray


                      You just made me drool. Oyster omelets are one of my favorite memories.

                    2. re: moto

                      Wasn't he the one who said something about "standing next to origami? I didn't get it, but my D was beside herself,

                      1. re: Shrinkrap

                        It seemed to me that she was a little taken aback by that comment.

                        1. re: Shrinkrap

                          was that a racial slur? good god! what a dick.

                          1. re: Shrinkrap

                            Yeah, that was just weird. I had to rewind to listen again because I couldn't believe he'd said it. What was that even supposed to mean?

                              1. re: Shrinkrap

                                yikes, I really thought I misheard him and because Kuniko didn't make a huge deal of it. (she's not one for drama and I like that) I passed it off. but yeah total idiot, was he trying to be funny?

                                1. re: Sandwich_Sister

                                  No, he was just reducing an entire race (Japanese) to a thing (origami). There's a word for that, I believe, that starts with "r".

                            1. re: Shrinkrap

                              Kuniko was making kale chips and I thought his comment was along the lines (paraphrasing) "I knew it was the right decision to set up next to her" referring to her kale chips.

                          2. re: cowboyardee

                            " I'm shocked (pleasantly) that the obnoxious lady in Hugh's group got the boot."
                            Heh. Agreed!! Wow, she then went on about Hugh Acheson making a big mistake etc and how she was not just a chef, (she) "...WAS A MOVEMENT." OK, lady, just keep on making MOVEMENTS away from the kitchen. As for telling HA to stop with his comments (!!) and not make her cry, it seemed to me that HA could barely restrain himself from doing just that - and the eye roll he displayed (as caught by the camera) as he turned and walked away from tasting her salad was priceless.

                            1. re: huiray

                              The words "movement" and "kitchen" just don't go well together.

                                1. re: huiray

                                  I kept thinking that the obnoxious lady must mean the Italian woman and didn't remember her getting kicked off. Also don't remember Gina storming off but I just don't watch that closely. A couple obnoxious mustaches in the group for sure.

                                  1. re: Joanie

                                    how can a mustache be obnoxious?

                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                        The dude whose dish was ready too early wasn't this bad but his was bordering on circus barker territory. Wasn't into the facial hair of one other guy, the tall guy who got axed.

                                        1. re: Joanie

                                          does one need to be "in" to a chef's facial hair to enjoy their cooking or how they come across on the t.v.?

                                          1. re: linus

                                            I don't know but the Eater guy nailed my feelings about it.

                                            Josh Valentine is probably chill, but like Jorel, I am only focused on his mustache wax. Each day you put wax on your mustache? Is all the time wasted doing that why you don't have time to shave your neck? These are just questions I have for Josh, who does seem like a great chef and good competitor, but who also looks like a guy who rolls into an old west town with a wagon full of tinctures and bottled leeches claiming he can cure baldness and impotence and then gets run out of the state for trying to sneak a kiss from the minister's 15 year old daughter.

                                            And I have to say, that kale salad looked kind of boring to me.

                                        2. re: ipsedixit

                                          i must have missed that fellow on the show. is he a movement as well?

                                      2. re: Joanie

                                        I keep wondering what will show up with the next group.

                                    1. re: cowboyardee

                                      I also enjoyed that they were doing tests that "matter". I happened to come across the penultimate show of last season (the ridiculous ice-hacking, cross-country skiing, shooting, and cooking in a gondola). I just thought, this is the most ridiculous thing ever. (I thought that last season when I watched it the first time, but it seemed even more outrageous the second time around)

                                    2. The preview of coming episodes made me nervous with contestants digging in mud and something about a bear. Doesn't bode well for back to basics, but I am hopeful and looking forward to getting to know more about these people and what they can do in the kitchen.

                                      Thanks, Linda. It's especially good to have you back.

                                      7 Replies
                                      1. re: chicgail

                                        Yeah, that part of the previews (the mud flats) bugged me as well. But perhaps they were clamming for geoduck? They *are* doing the show in Seattle - Puget Sound is known for geoduck, I believe. I think they were filming during the summer. When is geoduck season? Or *is* there a geoduck season? LOL

                                        1. re: LindaWhit

                                          One of the previews at bravotv.com for "Next Episode" is called "Everyone Wants Geoduck," so I expect you're right. (I haven't watched it.) But waist high "mud flats" sound a lot more accessible than sending them out in the wild, so to speak. Although it should make for a messier than usual kitchen.

                                          1. re: momjamin

                                            Damn good guess on my part, then, as I haven't watched or read any of the blogs at Bravo's website.

                                            1. re: momjamin

                                              Oh, but they *do* go out on a muddy flat beach in some future episode - this is shown in the "teaser" clip for the series.

                                            2. re: LindaWhit

                                              They are also shown digging (by hand) for a limited number of geoducks in that raised "mud pit" in the TC kitchen in one of the previews for episode 2.

                                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                                Trust me, LW - we have LOTS of mud flats around here when the tide is out... and there was talk about them doing a shoot near a beach on Vashon Island, just off Seattle proper. MOST Geoduck is harvested by divers, however, with special permits. Can't wait to see how this plays out...

                                                1. re: gingershelley

                                                  <MOST Geoduck is harvested by divers, however, with special permits.>

                                                  My, how things have changed. Glad I grew up when I did and the beaches were ours. As a child and growing up in the area on Puget Sound....there're no memories like the memories I have while pulling those odd looking creatures outa the mud... stretching their long bodies and wondering if there was any end to them.

                                            3. Thanks for the recap! It's always hard to keep up with the contestants this early, so I don't have much to say, but I did enjoy seeing the interactions with the chef judges, and the focus on cooking and getting around a kitchen.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: momjamin

                                                I'm so happy to see a chef from Hawaii! I hope he lasts for at least a while. I'm sure that he, like almost all of us Hawaii home cooks, can do some interesting fusion food.

                                              2. Seems a bit of a drag for a first episode.

                                                Thanks for the recap, however, LindaW.

                                                11 Replies
                                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                                  See, I kind of liked this slower set-up, ipse. The judges choose the top 15 (or however many there were) after seeing how they work in a kitchen, how they do "basic" tasks, vs. just going on their submitted videos, recommendations from their compatriots in the industry, and in-person interviews and starting off bang-boom with a Quickfire challenge. I thought it gave a better introduction to all of the cheftestants, including highlighting those who sweat a LOT (quite a few of them! LOL)

                                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                                    Maybe that should be the next Quickfire challenge ... who can cook the fastest while sweating the least!

                                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                                      i wonder if they bring additional t.v. lights into the kitchens, which are notoriously hot places from the get.

                                                      1. re: linus

                                                        I'm sure they do, but TV sets are notoriously cold too. So, who knows.

                                                        1. re: ipsedixit

                                                          some t.v. sets are notoriously cold (letterman, 'friends'.) those are shot in studios. location shoots tend to be hot, as the air conditioning must be shut off to avoid interfering with sound.
                                                          but, you're right, in this case, who knows? over the years, it appears things get pretty hot on 'top chef,' just from what i've seen.

                                                          i'm indifferent to sweating chefs. i can't remember the last time i went into the kitchen of a restaurant to check on the perspiration quotient.

                                                          1. re: linus

                                                            One episode of some show showed somebody's sweat dripping into the food, and I'm afraid that scarred me for life.

                                                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                Didn't Howie also do that way back in TC3?

                                                              2. re: Shrinkrap

                                                                Yes, that one was disgusting. I thought it was funny that one of the blogs talked about "boob sweat."

                                                                1. re: KailuaGirl

                                                                  I have not seen that, but my daughter thinks http://www.buzzfeed.com/whitneyjeffer... is pretty amusing.

                                                                  That was too far off topic, right?

                                                      2. re: LindaWhit

                                                        Tom Colicchio in his blog also says that they (the judges) wanted to have the chance again to do this real-time pre-selection, similar to what they did at the start last season.

                                                    2. oh, thank goodness you're here! i was freaking out last night after watching because CH was doing maintenance and I couldn't get on to read your recap - how was i to know what to think??

                                                      Those omelets were a disgrace, and not because i could do any better but because at their level of cooking they should. the only one that looked good to me was Chrissy's (even tho it needed salt) - even Wolfgang's was a bit browned, wasn't it? maybe they all just tasted wonderful.

                                                      i too cringed when i saw the mud scene, and the explanation that they may be foraging for geoducks (or whatever you do - harvest them?) instead of running some crazy race makes me feel a little better, but foraging/harvesting/hunting is not cooking.

                                                      which one is the kid that looks about 14? said he was a world traveler? he won a coat early on, so apparently he's got the chops....

                                                      so happy it's back, and that you're at the helm, Linda!

                                                      13 Replies
                                                      1. re: mariacarmen

                                                        Yeah, when I logged onto CH last night and saw the maintenance banner at the top of the page, I had to quickly figure it out that they *did* say 9pm PST, and *not* EST. :-)

                                                        And yes, Wolfgang's omelet was browned when he slid it onto the plate. So let me ask you (or anyone) this - can you cook an omelet properly (soft) and still have it browned on the outside?

                                                        Here's the cast list: http://www.bravotv.com/top-chef/seaso...

                                                        Are you thinking about Jeffrey Jew? His bio states he was an Army brat, and worked at restaurants in London and Italy and his travels influence his dishes' flavors, including Asian, Moroccan, Ethiopian, Italian, French, and Spanish ingredients.

                                                        1. re: LindaWhit

                                                          i would say no, about the omelet. But i'm no chef. i wouldn't want one served to me that way at a restaurant. once the egg browns the flavor changes - not pleasantly, in my opinion.

                                                          yes! Jeffrey Jew. i love the name, too. Alliteration is cool.

                                                          thanks for the link. they don't say his age/year he was born, but with all that under his belt, he isn't as young as i thought. not that i really thought he was 14....

                                                          1. re: mariacarmen

                                                            FWIW, I definitely like some browning (not burnt) on my omelets/omelettes. I dislike those pale, ghostly-complexioned omelets that seem so favored. In fact, I don't care particularly for these "rolled"/just-so omelets in the French style as "needed" by Puck and so many others. I am perfectly fine with a E/SE Asian-type omelette, flat, bubbly-looking, browned a bit with nice wok-hei.

                                                              1. re: huiray

                                                                Husband and I laughed about that. I said they must think they are cooking eggs for him! His mom used to tell him the brown edges of a fried egg were bacon. I thought brown omelets were a no no.

                                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                                              "And yes, Wolfgang's omelet was browned when he slid it onto the plate. So let me ask you (or anyone) this - can you cook an omelet properly (soft) and still have it browned on the outside?"
                                                              Yeah. It's mostly just a matter of using higher heat and a pan small enough to give your omelet some depth. And timing. Though unless instructed otherwise, I probably would've gone for the French style omelet with no browning.

                                                              To be fair to the chefs, while I'm sure I could make an omelet up to par in my kitchen with my pans, I'm less sure that I could do so with unfamiliar equipment on the first or second try, with time limits, camera crews, and all the pressure of a competition. Also, I think french omelets are a kind of iconic barometer of skill among some of us cooking nerds, but that's not necessarily the case for professional chefs, some of whom probably just never worked on their omelets, or at least not since culinary school.

                                                              1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                all of this makes sense to me. thanks for that perspective.

                                                                  1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                    You can cook it soft or firm and still have it yellow. Its a matter of heat control and movement. Nobody makes browned scrambled eggs ...except maybe a cook in a bad diner.

                                                                    I wouldn't say browned eggs are wrong though.

                                                                    1. re: sal_acid

                                                                      Not sure I'm following you, or vice versa. All I meant to say was that it's possible to make a soft omelet that's browned on the outside if that's what you're going for. From Puck's demonstration, I gather that is probably what he wanted. Whether or not people think that's a 'correct' way to make an omelet doesn't interest me much, personally, and I'll leave others to debate it. But, yes, I do agree that it's possible to make an unbrowned omelet soft or firm as you prefer it.

                                                                      1. re: sal_acid

                                                                        I LIKE browned scrambled eggs. Not burnt, but lightly browned, with a slight crisp edge to the clumps but still soft/just this side of runny in the centers. No stirring and stirring for 20 minutes to give fluffy Frenchie soft custard for me. Throw the eggs in a blazing hot pan and scramble them till half-runny (say, 30 seconds), turn off the heat, bring the plate over (the eggs continue to cook) and scrape the curds off into the plate. Voilà!

                                                                        Are you calling me a "bad cook in a diner"? :-)

                                                                        1. re: huiray

                                                                          Do you work in a diner? LOL

                                                                          I'd have thought that yellow scrambled eggs were the unarguable standard. But thats whats great about CH. I learn stuff all the time.

                                                                    2. re: LindaWhit

                                                                      I don't know if you can cook a by-the-books omelet and have it browned -- but personally, I like it with a lot of colour.

                                                                  2. Nicely done. I was intrigued watching this episode, and the remaining episodes, having been born and raised in Seattle.
                                                                    As a family we'd go geoduck 'hunting' during low tides...these low tides usually occur between around April-August. Walking down the beach with a specific shovel and bucket I was taught to look for that little bubble that appeared and down I'd go shoveling as fast as I could and as deep as I could all the while being drenched and muddy from the sand....and cold.
                                                                    A complete delicacy they are. My dad would cook them up in a cast iron pan on a fire he'd built a few feet away. We could take as many as we wanted back then but I do believe there's a limit now.
                                                                    My main interest lies with Tom Douglas....a Seattle icon who knows fish preparation like nobody else. I cannot wait to see how he plays along/or doesn't with 5 professional chefs and the contestants. This is what I'm looking forward to.

                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                    1. re: latindancer

                                                                      Thanks so much for the first person geoduck "hunting". Love that your father would cook them up right there. From what I've seen on a website that features info re: Puget Sound fishing, I think the daily geoduck limit is 3/person.

                                                                      And when I was in Seattle back in 2001 or so, a friend who used to live in Seattle and I had lunch at one of Tom Douglas's restaurants. Ahh, I think I just found it at his site - Etta's. I was pretty sure it was right near Pike Place Market. If that friend is reading along silently, hopefully she can confirm for me. :-) I do remember enjoying it.

                                                                      1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                        Yes, Etta's, Tom Douglas's second restaurant, is off to the side of the market. I dream about his places...I can't really eat seafood anywhere without thinking of him.
                                                                        He's iconic and his cooking is legendary.

                                                                    2. 1. Think this could be one of the strongest seasons in recent memory IMO. As far as the egg challenge ...I live by a family owned Thai place ...really great ...would I judge the chef on how (since she has been cooking Thai food since the age of 6) as a chef on how she could make me an egg? um no ...I love reality shows esp the dance ones but as soon as someone who has studied 20+ years at modern dance gets challenged with Salsa I'm out. People need to get over the well rounded crap. I understand there are basic skill sets but at the same time I am not concerned if my "X" lacked because the chef can make a really great "y"

                                                                      1. "Top Chef is missing out. I'm not just a chef and nutritionist. I'm a movement."

                                                                        Anyone else remember Andrea from S1? ;-)

                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                          1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                            She was? I thought she was obnoxious.

                                                                            1. re: jcattles

                                                                              To each their own. She seemed to have a little more charisma and a little less bluster than this season's movement cut short.

                                                                          2. Bah. Forgot to set my tivo. Will avoid this thread temporarily until I can catch up. BUt why do they have to rename it every season so I have to reprogram TIVO every year?


                                                                            1. I just read the Bravo blogs. Hugh's starts out with a bang-up first sentence:

                                                                              "And so we begin, in the kitchens of Tom, Emeril, Wolfgang, and some strange displaced Canadian with one eyebrow."

                                                                              And on page 2 of his blog: "The Craft L.A. kitchen is about 20 times as big as mine. I remind myself that it’s not size that counts, but how you use it. This makes me feel a bit better."

                                                                              Ahhh, *so* glad to have Hugh back judging and blogging! LOL He has an interesting perspective on John Tesar, the oldest cheftestant. It will be interesting to see how Tesar fares with other cheftestants in the TC kitchen.

                                                                              He also has the same perspective on Carla as I did. Most definitely crazy.

                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                It struck me that the two female chefs in recent memory with "chicken-having-it's-head-cut-off" syndrome in the kitchen and with frenetic verbiage going on are both named...Carla. :-D

                                                                                1. re: huiray

                                                                                  Yes, but Hootie-Hoo grew on me with how genuinely sweet she is. I'm thinking that Carla-Rao (who was noted by the Bravo blogger as looking/acting like an early Janice Dickinson) isn't genuinely sweet. But I could be fooled. We'll see.

                                                                              2. The four unique tests didn't quite seem like a fair way to make the show.

                                                                                While one group was thrown into a live dinner service at Craft with Colicchio hovering over each plate, another group was simply asked to make an omelette with no constraints.? Even though all 5 of the omelets looked amateur Puck lets 4 go through to Seattle?

                                                                                IMO the 3 Craft qualifiers have already passed the most difficult challenge Season 10 could bring.

                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                1. re: exploitoholic

                                                                                  Well, I don't think we've seen how creative or ingenious those cheftestants at Craft can be yet at producing their own flavorful food, which I think is the core challenge of TC. All they have shown is the ability to adapt in a strange kitchen in a live service and skill at recreating TOM's dishes.

                                                                                  1. re: exploitoholic

                                                                                    I'd agree that the challenges didn't hold everyone to the same standards to make it onto the show. Colicchio seems to agree, btw. A quote from his blog:

                                                                                    "I think all the challenges our contestants faced in this first episode were good ones. But for me, I didn’t want to ask the chefs to create a particular dish like soup, a salad, or an omelet -- not only will we be doing that throughout the competition, but also I think you can easily find a good home cook who could make a great omelet, soup, or salad, but that person wouldn’t fare well in the competition."

                                                                                    That said, at least the challenges were more or less straightforward tests of the contestants' skills. Whether or not they were completely fair, they were surely less arbitrary than some of the elimination challenges later in the competition will be. I'm just happy to see people stay or go based on their cooking skills rather than how well they use an ice pick.

                                                                                  2. And we're back! Thanks as always to LW for her terrific recaps.

                                                                                    So far seems like a group of capable cooks.

                                                                                    I have to agree that that challenges may have all been of different difficulties but they were all skilled related. and I like the fact that these are the test that the judges them selves require of their own staff.

                                                                                    I am looking forward to seeing how this season plays out.

                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: Withnail42

                                                                                      I dont care that they had different challenges. I think the prodution was dreadful... we really didn't feeling for why people were accepted or were eliminated. Bad episode. This does not bode well for the season.

                                                                                      1. re: cwdonald

                                                                                        I dunno. I always feel like in the first few episodes I can't keep the folks apart. Maybe I'm just senile.

                                                                                        1. re: DGresh

                                                                                          Agreed. I mean, I don't agree that you're senile, DGresh. Unless we both are. :-)

                                                                                          The first one or two episodes are for winnowing out those that won't be moving along, and for establishing the personalities. I've got a few already established (Hawaiian chef, the Knight Chef, and the Old Guy chef) but personalities will begin to show as the episodes move on.

                                                                                      1. Great recap, as usual!

                                                                                        And another one, just for comparison purposes

                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                        1. re: coney with everything

                                                                                          I can't even begin to compare to Max Silvestri's comedic stylings. :-)

                                                                                        2. There was one woman who stormed off saying something along the lines of 'the movement can't be stopped'. It's been alluded to here.

                                                                                          Just what what was this movement she was talking about.

                                                                                          5 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: Withnail42

                                                                                            Gina Keatley, a self-proclaimed Movement, as haughtily & indignantly stated by her. "I am also a MOVEMENT".

                                                                                            "Movement" = a food program called Nourishing USA. See: http://www.bravotv.com/people/gina-ke...
                                                                                            "Movement" = something that, uh, passed that made TC feel lighter - per Max Silvestri. (see eater.com review, link posted by coney above)

                                                                                            1. re: huiray

                                                                                              And *that* is why I said upthread that "movement" and "kitchen" just don't belong together. :-)

                                                                                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                  @huiray and LW thanks. Had no idea what she was talking about. But she was very loud about it.

                                                                                                  1. re: Withnail42

                                                                                                    I won't miss her, but I'll bet the producers and editors would have enjoyed her.

                                                                                            2. I read on TWoP that John Tesar is "Jimmy Sears" in Kitchen Confidential, claimed by the poster there to have been confirmed by Bourdain in Medium Raw.

                                                                                              Anybody here have any comments about that?

                                                                                              ETA: It seems it *is* so from a simple Google search. :-)

                                                                                              23 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: huiray

                                                                                                Nice find Huiray. Wish I hadn't lent out my copy of Kitchen Confidential so I could go look up what Bourdain had to say about him.

                                                                                                1. re: huiray

                                                                                                  BTW, I just read the D Magazine profile of Tesar. The profile paints him as a very troubled person. Like, Bourdain's-past-exploits-pale-in-comparison kind of troubled. Also paints him as a very talented cook who might do well in the competition.


                                                                                                  1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                    Yes, I also read that article earlier. I found it very interesting, although the writer was borderline hostile too, I thought. John Tesar does seem to be very talented, imaginative, resourceful and hard-driving - from what one reads - but seems to be troubled, as you say.

                                                                                                      1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                        Uh-oh is right. This line is rather telling: "Tesar (pronounced tee-zar) slurps up the controversy with the self-awareness of Augustus Gloop." Interesting that he never broke eye contact with the interviewer when his young son hit his head on the bar stool.

                                                                                                        But it also looks as though Tom C. knows Tesar and his back story. Will be interesting to see how it plays out. But obviously, the villain has been cast. Let's see if he lives up to his role.

                                                                                                        1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                          I seem to remember Tom looked concerned, and Tesar responded something like "I'm not giving up". My "uh-oh" was because I fear doing this show could really lead to a serious decompensation, and I would hate to see that happen in the name of "entertainment". Hope it's just "spin".

                                                                                                          1. re: Shrinkrap

                                                                                                            Hope so. We'll have to see how he handles the particular pressures of Top Chef.

                                                                                                            1. re: Shrinkrap

                                                                                                              What do you mean by "decompensation"?

                                                                                                              1. re: huiray

                                                                                                                Let's call it a "relapse" for the purposes of this discussion. And since I really don't want to "work" when I'm watching television, I promise not to bring it up again.

                                                                                                                1. re: Shrinkrap

                                                                                                                  Am I allowed to not "work" while I'm watching Top Chef? ;-)

                                                                                                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                    You damn well better work while watching Top Chef ;)

                                                                                                              2. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                Let's see what John does. I'm willing to give him a chance. He is by far a very interesting one.

                                                                                                                I don't know, hitting his head on a bar stool doesn't mean he was hurt bad. If it was something that just scared him or just a hit with no real impact, his wife is capable of taking care of their son while he's doing the interview. If his son is a toddler they fall often learning how to walk, etc. it's kind of normal.

                                                                                                                That said, he does have potential to be a villain, to have a heavy temper and piss people off.

                                                                                                                He's compassionate and talented about food. The guy is not winning any person of the year awards but this isn't Top Nicest chef.

                                                                                                                Maybe there will be a nice redemption arch, maybe there won't but even with all the controversy he's on the show and made it through based on his cooking skills.. and I like that.

                                                                                                                1. re: Sandwich_Sister

                                                                                                                  Yeah, but not even taking his eyes off the interviewer? That kind of took me aback. But I agree - it's not Top Nicest Chef. And he *did* make it through before anyone else on his initial team to head to Seattle. So as I've said - it *will* be interesting to watch to see how it plays out.

                                                                                                                  1. re: LindaWhit


                                                                                                                    Agreed. I read the article and it didn't go into enough detail for me to assess that situation. So until further evidence. I'm giving him a little pass there based on the fact that it was not noted that his kid was really hurt bad and the kid was being watched by his wife who seemed to have handled it.

                                                                                                                    On the other side of his reputation is the point Bourdain makes about his talent and his food. If that is the case, we really do have a contender here.

                                                                                                                    I'm also hoping that this helps him and his family in a positive way and doesn't drive him back down the pits of hell.

                                                                                                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                      As I mentioned above, the writer of that article seemed to me to be a tad hostile - or at least aiming for an article with "shock/scandal value". I would not say the "tone" was neutral.

                                                                                                                      His talent does not seem to be in doubt. His past accomplishments, experience and accolades given to him over the past 30 years - food wise - IMO place him at a high level. It's his personal/social skills that appear to be an issue. In retrospect, it should not have been unexpected that he won passage through to Seattle almost immediately based on his cooking and kitchen skills - and, mind you, he seemed to interact well with the kitchen crew at Craft.

                                                                                                                      1. re: huiray

                                                                                                                        Absolutely agree there was little neutrality in the article. He obviously knows what he's doing in the kitchen. Whether he can play well with others in the team challenges is yet to be seen.

                                                                                                                        1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                          Well, whatever happens [happened, in reality] on the show he's opening his new place, "Spoon Bar & Kitchen", this month.
                                                                                                                          His menu is scrumptious sounding!!
                                                                                                                          (and he's got all his French diacritical marks present! Oops, one spelling error that I see so far - "Pousin" [instead of "Poussin", presumably])

                                                                                                                              1. re: huiray

                                                                                                                                The eatsblog review seems good, but ouch on the seafood prices!

                                                                                                                        2. re: huiray

                                                                                                                          I'll try to keep an open mind about his temperament. By posting the article, I didn't mean to necessarily endorse that point of view about him - the author was indeed less than neutral.

                                                                                                                          And I agree that his cooking talent seems less in question. Heck - even people quoted in the article willing to go on record talking shit about him were quick to admit that he's an excellent cook. I'm honestly more curious to see how well he does as a competitor than I am to see whether he acts the villain.

                                                                                                              3. I recall that I watched episodes on my computer here at work last year.

                                                                                                                Anyone know of an on-line site that features the FULL episode and not just clips?

                                                                                                                1. High's blog had some very nice things to say about Emeril, nice to read:

                                                                                                                  "I will go on record right here and now: I like Emeril a lot. He’s just a sincerely honest man who has made our lives as chefs easier in every way. When I opened up my first restaurant in 2000 the path had been paved by years of Emeril. He, amongst others, had taught America about ingredients and techniques in a way that made it stick. He is an ebullient jester of food who instead of letting his ego run amok, has only become completely modest, compassionate, and more genuine as he ages. Now I get to pick his brain and learn about how he does all he does, and I am very thankful for that. "