Top Chef is back! This show is a staple on nikkisee.com, and my recaps will be up every Monday! It’s season 14, and we’re in Charleston, South Carolina. The first episode, “Something Old, Something New” introduces a concept that I, admittedly, was apprehensive about. We’ve only got 8 new cheftestants this time and 8 returning Top Chef veterans. I don’t usually like the idea of returning chefs until you see someone like Katsuji– a chef you really like, and thus are happy to have back.
Our 8 new contestants don’t know who the second group will be. They face off against each other first. Their Quickfire is a chicken: use it, make as many dishes as you’d like, and serve it to Tom & Padma any time before time is up. Only one chef manages to put a dish up before time is called– Italian chef Silvia, who’s pasta impresses. When time is up, everyone puts up a dish– Silvia puts forth a second and Emily puts up two. It’s no surprise that Silvia and Emily come out on top, as does my early favorite Jim, who wins the challenge using only chicken innards! On the bottom, we have Jamie, (who burnt his vegetables,) Annie, (who nearly cried when Tom questioned her use of the term panzanella,) and Gerald, who faces the sudden death elimination against the losing veteran and admits that it looks easier on television.
Graham Elliot joins Padma & Tom to judge the veterans Quickfire, which is to do their take of shrimp and grits. The most successful are Amanda, Shirley’s bowl of hug, and Brooke’s beautifully runny scotch egg. Brooke takes the win. Katsuji, Casey, and John find themselves at the bottom of the pack, but it’s John who has to face elimination against Gerald.
The next day, Gail Simmons meets the chefs at a historic plantation where Gerald and John are to face off in an oyster roast. John, not wanting to go down this early, whips out his secret ingredient: truffles. He lighly poaches his oysters in the cream broth of the soup he serves. Gerald takes a more traditional approach and prepares a Thai-style mignonette.
In the end, the judges choose John’s dish over Gerald’s, getting John through to the true elimination challenge. Having lost the sudden death Quickfire, Gerald is headed to Last Chance Kitchen.
I’m so excited for a new season and lots more food! Who are you cheering for?