Emeril Lagasse

Top Chef California

Top Chef is back on my tv (finally!) and back where it all began– California!

It’s season 13, and 17 chefs (mostly executive, some James Beard nominees) gather to compete for the title of Top Chef.  There are not one, but TWO Boston chefs representin’ this season!  They’ll have to impress Tom Colicchio, Padma Lakshmi, Gail Simmons, and Emeril Lagasse.

The seventeen gather for Tom & Padma for their first ever Quickfire, and it’s a classic– the mise en place race!  It’s not a relay, but a competition to be one of the first nine to complete their mise.  Those nine move onto part 2 of the Quickfire, where immunity is up for grabs.

Five different ~California~ ingredients feature in the race; they could: break down chicken, supreme oranges, separate eggs, turn artichokes, or prep asparagus.  The choice was theirs, but the tasks were on a first come, first served basis.

The chicken people seemed to finish fastest, some egg folks… I don’t think a single orange-supremer made it in.  The top 9 split themselves into 3 teams:

  • The Blue Team: Renee, Frances, and Amar
  • The Green Team: Isaac, Grayson, and Carl
  • The Red Team: Jason, Jeremy, and Wesley

The relay part comes in here for part 2.  They have to make a dish featuring one of these California ingredients, but only one can cook at a time.  In fact, each chef only gets 10 minutes to cook before handing it off to their teammate.  Their teammates wait blindfolded and they cannot communicate with them.

Mostly, this goes well (with the exception of the team who pretty much never found their chicken cooking) and the Blue Team– all three members– win immunity!

For the elimination challenge, the chefs can make anything they want, as long as its enough for 200 LA foodies.

Here’s what they do:

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The food bloggers and critics actually voted for the top and bottom dishes, and the judges decided from there.  Amar, Carl, (yeah Cambridge!) and Jeremy took the top spots, with Jeremy taking the first win!

This left Angelina, Grayson, and Garrett on the bottom.  Grayson gets a little sassy but Emeril is having none of it.  Because Garrett made the real technical mistake, he unfortunately is sent home first.  But there’s always Last Chance Kitchen!

Guys, I promised you a double recap, as this was a two-night, two-episode premiere!  Come back tomorrow for Pop Up Pandemonium!

Are you all as excited as I am to have Top Chef back on?!

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Top Chef BOSTON, baby!

The best judges: Emeril, Padma, Gail, Tom, (with the best dance moves,) and Hugh!

The best judges: Emeril, Padma, Gail, Tom, (with the best dance moves,) and Hugh!

When I first heard the rumor that Top Chef season 12 would be set in Boston, I was excited.  However, you have to take that as what it is: a rumor.  This week, though, my wildest dreams came through when it was confirmed!

To have one of my favorite shows in my favorite city, the city I live in, is news I can’t even begin to comprehend.  When the confirmations were coming out left and right on Wednesday, it was literally all I could think about all day.

Now I’m working on how I can eat the cheftestants’ food this spring/summer…

In light of the good news of what I’m hoping will be my new favorite season, I wanted to revisit my other favorite Top Chef locations, in a top 3 list.

 

3. Season 11 – New Orleans

American Horror Story and Top Chef were both on at the same time, and both were set in New Orleans, so I was all about New Orleans!  I had a couple of favorite contestants this time around including my hometown hero, the wonderful and kind Stephanie Cmar.  Humble brag: I’ve had the pleasure of having coffee with her, and she personally introduced me to season 10 winner Kristen Kish.  Stephanie is awesome in real life and on screen.  My other favorite was the adorable Janine Booth, who I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting but I have tweeted back and forth with her, and that’s nice too.  The great thing about the New Orleans location was the utilization of new-ish judge Emeril Lagasse.  New Orleans is where he made a name for himself.  Emeril, who I used to watch on TV with my parents when I was growing up, gives me a nostalgic feeling that’s nice.  Also, he kind of looks like my uncles.

2. Season 8 – New York City

The second time Top Chef made New York its home was for the All-Stars season.  That it itself is enough to make this one of the best seasons.  Most of my favorites are all thrown together in one season including the  fierce Jen Carroll, hilarious Carla Hall, the joyous Tiffany Derry, and a man whose quotes liter my twitter feed endlessly, Fabio Viviani.  These are literally some of my favorite cheftestants period, so seeing them all in one episode is pure magic.  Fabio is always pure magic and watching his budding bromance with Richard Blais is fantastic.  I laugh every time I rewatch this season.  Actually, all of the contestants on this season were people I liked, so it can sometimes be a bit hard to watch your favorites pack their knives again.  But with so many fan favorites on one season, what’s not to love?

1. Season 6 – Las Vegas

Love those Voltaggios!  Forever my favorite season, Vegas is tied to my memories more so than any other season.  I can tell you what year of college I was in without looking up the year; I can tell you exactly where I was living.  This is the first season of Top Chef (and maybe the first show ever) I live tweeted.  Twitter has been instrumental in my Top Chef experience, and I tweeted through that finale like a fiend!  This is the first time my chosen contestant won the title of Top Chef.  Yes, I cheered for Michael Voltaggio.  The man is unstoppable!  Really, so was Bryan.  The two brothers both had such consistent success throughout the season, and it was amazing to watch.  Vegas, like New Orleans, opened my eyes to a culinary city I never would have expected.  Now whenever someone mentions Las Vegas, I say, “I want to go there!  But to eat!”

 

Here’s hoping Boston is the best season ever!  We have three cheftestants here– Tiffani Faison, Kristen Kish, and Stephanie Cmar.  I’d love to see them pop up on the new season.  I’d also love to see another Boston chef vying for the title.  Mostly, I hope to see Padma or Tom in my city soon!

 

photo via Bravo