Top Chef DC Episode 1 Recap, or, Notes from the Only Person Who Didn't Watch at Good Stuff

We learned a little bit about way too many people tonight.  The first couple (or six) episodes are tough in any reality show, because you feel like you just want to ax half of them--the ones you just know won't make it.  Why waste your time watching them fail, get slammed by the judges, and then finally get aufed, knives packed, etc?

Anyway, so and so has little bebehs at home, whatsherface is self-taught and (thinks she) can kick everyone's collective ass, and most people have a whole boatload of confidence.

Let's recap the actual episode then move to my personal thoughts (aka Where I Judge Them roundup):

The Quickfire:
Mise en place.  Final round was to make a dish, any dish, with the ingredients.  Kenny had lightning speed the whole time, but Angelo was the ultimate winner in taste.  Mm chicken.  But Kenny was runner up. 

The Elimination Challenge:
My first thought was: Groupwork.  I hate groupwork...on reality shows.  But it turns out that they were just divided into "groups" to see who they were cooking against.  Not actually working together.  The challenge was cooking regional cuisine (from your region!) for 300 people at the Cherry Blossom Festival.

The top four were Kenny, Kevin, Alex, and Angelo.  See their bios on the Top Chef web site.

Angelo took this one home.  Angelo made little one-biter spoons of bacon froth on Arctic char.  It was cute and pretty.  Tom said it was "really good," but Gail thought it was too dill-y.

Eventually we said goodbye to John, Mr. James Beard nominee with the wild dreads! They just didn't taste the maple in this Michigander's maple Napoleons with toasted macadamias.  They just tasted "sugar, sugar, sugar."

Best Quotes:
"I feel like an orchestra of flavors."  - Angelo
"You said you served this dish hundreds of times.  Did you make it?"  - Tom
"I'm just here to cook, I'm not here to play with dice."  - Tiffany.    THIS IS THE EQUIVALENT TO YOU KNOW WHAT!!!!  I'm Not Here To Make Friends.
"And you guys can lick your balls."  - Angelo.  OK, so he really meant to say "bowls."  I can't be the only one who did a double-take.  Does anyone else think this guy has sort of an accent?  A Madonna thing going on?

Parting Thoughts:
Angelo is intense.  Name and place dropping like none other!  We'll see if he lives up to the hype.

No one has a faux hawk this season.  That seems wrong...[see more coverage of faux hawks here and here. OK and here and here, too.]

The dish I most wanted to eat, just gut reaction gotta-tell-ya, is Tamesha's jerk chicken sphere with the fun jicama, mango, crunchiness underneath.  Looked tasty.  The judges didn't discuss it--not sure if that was an editing error.  They were too focused on the two sauce situation, contrasting the judge's disappointment with Timothy, the local, with his confidence.

Padma looks awesome.

This first episode has more "I worked for Whatshisface" and "I was nominated for XYZ award" and "This magazine named me Best Person Ever To Exist" than any previous introductory ep.  Maybe this isn't the most humble bunch.  Or maybe they are just that awesome.  We'll have to wait and see.

I think next week we should count the number of times they say "deconstructed." 

Let me know in the comments what you thought--what looked delectable, what description made you throw up a little in your mouth, and most importantly, did you like Padma's outfit?  Whatever you'd like to share, your thoughts are hereby solicited.

Thanks for playing!  I'm going to go read a bunch of TCDC tweets now...

P.S. To avoid intellectual property issues and possible improper crediting (and also THX FOR MAKING UR PHOTOS UNSAVE-ABLE, BRAVO!), I'm going to feature a real live iEatDC Family Photo taken in the DC area for each of these posts.


  1. the only other food competition show i've ever watched was last season's next food network star. i started watching after meeting one of the contestants, chef teddy folkman (granville moore's), at maryland's brew at the zoo. a friend and i then took his cooking class at sur la table (we were obsessed) but when he rejected us on facebook our love for him was never the same. i feel a duty/obligation to watch this show since it's all about dc. anyway, don't you get frustrated by food competitions?? you can't smell or taste anything they've made. in a singing or dancing competition, you can kind of judge for yourself how the contestants are doing. i get frustrated that i can't do so here.

    padma was a bit too boobalicious.

    since there's no team russia in the world cup, my money's on alex and his borscht.

  2. We couldn't figure out why last night's episode seemed to make a concerted effort to NOT show Tamesha. As one of the DC locals, we really wanted to see more of her. And why didn't they discuss her dish at all? Really strange.

  3. My seester said the same thing at first - why watch Top Chef when you can't TASTE it? I just rely on the judges and even the descriptions. Some things just sound good, and if the execution is good (thanks to the judges telling me so AND seeing the presentation) then yay for them. My recaps would be better suited for Project Runway, where I basically never agree with the winner of each challenge. I just am not fashion-forward enough I guess! I say "that is hideous, Nina will hate it." Then Nina goes on and on about how great it is. SHOCK ME!

  4. PS Padma was boobalicious because she had a BABY recently! She looks like a hot mama. I'm glad she wasn't back to a size 00 five mins after giving birth, for the sake of new mom self-confidence everywhere.

  5. Thoughts from last night: 1) I can't stand Angelo. He does have a weird accent. I was a little shocked when he said he's from Connecticut. 2) So happy John went home. I don't think someone should be allowed to prepare food for other people with that hair. 3) I was not the biggest fan of Padma's green dress. She looks great of course, especially without those bangs from last season.

  6. Early episodes are so overwhelming!

    -I laughed at your "so and so has babies, whatserface is self-taught" line because it is SO TRUE. I love this show, but we get the same prototypes every season! (You forgot my favorite--the caterer with a chip on his/her shoulder, out to prove that he/she is just as good as the non-caterers!)

    -I thought the elimination challenge was a good, solid Week 1 "getting to knooooooow you" theme.

    -Angelo IS intense, but so far he seems to be able to back it up. Coming out with that much confidence is risky, though, and it wouldn't be my personal reality show strategy. You have too far to fall, and anything but winning every challenge is a disappointment!

    -Not even going to bother picking favorites yet. Too soon! Instead, I will say how much I LoOooOOoove the judges, as always. Tom Colicchio is so great on this show, and I think Padma does a great job, too. Gail bugged me way back in the day, but even she has earned my love (I think she has also made some improvements and become a better and less annoying judge over the seasons). Eric Ripert should be good; he has always been a decent guest judge and lends such a legit cheff-y chef chef vibe to the panel.

    FINAL THOUGHT: NOT A SINGLE FAUX HAWK?? WTF. As you mentioned, this is a huge departure from previous seasons. I was tired of the faux hawks, but this still just feels wronnnnnng.

  7. HA!Last night, I totally screamed at Angelo (through the tv), "TELL ME WHERE YOU'RE REALLY FROM!" Mark then told me to simmer down. Great recap, and really looking forward to your posts this season!

  8. Riiight, what kind of Connecticut accent is THAT?! Lauren you are so right re: caterers. A key ingredient in the Top Chef soup.

    Glad you all have participated (and by all I mean I myself am half the comments), I look forward to guessing wrongly and figuring out who the hell these people are with you!

  9. Valerie and I watched last night. Here's what we came away with (most of it repeating what you guys already said):

    - Enough with the deconstructing everything!
    - Ew at that hair, glad he's gone. That's narst. Valerie said it looked like a dead animal. I concur.
    - I think it was Angelo that said "I'm going to set the president." I had to rewind to make sure. Yeah, we know you're in DC buddy, but try setting the precedence instead. I don't think Barack will appreciate you playing volleyball with him.
    - We then watched "You're Cut Off" and proceeded to leak brain cells through our ears.

  10. Thanks for the correction re: the Newseum. I'm changing it now.


  11. A) This was an amazing post, I laughed out loud several times, and also loved the recap
    B) Padma looks awesome with some meat on her bones... lovin the post baby thickness
    C) I thought that the homemade gnocchi with chorizo sounded good, even if it didn't scream miami.
    D) Dread-lock guy gave me a Carla-esque vibe... am I alone on that?