Top Chef D.C. Premiere Recap: It’s Time To ROLL THE DICE… In Washington!


This is a Recap of the Top Chef D.C. premiere (Season 7), entitled “What’s Your Constituency?”, originally airing June 16th, 2010. It’s full of so many spoilers, I just won a feature in Food & Spoilers Magazine. (Spoiler)

First things first – let’s meet the contestcheftants!

Jacqueline Lombard

“I’m a caterer…” Aaaand you already lost. Sorry. “I want to prove that a self-taught cook can hang with the rest of these chefs.” Wow, you just lost again. You lost twice already in two sentences. You should be on Lost. And play the titular character, Johnny Lost. That’s how much you just lost.

Tiffany Derry

In the season-preview at the end of the ep, she comments “I want to show my mother that I can be everything she said I couldn’t be.” I just picture the a-hole mom from Boogie Nights yelling at her “You’ll never win a Bravo reality cooking competition where you have to make scallops that convey your definition of Democracy!”

Arnold Myint

Bravo added him to the show when they saw two seconds of that footage of him dancing super flamboyantly. When they found out later he was a chef, they were like “Oh cool, bonus.”

Timothy Dean

“I’m cooking for my wife who just died…” No disrespect, but Timothy quickly assumes the role of “Guy with really touching backstory who they have to keep on the show a couple weeks past when he deserves it before kinda awkwardly eliminating him one week when he completely disregards the rules and instead of an Amuse-bouche he cooks an anvil.” The Producers are obviously taking note:

Amanda Baumgarten

My friend Doug had a College-Class Hotness Theory, where any time you’re in a class where none of the girls are immediately, strikingly attractive, after a few weeks of that class, the most attractive person just by default becomes hot. This season, that’s Amanda.

After the jump, we finish the introductions and move on to the foodproductions! I just got fired for typing that.

Tracey Bloom

The Pointless Controversy Starter. There’s one in every batch (remember that one in Gremlins 2: The New Batch?) “What, you’re from Ohio? FAGGGG.” Congratulations, you’ll get slightly more screentime because you’re riling things up for no reason. Also, you’re bad.

Ed Cotton

Gonna keep name-dropping Daniel Boloud more and more before he finally gets eliminated when Tom offendedly yells at him “What would Daniel Boloud think of that overcooked piece of halibut? He’s rolling over in his ALIVE GRAVE!”

John Somerville

Behold, my distinguishable appearance! I suck.

Angelo Sosa

Favorite #1. “I want to win every challenge.” Not gonna happen, but Bravo’s already loving the cockiness. Are you perchance here to make friends?

Kenny Gilbert

Favorite #2. Really fast at cutting stuff.

Alright, enough intros. There’ll be plenty of time to get in a circle and play the name & ice cream flavor game next week.

Welcome to Washington, D.C.! Home of the really easy-to-collect B-Roll! Look, there’s the Washington Monument! I did find it strange that they cut to footage of the Washington Monument every time someone started a sentence, but I guess we’ll get used to it. It’s just the JACKPOT you have to CASINO here in Washington D.C.!

Tom kicks off the season with his vaguest reality-show city tie-in quote yet: “This is Washington. History is made here. Now you are going to make FOOD history. Can we skip to eleven weeks from now when the 2/3 of chefs who obviously have no chance of winning are all eliminated? We can’t. [SIGH] Alright, let’s peel some potatoes.”

For the season’s inaugural Quickfire — inaugural! Like the President! — cheftestants must peel a bowl of potatoes, then the fastest peelers must fill a Double Dare cup with diced onions, then the fastest onioners must break down some chickens, and the four fastest chicken breaker-downers square off to see who makes the best potato onion chicken for $20,000.

The Final Four ends up being all dudes. A frustrated Andrea claims, “I was one of Food And Wine Magazine’s Top 10 Chefs in America, but I can’t dice up onions, I was pissed.” That may be, Andrea, but were you on Food And Wine Magazine’s list of the Top 10 Knows How To Dice Onions People? You were not.

Kenny crushes everyone at the cutting challenges, breezing through all three with “Bishop from Aliens“-like knifespeed, but he ultimately finishes second in the dish cook-off to Angelo, the show’s early favorite. Angelo declares that he wants to win every challenge on the show, which won’t happen, but it’d be cool if they instituted a softball ‘Ten Run Rule’ sort of thing where if he wins 10 straight challenges, we just call the Season.

The winning chefs get to pick who they cook against for the Elimination Challenge, which is stupid, because no one knows anyone and it’s just an excuse for someone to get picked and be like “Why’d they pick me?? I’ll show you, you A-hole who was forced to pick someone!” Tracey gets offended when she gets chosen right off the bat, then immediately turns herself into a hypocrite when she rips on Stephen for being a “hick from country town who can’t cook,” because he’s from Ohio, the nation’s 7th most populous state.

The Elimination Challenge? Cook chicken in the shape of the Capitol Building. Jaykay! That’s next week. This week, cook something that represents where you come from. So if you have a grandmother from Estonia who died 30 years ago but once microwaved some soup for you, this is your chance to cook some Estonian food and tearfully tell the judges just how uniquely ethnic you are and how eating food while you were growing up literally kept you alive.

The groups hop in their brand new 2010 Toyota Gladbags and head to Whole Foods. The city may be different this Season, but boy-o, the Whole Foods montages remain the most pointless dramatic aspect of Top Chef:

I see Mike is grabbing pears, I’m thinking, uh oh, is he using pears? Emmy.

They return to the kitchen at the D.C. Hilton to begin messing up their respective dishes. John — who talks like Al Pacino’s portrayal of Jack Kevorkian — burns his macadamia nuts because he mixed up the temperatures on the two burners he was using, but seriously it’s my fault producers cause the GE Monograms are so easy to use ha ha ha ha love GE!!! [You are SO gone, John]

Jacqueline has problems with her chicken liver and tries to “smooth it out” by cooking it even more, becoming this season’s first “I messed up my dish – now I’ll try to salvage it by doing it this way, giving the judges something to really easily criticize me for!” I thought for sure Jacqueline was gone the second she said this, but she got a one-week reprieve because of John’s GE mishap. God forbid one of the chefs has something leak out of a Glad bag this season…

The chefs prepare their tables at the Big Washington Cherry Tree Thing, and not surprisingly, the people who did well at the Quickfire all have their dishes received well, and the people who looked terrible from the get-go all have their dishes received terribly. Dr. Andy Baldwin, Navy Bachelor, isn’t impressed with the fried steak – “I wouldn’t serve that to my kids,” he says. His kids are really discerning chefs though, so it’s not that big of an insult.

Tom seems extra-obsessed with seasoning this Season(ing). He always was, I suppose, but he makes like seven comments in a row alternately criticizing and praising the seasoning of different dishes…

Tom Colicchio : Seasoning :: Randy Jackson : Pitchy

I just got into to Television Harvard! Which is Frasier.

The Elmination Challenge concludes with Angelo telling the people at his table, “And you guys can lick your bowls too,” and me doing a double take because I thought he said something else.

The Top 4: Kevin, Kenny, Angelo, Alex

No real surprises here; Kenny and Angelo already look like the clear favorites. Padma tells Eric Ripert, “As our newest judge, we’d like you to read the card the producers gave you with the name of the winner.” Eric says that everyone did well but only one can be crowned this week’s Top Chef President Of The United States Of America Of The Week: Angelo.

Bottom 4: Steven, Tim, John, Jacqueline

Gail Simmons is super offended by the lack of fat in Jacqueline’s mousse, but John botched his dessert pretty badly (he chose to make a dessert, so he couldn’t even use the classic TC ‘I don’t know how to make desserts – DERR!” defense.) Tom tells John, “You’re a lot better than that.” Padma tells John “Also you’re eliminated.”

We know those other three aren’t going anywhere this season, though. Top Chef contestants are like new interns: If they suck on the first day, they’re not just suddenly gonna become great after four weeks. You feel bad for judging them really quickly, but then you feel less bad when they keep messing stuff up and your impressions are completely confirmed.

As usual, the most important segment of the episode was this week’s DVR-buster vignette, in which some chefs roll boxes around like they’re dice, while other chefs claim “I’m just here to cook, I’m not here to play with dice.” The segment really clarified who is on Top Chef to cook and who is on Top Chef to roll dice. If those people are just here to roll dice they should stop wasting our time and go on Top Dice. Jerks.

Top Chef D.C. premiere thoughts? Predictions for the season? Washington puns? Leave ‘em all in the comments.

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