It’s the Top Chef: Texas Season Premiere! And if you had “Literally Zero Seconds” in your “When will they make the first ‘Everything’s Bigger In Texas’ joke,” congratulations, because that’s the title of the first episode! Also “Don’t Mess With Texas” was the title of Episode Negative One, so that’s already out of the way too.
This season, the field has swelled to TWENTY-NINE CHEFS, and the first two full episodes will consist of whittling (like a cowboy! Too soon…) that group down to the standard sixteen so we can start the daggum show. Full Disclosure: I have no idea what anyone’s name is and will make absolutely no effort to begin to learn them until at least Episode 3, and even then I’ll call like seven people Chris.
Fortunately, Bravo knows that we’re confused, and every chef sports a quirky accessory so we can tell them apart, not unlike The Smurfs:
I am rooting SO HARD for diving helmet falcon guy. His name’s Chris, right?
First things first, Padma’s voice teases the prizes (we know, a knife signed by Hosea and a t-shirt that says “I Love BIG SAUSAGES With My Penis”) and introduces the judges, including Masters alum Hugh Acheson and the one and only bammer, Gail “Another Notch” Simmons. Also Emeril.
(When they introduce Emeril in the intro, they play an out-of-context clip of him saying “And I don’t even know what happened to the meat” – is that his royalty-free version of “Where’s The Beef”?)
To get things started, we’re at The Alamo! When they announced Top Chef: Texas, I totally forgot about that place as a possible destination! (That’s a joke about remembering The Alamo.) Holy crap, remember that movie The Alamo? I literally just remembered it now, and I’m not joking this time. Man, this season just got SERIOUS. No I’m not stalling because I don’t know any chef’s name or have any constructive input on Top Chef Preseason.
Padma announces that they’ve invited 29 contestanchefsts, but they’re cutting the field down to 16 in the first day (broken into two episodes). On one hand, this is an exceptionally brutal twist, and it’s nice to see Top Chef switching it up for the ninth season (Everything Takes Longer In Texas), but on the other hand, it’s kind of like one giant March Madness play-in game, and in the long run the last two or three chefs to escape the “bubble” round probably won’t end up winning? Maybe I’m wrong, but they’re probably just gonna get blown out by Kansas immediately anyway.
Here’s a group shot of the new expanded field:
We cut to a few sprinkled reactions from the chefs, and hooowhoaaboy, there are seriously so many chefs this year. I know I said that last year, but BTO was RIGHT when they sang that I ain’t seen nothing yet (solid classic rock song about the ever-increasing complexity of reality shows.) They are really gonna f*ck up the group broth challenge.
While we really have no idea who’s good or bad or unlikeable or unlikeable just yet, we do know immediately which chef has the best name in the history of the show:
That’s it, the 2012 Name Of The Year Bracket is already over. Ty-Lor Boring, with an umlaut over the O. I’ve already picked my favorite, and it’s the Dwarven chef from Middle Earth who’s also not very exciting (although really he’s fine!)
The chefs are divided into three groups of ten, then within those groups into sub-groups of three or four chefs who each present dishes at the same time, and from there they’re divided into phylum, class, etc and placed into hurricane districts by an independent arbitrator with an astrolabe. The groups will all cook with the same protein, and the judges will either give them a Top Chef coat, give them the Top Chef boot, or put them “On The Bubble” like unbaptized limbo chefbabies. It quickly becomes clear that this first round is gonna take all night, and not in a sexy ‘R&B song about sex’ kind of way.
As unfair as it might seem to knock off nearly 50% of the chefs based on 0-2 dishes, the judges do an excellent job of quickly weeding out the people who obviously weren’t gonna compete. Several competitors put up instant Top Chef red flags, and it’s no surprise when they’re voted off accordingly.
There’s Simon Pantet…
And Tyler Stone…
Surprisingly, the lady who yells “Rabbit orgies are awesome!” is not instantly eliminated, though she does end up in the bubble group. Her group was cooking rabbit, by the way, so the comment wasn’t totally…ehh yeah it was totally out of nowhere.
Otherwise, the cooking is largely uneventful. The first group has to butcher their own pig segments and one of the chefs trusts Eliminatey Joe up there (previous pic) to butcher her meat to save time, prompting some sagely advice from Tom of Thrones:
Four chefs are asked to pack their knives and go (did they even unpack their knives?), and three of the eliminated chefs have restaurants in Seattle; apparently, Top Chef is almost as cruel to that city as All Of Sports For Thirty Years. Four chefs get placed on the bubble (“Please pack your knives and go into the bubble. I said pack your knives because you don’t want them to puncture the bubble, but you can unpack them again when it’s time to cook.”)
In general, the chefs do quite well, with Tom, Padma, Gail, and Emeril rarely disagreeing when one of them doesn’t suck:
Some of the chefs seem especially impressive: Chris J from MOTO in Chicago, Sara from Spiaggia also in Chicago, Chris C the resident molecular chef, and the extremely noticeable and best-backstory-ever-having Keith:
Unfortunately, we don’t get to see Keith try on his chef coat, but I think it might go UHHHHHHLITTLE something…. like this:
The judges also greenlight Richie (Chris’ MOTO companion), Chuy, Dakota, Heather, Nyesha, Sarah, Whitney, and of course, Ty-Lor. They’re all livin’ it up in the Top Chef 40s Orphanage:
This leaves Edward, Grayson, Janine, and Molly on the bubble and they’ll have to cook it out next week, though RabbitOrgy notes that multiple chefs with very visible tattoos got passed through, so she chooses to draw a tattoo on herself:
WHOA! That seemed uncalled for. Edgy start to the season.
Anyway, say hello to ELEVEN OF YOUR TOP SIXTEEN:
Awesome job, you guys! In a way, you’re all winners.
Tonight’s losers? Bravo Tweeters following directions:
Top Chef: Texas Season Premiere Thoughts? Favorite / Least Favorite Chefs? Early Predictions? Leave ‘em all in the comments.