Rule No. 1 of this season of "Top Chef": The Alamo must be shown at the beginning of every episode lest you forget they are in Texas. Lucky for us we got to see it twice!
We're still trying to narrow down the initial field to the Top 16. We pick up with the four bubble chefs, Ed, Molly, Grayson and Janine, still chilling in the stew room, since this is essentially the second part of the premiere episode. They have been in the stew room for probably four to six hours by this point. Usually in the stew room the chefs get boozy -- you see them drinking bottles of beer and sipping on wine from red solo cups while the judges deliberate. But these poor chefs have to cook again and must remain sober.
What were they doing to pass the time? Trust falls? Playing f---, chuck or marry? (The answer to all three, by the way, is Tony Bourdain depending on my mood). I know Ed was thinking who he would kill first and serve with some fava beans and a nice Chianti, am I right? No? OK, moving on.
First, let's welcome Hugh Acheson! His eyebrows should add some humor to the season.
Anyway, the 10 final contestants show up to the kitchen ready to roll. Their challenge consists of picking a different ingredient, but there's a twist. Each chef receives 20, 40 or 60 minutes to prepare, cook and plate their dishes depending on their ingredient. Poor Chaz was running around the entire time yelling, "How am I going to cook my risotto in 40 minutes?"
I actually enjoyed this premise. I always thought that it was unfair to allot the same amount of cooking time to a chef who was making a tartar as to others who were peeling, braising and pressure-cooking their meals.
Let's break this challenge down and get to the winners.
20 Minute Group:
Twenty minutes really isn't a long time, but Paul came in and served up grilled trout and an Asian tomato salad. That was pretty impressive, but what was even more impressive, is that he owns three food trucks AND once served Tony Bourdain. I wonder how his trucks compare to New York's Steak Me Home Tonight?
40 Minute Group:
Winner: No One
Unfortunately, Chaz actually couldn't finish his risotto in 40 minutes. In fact, he couldn't even get it on the plate within 40 minutes. He better watch out because his Italian-American wife is going to make him pay for sullying her family's recipe on national television.
60 Minute Group:
Winners: Lindsay & Beverly
While Ashley was still trying to work the pressure cooker, Jen Carroll 2.0, I mean Lindsay, helps her out because as she says, "I'm not gonna to win this competition because some stupid girl couldn't open her pressure cooker. I'm gonna win because I'm the baddest bitch in the kitchen, and that's wassup." But then again I may be paraphrasing.
Lindsay, in my opinion, is the one to beat. I am actually going to make a bold statement right now and say that she will be the second female in "Top Chef" history to win at the finale.
Beverly also received a chef's jacket, after she made octopus, but I think it was because she has her mantra "I can, I must, I will" crumpled in her pocket providing good juju.
Back in the stew room we have Edward, Molly, Janine, Laurent, Andrew and Greyson just itching to get in the kitchen and redeem themselves.
Two chefs will move on to the final 16. They have 45 minutes to cook anything available in the kitchen. While some chefs excel when given total freedom, for many it leads to their demise. It was easy to see that Molly was flustered and was not going to cut it.
As for Laurent, I have one question. Did you learn anything from Fabio? This is "Top Chef," not "Top Scallop!" His scallops two ways just couldn't keep him in the competition.
Andrew and Janine had some pretty delectable-looking plates, but there was too much going on for the judges' likings. They both got the kick to the curb. (Or did they?)
Ed, following in "Top Chef" tradition, sliced his hand badly, but decided to throw a rubber glove on and power through. He deservedly received the first final spot in the house, with Grayson claiming the second final spot to round out the Top 16.
With that the season can finally get started! Are we feeling good about the final cheftestants? Did you see that Pee-wee Herman is going to be a guest judge? How will "Top Chef: Last Chance Kitchen" affect the season? Leave all your comments below!