I meant to start recapping this season from the get-go because I am a huge Top Chef fan and I live in Seattle, but the first episode took place in Vegas and then they brought in the TWIST and I got depressed. The Twist was that after determining which cheftestants would make it to Seattle, and the show brought back three cheftestants from some of the earlier seasons (CJ, Season 3; Josie, Season 2; and Stefan, Season 5.)
I hate this. I was so irrationally angry when it happened that I actually paused the episode and ranted to my poor roommate. Here’s why: It’s not fair to anyone. It’s not fair to the returning cheftestants, who have a history with the judges and will be judged based on previous performance. It’s not fair to the judges to ask them to try and forget those preconceived notions. And it’s not fair to the new cheftestants who are finally getting their chance. Want to bring back people from previous seasons? Do another round of All-Stars or a Top Chef: SECOND CHANCE. Anhow. I got over it. So I’m here. FOR THE FOOD, Bravo, not the drama. Let’s begin.
We open with the cheftestans discussing their previous challenge. Tyler observes that being on top on day means nothing, since you can still get eliminated the next day. Glad we’ve cleared that up.
It’s Stefan’s 40th birthday, and apparently during his season, every chef who had a birthday during filming got eliminated on that day. He calls it the Birthday Curse and he’s worried.
The chefs arrive at Seattle’s famous Pike Place Market. You know, the fishing throwing place that you always see clips of on Food Network. It’s actually a lot more than a few fish stands, including lots of produce stands, flower stands, crafts, restaurants, and a whole bunch of local stores (including an awesome comic book store that is not shown). Today’s guest judge is local chef Daisley Gordon, who owns two restaurants in Pike Place, Marché and Café Champagne.
Quickfire Challenge! The cheftestants pair off and will compete in teams of two. Chef Gordon has provided them with a pantry and they have to set up kitchenettes using equipment from Sur La Table, which is up the hill in the Market. Josh and his mustache gets stuck with Tesar, whom he’s had some drama with already. This will end well. Each team has to make breakfast on a stick for the Market workers. The winning team gets immunity.
By the time Danyele and Liz get to the pantry, the eggs and dairy are gone, so they decide to do a European breakfast. Bart wants to do a twist on spinach and eggs. There’s total chaos at Sur La Table, where CJ steals a griddle from someone. Ruthless. Brooke has known Stefan for years so she knows how to get along with him. Actually getting along with your fellow chefs is a depressingly huge plus on this show. Seriously, guys, it’s easier if you work together. Bart drops his sandwich press and thinks it might be broken, but it’s okay.
- Josh & Tesar – Mini breakfast taco with quail eggs and chorizo and an avocado relish. It looks really good. Chef Gordon likes the seasoning.
- Eliza & Josie – Ricotta, raspberry, and sausage pancake with a jalapeno syrup. They had me til jalapeno syrup. It doesn’t stay on the stick and Padma points out it looks like a layer cake. Gordon seems underwhelmed.
- Micah & Kristen – Bacon and cinnamon waffle with berry jam.
- CJ & Tyler – Salmon cream cheese crepe that miraculously stays on the stick. CJ says he really wants the win. Padma is like “DUH.”
- Bart & Sheldon – Green forest sandwich with eggs, cheese, bacon, pancetta, and spinach. It looks really good. I want one in my face. Gordon calls it clever.
- Danyele & Lizzie – Summer berries with crispy pancetta. This is easily the least ambitious dish of the day. I get that they missed out on eggs and such but it’s kind of a sad offering. Gordon likes it anyhow.
- Brooke & Stefan – Pressed Croque Monsieur with fig on challah bread.
Disappointing teams: Danyele & Lizzie, for their scarce berries (no surprise), and Josie & Eliza for their ricotta pancake. Favorites: Sheldon & Bart’s green forest sandwich and Josh & Tesar, for their taco. Winners: Sheldon & Bart. CJ is visibly pissed off. Sorry, dude, your salmon wasn’t as good as the sandwich or mini tacos.