Top Chef New York: A Bloody Premiere

13 Nov

I was preparing a German themed dinner of schnitzel and red cabbage with apples for the premiere of Top Chef New York when I suffered my first major knife injury: lost grip of my chef’s knife while slicing the apples and it slid right into my middle finger.  Ouch!  Talk about feeling demoralized!

As odd as it sounds, watching Richard slice his thumb while peeling those apples for the first elimination challenge actually made me feel a little better.  It was obviously an unlucky night to be working with apples (yes I know the show is taped, but work with me here).

Other quick thoughts about the Top Chef NYC premiere:

  • What was Lauren thinking doing a spinach/bacon/apple salad for the quick fire challenge?  Yo, this is Top Chef, not Top Menu Items Offered at Suburban Chain Restaurants.
  • Out of all the NYC neighborhood themed cookoffs, Chinatown was the weakest.  If you don’t know how to work with an ingredient (say black rice noodles), don’t make any assumptions.  I think Patrick said something to the extent of “I’m pretty familiar with Chinese food, we had a class at culinary school called Asian Cuisines.”  One class on the whole continent?  Sorry Patrick, I’ve been eating Chinese food all my life and honestly, I’ve barely scratched the surface.  Slapping baby bok choy on a plate doesn’t automatically make something Chinese.  Even though Patrick’s competitor Danny won, his plate of ginger chicken salad wasn’t much better.  As the judges noted, both dishes felt amateur, more Pei Wei than Chinatown.
  • Early favorites… hmm it’s hard this season, not a lot of chefs stood out in the first round of competition like in previous seasons.  Since Stefan won both the quick fire and elimination challenges, he’s definitely one to watch.  I liked Richard‘s idea of the lamb sliders (and he’s the most entertaining out of Team Rainbow).  Leah did an interesting dried apple and scallop dish for her quick fire and a modern Italian dish of red snapper over farro risotto for the elimination challenge, showing an unconventional approach with ingredients.  I love Gene’s attitude and his “I worked my way up from dishwasher” story, and his kitchen skills aren’t looking too shabby thus far.  Last favorite spot goes to Jeff, for making a plate of food that I would order off of a menu without hesitation, Cuban coffee seared pork tenderloin with black beans and rice.  He got points knocked for plating, but in his defense it was poor timing, not lack of skill.  However, his obsession with his hair may be his Achille’s heel.

Who are your early favorites?  Any surprises during the premiere?

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7 Responses to “Top Chef New York: A Bloody Premiere”

  1. liz 11/14/2008 at 9:01 am #

    Eugene is definitely my favorite. In past seasons, there have always been several people right off the bat who I wanted gone immediately. This season, I haven’t found anyone overly annoying on first impression. Even Jeff’s hair amused me.

  2. Shane 11/17/2008 at 10:23 am #

    Intially I am partial to Stefan, Hosea and Gene. None of the ladies impressed on the first show. I think Jaime rubbed me the wrong way on the first show but I think she has a real good chance! Leah is also another female candidate.

    Stefan won both events…..not hard to like that

    Hosea nailed the Russian dish even though he had never had Russian food…neither have I. I would have made some borscht or some kind of vodka something or other. Nice job coming from Colorado.

    Gene…he looks like a Hawaiian surfer. Just hope there aren’t any seafood challenges. He nailed a classic Idian dish lamb with tzatziki (I thought this was raita in Indian cuisine…is it not?) solely based on a sample from the deli case at the store they were assigned. Just shows that dishwashers prolly know more than culinary school chefs…..like Patrick

    Jaime eventhough in “Team Rainbow” looks like an unhappy rainbow. This is probably the first contestant I would be scared of. She probably has great culinary skills but the anger/scariness is a bit off putting.

    Leah….so she looks like the typical Italian girl, works in an Italian restaurant so why not cook something different? I am sure she will get pretty far, look at Ilan (cooked everything Spanish and he worked in a Spanish restaurant), but I would get tired as a judge having just one particular cuisine over and over.

    Since we are introducing international chefs this season future seasons are doomed. I forsee in the future, a Japanese chef, who would probably not talk to anyone (that would mess up his zen) and just obliterate everyone in the kitchen. Or if they like one cusine over and over an old lady from Italy? Maybe we can sponsor a chef? An interesting thought to ponder.

    In years past I liked Richard Blais he was just awesome…just got run down from the show and missed his wife (as would I if I was on the show) (2nd place), Dale because the trailer with cardamom…hard not to like someone who if they were a spice would be cardamom (3rd place), Sam….who didn’t like him (3rd place (we all know that season was rigged).

  3. nocturnalsunshine 11/19/2008 at 11:58 am #

    ok, so you cut your finger, but you are ok, becuase you typed about it. 🙂 Now, after you cut it did you keep cooking hardcore? Just run it under the hot water, wrap it in a napkin and just keep cooking and yelling Anthony Bourdain style?

  4. the fatter half 11/19/2008 at 3:55 pm #

    She kept cooking hardcore…I was there. She still wouldn’t let me cook, if that tells ya anything about my skills…In the end, the food was a little more iron-ey than what I like…

  5. donnaaries 11/19/2008 at 11:14 pm #

    Also, it’s not too bad typing with 9 fingers 😛

  6. Deacon-Frost 11/20/2008 at 12:41 pm #

    “Also, it’s not too bad typing with 9 fingers ”
    Recipes from the 9 fingered gourmet… Do I hear another book in the works??

    “In the end, the food was a little more iron-ey than what I like…”

    thats ok, its just her way of giving you one of those fortified foods, like a sandwich with extra fiber or a soda with antioxidants. Just apples with extra Iron. HEY you could have skipped your multi vitamin that day.

  7. donnaaries 11/20/2008 at 1:12 pm #

    In case anyone is really worried, I still have all 10 fingers. The injured one is healing up nicely.

    And… I did not continue cooking (bloody schnitzel, gross!) The “fatter half” finished the mess I started and it was great.

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