Top Chef Chicago Recap, Show 1: Part I.
By L. Stolpman in Food on Mar 13, 2008 4:00PM
Top Chef is back and, according to Padma Lakshmi, tastier than ever. As Padma gives us an overview of the show, we get a brief glimpse of telling scenes to come – mainly, the predominant use of the F-word. And something tells us that this may be the most honest look we get into the back of the house. Winner gets: A spread in Food & Wine Magazine, showcase at the Annual Food and Wine Classic in Aspen, vacation to the French Alps, one hundred grand and all the Glad pimpin’ a person can take.
Padma Lakshmi, Tom Coliccho, Gail Simmons, and Ted Allen retain their positions as the standard heavies with guest judges standing in to hand out beatings or praise. Check out that gorgeous Chicago skyline. Makes you want to live there. Or stay there. Oh, wait...
Quick run-down of Season Four’s contestants as they are introduced and the show progresses:
Ryan – Ryan’s got a little Season 2 Sam hottiness going. Maybe it’s just the five o’clock shadow. He’s 28 and lives in San Francisco.
Nimma – 26 and from Atlanta. Clips of her video in which she, confusingly, states that her parents think she should live at home until she’s married but she wants to live as a free American. She’s got this going for her – flawless skin.
Zoi – 30 and from San Francisco. Zoi tells us she’s going to bring a softer side to Top Chef and then growls as she anticipates making a spicy pig head’s soup. Bring it, sister.
Mark – 29 year old New Zealander, now living in New York. Do you recognize him? You might. He was an extra in the Lord of the Rings as generic Hobbit #4. (Check out those curls…don’t tell us he’s not a Baggins.)
*pause for Toyota pimpin’ action*
Jennifer – 35 and from San Francisco. She gives a shout out to Chicago and Pizzeria Uno.
Erik – 38 and from San Francisco. This man is nothing less than a combination of complete opposites. He looks like he’d serve you a tattoo rather than a gourmet meal, wears a pimp hat but buttons his shirt all the way up. We love the contradiction.
Andrew – 30 and from NYC. If Eminem worked in a kitchen…he’d be Andrew. We quickly learn that Andrew will be keeping the Bravo censors busy as he curses his way passionately through his self description. Something tells us that his balloon knot is too tight.
Stephanie – 31 and one of Chicago’s own. She looks sweet and fun and makes you say, “Aww!” But she may be a wolf in Yoda clothing.
Pause in the pizza eating while Zoi and Jennifer tell the gang that they are a couple. Stunned reactions all around which, it seems clear, is more due to the fact that they are competing together and against each other than it is due to the fact that they are both women. Because, really, it isn't the 1950's and they aren't Lucy and Ethel.
Spike – 27 and from Williamsburg, NY. Spike instantly calls, “Bullshit!” on Zoi and Jennifer who then kiss and force Spike to pick up the pile of cards. Not really. He waxes Dr. Evil and says they can both go home together. Hey, Spike…they’re already going home together. Capiche?
Padma and Tom show up to tell the contestants that they will be creating their own unique deep dish pizza for their first Quickfire challenge. Back in the Top Chef kitchen, Padma points out the circa 1970 train station lockers in which their $200 of can’t-live-without ingredients will be stored. Camera shot of Jabba the pizza (hut) dough. The 90 minute scramble begins!
Dale – 29 and from Chicago. Dale tells us he has a point of view and it comes through in his cooking. This is the Top Chef equivalent of saying that he’ll make the song his own.
Valerie – 32 and from Chicago. Valerie has a little Cheri Oteri action going and wants to live up to being a Chicago native by not balking on the deep dish.
Manuel – 33 and from NYC. Foundation in Italian and classically French trained. Manuel? Ohhh, Manuel! We’ll be over for dinner at 7.
Nikki – 35 and from NYC. Nikki does herself no favors by giving Chicago deep dish pizza the equivalent of the middle finger. Okay, that was strong – more of a nose wrinkle.
Antonia – 31 and from L.A. She loves to feed people. Flashbacks of a Feeder Fetish. We’re sure Antonia just meant she loves to cook, really.
Lisa – 27 and from NYC. She wants to touch people with her food and give orgasms. She and Antonia could run quite the little Fetishuarant together.
Andrew gets screwed by being cheated out of a deep dish pan as Richard uses two. Andrew snorts out some passive-aggressive expletives and it’s left unsaid if Richard realizes that he’s just created a Hamilton-Burr scenario.
Pizzas come out of the oven and Pizzeria Uno workers everywhere are snickering. The Chefs head to a house where Rocco Dispirto greets them. Like an army cot after being slept in a few nights, his facial skin has loosened and looks much more natural that say, Season 2. Chefs take turns serving their creations to Rocco and Padma.
Quickfire results and the Elimination Round coming up in Part II!