OK, here's what we learned last night while watching the first episode of Top Chef Chicago: The contestants are still cocky, faux hawks are apparently still a popular hair style, and Bravo is not afraid of a little foul language. There were more bleeps than gratuitous sponsor plugs (Whole Foods is the purveyor of choice this season).
We also discovered that kohlrabi was not the oddest ingredient used in the deep dish pizza challenge...
Note: We reveal who was eliminated below the jump. If you are catching up on Tivo, stop reading here.
Guest Judge Rocco DiSpirito, on a break from Bertolli commercials, weighed in on the quickfire and elimination challenges. We, for one, liked the quickfire challenge better. When there are so many chefs at the beginning, it's hard to keep everyone straight. Using a uniform platform — deep dish pizza — helped us remember who did what.
Mark, who is from New Zealand, won points for making Marmite palatable for the judges, but our favorite was Richard for his peach topping and sweet tea sauce.
The elimination challenge, reinterpreting classic dishes, felt like a riff on the Season 3 episode where chefs redid family favorites like tuna casserole and lasagna. But a few of the recipes seemed like things we'd try at home, specifically Nikki's Classic Lasagne with Sheep's Milk Gouda (above).
We liked the fact that contestants were allowed to bring $200 worth of their own supplies, if only for the appearance of Richard's tiny electric smoker. We want to see more of this contraption...
In the end, Stephanie's Duck a L'Orange won, and Nimma's uninspiring shrimp was the losing dish. It does always make us sad to see someone go on the first episode, before we've had the chance to get to know them — and they've had a chance to get over their nerves.
So, what did you think of the episode?