Top Chef New York: Ethnic Foods Galore

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We're a little late to the after-party with our Top Chef recap (we're blaming a DVR on the fritz), but we were inspired and excited by this episode. It looks like a good season.

Note: We reveal the winner and loser, below...

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Given the location (the BIG Apple), it was no surprise that the first quickfire challenge involved apples—peeling them, dicing them, cooking them. And the elimination challenge highlighted all the different ethnicities of New York City; the cheftestants cooked different cuisines based on certain neighborhoods (Chinatown, Astoria, Little Italy, etc.) We're going to give a little rundown of the things we learned...

1. The word brunoise (broo-NWAHZ). We've heard it many times but never really paid attention to what it actually meant. It's a very small, uniform dice, and the chefs had to create it with their peeled apples in the quickfire.

2. Not everything is better with bacon. Lauren claimed, "Everything's better with bacon," (ok, we've said that on occasion, too) but was then sent home for her apple salad with bacon on top. Immediate dismissal before she even got to the elimination challenge- ouch. Also harsh? Padma's words: "There's a ferry waiting for you."

3. They can shop somewhere other than Whole Foods. We loved watching the chefs meander through ethnic markets in the city.

4. Farro risotto is trendy. There were two of them in this episode. Of course, only one of them was properly cooked (Leah's) while the other (Ariane's) was undercooked and almost got her booted.

5. Using enough salt is really, really important. We heard judge Tom Colliccio talk about seasoning more than usual, we thought. And one dish (Melissa's) was, apparently, great on all fronts except needing more seasoning. Here are our tips on salting to taste.

6. Our gut instincts were wrong. We thought Eugene was going to win. Guest judge Jean Georges called his Indian dish "divine." And Eugene had never cooked Indian before! And Padma loved it and she's Indian!

7. In all but one season, the winner of the first challenge won Top Chef. Huh. We didn't know that. So, Stefan is looking pretty good. And unfortunately, the culinary school student Patrick had to go after serving up some boring Chinese food.

Tell us: What did you think of the first episode?

(Images: Bravo)

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