OK, girls and boys - we're back. And we're in the Northwest this time. Let's see if they *really* get back to basics and cooking as they've said they're going to do this season!
There are 21 chefs to start. Are they all going to be here at the end of this first episode? Doesn't look like it - they'll be tested in the restaurants of 4 of the judges and each judge will move several of them into the next round. And just who might they be? Tom Colicchio, Hugh Acheson, and Emeril Lagasse, and they're being joined by Wolfgang Puck!
Five chefs meet up at Tom's restaurant, Craft, in Los Angeles. They'll be working a service in his restaurant, making the dishes on his menu. Tom tells them to check out the kitchen, where he'll check their knife skills and see how they mesh with the other chefs in his kitchen. One makes tortellini, one breaks down whole ducks, one filets and portions salmon (this one is a 54 year old chef!), another filets black bass, and the last butchers whole chickens.
Emeril gets another 5 chefs at Table 10 in Vegas. He wants them to all make soup in 1 hour. Two of his chefs are good friends and work together, and live in the apartment building. Another is married and his wife is due with their first child in 3 months. Another tries to chill a gazpacho in a few minutes in the freezer in a shallow hotel pan. (Sorry - that's disjointed - personal life to cooking. Trying to get back into the swing of things.)
Emeril tries the various soups...the chorizo and seafood soup looks very good. The one who chilled his gazpacho (Jeffrey) gets a TC coat - he's the first off to Seattle! The other four are waiting to see what happens to them after Emeril tries the rest of the soups. The two who work together end up split up - one goes home, along with another chef. The chorizo and seafood soup (Kristen) and the guy who plates a bit early (Joshua) end up moving through.
Back to L.A. at Craft. Service starts, and Tom starts calling out orders. Tom asks one of his kitchen staff how John, one of the cheftestants, does and his staff said he did well - so he moves on for cooking halibut very well.
Off to Beverly Hills at Wolfgang Puck's restaurant with 6 cheftestants. Wolfgang wants an omelet - and they're being judged not just on the taste of the eggs, but on presentation. They have 45 minutes. He has a Japanese cheftestant in his kitchen. To the Colorado chef, Wolfgang suggests something with a little steak. He says "I'm an easy guy - as long as they do it the way I want it!" Carla, the former wife of the Rao's owner, seems like a crazy one in the kitchen. Tyler's omelet looks SO overcooked.
Wolfgang tries Tyler's omelet first. He seemed to like it. Kuniko's omelet looks really good! Daniel's omelet is a little overdone, but Wolfgane would like it if he ate it in the dark and didn't have to look at it. Chrissy's omelet is a take on her heritage, the Filipino torta. Puck said it could use a bit of salt. Eliza made the steak and eggs. He thought it was going to be overly complicated, but he liked it. Carla went with a Mediterranean omelet. Only 5 are going to Seattle, and Daniel didn't make it because of the messy presentation. The rest all take their chef coat and are heading to Seattle.
Next up? It's off to Hugh Acheson's restaurant, Empire State South, in Atlanta. He gets 5 chefs to test. What does he want to see? They have 45 minutes to create a beautiful salad. And can I just say I'm THRILLED to see Hugh back on the show? :-D And there's a knighted chef, Bart. Hugh asks "Do you wear a suit of armor in the kitchen?" Bart says "No, we don't." Hugh replies "Good."
There's a chef from Hawaii as well, and this chef, Sheldon, wants to showcase the flavors of Hawaii. There's also someone who is the founder of a community food program (Gina).
Bart's salad was VERY big. Hugh said there was a lot going on, although the spiny lobster was cooked perfectly. But Bart's nervous watching Hugh's face. Brooke's kale salad puts her through to Seattle. Gina's salad was a bit overdone with parts of her cooked veggies. Danyele's grilled watermelon and tomato salad was plated nicely. Hugh says that 3 more will walk out with TC coats, and Gina is asked to pack her knives and go.
Now we're back to Craft. Micah, Elizabeth, Anthony and Jorel are the remaining chefs. Tom notices that Anthony is hanging back and it doesn't look good. Micah jumps in and Tom likes the way he works. Jorel oversalts his beurre fondue, but Anthony seems to do well with what he finally makes (hamachi) and he gets a "nice job, Anthony!" from Tom.
Tom chooses Lizzie and Micah. Both Jorel and Anthony didn't get past the first hurdle.
And that's it for the first episode (I got more on the page than I expected here!). The previews of showing who will be judging and future episodes makes this season look good on the cooking side, but also filled with more drama than I'd like. We'll see.