Last night, of course, marked the premiere of Top Chef: New York. “It was about time they came to New York,” Adam Platt told us over IM (that’s right, we’ve once again browbeaten him into chatting with us after each episode). As New Yorkers first and foremost, the thing that truly fascinated us was the current crop’s accommodations (“I didn’t know they made structures that high and ugly in Williamsburg,” Platt marveled. “It looks like they’ve been imprisoned in the wilds of Long Island City”), but as food obsessives, we were also heartened by our hometown girl Leah’s strong showing, the inevitable display of knife skills, and an appearance (preposterously subtitled) by Jean-Georges Vongerichten, the black ninja.
Maurer: So, we have some competition this season — Spike was also live-blogging the episode.
Platt: Spike of the Funny Hats?! God help us. I'll say this for the current crop of poor cheftestants. They seem a lot more cheery and upbeat, and generally likable, than the previous doomed kitchen slaves. Although an absurd number, I noticed, sported fearsome tattoos.
Maurer: And baldfolk, too. It was the balds against the beards.
Platt: Stefan is clearly the evil leader of the baldies.
Maurer: Stefan and Fabio = the European Union. And what about Danny, the guy with half of a reverse Fu Manchu? Obviously the new Howie.
Platt: This year’s Gorgon has yet to rear her ugly head, though it might be the blonde woman who wouldn’t talk to the nice big gay guy. This year’s Hung is definitely Stefan the Evil Baldy. And this year's dark horse is Hosea, the kindly giant from Colorado, and the tattooed guy from Vegas who unwittingly cooked that killer Indian dish.
Maurer: Let’s talk about the first Quickfire challenge.
Platt: It was unexpectedly fearsome. Imagine being ferried to Governors Island on a warm summer's day, and having to peel fifteen perfect apples under the stern gaze of Don Colicchio.
Maurer: I wasn’t surprised when Richard cut his finger, given that he was wearing a BEER PONG T-shirt. I was surprised when two of the cheftestants, under penalty of sudden death, prepared salads.
Platt: Well, that’s what I would have done. And I would have severed several digits in the process. What did we think of the actual cook-off?
Maurer: Richard’s interpretation of Greek food was an overcooked burger.
Platt: It didn’t look like a bad burger. The worst-looking dish by far was that dreckish pork slop cooked by the blond surfer dude from Miami. And Don Colicchio liked it! The poor vanquished Fabio looked like he’d seen a ghost.
Maurer: And so Jeff inexplicably enjoys another day in the public eye, like Kato Kaelin.
Platt: I have to say, it’s about time we got to see the great Vongerichten, dressed all in black like a fierce little ninja.
Maurer: What about that moment where he stooped to sniff Ariane's rack of lamb? Have you ever done such a thing?
Platt: Chefs do a lot of sniffing. They do a lot of licking and tasting and spitting. Chefs are very tactile. We critics are more cerebral and composed.
Maurer: Our hometown girl, Leah, clearly made a strong showing. You knew she’d emerge victorious as soon as she was unleashed in Di Palo.
Platt: I liked the bug-eyed guy from Long Island [Danny] better than Leah.
Maurer: You had to love it when Patrick, after carping about taking an Asian cooking class, met the steely gaze of Vongo because of those gummy noodles.
Platt: Those poor culinary students were in no way ready to face the wrath of Don Colicchio and the Black Ninja. This group seems much more talented (and photogenic) than last year's pale pack of kitchen slaves. I’d have to say the poor cook from New Jersey who undercooked her faro is next on the chopping block.
Maurer: Personally, I'm looking forward to seeing whether Colicchio takes Richard up on those three drinks. We shall see!