Top Chef: DC Thoughts for June 16

Well, it’s the start of a brand new season of traditional Top Chef, this time in fabulous Washington, DC. There’s a bunch of changes and in my opinion most of them for the better.

The most visible change is Eric Ripert as the fourth judge. I know most people won’t be missing Toby all that much, but I thought he simply got off on the wrong foot when he first came on board. He had a few good insights here and there, but I think ultimately moving up to Eric Ripert is a huge step forward for Top Chef as a whole. Having one of the world’s premiere French chefs on the judging table gives you a lot of cred.

The field of contestants is overviewed very well by Dom over at his blog. I’m not sure what else I could add to that other than the glimpses we got of a few chefs tonight. These intro episodes really need to be an hour and a half or perhaps two hours long to really get a feel for some of these chefs.

Still, in the end, the guy I thought was the kookiest (John) got bumped the first. He made the cardinal sin of Top Chef – do not do a dessert unless you absolutely have to. He bombed spectacularly in the eyes of Tom. It’s a dessert that I probably would have enjoyed if I tried it, but John just lost it somewhere along the line. It honestly looked like something I’d get at Friendly’s. I was not impressed.

Also, Kenny is a beast, and I think him and Angelo are going to be duking it out in every challenge. I think Angelo should get a grip on himself – there’s just too much variance to win every challenge in Top Chef. I mean, yes, everyone wants to win every challenge, but let’s be realistic here. It simply comes off as arrogance. Kenny appeals to me in his very technical way; we’ll see if he keeps that up throughout the show.

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