The first episode of Season 7 of “Top Chef” opens in Washington, D.C. with the lovely Padma Lakshmi calling the nation’s capital “the city of idealists, visionaries and ruthless powerseekers,” and you can’t help but wonder if she’s talking about the town or the new cast. This batch of hopefuls includes the usual suspects: The Award Winner (Andrea Curto-Randazzo), The Big Deal (Kelly Liken), The Caterer (Jacqueline Lombard), The Dad (Stephen Hopcraft), The European (Alex Reznik), The Good Guy (Kevin Srbaga), The Hottie (Amanda Baumgarten), The Kid (Tamesha Warren), The Personality (Arnold Myint), The Quiet Threat (Tiffany Derry), The Sad Story (Timothy Dean), The Sass (Tracey Bloom), The Terminator (Kenny Gilbert), The Underdog (Ed Cotton), and some welcome new additions — The Instructor (Lynne Gigliotti), The Michelin Star (Angelo Sosa), and The Oddball (John Somerville — Sorry!).
The Quickfire Challenge isn’t anything groundbreaking, just another mis en place tournament that we’ve seen before. The chefs have to peel potatoes, brunoise onions, break down raw whole chickens into 8 pieces, and then cook a dish with these and other ingredients. The slowest chefs will be weeded out at each leg so that only four remain for the cooking portion. What’s really interesting isn’t the $20,000 at stake (which has Jersey Boy and aspiring homemaker Kevin drooling) but rather that most of the cheftestants clearly didn’t bother to brush up on the basics after they were cast. This kind of challenge is classic TC yet so many of these chefs struggle. Given, they have to peel potatoes with a paring knife and not a speedy peeler, but still.