Much like a skilled chef packing 10 pounds of flavor into a 5 pound dish, a skilled TV editor can make an hour’s worth of television feel like binge watching that show about the blue meth and the high school chemistry teacher and the kid that says “Yeah, bitch!” and some Mexicans and some Nazis and, well, you get the idea.
This week’s Top Chef (a traditional Quickfire-to-Whole Foods-to Elimination format we’ve all grown to love) was as thick as the roux that some of the cheftetants made for the gumbo challenge–an introductory Quickfire which serves to remind us as gently as a shovel to the back of the head that these guys are in New Orleans and that things down in New Orleans are different.
Yes, the event here is about a month away. And yes, that’s generally kind of outside the window for most peoples’ dinner planning. But this is one of those collaboration dinners where it might be best to reserve first just so you’re not regretting it later, you know?
Cool, right? And there’s going to be booze and a book signing and everything else you’d expect at one of these things. But what’s really cool about this one are the chefs that are involved. For one night only, the kitchen at Brauhaus Schmitz will be home to Jeremy and Jessica Nolen (who, okay, are there pretty much every night), Jenn Carrol, Jason Cichonski, Joe Cicala and Ben Puchowitz.
And wait ’til you see what they’re going to be cooking…
At the risk of being contrarian, I’ll just go ahead and say that I loathe the Geico commercial with the talking camel.
However, I’d be a filthy liar if I told you I wasn’t just as excited for Wednesdays as that dromedary douchebag is (and I know it’s a commercial and all, but who would hire a camel? And to do what? And are there work visa issues?), because after a season of no local cheftestants and a whole bunch of subpar cooking, I’m ready to accept Top Chef back into my life. And much like the euphoria felt after that first Eagles game, I’m eager to watch this season play out. Hopefully it won’t be as disappointing as the past three Sundays have been.
But enough about the wildlife. Let’s get on with a brief recap and a few predictions for this season of Top Chef New Orleans.
Just a quick reminder, folks. The new season of Top Chef debuts tonight, featuring two of Philly’s finest: Nick Elmi and Jason Cichonski.
Do we know anything yet for sure? No, we don’t. But we’ve seen the same promo videos you have, and it looks like Cichonski is getting a lot of screen time while Elmi is getting…less. One thing we’re pretty sure of, though, is that both guys make it past round one.
So set your DVR’s or do whatever it is you do. The fun starts tonight at 10pm on Bravo. And be sure to check back here tomorrow afternoon when we’ll have an exhaustive recap of the first episode, done by none other than Fidel Gastro himself.
Bravo’s Top Chef returns on Wednesday, October 2nd. Season 11 is based in New Orleans and includes local chefs Nick Elmi and Jason Cichonski. In the first episode the chefs must prepare a soiree in the swamp. In the sneak peek, Cichonski finishes early and harrasses a still working Elmi.
But for those of you out there who just can’t wait, we thought it might be nice to offer up a bit of history–a way for you to get a handle on our two hometown chefs and maybe come to understand, once the show starts, why this one is freaking out over his pork chops or why that one is doing that thing to that scallop. To that end, we’ve assembled a Six Pack of places where the two chefs trained, rose to prominence, made names for themselves or, in the case of Jason Cichonski, are still currently cooking (Elmi is unemployed at the moment, but working on opening his first restaurant–Laurel on East Passyunk).
It would make a helluva restaurant crawl. Or maybe something to do on the weekend before Top Chef premiers. But we’re not telling you how to live your life…
Okay, so now it’s official: Both Jason Cichonski and Nick Elmi will be competing on this year’s Top Chef, premiering Oct. 2 on Bravo. This season will be set in New Orleans (which is awesome, not matter how far off the rails the show may go), and feature our two hometown guys (plus a bunch of other people that we don’t care about) all competing for a sack full of money and the kind of instant celebrity that have made former contestants like Jen Carroll and Kevin Sbraga household names far beyond the neighborhoods in which they cook.
So what do we know right now? Well, NOLA.com (which got the initial release this morning) is reporting that Padma, Tom, Gail, Emeril and Hugh Acheson will all be back as judges. Guest judges will include Jon Favreau, Lea Michele, Anthony Mackie, Jacques Pepin, David Chang, Eddie Huang and another local hero–Questlove. A few of the other chef-testants names have been announced (including chefs from NYC and Boston), but the rest are going to be trickled out over the next couple days because if Top Chef is good at anything, it’s stretching out a reveal.
Still, there was a video released. It reveals…very little. But still, it’s a Top Chef teaser video in which Padma dances, so you know you want to watch it.
Noted pig-hugger, Jason Cichonski, is not letting the porkish glow of Cochon Epic fade so quickly. For those of you who missed the big event yesterday at the Ritz, he’ll be doing a re-do of all the dishes he and his team prepared for a one-night-only, 5-course pig dinner at Ela tomorrow night (Tuesday, July 30). The price is $45 (with an optional $25 beer and cocktail pairing), and reservations are highly recommended.