Top Chef is off and running after a lackluster premiere, in fact the lowly 1.8 million that tuned in last week was the show’s lowest premiere since the beginning of the season. When you take into account the lower than usual turnout for the Real World DC premiere, one would have to think if DC is the place where reality TV goes to die. I certainly hope not! Producers are right to think that the Washington, DC backdrop is sexy- I mean where else can you have a National monument in every B-roll shot? Also where are you going to find cool guest judges like White House chef Sam Kass?
The cook for the Obama family prepared meals for the family in Chicago and moved to DC after the election. He’s a self-starter with no formal training or experiencing running a restaurant or hotel. Instead he’s more of a working chef that continues to cook for the First Family while also advising and supporting Michelle Obama’s healthy living agenda.
I bet you didn’t know that about about Mr. Kass. The again you might have been too busy staring at him wondering if it would be possible to get trapped in an elevator with both him and Tom. In 2009 Kass was listed in People’s “100 Most Beautiful People,” yet another reason to get this White House official on camera.
Chefs Get Their Hands Tied in Quickfire Challenge
This week’s Quickfire challenge was simple: make a sandwich. The catch? You will be joined at the hip with a fellow chef, turning the simple task into a three-legged race. We learn that Tracey has a secret crush… on her partner Angelo.
Gag. While I won’t say anything about his physical appearance, doesn’t the allure go away once he opens his mouth? In an act of melodrama that only he can pull off, he threatens to close down his sandwich shop if he doesn’t win the challenge. Unfortunately for Tracey, Angelo only likes her, “like a twin sister.”
During the challenge there was a bit of tension between Alex and Tim when Alex expresses his fear of holding the bread while Tim slices it.
I couldn’t help but take Alex’s remarks of, “Tim, Tim, don’t cut me, please don’t cut me,” in a totally different direction than what he probably meant.
I was left thinking, “Look Alex not every black guy from DC is going to cut you.”
Angelo walks away the victor of the challenge, with three wins in a row to start off the season perhaps he really will win every challenge this season.
We can only hope he loses before his head grows any more. We have enough big heads in The District.
Back to School: Chefs Cook for DC Middle School Students
The elimination challenge was to cook a school lunch for middle school students. The chefs were limited to the same budget that public schools have to work with: $2.68 per child. The meals had to be healthy yet appealing to children. The challenge supported Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign and to me this was a great cause and a great challenge for the chefs. The point was really driven home while watching the chefs struggle with balancing a limited budget while creating a menu that was nutrition and delicious.
The meals were served to the kids at Alice Deal Middle School in Tenleytown. Angelo ran into some trouble when his foam gun suffers a technical malfunction. Unfortunately none of the other chefs offers to help him, that’s what you get when you are a d-bag.
The students arrive for lunch and the judging begins. Despite the constraints and challenge, the dishes still looked like gourmet entrees, definitely nothing I’ve ever seen served by the lunch lady.
My favorite? The Braised Pork Carnitas Tacos with Pickled Onions & Cilantro! Come on, wasn’t Taco day always the highlight of the school lunch week? Kudos for Team Kelly, Arnold, Lynne, and Tiffany on that meal- of course the real credit goes to Kelly, who actually had the idea for the tacos and made sure everybody knew it. I don’t know if I should write it off as making sure you get credit or if being just plain annoying. You don’t hear me telling you that writing about Top Chef DC every week was my idea.
Oh ya just so you know it was. Get used to it.
The dishes that didn’t fare that well? The Banana Pudding with Skim Milk and Braised Chicken Thigh in a Sherry Jus.
Sherry? In the lunchroom? This is a public school, not Phillips Academy, come on!
The winners? Team Taco night, who else!?! Angelo not only lost, but was also one of the bottom two teams in the challenge. A sweet victory for viewers until you wonder if Angelo threw the challenge in order to get teammate Kenny kicked out. Angelo and Tracey already had immunity so if his team lost there would be a 50/50 chance Kenny, one of the stronger competitors on the show, would get the boot.
To Angelo’s dismay Kenny didn’t pack up his knives- that honor went to Jacqueline, creator of the Banana pudding with two pounds of sugar.
Yes that’s right her bananas ended up a little too starchy. So how do we fix it? By adding sugar by the bag.
Did Angelo game it? Is it really bad luck if you are tasked with the dessert portion of a meal? Questions we’ll have to continue to explore as the season rolls on. Feel free to sound-off in the comments below.
I Know That Place
The Top Chef DC House: This season the chefs stayed at a posh home at 22121 Leroy Place NW in Kalorama. The house was recently sold for $3.6 million.
Restaurant Depot: Do you need to buy a large amount of ingredients? Why don’t you shop where the Top Chefs go! Most likely the show went to the Alexandria, VA location but there is also a store in Capital Heights, MD.
Alice Deal Middle School: It really is a DC public school but it certainly doesn’t look like one from the inside.
Water Cooler Reaction
My co-worker/Top Chef fan Maggie Pitts:
Maggie: “I need you to find out if Sam Kass is single because I think I’m in love.”
Me: “Wow, what was going through your head when you saw him on TV?”
Maggie: “Let’s make some healthy food together.”
Tweet of the day: @valerieelston
Follow Patrick on Twitter @dmbosstone and let him know what you think about Top Chef DC- your tweets could end up in this column!