Fall TV

'Top Chef' Food Porn: The Best and Worst Dishes From the New Orleans Premiere

Fall TV

Season 11 of "Top Chef" leapt right out of the gate by skipping the traditional Quickfire Challenge and going straight for the Elimination Challenge. Contestants barely had time to put on their shirts...

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... before they were sent off to cook for a hundred people in the middle of the swamp.

The guy above, by the way, is Jason –– voted "Hottest Chef" in Philadelphia — because of course he is. Cooking shirtless won't win you "Smartest Chef," though.

In the interest of fairness, here's Australian contestant Janine.

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She says she's not a dumb blonde and if she makes it her entire career without dropping a pan, a knife, or hot oil on her sandaled feet, she might be right. But it's not likely.

Judge Tom Colicchio threw beads at the chefs. The beads had on them alligators, frogs, or turtles — the proteins the chefs had to cook with tonight. In case you're wondering what a shelled turtle looks like, wonder no more:

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It wouldn't be a reality cooking show if it didn't have at least one item that looked like it came from a serial killer's fridge.

 

The Winners

The contestants had to feed members of an exclusive dining society out in the swamp. The members were told to give beads to the cook that made their favorite dish, so by the end, the winners looked like drunk sorority girls during Mardi Gras.

Carrie's dish doesn't sound appetizing on paper: cold, chopped frog legs with oyster sauce. And, according to judge Emeril, the native Louisianans who attended the dinner were skeptical but then pleasantly surprised by the choice to serve cold frog. Presumably, in the middle of a hot, muggy swamp, anything cool is a welcome relief.

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Sara went with a General Tso's preparation on her alligator that was spicy enough to make judge Padma Lakshmi exclaim, "Holy sh--, that's hot!" It was risky, but she banked on Southern palates appreciating the heat — and it paid off.

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Nina's preparation of the tough turtle meat as a tender, easy-to-eat meatball won the night, though. It didn't look like much, but the unexpectedness of pairing curry with turtle seemed to work.

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The Losers

First, making pasta in the middle of a swamp for a hundred people is a bad idea. Second, making pasta in the middle of a swamp for a hundred people is a really terrible idea. Third, what were you thinking, man?!

 

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Patty had planned to make a roulade with gumbo flavors, but after two hours of prep, she didn't have enough to feed everyone, so she tore it up and tried to infuse gumbo flavors into the alligator. It's like if you scooped out the filling from a Twinkie, cut up the remaining cake, and then still tried to pass off the remaining slivers as a Twinkie.

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The first person to go home (or rather, to the Last Chance Kitchen) this season was Ramon. He made a dashi broth with Thai flavors but, fearing that a lukewarm broth sitting out overnight would be a haven for bacteria, he iced it down. He put ice into the part of his dish that had all the flavor. You know, like how you often find chips of ice in your hollandaise or how, sometimes, what you're really looking for in a spaghetti sauce is a bland, watery mess that doesn't stick to the noodles but just puddles at the bottom of the bowl.

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It should be noted that Ramon spent time in Thailand where he was a muay thai kickboxer. So expect Last Chance Kitchen to get bloody, because if he makes another dish this bad, he might have to resort to kneeing somebody in the face to move on.

"Top Chef" airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on Bravo.

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