Recap: 'Top Chef' - 'Everything's Bigger in Texas'

As you probably already know, this edition of "Top Chef" is going to be supersized -- and not just because the chefs will be galavanting around the great state of Texas. Twenty-nine chefs will compete for the 16 "real" slots on the show -- in the first challenge. In other words, don't get attached to anyone. In a recent interview, judge Tom Colicchio said he felt this mega-challenge actually improved the show, and I'm inclined to agree. A chef knowing that he or she has almost a fifty-fifty chance of being knocked out immediately clearly amps up the tension, plus this gives candidates who might look good (or not so good) on paper a chance to show what they can do under fire, so to speak. I hope this is a tweak they stick with. Now, putting Emeril "Bam" Lagasse on the judges' table, that I'm not as sure about, but I'll try to keep an open mind. 

Tom Colicchio, Gail Simmons, Hugh Acheson and (yes) Emeril Legasse will be our judges this season, and even if I have my qualms about Emeril, I'm thrilled to see Hugh Acheson on board. Some of you may remember how much fun he was on "Top Chef Masters," and I think his dry wit will be a nice counterpoint to Tom and Gail's earnestness without the meanness we sometimes got from Anthony Bourdain (love him, love "Kitchen Confidential," but I wish he wouldn't be so entranced with making punny critiques rather than actually offering useful advice, which you know he has) and always got from Toby Young. I'm really hoping Toby doesn't return to the show. Like Bourdain, he seemed to see the show as an opportunity to show off his ever-so-refined palate rather than offer insightful critiques. Unlike Bourdain, I suspect the only thing he ever actually cooked were ramen noodles over a hot plate in his apartment. Bourdain earned his snottiness, while Young was just, well, snotty.  Read More...


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