Last week, we saw the premiere of “Top Chef: Charleston,” and it was a pretty exciting hour of TV! We had a quick showdown that brought you the first elimination of the season, but at the same time, we didn’t get a proper challenge beyond an opening quickfire and a showdown between two chefs.
Much of the reasoning for that was simply a matter of this being effectively the second part of the preview, and the entire hour was for the most part about a single challenge: The newbies and the returning chefs each paid a visit to a prominent Charleston chef, and learned a great deal about a very specific style of cooking. Here’s a shocker for everyone: The returning players were a lot better at this challenge than the newbies, and in virtually every aspect. Who is surprised by this?
The trouble for the newbies started at Whole Foods of all places, given the fact that nobody seemed to have almost any idea as to what they were doing, or how to work things out using the materials that they were given. There were struggles almost all over the place with organization, and multiple people were left serving food that wasn’t quite like they first drew it up. The problems continued with teamwork in the kitchen itself — it actually doesn’t seem like their overall meal was terrible, but there were aspects of it that were disjointed and a few people struggled with the technique.
By contrast, the returning chefs just about killed it with a fairly impeccable meal full of great food and preparation. That’s what happens when you’re used to being a part of this competition! Casey Thompson ended up being the victor, and that makes us wonder if you just have that much more of an advantage if you’ve been in the competition three times as opposed to two. She really seemed to nail everything that she put out there.
Unfortunately, for the newbies we were worried for both BJ Smith and Annie Pettry. For the former, it was frustrating to see him struggle with the cook of the pork since he described himself as the meat guy going into this. However, when it comes to Annie she had a hard time standing up and cooking the food that she wanted to. We do think she’s got a shot in “Last Chance Kitchen” because we do think the talent is there, and she’s just the sort of person who needs to get used to the conditions of this competition.
Overall – This was standard “Top Chef” fare in that it was a great, super-intense challenge with an unpredictable finish. The downside there is mostly that with this newbies versus veterans twist, watching the new chefs get completely steamrolled is not exactly our idea of quality entertainment. Grade: B-.
For some other news when it comes to “Top Chef,” including a preview for the next new episode, be sure to head over to the link here. (Photo: Bravo.)