Season 7 of “Top Chef” on Bravo kicked off last night, and this season it will take place in Washington DC, home of the White House, insane traffic, and great restaurants. Just like in most seasons, you can just about tell who is not going to last long, who can really cook, and/or who has an ego the size of the city they are taping in.

This season, in addition to the regular judges Padma Lakshmi (host), Gail Simmons, and Tom Colicchio, renowned chef and restauranteur Eric Ripert was added to the team. I won’t try and list all of the chef-testants by name and where they are from, because there are just too many of them to keep track at this point! But we’ll let you know who is standing out for various reasons.

The group met atop a tall building in DC and when Padma and Tom walked in, Colicchio announced the quick fire challenge. They each had to peel 10 potatoes, and the five slowest would be eliminated. The next round was to brunoise 10 cups of onions…brunoise is a fancy term for small dice. The slowest four would be eliminated. Then the third round was butchering four chickens, and the top four would advance to the final round, which was to cook a dish in 30 minutes using the ingredients they just prepped.

In the final four were Angelo, a dude with a huge ego who could also back up that huge ego; Kenny, who was faster on every challenge; Timothy, who is from DC; and Kevin. Kevin and Tim were both eliminated right off the bat–Kevin made a boneless chicken wing with hot and sour broth; and Tim made a roasted chicken with potato galette and mushrooms. In the end, Angelo’s roasted chicken wing with onion jam and potato noodles beat out Kenny’s chicken two ways with potato puree and onion con fit. Kenny was pissed, and Angelo went on and on about how great he is. Ugh. So Angelo won $20K as it was indeed a high stakes quick fire.

For the elimination challenge, the chefs would have to prepare a dish that signified where they were from, and they would be catering a party for 300 people to kick off the Cherry Blossom Festival. Each of the four who made the final of the quick fire had to choose chefs to compete AGAINST, forming four groups. So getting picked first in this case was not a good thing.

The bottom four and top four would be chosen one from each group.
The top four was Angelo, Kenny, Kevin and Alex. Angelo won, again, and I’m not sure what his dish was but I know it had bacon froth and that really impressed the judges, especially Ripert.

The bottom four wound up being Stephen, John, Jacqueline and Timothy. Stephen made a crispy rib-eye steak and made a fancy “O” arrangement to signify Ohio; John made a maple mousse in pastry that he didn’t make from scratch; Jacqueline a low fat (?) chicken liver mousse; and Timothy rock fish with the skin on (and a very thick skin at that…ewww).

Each of these four made glaring errors, and Colicchio admitted it was very tough to send someone home this soon, but they had to do it. It was John, whose maple mousse lacked maple flavor, and using store bought puff pastry was also a big no-no.

So there you have it…we are off and running, and already we can see that Angelo, Kenny and Kevin are going to be strong competitors the whole way…just like Kevin G. and the brothers Voltaggio last season.

Who do you like? I’m pulling for Kenny, because while I didn’t taste his food, I feel like he got screwed in both challenges. Let me know what you think in the space below!