Top Chef Season 18 - Portland

Heads up - Top Chef is returning April 1st.


This should be interesting in Portland. I suspect there will be at least one food truck challenge.

Anyone watch last night?

I had to wait until this morning. I don’t have cable, so I watch the next day online. Too many chefs right now for me to sort out, but I’m sorry the older guy was auffed. I was sort of surprised it wasn’t the “chukka-fried chukka” guy.


I didn’t instantly hate anyone and I liked a few of them, including the person who lost. But it’s so confusing the first few episodes.

I am tired of Blaise, though. I think I’m alone in that.

No, same. He doesn’t seem to be able to convey that he’s interested in food more than in his own image. He’s a fine enough guest judge, but his Top Chef clock has run out for me.

He tries so hard and I enjoy either someone who is serious (Kevin, Voltaggio bros) or someone who is carefree (Carla).

Wasn’t surprised who was eliminated. I’m afraid the returning contestants are going to try to have something to say too much while judging, but it’s early and so good to have it back.

I really enjoyed tonight’s episode. I thought both challenges were the perfect top chef balance where there’s enough gimme/surprise/twist to make it entertaining, but not so much that it becomes about the gimmick, not about the cooking. I also think having all stars has judges is a great idea. It’s so nice to have these familiar faces with built-up affection around… but whenever they bring vets back to compete against newbies, it’s just a slaughter. So this is a good compromise. And I really like many of the competitors. Of the six who were on the top tonight, I think five are pretty clear favorites, with Avashar yet to impress. But maybe he’ll pull it together.

I liked the Quickfire a lot. I think breakfast is a perfect quickfire type challenge and something that should make a return appearance in some form, in some season.
I was fine with the elimination challenge in general, kind of meh on the twist. I think it’s early enough it would have been interesting just to see them deal with beer or coffee, but I also didn’t think the twist hurt anything.
I’m starting to think the overall caliber of the chefs is lower than most seasons but haven’t locked into that yet.
And the returning guest judges are fun even though it’s a little tough to get 10 opinions on each dish. Producers are doing a decent job balancing that so far.

I really liked the contestant who went home, so that was kind of a bummer. I agree it was a great QF idea. I hated what Blaise did, BUT I don’t blame it on him because I can imagine where that would be producer shenanigans.

What did he do?

He requested a much larger, complicated breakfast than anyone else. It was definitely tv theatrics.

What was great is that both chefs made everything he ordered!

Finally got to see the 2nd ep. I was willing to buy a season pass on Amazon, but they didn’t have it.

I liked both challenges - I liked the head-to-head battle on the QF. I think the Richard Blaise more complicated order was sort of appropriate - everyone had a chance to try for and earlier order. You snooze, you lose.


Overall, this has been an excellent season. I think having the vets as judges works perfectly, because we get to take advantage of Top Chef’s deep bench of personalities that we have fond memories of without having to try to do vets-vs-rookies competition, which always ends in a slaughter.

One thing I kind of wish is that they more often judged with a scale. 0 to 5 stars or something. I’m not saying they should do that every time, but it would open up a lot of potentials for interesting challenges. Like, the shoppers have a budget of $500, but for every $100 less than that they spend, they get .5 stars added to their rating, or something (with the judges not knowing how much was spent on each dish). Or round robin dishes where every 15 minutes every chef gets up and walks to the station on their left. Right now, if there are 10 chefs and 10 dishes and each chef worked on 4 of those dishes, it would be super hard to pick a winner or loser. If each of those 10 dishes gets a star rating, then you can just use math and average them out to find the “best” chef, etc.

I wish they’d do more blind tastings. It would increase the dramatic effect for TV, but you’d also know they weren’t choosing a dish because they wanted a particular contestant to win.

I also wish (especially with LCK) that the head-to-head competitors got to taste the other dish.


I liked the star rating system in the first seasons of Top Chef Masters, but they dropped it in favor of only having verbal feedback in later seasons. I suspect there may have been some pushback from the contestants, since having your dish rated 1 or 2 stars was embarrassing when you’re a famous chef.

The blind taste testing is a good idea!

A couple of interesting developments…
(1) A somewhat surprising elimination (Gabriel, who I would have said was solidly one of the top 5) and then a truly shocking one (Sarah, a clear favorite)
(2) Very different format for restaurant wars. The huge rush of orders and expediting and stuff was always exciting… but it also kind of got old. So it was fun to see this new format. But it did lead to a shocking elimnation
(3) The most recent episode, with the all stars trying to follow recipes, was possibly the single most entertaining episode of TC I’ve ever seen. It was just such a different and fun view on what they’re doing. I hope they do something similar every season.

I would rank all the remaining chefs right now, but I honestly can’t see anyone but Shota or Dawn winning, unless Sarah makes it back out of LCK. Maybe Gabe third? (I might be getting Gabe and Gabriel confused).