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Ron Duprat's Top Chef Recap Episode One

Episode two of the new Top Chef Las Vegas premiered last night, which means we've seen Hollywood Beach Marriott Executive Chef Ron Duprat twice now on the program. Each week, we're going to recap what happened to the Haitian native Duprat on the show -- and maybe point out some funny stuff too. I'll try not to focus too much on the non-Ron stuff, but so far the action has been a little removed from him. And, of course, we're going to root for our hometown boy, despite our last review of his restaurant. Also, this week, since I missed the first episode, I'm going to cover both. Now on with the show. 

Episode one:

All the chefs are rolled out and introduced;

some get lengthy introductions where they talk about their

accomplishments, families, and sexual orientations (Ash Fulk

of Trestle on Tenth thinks he is Ellen, apparently). Ron just gets a

faceplate with his name that flashes by quickly. He's got a really

loveable smile, though.

A few minutes in we see Ron showing up

at the Top Chef house. He introduces himself and talks a little bit

about his background. "I grew up in Haiti," he says, "and my

philosphies are keep it real, keep it simple, and let's have fun."

Right away you can tell Ron's a real character, a jolly sort of big man

with a real quirky side. I hope we see more of it.

Next, we

get some more introductions, and a couple contestants are wearing

meat-related shirts. Anti-vegetarianism sure has reached some new

heights. Eli sports a "bacon" shirt, while Jesse has bright blue disco-fied duds that read "meat is meat." Yes. Yes it is.


going to be a quickfire challenge, where contestants can win $15,000 by

making the best dish with ingredients culled from a mise en place

relay. Ron doesn't get to participate since he's stuck behind Preeti,

who apparently can't shuck a clam to save her life. Too bad, because

Ron would've rocked in a seafood challenge. Hector Santiago comments on how much more beautiful host Padma is in person -- no one ever says that about poor old Tom Colicchio.

We also get a glipse of who will likely be the villain this season, Zaytinya chef Mike Isabella.

In his two minutes of air time so far, he's insulted people, acted like

a cocky asshole, and said of fellow-contestant Jennifer, who nearly

beat him in the mise en place relay, "No offense, but there's no way a

girl should be at the same level as I am." It worked, Bravo. I think

he's a dick already. I am, however, slightly annoyed by Jennifer's

pronunciation of ceviche. "Civ-eech." Blech.


wins with her civeech, and it's on to the next challenge, and hopefully

more Ron, who's had all of 20 seconds face time 30 minutes in to the

program. The contestants are heading to Whole Foods (Not many liberals

in the bunch, eh? Or didn't they get the memo*?)

where they've got 30 minutes to come up with a meal that best

represents their personal vice. Ron gets some screen time! He says of

his planned meal, "My journey to the US was 27 days at sea. It was very

dangerous because sometimes they threw people overboard. The other guys

caught the fish, and I cooked the fish and that kept me alive." Damn,

that's wicked. Top Chef doesn't often handle the whole "cooking to

live" side of the culinary arts, and it's clear that's where Ron got

his passion -- cooking literally kept him from starvation, and being tossed overboard. We'll see how much

more the show delves into this obviously touchy subject. My guess: not much.


decides on Chilean sea bass, saying, "It's not easy to let that [time

in my life] go, so my vice is going to be a fish dish." Not really a

vice, per se, but I like the theme.

We see Ron a little bit here

in the kitchen as he prepares his dish, seared sea bass with an Island

hash. He's a fun guy, dancing around a bit and singing. The other

contestants are, naturally, freaking the fuck out.

When it's

time to judge, Wolfgang Puck shows up to do the honors. Ron comes

forward with his dish and explains the story. Gail is moved, but Tom

notes he's not sure Ron picked an appropriate vice. Again, he's kinda

right, but be a little flexible, Tom. They seem to like Ron's sea bass,

and Wolfgang himself notes that it's cooked "pretty good." Nice job,


The contestants run back to what looks like an electrical

room/hurricane bunker to await sentencing, I mean to hear who gets the

boot. Padma comes in looking all somber and calls Ron in along with

Kevin, Michael, and Jennifer. Turns out, Ron had the best dish of his

group - booya!

Gail says, "I definitely got those typical island

flavors. I thought the dish was nice and the fish was cooked great."

Tom, the stick in the mud, says, "It's great hearing your story. I'm

not quite sure it's a vice, but we're happy that you lived through that

to be here with us." Aw, touching. Jerk.

They choose Kevin as

the overall winner, and send out Hector, Jen, Jesse, and Eve. Jen

bites the big one with her giant, excrement-looking pepper, and takes

off. End of episode one, and Ron's still here. That's one day on the

island! Woo! (Inappropriate? Oh well.)

* Yes, I know the show was filmed long before the boycott. Thems are jokes.

Catch episode two in the next post.

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John Linn

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