Top Chef

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The Big Apple

Next up is Daniel Gagnon, 25, who is from Long Island City, and is a chef at Babylon Carriage House. Daniel has, and I realize this has become a cliché, unfortunate facial hair. He's got an overly groomed full beard, but then has shaved stripes from the outside of his mustache down his chin, as if to outline a goatee. But then he still has the beard on his cheeks. And he didn't shave the strips all the way so there's a teeny tiny strip connecting his goatee to the hair on his cheeks. You kind of have to see it to believe it. Either way, I've never seen that style before, and there's a reason for that. It's dumb. And way too high maintenance. He seems like a typical Tristate goombah, although his last name seems French, not Italian, so who knows? He makes the bold statement that he's going to win the show. He might want to start out by winning the battle his beard is waging against good taste.

Lauren (remember her? Georgia? Husband in Iraq?) squeals and hugs the next arrival, because they went to culinary school together. Patrick Dunlea, 21, is still a student at CIA. He's really cute in a baby-faced and scrawny sort of way. Patrick thinks some people need years of experience to win the show, but some people just have the skills, and he's one of the latter. The next member of the European Union is Stefan Richter, 35, who was born in Finland and lived in Germany, Switzerland, and other countries. He thinks that if you just cook to make a living, you won't make it. You have to have passion! Of course, he says this in the most deadpan and unemotional way possible.

Richard Sweeney, 27, executive chef at Confidential, is excited to start the competition. As they all arrive at Governor's Island, Richard confesses that as a big old queen with a bunch of big old queen friends (his words, not mine), he can't wait to see what Padma is wearing. The best part is that they then cut to Padma and Tom, and Padma is wearing a very non-glamorous and kind of ugly outfit. It's a white tank top with a maroon sleeveless jacket over the top and then gray skinny jeans that kind of look like sweatpants, and her hair's in a ponytail. It seems quite warm out, so I'll definitely cut her some slack, but it was funny to hear Richard talk about how awesome Padma's outfits usually are, and then she was wearing what looked like exercise gear. The cheftestants arrive on a beautiful lawn, where there are a few long tables set up, so clearly some sort of competition will be happening shortly. Leah Cohen, 26, a Sous Chef at Centro Vinoteca, says that her mother's advice to her was just to avoid crying so she won't look "like a little bitch." Her mother sounds warm!

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Top Chef

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