Washington D.C. serves as the backdrop for tonight’s seventh season premiere of ‘Top Chef’ (Bravo, 9/8c), ushering in a fresh batch of 17 cheftestants vying for the illustrious title of Top Chef, and the even more illustrious $125K prize. This season brings new judge Eric Ripert to the table, joining a post-pregnancy Padma Lakshmi, Tom Colicchio, and Gail Simmons. And what would a D.C. ‘Top Chef’ be without the occasional drop-in by certain key members of regional royalty? This season’s guests include: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi! White House chef Sam Kass! Former Congressman and ‘Morning Joe’ host, Joe Scarborough! And…Buzz Aldrin! (With his stint on ‘Dancing With the Stars, a recent ‘30 Rock,’ guest role, and his ‘WWE Raw’ hosing gig, is Buzz the new Betty White?)
Having already watched the first episode, two things are for certain: there is no shortage of skills this season, nor of amazing personalities. And as we all know, when you’re done salivating over the food you wish was being cooked for you (and you alone), the success of the show boils down to the personalities of the competitors. With that in mind, here’s a look at a few favorite characters from this season:
The New Stefan: Angelo Sosa
Heavy on arrogance and low on losing, Angelo is the one to beat this season. In the first five minutes of the premiere, the Connecticut native name drops “Jean Georges,” “Ducasse,” “France,” “Monte Carlo,” and “Michelin.” In an unfortunate teaser, he is actually shown saying, “I’m literally going to be a sniper. I’m not here to f*ck around.” Apart from the fact that one should never use the word “sniper” in conjunction with anything related to D.C., there’s no denying this guy has skills.
The Male Carla: John Somerville
If ever there were a white, dreadlocked, male doppelganger to Carla, John is it. There’s something about his lanky, soulful vibe that brings back memories of Whole Foods Hooty Hoo’s from days of yore.
The Georgian Rosie O’Donnell: Tracey Bloom
She’s bold and ballsy. And she’s not afraid to call BS on any of her fellow chefs. Plus, her secret weapon is…Koosh Balls! OK, just kidding.
The Less Dramatic Robin: Lynne Gigliotti
In a shockingly defiant move against traditional ‘Top Chef’ conventions, Lynn does not have tattoos. Nor does she wear her hair “all crazy,” as she’d like you to know. Like Robin from last season, she’s the oldest chef in the house at 51, and as a culinary school instructor, she’s a force to be reckoned with.
The Christian Siriano With A Carving Knife: Arnold Myint
In preparation for ‘Top Chef,’ Arnold says he got a wardrobe stylist and a facial. It’s unclear whether he is joking. He also likes to participate in something called the “motivational staff dance.” Here’s to hoping he coins the new ‘Top Chef’ catchphrase, replacing the much-maligned “Top Scallop.”