Top Chef: Washington, D.C. Promises Us Eric Ripert, Three New York Chefs, Bad Dreads, and an Occasional Cross-Dresser


So close, yet so far: Bravo today announced that there is but little more than a month remaining until the premiere of Top Chef: Washington, D.C., which will premiere on June 16. Season seven already has a few things going for it, including three New York chefs, Eric Ripert, and guest appearances from, among others, Leon Panetta and Nancy Pelosi.

Ripert’s recent appearance alongside Tom Colicchio in Treme was apparently a Top Chef teaser: he’s going to be one of the season’s judges, alongside Tom, Padma, and Gail. Perhaps the producers chose him as an infinitely more telegenic replacement for toady Toby Young, whose bio is nowhere to be found on this season’s website.

New York will be represented by Jacqueline Lombard, a caterer and the erstwhile chef of Gansevoort 69; Ed Cotton, the executive chef of the newly opened Plein Sud; and Xie Xie’s Angelo Sosa.

Another contestant who will sort of be representing New York is Lynne Gigliotti, an assistant professor at the Culinary Institute of America. At 51, Gigliotti may be this season’s Robin, though she looks about 15 years younger than her actual age. And on the topic of possible doppelgangers, New Jersey’s Kevin Sbraga may be this season’s Jersey Mike — aside from the correct provenance, his gelled hair and self-description as “a beast in the kitchen” hold great promise.

The Worst Hair Award is prematurely given to dreadlocked white guy John Somerville, who also manages to make food preparation sound like a communicable disease by declaring that his philosophy is “spreading the infectious spirit of cooking!”

And the Most Annoying Neckwear Award, which last season went to Mattin, tentatively goes to the polka-dot-bow-tied Arnold Myint. However, Myint also used to be a competitive professional figure skater and sometimes dresses up as Suzie Wong, so perhaps the necktie is a hint of even greater sartorial choices to come.

And it’s tempting to cast an early vote of confidence for Atlanta’s Tracey Bloom, if only because she discloses in her chef bio that “She would have her last meal with Stevie Nicks and she would prepare Turkey salad sandwiches and homemade lemonade.”

Let the games begin!