- Dustin, the cheesily winking pool boy who impressed Ramsay with his poshed-up sausage roll. He joins bubbly Scot (aren't they supposed to be dour?) Pauline from the first hour in sucking up to Ramsay with comfort food from the auld sod.
- Christine, the stressed-looking "recent" single mother who takes culinary advice from her varmint-cooking dad. She got her apron on a split decision, on the strength of her soft-shelled crab and slaw (and apparently in spite of her polenta); expect her to vie with Albert (gator three ways) for redneck fan favorite.
- Esther, the former attorney who argued her way onto the show despite the judges' lukewarm response to her Korean spicy braised cod with daikon (which looked and sounded damn tasty to me). What is it with young Asian female lawyers quitting their careers to go on cooking shows, anyway? That was also Stephenie's story on America's Next Great Restaurant, and I seem to recall a similar case from last season of MasterChef.
- Not only is Alvin from my childhood home
towngreater metropolitan area of Houston, he also busted out a homemade immersion circulator, which made me squeal with geeky joy. I wonder if he used the plans from Cooking for Geeks that first enthralled me? His Hawaiian beef braised short rib with sticky rice and sous vide egg looked really yummy, too. I know I'll be rooting for this potential geek fan favorite... but will the challenges allow hit to show all his geeky chops?
- And joining Christian (Shipwreck Stew) from the first hour as early favorites to actually win the whole shebang are Derrick, the stay-at-home dad from Gloucester, MA, who wowed all three judges with his sopa with homemade chorizo and fire-roasted salsa, and unemployed architect Alejandra (another former professional woman!) who bravely stood behind the spice level of her shrimp and saffron rice dish.
Of course, it's impossible to know the stories they've glossed over in apron-giving montages, nor who awaits us in the final auditions episode, but it's already shaping up as quite an interesting season!