We’re roughly sixty hours away from the premiere of Top Chef Season 7, and here in Washington we’re all eager to see just how our hometown plays as host to the seventeen newest Cheftestants.  Will they have as many celebrity sightings as we do?  Will they revolutionize the Rubber Chicken dinner?

At Capital Spice, we’re especially interested in seeing how everything plays out.  When we ran our Top Chef DC contest back in December, we had no idea that the show was going to be filming in town just a few months later.  But as soon as we heard the news, we reached out to see if there was any way we could be involved.

The production team was great, inviting us to attend the first Elimination Challenge to get an insider’s perspective on what goes on during filming.  We were able to chat with the chefs and guests, sample the food, and watch as Tom, Padma, Gail and Eric Ripert worked their way around the room.  We’ll have plenty of details for you once the episode airs, but suffice it to say that what you’ll see on screen is just a taste of what went on at the Mellon Auditorium.

After the jump, an idea of what you can expect from Capital Spice throughout the season.

Because Washington will be one of the stars of the show for the next fifteen weeks, we’re planning to focus our coverage of this season on the ways the city influences the show.  Sure, we’ll talk about the cheftestants and we’ll recap some of what goes on during the challenges, but we want to help viewers from across the country better understand the who, where and why of each challenge.

To that end, we’ll be posting a weekly recap that talks about the details of each challenge:

  • Venue: Where does the challenge take place?  What’s the background of the location and what function does it serve?
  • Personalities: Who are the guest judges?  What do they do in Washington (or elsewhere)?
  • Significance: Does the format of the challenge or any other component have a DC-centric significance?

We’ll also be bringing back one of Capital Spice’s most popular features: the Google Map.  While Washingtonian did a great job of mapping out the various rumors and sightings during filming, we’re planning to put together a map that highlights the locations involved in the show.  Each week, we’ll update the map to include the venues where challenges take place, the locations that are central to the show (the Cheftestants’ house, the Whole Foods where they shopped, etc.) and the sites where you can find that week’s guest judges.  It’s our hope that visitors to DC will be able to use the map to plot out their own Top Chef DC tours when all is said and done.

About that contest we ran back in December.  We asked for your best ideas on what would make for good challenges and you stepped up with 80 suggestions!!! From what we’ve seen, quite a few of those ideas match up pretty well with what actually took place – and we plan to give credit to those who made similar suggestions as we recap each week’s challenges.  We may even reach out to commenters for feedback, to see how the challenges lived up to what they envisioned when they made their suggestions.

As we have in the past, we’ll be leading up to Wednesday night’s premiere by featuring interviews with two of the local contestants in this season’s crop.  Tamesha Warren is currently a sous chef at the Oval Room here in Washington, and Timothy Dean is the chef-owner of Prime Steakhouse in Baltimore and a DC native.  Check them out this week and see if they deserve a spot on your fantasy roster.

Oh…and we may have a few more insider surprises to share as the season progresses, so be sure to check back with us each week!