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‘Prime Chef’ Season 21 Premier: Shuggie’s Trash Pie Chef David Murphy Goes House

Though the new and 21st season of Bravo’s Top Chef began with three San Francisco chefs in the lineup of 15 up-and-coming culinary stars, the first episode, which premiered on Wednesday, March 20, saw one of those young bucks go home. Chef David Murphy of Shuggie’s Trash Pie + Natural Wine was the unlucky contestant sent home in the season’s first episode. Chefs Rasika Venkatesa, known for her time in the kitchen at Moroccan fine dining restaurant Mourad, and Laura Ozyilmaz, who co-owns Dalida in the Presidio, also failed to make much of a splash. But it was ultimately Murphy whom the judges asked to pack up his knives. That means just two San Francisco cooks remain in the competition.

It came down to an on-brand but poorly executed event for Murphy. Judge Gail Simmons tasked Murphy and four other chefs, including Venkatesa, to make a stuffed pasta of their choice with barely any time to gather ingredients from Whole Foods. “I’ve never stuffed a fucking gnocchi before,” Murphy says in the car with the other contestants. Nevertheless, Murphy decided that’d be his submission to the elimination bout — specifically a mushroom-stuffed gnocchi with chicken liver gravy and Calabrian chili, amongst other components. For her part, Venkatesa chose to make a kozhukkatta- and korma-inspired dish, citing a lack of Indian renditions of pasta.

Colicchio worried aloud about how long it took Murphy to roll his pasta, which editors for the show coupled with a harsh cut to Murphy muttering “Come on, bitch.” (To be fair, Murphy made a show of dropping swear words and generously used the word “sexy” throughout the first episode, which could have been the makings of an entertaining drinking game for viewers.) While the judges knocked Venkatesa for her choice — judge Tom Colicchio said simply: “It’s not pasta” — they cited Murphy as the least favorite for using too much sauce. Simmons told the other judges she felt Murphy gave up before he started.

David Moir/Bravo via Getty Image

By the end of the episode, it was Murphy against Texas’s Amanda Turner and Georgia’s Kenny Nguyen, the least favorites in their respective categories. In what seemed a positive twist, the task was to utilize the leftovers from the day’s challenges. Asked to make “a good plate of food” by newcomer judge Kristin Kish, the chefs had 20 minutes to use whatever remained in the kitchen. It’s a dream come true to cook with the refuse, Murphy said to the camera. Still, he seemed hesitant to pick a lane, serving poached shrimp with cilantro and sungold tomatoes alongside coconut-cilantro broth and green curry sauce. The sauces were nearly identical, according to Simmons, and the dish didn’t stack up to a salad from Nguyen and a crudo from Turner.

For her part, Ozyilmaz competed with four others in a Kish-sourced soup challenge. While not the least favorite, they dinged her yogurt, mushroom, and bulgur dish for featuring too many ingredients. Standout contestants in the first episode include Manny Barella Lopez from Denver, who made a stunning pozole, and Danny Garcia from New York with the near-perfect roast chicken.

Murphy, of course, has nothing to worry about: Shuggie’s is a national phenomenon, and outlets including the New York Times and Bon Appetit have hailed the maximalist pizza paradise. He was certainly bummed to go nonetheless, making plenty of hat jokes with Colicchio (who’s worn many a fun hat throughout the years) and lamenting his early departure. “First dude. First,” Murphy says to the camera. “First to go. Never thought I’d be first.”

The new season already has several twists and turns in store for longtime fans, including a new judge stepping in for Padma Lakshmi and a chance to win more money in each episode. The next episode debuts on Wednesday, March 27 6 p.m. PST/9 p.m. ET on Bravo and for streaming the following day on the Peacock app.

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