The long national nightmare of not having any high-quality reality cooking television comes to an end tonight!

Tonight, Hubert Keller (Fleur de Lys), Christopher Lee (Aureole), Michael Schlow (Radius Restaurant), and Tim Love (The Lonesome Dove Western Bistro) go head to head.  Also: If Jesus loves me he will make sure that Wylie Dufresne, whenever he appears, gets SPANKED.

Details, cast and judges list and bios here. See you in two hours, fourteen minutes.

Bonus rumor: Three words – Neil Patrick Harris.

9:59: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I love So You Think You Can Dance.  No apologies.

10:00: My god, Kelly Choi’s head is going to snap off her pencil neck at any minute and roll across the studio floor.

Nice to see that the Glad Family of Products is back, I was worried there wouldn’t be enough product placement opportunities in this series.

Schlow is a really unfortunate last name.

10:03:  I know it’s only the first three minutes of the first episode, but I want Hubert Keller to win.  There, I said it.  I’m also instantly badly disposed to Christopher Lee.  Is it just me, or does he sound like one of the normal douchebaggy contestants?

10:06:  Her neck makes me nervous every time I see her; I don’t know if this will ever stop, we’ll have to see how it plays out.  Also, is there no one who can host this show with any kind of personality?  Do they make you sign it away when you agree to come on board?

QUICKFIRE: Dessert…for Girl Scouts. Masters only get an hour.

I think I love Tim a little.

10:09:  Hubert: Chocolate swan = love.

Tim: CHICKEN FRIED STRAWBERRIES = LOVE in capital letters.

Christopher Lee:  Caramelized bananas.  Like…a caramelized banana “scallop?”  That a prior cheftestant milked not once, but twice?  Don’t validate my instant dislike of you.

Oops, too late.

10:10:  GE Appliances suck for the Masters, too.  You have to wonder why they still sponsor this show, given that they always come out looking like ass.

I think you could make an entire television series out of famous chefs being criticized by Girl Scouts.  I would be all over that like Ilan Hall on derivative Spanish food.

10:15: Poor Schlow.  (It sounds like an insult, but it’s his actual name.  I may start using it as an insult, because it just sounds so right.)

The red-headed girl is ROUGH.

10:16:  Who do they love?  Oh yeah, Hubert.

Seriously, is the red-haired girl a ringer?  She is NOT PLAYING and she wants you to know.

10:19:  Winner: HUBERT.  Key to winning with Girl Scouts: Make desserts in the shape of cute baby animals.

I think I’m digging this – they have to deal with the same irritating limitations, but they’re so much more chill.  Enjoying.

ELIMINATION CHALLENGE: Microwave, toaster over and hot plate cooking.  (George Plimpton, on the Simpsons: “…and a hot plate!”  Who’s with me?)

10:21:  Christopher Lee comes on screen.  Brian, who has been out of the room: “Is that the douche?”

10:25:  Oh Tim, you stored your fresh vegetables in the freezer.  That?  Is tough to come back from.

They’re cooking in an actual dorm room.  So when you finish early, you can take a nap, assuming you’re not scared of going near a college student’s sheets.  I went to college.  I remember how often I changed ’em.  Just saying.

10:28:  The college students actually come back to their rooms, and the chefs are quite gracious.  More so than I would be; college students are insufferable.  Again, I was one.

Hubert is draining, cooling and reheating his pasta in a communal dorm shower.  I think that’s all that needs to be said about that.

10:32: How does she even get food down that neck?  There can’t be room for anything in there but spinal column and esophagus.

Do all British chefs and restaurant critics have to look the same?  Okay, the sneer I get; you’re British.  But the crazy professor hair?  Unnecessary.  Buy a brush.

10:33:  I want to rock a hat like Gael Greene.

Course 1: There’s a lot of fish.  A lot of it raw.  I have to agree with bitchy British guy a little: cop out.

10:35:  Listening to Kelly try her Italian and Spanish accents when pronouncing “prosciutto” and “pozole” is spoon-in-the-ear painful.  Like when you’re watching Jeopardy and there’s a foreign language word and Alex gets all accent-y, and you just want to smack him.  But you can’t smack her.  At least, not in the face, because who knows where that head’s gonna go?

Hubert seems fairly universally beloved so far.

10:36:  The editor of Saveur looks like Bob Balaban.

Other things I’m loving so far:  Lack of Tom Colicchio.  Lack of editor-manufactured drama.   Lack of Leah and Hosea (I guess that’s redundant with “manufactured drama”).

10:41:  Famous chefs unable to use microwaves: Another show I would watch, although maybe that should only be half an hour long.  I don’t have one either (meaning, of course, that I’m better than you), but I’m pretty sure that somewhere in the recesses of my brain I remember how to stop and start one.

10:44: JUDGE’S TABLE:  Aw, they still look nervous.  Except for Christopher Lee, who is a douchebag.

Hubert: Do not tell people that you drained and chilled your pasta in the dorm shower.

Explain this: Why did Kelly’s “prosciutto” make me want to claw at my ears, but listening to Gael’s clipped little French pronunciation of “crouton” does not?  Probably the hat.

10:47:  Tim is so polite.  Such a clean young man.  “I did use the defrost, yes I did, sir.”

Saveur guy may be more like the love child of Christopher Kimball and Bob Balaban rather than solely the Balaban.

Christopher Lee is so hated by me right now.  He knows this isn’t really a competition and he’s already wildly successful, yes?  I dislike him so intently that it’s making me like Charlie Palmer less for hiring him, and I love Charlie Palmer.

10:48:  The Masters get a much nicer waiting room than the grunts.  Where is the Official Wall of Gladware?  I’m disoriented.

10:51:  Tim Love is, wisely, unconcerned and not at all surprised that the British guy found his steak too salty.

The Masters think they’ve gotten a drubbing from the judges.  Apparently they’ve never watched the regular version of the show, or have selectively forgotten times when they themselves have been the judges doing the drubbing.  I remember season one fondly: “NOBODY PUT THE FINGER IN THE SAUCE!”

10:55:  Isaac Mizrahi, you know I love you, but The Fashion Show is no Project Runway.

I’ll say it again:  Poor Schlow.  He gets the first knife-packing of the season.

10:56:  Although the judges were pretty effusive with their praise, they’re stingy with their stars.

10:57:  Pull it out, Hubert,  Pull it out.

10:58:  I don’t know what makes me happier: Christopher Lee losing, or Hubert winning.  Okay, my heart isn’t that black; it’s Hubert.

Christohper Lee can’t even take this fake-loss graciously.

THIS SEASON:  Someone says, “The clock is ticking, and the laser is creeping up the table toward your crotch,” and I think that not only do we get Neil Patrick Harris, but we get to watch him judge Wylie Dufresne.  Rock on.