Thursday, March 16, 2006

God Help Us

But we got hooked on Top Chef. Create by the folks at Project Runway, it is blessed with the Project Runway knack for good casting and good pacing. Unfortunately it is cursed with perhaps the most atrocious host ever known to television and some boring judges. Ok, the fetus that Billy Joel married, simply cannot host. Her flat, running-for-junior-class-council speaking voice is crazy grating. It's neither over-the-top-crazy like Kathy Griffin or cool and deadpan like our favorite Tim Gunn. (Speaking of Tim Gunn, J was reading about him somewhere that Tim was cruelly dumped 20 years ago and HASN'T BEEN IN A RELATIONSHIP SINCE. The silver fox has been single for 20 years.) The other problem is, unlike Heidi Klum who is content (and smart enough) to flit in give the instructions and stay the hell out of the episode until judging, Billy Joel's child bride is talking all the freaking time. Unlike shallow socialites like Ally Hilfiger, Jaime Geicher, or the Hiltons, the child bride has no sense of humor. And of course the judges really can't compare to his orange higness, Michael Kors and the cool intellect of Nina Garcia.

The first challenge was fascinating. They went to Fleur De Lys (a San Francisco dining institution) where they worked the line in the kitchen for 30 minutes. Folks who didn't cut it were asked to leave. It was fascinating to see season chefs leave early while some of the less pexerienced held their own in the line. The second challenge was to make a signature dish for the judges and their fellow contestants to critique.

The contestants:

Stephen - Like Emmett being a menswear designer, we are constantly reminded that Stephen is a sommelier. Like every time he talks. Is all about the wine and in the first episode, picks a wine pairing for his "signature dish." Great presentation skills but arrogant and pretentious. Dude, you work in LAS VEGAS. Even the Bellagio has nickel slots so don't get too big for your britches.

Andrea - Some hippy dippy macrobiotic personal chef. Is all about the vegetables and the bowel movements. Her signature dish was a huge freaking mess. Poor presentation. Overcooked broccli and undercooked kale.

Harold - He's the fly under the radar guy that might win the whole thing. Kind of brainy about the whole thing. Your heart broke in the first challenge when he was too nervous to decorate the plate. He made up for it by winning the second challenge.

Tiffani - The tough dyke. But dear god she takes her cooking seriously. She really does treat cooking like a form of religion. And we're not taking laid back Quakers, we're talking Calvinists. She SEEMS to have th skills to back it up. Was in the top three in both challenges.

Brian - So his specialty is food with a Carribean flair. I try and forget FakeDeborah from America's Next Food Network Star and her constant talk about her Carribean flair. Unlike Deborah, he seems easygoing and competent.

- Poor poor Candice. Totally out of her league. Overcooked the chicken in her signature dish.

Kenneth - Asshat. I was surprised he was eliminated from the competition in the first episode. I thought the producers would keep him on for the drama. Screws up the first challenge by dipping his figner in a sauce to taste it (unsanitary for a restaurant). Then he talks back to the guest chef. Goes all crazy in the kitchen while making his signature dish annoying everyone, especially the uptight Tiffani.

Dave - Flying under the radar in both his cooking and personality. Former dot com millionaire who lost it in 2000. Solidly in the middle of the pack after two episodes.

Miguel - A personal favorite. Fun, lively and doesn't take himself too seriously. I liked his gourmet enchiladas althought the presentation left something to be desired. So far has not used the dread phrase "I'm not here to make friends" which actually means "I'm an asshat."

Lisa - Another fly under the radar type of person. I am confident she will be more ALexandra of PR Season One than a Daniel Vosovic who was low key and rose ot the challenge.

Cynthia - a big ol' mess. No much else to say after that. I still don't understand why her shoes were inappropriate for working in a restaurant.

Finally -

Lee Ann - Aaah! A golden sister. Seems to be cut from the no nonsense cloth as Chloe Dao. Won the first challenge with her professionalism. Seems to be pretty drama free. J and I are rooting for her to win.


the other rebecca said...

Though not hooked (yet), I watched half of the first episode and was also flummoxed by Cynthia being booted based on her sneakers in the kitchen. And, much as I hated the psycho, I must say I didn't have a problem with his finger in the sauce. Of course, I'm also sick of watching people on cooking shoes wash their damn hands, so clearly I'm a dirty girl.

Barbara (Biscuit Girl) said...

The show's like a bad car accident, you don't want to look but you can't help it.

ScottE. said...

I'm loving it! I want Harold to win. Or Tiffani. This week's episode was naughty! LOVE IT. I love Lee Ann's comment about Stephen..."He's a professional bullshiter!!"

Stef said...

I haven't seen this yet, but both you and Brunette have written such intriguing recaps I need to check it out! When is it on?

And thanks for the 2nd blog reference I've seen this week to my personal favorite rich girls, Ally and Jamie! I do miss them and their pretentions "I didn't have a childhood" rants and their puking dogs.

Stef said...

Ooooh, I found it! I'm watching the one where they made sexy desserts for the fetish shop party.

I *hate* that sommelier guy, and Tiffani kinda sucks, too. I like what the nutritionist lady is trying to do, but she'll never made the cut for a chef competition where they have to do it all. So far I like Lee Anne, and Harold is a cutie.

And that Mrs. Joel chick is pretty annoying.

Brunette said...

First of all, "Rich Girls" was great! Jaime Geicher is such a train wreck, and the editing during Ally's "I never had a childhood" speech is one of the high points of the reality TV canon.

One show in and I was hooked on "Top Chef." I haven't seen the 2nd episode yet but as of now my faves are Tiffani, Lee Anne, Harold, and Miguel.

Cynthia's shoes: I was confused too. Perhaps the chefs need to wear tougher shoes (not sneakers) in case they drop a knife, a heavy pot, some boiling oil? They said something about her footwear being "unsafe."

john patrick said...

I didn't want to get hooked, so I turned it off for the second challenge. I liked the first challenge, though.

I think fashion designers are vulnerable and watchable in a way that chefs are not. Chefs are bulletproof. This show is all about conflict in away that Project Runway can never be about.

OMG, I just realized, I spent the week in Baltimore and it didn't occur to me to contact you all, maybe shake your hand, buy you a kir. Next time!

Anonymous said...

I hate to say it but after the second episode I have decided that I actually... sorta like Stephen... I loved his multi-cup fruit thing... I know it was un-tasted, but in a judging that goes untasted it's only the presentation that matters... I agree he is a @&*%!ing jerk. But I can't help it, I like his presentations.

ScottE. said...

Ditto Chilefire! The presentation of the fruit in the cups was great. Looked like something you'd pay $100 for at a restaurant. But his attitude has got to go! I loved when they announced Miguel as the winner and the caught Stephen's reaction....HA!

On a similiar note...did you watch Food Networks Next Top Star...or whatever it's called. It's the same thing, but with TV thrown in for good measure. Fun. I stayed up too late watching two episodes in a row last night.

DC Food Blog said...

I did watch America's Next Top Network Star. I hate the bald dude. Way too arrogant. I was sad to see the Asian chick go, but she was so not qualified. We can't all be Chloe Dao, who BTW I will be meeting this May!!! I did make me love the Asian Iron Chef even more than I already do.

Stef said...

I hated Stephen's fruit-cup thing, but I admit I liked his bubbling orgasm.... hee hee, bubbling orgasm is fun to say! :-)