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.
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.
Candice - 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.
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.