Friday, March 10, 2006

Spin the Top Chef

Gah--I was a tad bit whiny earlier this week, but dammit, this freakin' purchasing stuff gives me a big ol' headache and makes my ankles swell! But, I think I am done...whether or not the calculations are correct, I don't freakin' care any more. Just tired of looking at it.

Tonight, I caught the repeat of Bravo's new reality show, Top Chef . Bunch of folks together in a kitchen with knives, squeeze bottles, gas burners--mayhem ensues! Maybe they'll do a very special Jack Bauer guest stars episode! I thought it might be entertaining since this is what I'm ostensibly going to school for...yeah, whatever. Another classic avoidance of work ploy in the making is what you're really thinking.

First off, it *is* reality TV, so that automatically means you can't hold out too much hope for top quality thinking man's or woman's or even poodle's entertainment, but there's always hope for the Jerry Springer factor--there's a lot of knives on this show! 12 contestants, from various cooking walks of life: the obiligatory model turned chef-wannabe; about 6 people who actually have professional cooking experience; a woman who was diagnosed with some health issue who becomes a wholesome food martinet; a whacked out, curses like a sailor name-dropping older woman who's some sort of caterer to the stars on the East coast; a young sommelier with the most effed up hair since Jude Law; and the resident bad boy with a bad accent and an attitude to match. You get the picture.

Hosted by a lovely Katie Lee Joel, who comes from the Fence Post School of Hosting and who's major claim to fame seems to be that she's "married to music icon Billy Joel, Katie's lifelong passion for cuisine began at an early age when she first learned to cook from her grandmother while growing up in West Virginia." She is rather decorative; I'll give her that. I keep thinking this show would be much more fun if Anthony Bourdain hosted it, but I digress.

The show is divided into 2 challeges: the firecracker challenge and the main challenge. If you win the firecracker, you get immunity for the main challenge. They can't vote you off the island until the next cooking set rolls around. You could serve Vienna sausage casserole as a main course and get to stay, and I'd sort of be tempted to that. I'm mean like that.

We open with the montage of everybody arriving at Bravo's version of the Real World house and little blurb from everyone introducing themselves and giving their experience. I really take an instant dislike to Tiffani with an i, who has just a little bit too much attitude for my's that whole team player gene I have that I keep trying to stamp out. Then, as her bio further states: "This bisexual Bostonian with dry sarcasm and a hunger for success has no problem telling you exactly what she thinks." "Bisexual Bostonian?" Please. That says it all. I predict that someone will run her through the ware washing machine before it's all over with.

So, the first firecracker challenge is to work the line at Fleur de Lys, a famous San Franscico restaurant, or so they tell us. The competitors have to work the line for 30 minutes under the direction of the executive chef/owner. Most of them don't make it 2 minutes, much less 30. The resident bad boy does something so stupid that you just know he's sealed his fate. He starts to sauce a plate, and the exec chef asks him to check the flavor of the sauce. He sticks his finger (his finger!!) in the sauce and licks it. The chef goes off on him and reams him out about no one in his kitchen ever sticks their finger in the sauce, and they will have to throw the sauce out, etc. I'm just amazed at this idiot...yeah, yeah, people do it all the time, I'm sure. I've done it myself when cooking for myself, but not when I'm cooking for other people and not while on TV!!! And dude is all what did I do wrong? I'm a chef! I work with my hands! Idiot.

The chick from the French Culinary Institute won the challenge, which was cool, because I think she's my fab fave going into this show.

The main challenge was to divide into 2 teams (red and blue--original thinkers, these Food & Wine folk are!) and cook for each other and the judges. The Red team cooks first, with Blue critiquing. The Reds are unfortunately top heavy with the less experienced cooks. The judging Blue team savages them and then trot off to the kitchen to prove themselves. "Amateurs!" they seem to say. The Red team is much nicer during the judging, and the judges even tell them how critical the others were and encourage them to be a bit more "honest." To no one's surprise, the bad attitude boy gets the boot. I was kinda hoping he'd stick around awhile for the awkwardness factor, because he was really bringing out the worst in everyone, but alas, it was not to be.

This show might actually be fun once it gets its sealegs. The thing that would improve it immediately would be to replace Ms. Joel as the hostess. I swear, the dining room table I'm sitting at has more personality and emotion than she does. It's like Hostess Fembot. She mouths the words, but her expression never changes...rather Stepford-like, she is.

We'll give it another shot on Wednesay; what the hell, since Lost seems to be on an "every other episode is a repeat from last season or another damn viewpoint of the hatch opening," kick. But, my gal Veronica Mars is back this coming week with a new episode, so there may be hope for the universe yet, bitches!

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