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Friday, November 14, 2008

Top Chef: New York

Last night, I watched Top Chef for the first time. That's right, I was a virgin. It was a lot of fun, and now you all get to suffer through my observations about it--observations which have almost certainly been made countless times already, since the show's been on the air for years. But who knows? Maybe seeing it through fresh eyes gives me a fresh perspective.

First of all, a word about New York. My favorite city, the one I miss more than anything. It was fun to see all those different neighborhoods, and I thought it was cool that they sent the cooks to the outer boroughs. I did, however, have to laugh when the contestants checked into their apartment and nearly fell all over each other talking about how "this is the way to experience New York!" when they were clearly in New Jersey. A view of the Manhattan skyline from your balcony is not, actually, the best way to experience NY, in my opinion.

The show itself: I enjoyed the structure, with the many challenges and lots of people heading home right away. They start out with so many! It's hard to care much that first day, although I will say that most of those chefs are doing a great job of making me dislike them in thirty seconds of screen time or less. I was happy to see that first chick go, and I'm already rubbing my hands in glee for the day when that ridiculous surfer boy gets the boot. Pay more attention to the food and less to your hair! Also not a big fan of the European contingent; they give Europeans a bad name with all that exaggerated snottiness. And the woman who cooks by spirit guide? Uh, no. Out of all of them, I probably like Jamie, the tattooed exec chef at Absinthe in San Francisco the best. But second, I loved Patrick! (I know, big shocker.) Sad. Poor, sweet little gay boy, I knew he wasn't long for the competition, but I hoped we'd get him for at least another episode or two. Oh well.

I loved the judges. Jean Georges is one of my absolute favorite chefs ever. His food rocks my world and his persona on the show gave me the happy. So gentle and soft spoken! But quite firm and decisive. Stinger and I decided he's probably at the point in his career where he doesn't have to yell and scream; he whispers. In his kitchen, you can hear a carrot shaving drop. I like Tom, even if his food has never been as sublime, to me personally, as JGV's. And the Food & Wine chickie, thppbt. Whatever.

And then there's Padma. Seriously. What? Who is this woman? Leaving out the obvious jokes about a woman who clearly never eats being associated with a food show--watching the show for the first time, it was difficult to ascertain just what her role is. Eventually, Stinger and I decided that she's essentially Sigourney Weaver's character from Galaxy Quest: the gorgeous object of desire whose job is to talk to the computer and then repeat back exactly what the computer just said in full hearing of everyone.

Ariane stands nervously in front of the judge's table.
Padma: So what do you think about Ariane's dish, Tom?
Tom: I didn't like it.
Padma (gravely, to Ariane): Tom didn't like it.

It's as if Tom doesn't speak the same language as the chefs, so they need an interpreter. Hilarious.

Overall, I'd say that Hell's Kitchen is still by far my favorite guilty pleasure food show obsession. Gordon Ramsay is way more charismatic than anyone on Top Chef, and the smaller pool of starting contestants allows you to get invested in them quickly. Also, the graphics are way better. But Top Chef is in my DVR, and I'll definitely be tuning in next week.


I've only watched Top Chef in rerun marathons when you can catch the whole season in one siting. I'm not patient enough to watch it each week.

Jean Gorges is kinda hot for a short man. I met him a few times when I was a cocktail waitress at The Mercer Kitchen way back in the day. He was nice.

I'm so with your on Padma. That girl never eats. Except on camera and I'm sure she spits it out after takes.

Now see, I like the surfer boy because he reminds me of John Besh (who's restaurant I'll be eating at in Jan. I do believe).

Padma is Salman Rushdie's ex-wife. Not that that makes her a food notable, just throwing it out there.

I'm not saying Padma hasn't led an interesting life. Just that maybe she's not particularly qualified to judge food, based on her devotion to size 0 clothing. But what do I know? Maybe she has a killer metabolism.

That's a close one... Top Chef or Hell's Kitchen.. I lean towards the first since I love that show! High drama! I was hoping Ariane would get the boot. She's annoying. If I were a chef, I'd so want to be on that show. :)

Glad you watched it.

Lousia you're a TS virgin!! Wow wee!! I'm a fan from way back. You have to go on my blog and clock the Top Chef label to see what a crazed fan I am. really I'm nuts. It's a problem my recaps.

I have some pics with past chefs there too.

Please check out David Dust recaps. He cracks me up every week. with his re-telling. I'm now a Dust Bunny.

You can ignore the half naked men the rest of the week if you like!

Kwana, thanks for the link! That guy is hysterical.

I'm glad you liked him. He's not for everyone, but check back late in the evening every week. He does Top Chef and Project Runway. I laugh and laugh. He comments on my blog too. Fun guy.

I googled Padma after the first time I watched Top Chef (and had a similar reaction to yours) and was surprised by her interesting life story. She's really grown on me and I think she does know a lot about food (for a model). I think she's even written some cooking books.

I have a good friend who's unbelievably skinny who enjoys food more than just about anyone I know. She has a great metabolism to be sure, but she only eats "good food" and also relishes tiny amounts and can stop when satisfied. (and that satisfaction thing happens way sooner than it does for most of us.) Oh, I wish that were me.

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