Tag Archive: Top Chef


Has Top Chef jumped the Mahi Mahi?

I have a confession to make. A deep, dark confession. I’ve not been watching the most recent season of Top Chef: Texas! Or rather, I’ve been DVRing and watching later, but honestly not really paying attention to it. I tend to play games on Facebook while it’s on and then I mostly listen. Sort of.  I do forget to fast forward through the commercials though.

I am finding it boring. Or maybe it’s finding me lacking as a viewer, I’m not sure which. The people are kind of boring. When the biggest attitude is from judge Hugh Acheson (this season’s Anthony Bourdain and that’s a compliment by the way. I like Hugh), then you have a problem. I thought we might get some entertainment from this season’s Hall and Oates bromance of Chris (Hall) Jones and Richie (Oh, so very Oates) Farina, it was not to be. Richie left us early…we hardly knew ye Richie!  He also cried like a baby when he was eliminated. There’s no crying in cooking shows, Richie.  Hopefully Chris brings home the prize for you.

I was also hoping for strong women this time and while we get two (Grayson Schmidt and Heather Terhune), once again I am left wondering if strong=bitchy when it comes to women. And why we are so quick to label women as bitches if they are tough in the kitchen. I am tough in my own kitchen and I’m….ok, bad example. Season 1’s Tiffany Faisson even came back to All Stars as a kinder, gentler chef and she got eliminated. What does that tell you?  Mind, I don’t find either Grayson or Heather (who I prefer, mostly because she is named after an orchard that does AWESOME wine) particularly bitchy, but then again…it’s me so you may want to take that with a grain of salt. The week before last’s episode  (episode 6) saw both of them win, one the Quickfire, one the elimination challenge. It also saw another woman, Whitney (You aren’t Grayson?) Otawka go home.  A bad gratin will get you every damned time.  And apparently two women went home last week. I don’t know…I’m behind an episode.

I am kind of perpetually behind 2 episodes. I can’t help it. BBCAmerica’s Dramaville is infinitely more entertaining than these people. At least in Episode 6, we saw Tom Colicchio get mad.  That’s always fun. But he’s right. There is nothing to commend these chefs and maybe you all did pick the wrong ones with your dumb method of getting to the top 16. The cooking has been ok, but no one has been bowled over. And personality wise, eh. You want good chefs but you also have to want good tv. And if you say you don’t, think back to any season of any reality show where there wasn’t a strong set of people personality wise. What do you remember? Nothing. You remember nothing. Trust me on this.

Maybe it’s overkill. We went from last season’s TC, to TC: Just Desserts, to this season. And while I like Johnny Iuzzini and his hair, I am generally left cold by TC:JD. TC needs to go away for awhile and let us miss it.

Project Runway did that (well, it had no choice, PR and Bravo parted company) and remember when it came back? We missed it. We were glad it came back. Even if it was short lived (and do NOT get me started on the borefest of PR: Accessories!  How do you take something awesome and make them dull as dishwater).  The good thing about Runway is that it needs Fashion Week to do its thing. TC only needs a kitchen.  I mean even Padma looks bored. Well, more bored than usual.  So Top Chef, before you decided to do another season…go away for a bit. Let us miss you and then we will welcome you with open arms and a well cooked gratin.

Food, glorious food!

Because, it is. Glorious, that is.  But lately I’ve come to think about food a bit differently. I decided that I really did need to drop some weight. There is no burning need to be a size 2 because that’s not my body type and frankly, I don’t think I have that kind of willpower. But no, I was starting to get a bit sluggish and wasn’t feeling all that hot and so I decided that my body would just feel better if I dropped some weight.  Just because I’m in my 40s, I don’t have to feel like I’m in my 70s.

So, I decided to do Weight Watchers. This came after a lot of research and thought and asking people I know and trust who are on it or have done it what they thought of it.  WW people have an almost fanatical devotion to the program and I do not mind saying that it threw me off a bit.  Groucho Marx said he would never belong to any club that would have him as a member and I kind of felt that way about WW. I’m fairly circumspect about what I weigh and I didn’t want it rah rah’ed all over the room. Once I was assured that this did not happen, I felt better.  And I was concerned about cost but it’s through work and that makes it all the more affordable. So, there were my two big issues blown to Hell.  And I did think I was going to be deprived of things I like. I’ve done diety type things in the past, Atkins being the big one. It wasn’t good long term and I put all of that weight back on when I went back to work after being laid off. Besides, life is too short to not eat a nice crusty baguette.  Bread, pasta, potatoes, all food of the Gods and I wasn’t prepared to live life without them. And the Atkins cereal sucked all kinds of serious ass.

But as you know, I love to cook and bake and I love to eat. I was worried that this was going to be curtailed by WW. Oddly, it hasn’t been. What WW has taught me is portion control. I bought a food scale and I am not afraid to use it. And yes, I did actually weigh a boob and no, I am not going to tell you what it weighed but I like to think that it explains a lot. It’s my fantasy, let me have it.  And I haven’t actually cooked less, I’ve been cooking more because frankly, they have some good recipes. And  I don’t deprive myself. Sometimes you gotta plan and sometimes you just gotta eat or have that cocktail and not worry about it. I think life is too short to not enjoy yourself when you can. If this was something that was going to make me think food was the enemy, it wasn’t going to work.  People thinking food is the enemy is the problem.  Food is wonderful. Especially cake.  Cake is beyond wonderful. Shit, I want cake now and we have none. Damn.

Where was I? Oh yeah…it’s amazing what you think is a portion and what really is a portion.  In some cases, it’s better than you expect and in others, you’re all “Seriously?  I can eat double that amount of cereal. Really?” and then I take a little extra because shit, it’s cereal. I love cereal. It’s one of my comfort foods.

And so far, it’s not a drag and I can do it easily enough and I don’t feel like I can’t eat what I want. I just need to eat less of it and exercise  (Feh…now this IS something I don’t like to do). And sometimes, I eat more. Whatever. I have Activity and weekly points. I can do that.  Now, let’s be honest..it’s me and that means I get distracted by shiny, pink objects a lot. In 6 months I could be over this but this is actually the one thing that seems to be consistently working at taking the weight off. Now, I just gotta stick with it. Again..me…distracted…shiny things.  I don’t even mind tracking. I’m a born list maker so to me, it’s like making a list.

I do have some blog guilt though. I go away for a long time and I come back and talk about diets. Blech. It’s more to share what’s going on but it is not going to become the focus of this blog. I shall be back to posting recipes, herb failures and smack talk about  Food tv shows very shortly.  And there is new season of Top Chef! Whhhooooo!

But yes, I do feel better and I do feel like I have more energy and I am still enjoying food and eating. I’m also craving fried chicken (my numero uno favorite/comfort food) so I need to get me some of that!

 

Reality show round up

So, we are full swing into the summer reality show cook off season and so far….eh.  Hell’s Kitchen, I fear may be a bit played out. I’ve been suspecting this for the last 2 seasons but I wonder how many more times can they do the same thing over and over again.  This season,  the chef-testants were able to get through dinner service, but it was painful.  Ramsay is going to have to try something new and different because as much as I enjoy watching him, it’s getting old to me.  You have the buffoony guys, the too cool for school guys, the pushy bitches, the crying girl…all the regular cast of characters.

Cry in Anthony Bourdain’s kitchen and see what happens. Yeah, get out. Stop crying. There is no crying in cooking.  I can only imagine the added stress of the camera is what is making these people cry.  And Andrew..the guy who butchers his own meat and cooks for the Lord…walked out second episode. Called that one (I said he’d go home early or win and early he went).  Part of me wonders if Andrew was a plant though.  That whole thing felt wrong somehow. Once again this season; I don’t want to eat any place that any of these people cook/chef for.

And Ramsay has a new show coming out called Master Chef, also on Fox. Amateur chefs (like me..hahahaha) try to become, you guessed it..master chefs.  I’ll watch but who knows…this could be my shot at greatness or not. I hope he’s nicer to these people.

Top Chef also premiered and…meh.  It takes place in DC, which means we’re going to overplay the politics angle I’m sure. One guy has already been set up as villain/guy to beat (think Stefan) and he’s got a nemesis already in Kenny.   One chef-testant prepared by getting a wardrobe stylist and a facial. WHAT? Bourdain would kick your ass.   I don’t really need the behind the scenes drama but I like the drama in the kitchen, over the food, over the space, over someone’s food sucking. I do like the smack talk but I want it to be valid, about the cooking and not about someone’s look.  Arnold (the facial dude), I’d feel compelled to mock over the stylist thing. You wear a chef’s coat…what does it matter (says the woman who feels naked without earrings)?  I’ve only seen one episode and so far, the best bit is Eric Ripert (call me!) and the fact I saw a clip of the upcoming season with Bourdain (new season of No Reservations starts July 5th!). I also called the first elimination, John…he did a dessert. Between that and the dreads, he was doomed from the start.

FN’s Next Food Network star, I’m a bit behind as I’m watching the second episode as we speak.  Giada hasn’t annoyed me yet, Bobby Flay has.  I think I’ve got a good idea on the front runners (Aarti: you’ve never had a funnel cake, really? WTF? But apparently you win. Sigh…spoilers!) but I am going to wait a couple of episodes before I share.   Although I know who gets kicked off this one…thanks Food Network on Twitter! Guess I have to ignore your tweets unless I’ve watched the episode.  A couple of things about the first episode though;  Dzintra…yes, I think you should have gone home. Not for the eye trauma but because you threw your fellow chefs, the ones who tried to help you, under the bus. Das, if you have to keep saying you are all that and a badass, you aren’t. Alexis…that was no surprise.  Tom, you’re like my cooking Seth Rogen, I dig you.

So, if this is the what we have, then…well…I’ll have to blog about other things.  Wednesday, I start my baking class at the local culinary school so I am kind of excited and nervous about that. I am never good at new things in that it takes a lot for me to gird my loins and get up the nerve. But since I paid for this…I am not eating the cost and I think, in the end, I will be a better cook and a better baker (or any kind of baker) because of it. And you should do things that scare you sometimes.

Bring on the summer!

Oooh, never thought that I would hear myself say that but, I have.  And not for days of summer sun (blech), heat and humidity.  No,  summer brings the cranky but it also brings another season of Bravo’s Top Chef and FoodNetwork’s Next FoodNetwork Star.

Remember kiddos, those that can’t do…watch it on Reality TV!

Top Chef begins on Wed, June 16th at 9. Set those DVRs. The big news for this season is the addition of one of my celebrity chef boyfirends, Eric Ripert as a recurring judge.  Now, Ripert has been a judge before but Bravo producers have officially added him to the roster which seems to indicate that he’ll  be taking Gail’s or Tom’s spot if they aren’t judging that week.   We can only hope that he overlaps with the the Bourdain on occasion.  This season’s show has also moved to D.C. and I like the trend of moving the show around to different cities.  Since Vegas used many a gambling gag during the season, I can’t wait to see what they trot out for D.C.

Check out the contestant bios here: http://www.bravotv.com/top-chef/bios?__source=hp_topfivelist_1&cid=tab2 and expect to see some regular blogging about the show.  I have always enjoyed TC much better than it’s erstwhile brother, Top Chef: Masters.

FN’s Next FoodNetwork Star levels the playing field.  You don’t need to be a chef to enter this one, just a good cook with a point of view and personality to spare (Guy Fieri, I’m looking at you).   This is the show that any of us home cooks can see ourselves on.  This one starts on Sunday June 6th with a two hour premiere (random blogging will occur for this one as well, I’m sure).  This season they are adding Giada De Laurentis as “mentor”…and this now explains why she’s been in the commercials for the show.   What “mentor” actually entails, I can’t say. I am going to assume she’s not going to show up after a bad day with a bottle of Jameson’s and some Popeye’s (which is what I would want a mentor to do) so we’ll have to see how that shakes down.

And remember, even not winning is no sign you won’t get on the FoodNetwork.  Hello Adam Gertler, I mean you.   He was on season 4, made it almost all the way and lost. But still managed to get a show on the FN. He doesn’t cook much on Will Work for Food but he got there.  So, should I ever decide to try out (wait, give me a sec to stop giggling) and should I ever get on (oh, giggling again), I think it will end up being personality that would carry me through. Because seriously, I am a good cook and sometimes a great cook but I don’t think my cooking will make me a star.

So read about the new crew here: http://www.foodnetwork.com/the-next-food-network-star/index.html

And to add to this summer’s new batch of cooking shows; the FN is launching a new channel called…wait for it…The Cooking Channel. Guess what they do there?  Check them out here: http://blog.cookingchanneltv.com/?xp=hgtv_section It’s for food people, by food people…like it’s big sister, the FN.  It will be replacing the FineLiving Network which I never watched so that’s ok.   I had suspected they were going to skew not only more ethnically diverse fodd and talent wise, but also younger. but who knows since I found this gem: http://blog.cookingchanneltv.com/2010/05/11/loving-two-fat-ladies/. I used to watch these two ladies all of the time.   Based on the commercials though, I still might be right.

Anyway, I am looking forward to watching some cooking because as the temperatures climb and my kitchen turns into the hot zone, I sure as hell won’t be doing any cooking.

Next time…I will chat at ya about my love/hate relationship with Julie Powell’s book Julie and Julia.