Thursday, August 27, 2009

Top Chef Las Vegas: Episode 2 - Oh Brother

Often times a contestant will say “Oh crap” when it comes to the Quickfire Challenge on Top Chef, this week they all said it because a craps table was wheeled out into the kitchen. Each chef rolled ‘dem bones and whatever number came up determined how many ingredients they had to use on their dish. It seemed like most were hoping for something not too high and not too low, like a number in the neighborhood of eight.

We started to learn a lot about the group from this second episode and this challenge.
- The brothers, Brian and Michael, have an interesting relationship. Michael has sort of a Jan Brady “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia” thing going about his older brother. During the Quickfire, Brian was quick to point out the Michael was possibly over complicating things with his liquid nitrogen antics, but lo and behold, it was little brother who won the challenge and the $15,000. Meanwhile, big brother was in the bottom four. So how does that taste, Marcia?
- Eve is ditz and if she was a character on Star Trek, she’d be wearing a red shirt. You had the feeling she’d be gone before long. It was no surprise that she was at the back of the pack again.
- Jesse seems to have real talent, but can’t seem to put it together yet. If she lasts a few more episodes, she might just become a factor, but she’s got to get her game on.
- Not exactly the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition for lady chefs this year. Jennifer, looks-wise, is probably going to be my Top Chef crush, but she does not have the personality to quite seal the deal yet. (Unlike like my girl Casey, who had all the right ingredients.) Thank goodness for Padma. (Love those boots.)

Then came the Elimination Challenge, which was to cater a bachelor and bachelorette party. They split into two groups, the boys and the girls. It was here that the other shoe dropped that I had been waiting for. There has always been a gay-factor on Top Chef, never more apparent than last year when they had a group called Team Rainbow. The gay-factor at times was so pronounced that I sometimes referred to the show as “Queer Eye for the Top Chef”. But that’s also part of the fun. Some of the most entertaining moments last year were when the gay men were eliminated and they sobbed their way through their exit interviews. (To be fair, some of the straight guys weeped as well.)

So we learned that a couple of the lady chefs are gay, and Ashley, the crunchy girl, started have issues with the concept of weddings and stag parties. Meanwhile, the men were thrilled to be cooking for the bachelorette party, especially when it took place poolside and all the guests were in swimsuits.

Here are some thoughts about the Elimination Challenge.
- Hector is a man’s man, and could easily have been a character in No Country for Old Men or From Dusk ‘Til Dawn.
- Cooking an octopus looks creepy. When that octopus went into the pan, it looked like a scene out of The Addams Family. (But it’s yummy.)
- Ron, the big lovable Haitian, will now be known on this blog as Big Papi. He’s the Ruben Stoddard of this season.
- A chicken wing is always a safe bet.
- I give Ashley props for trying two dishes, but she really dropped the ball with that second one. Jennifer warned her. I have a feeling Jennifer is going to rub a lot of people the wrong way, but she seems to know what she’s talking about most of the time.
- That new Sandra Bullock movie looks like crap. (And I don’t mean the game.)
- I don’t know what to make of Eli, the guy with the glasses, but he reminds me of one of the guys on Big Bang Theory.
- Kevin kicks ass.
- Why do they force the chefs to sit in the supply closet while the judges deliberate? Is it so you can see the Glad family of products in the background?
- The men won. Then all the fat guys jumped in the pool while the thin guys condescendingly watched from the sidelines.
- I’d like to see where that bachelor party went after the show was over. They are in Vegas, after all.
- The new Jenifer Aniston movie looks like crap. (And I don’t mean the game.)
- Eve and Jesse brought up the rear again, along with Ashley and Preetty… or whatever her name is. It was no surprise when Eve was asked to pack up and go. It was a mercy elimination. She did not jump in the pool, but she was clearly in over her head.
- Marcia strikes back. Brother Brian comes back strong and wins the Elimination Challenge. Sure, it’s a more prestigious award, but I think Michael might have been the bigger winner, with that $15,000 Quickfire.

Okay, that’s enough for this week. I gotta pack my knives and go now.
Bon Appetit.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Top Chef Las Vegas: Ep 1 - Viva Las Vegas

Top Chef is back and this time around we’re in Las Vegas. They wasted no time giving the show that Sin City flair when a line of showgirls pranced into the kitchen. It’s clear we are going to be in for a lot of surprises in Vegas just from this first episode. I mean, a contestant won $15,000 on this episode and another won immunity by simple drawing a gold chip. Anything can happen this year.

I love Top Chef. I really enjoyed Top Chef Masters, but it lacked the drama and venom that Top Chef always delivers. This is my first season of watching Top Chef both in HD and with the benefit of DVR. The first thing I noticed was that Padma looks great in HD. However, thanks to DVR, my posts may not always be timely. Like this one, I finally watched the first episode almost a week late.

I have not learned all of the characters yet, but here are a few quick observations.

- Did Padma have a cold? Her voice was a bit husky.
- What’s with the red scarf on the French guy? Was that his branding strategy so that he would stand out from the crowd, or is he just paranoid that we won’t remember he’s French? I have cleverly nicknamed this guy Scarfy.
- I have not figured out who I like and who I don’t yet. I have not picked my Top Chef crush yet either… although the blonde who’s vice was drinking too much and then doing something stupid is a strong candidate.
- Did the girl who won the Quickfire realize that kissing Tom Colicchio is inappropriate? Of course, if I won a Quickfire, I’d sure try to kiss Padma.
- I did not like the chick with the tattoo on her neck, and I was happy to see her pack her knives and go.
- There’s a lot of tattoos and piercings on display this year. Free spirits or damaged goods?
- I did like the bearded guy who won. He seems talented and like he might be a pretty cool dude. But it’s early.
- I kind of want to try deep fried steak, even though it’s a waste of good meat.
- I am not sure what I think of the brothers yet? Is that one guy obnoxious or is he one of my favorites? I can’t wait until they have to face off in an Elimination Challenge.
- Wolfgang Puck was an awesome judge… he whaled on some of those dished, and if I remember correctly, he threw a donut across the dining room.

Well, I gotta pack my knives and go now. The next episode is on tonight. I’ll try to get another blog up as soon as I can.

Bon Appetit.

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