Thursday, January 04, 2007

Taking a Bite Out of Top Chef

I had not watched Bravo's Top Chef until a few weeks into its second season, but that seems to be my MO with these types of reality shows, especially ones that involve cooking. Watching from the start just irritates me because I think, "Oh hell, I could have done that." Once it gets to the more talented competitors I know I'm out of my league.

That said I plopped down last night and caught three recent episodes (two repeats plus the latest "supersized" version) and I have to say that I'm hooked. Having watched a few episodes from season one I'll admit that host Padma Lakshi (which sounds like something I'd order at my favorite thai place) is an upgrade over the robotic Katie Lee Joel, but that's not much of a compliment. My dog Charlie could deliver her lines more convincingly.

Head judge Tom Colicchio provides the show with a gruff but lovable balance to Lakshi's, um, personality and I enjoy the way that he'll make comments to and ask questions of the competitors that have a way of putting them off balance during the challenges. Show regular Gail Simmons doesn't do much for me so the presence of guest judge Ted Allen was a welcome addition to last night's 7 Deadly Sins challenge, especially when he mentioned his pursuit of the perfect roast chicken. Me too, dude, me too.

With Betty gone from the competition thanks to her dreadful idea of putting vegetable soups in champagne flutes and serving them without spoons, I'm not sure who I'll be rooting for. (Reading the recap of last night's episode over at it sounds like I may be the only person outside of Betty's family that was rooting for her, though I missed the whole "cheating" episode.)

Though Michael (pictured) reminds me of Stern show regular Artie Lange, I find it hard to root for somebody who seems to do just enough to get by. I certainly won't be rooting for the pompous Marcel, whose distracting hairdo and flip attitude make me want to smack him upside the back of his head (though I'm sure the editors realized he would make a good villain and have edited the show to enhance that impression). I'm not sure about Ilan, and he should have never let Marcel get to him so much that he put down his dish in front of the guests. Cliff strikes me as a poseur who would say anything to make it to the finals and though Elia appears to have a great deal of talent, she seems fragile and could have put up more of a fight when Mia threw herself on the grenade after the red carpet cocktail party gone awry.

I suppose that leaves Sam, who also seems to have as much or more talent for real cooking than any of the others, and I like his frankness when it comes to admitting he didn't live up to the challenge. With just a few episodes left until a new Top Chef is crowned (can anybody name the old one?) watch this blog for continuing coverage.


Anonymous said...

I got addicted a few weeks ago during a marathon; I didn't care for Betty, but I was really rooting for Marcel to get kicked out, that kid grates on me so much. Also, I thought Ilan's behavior at the party was childish and stupid.

Dan said...

Another person who does't like Betty... hmmm, maybe I misread her but I thought she was okay. Seemed like a real person not somebody who was on there because they thought it would help their career, though I'm sure that was part of her reason for trying out.

I can't stand Marcel, though. What's a "Master Chef" anyway? And if he's a master chef who needs an overblown game show to get a gig?

Anonymous said...

I used to like Betty, to be honest. But over the last few episodes, she just seemed so mean spirited herself. No, I can't stand Marcel either. But I hate to admit, even though he brings it on himself, that I kind of hate to see all the others just gang up on him, unlike other Beavo villains (PR1's Wendy, TC1's Tiffany, PR3's Jeffrey), I actually felt sorry for him. Okay, I admit that Elia feels bad for him, too. But no, Betty was also starting to be unprofessional, and by last night I was not upset at all to see her go.

For a while, Top Chef Season 2 was really boring me. It's a little more interesting now. The first season was a lot better, though. Less bitterness and bitchiness. The winner was the ver talented Harold Dieterle.

Dan said...

Never saw much of the first season except for the few episodes I caught last week. I taped (I mean, DVR'd) the last few episodes of season 1 but I wasn't emotionally invested enough to stick with it.

Anonymous said...

Although I swore I wasn't going to watch Top Chef this year, I got sucked into it anyway. (I am going to try to resist Top Designer, though.) At this point, I'm actually rooting for Michael. First of all, he looks like "Flounder" from Animal House. Second, when he actually applies himself, the product looks very good. I really do think that they did a lot of "selective editing" on Michael in the first few episodes, making him out to be a lummox. I don't think that he really went from "worst to first" that quickly.

As far as Betty, I think she has a lot of great ideas for "comfort food" - in fact, I think that is what her place in LA is known for. BUT - those soups in glasses were just gross looking. Maybe if she had done them in little ramekins instead... but chunky soup clinging to the inside of the glasses was just yecky.

Marcel looks like a cross between the Grinch and Wolverine. Foam, foam, foam. I agree that Elia looks like she could just snap. Sam just looks like a smelly hippie. Ilan I like. Cliff is too bland in personality and dishes to make the finals.

I hate myself for getting addicted to this show and needing to watch it every week, especially when they do freakin' marathons every week! Hell, every Wednesday, they show every single previous episode during the day!

Who am I kidding, I'll be watching Top Designer.

Side Note: The reason I was hesitant to watch TC2 was the disaster that was Hell's Kitchen 2 this summer... it was awful!

Anonymous said...

Sam is HOT!!!! I'd have him cook for me everyday

Dan said...

I think Ilan is starting to embarass himself with the way he's become obsessed with Marcel. Dude, let it go. Did you see last night's episode? I keep waiting for Elia to just totally have a breakdown during one of those appearances in front of the judges.