Thursday, November 13, 2008

Top Chef: New York - Episode 1

So, fellow food nerds, here we are... the beginning of a long, delicious-looking, potentially annoying journey through the upper echelons of reality television programming. Yes, hallelujah and call the headwaiter, Top Chef is motherfucking back!!! And, judging by the premier episode, the already five-year-old operation still appears to be cooking with gas!
See what I did there? Yeah, I'd get used to that level of discourse if I were you. Late-night blogging combined with all the drinking I'll invariable be doing while the show actually airs pretty much guarantees at least two or three food-related puns that will make you want to flambe your own brain in a wine reduction with quince and, I don't know, Cracker Jacks or something. Look, up front, you should be aware that I don't technically, like, know a whole lot about food, per se... other than I like to eat as much of it as possible, of course... so I'm probably not the highest authority on what exactly the contestants are getting up to in the kitchen. I mean, I'll do my best, but, basically, any and all dishes will be rated on a sliding scale that ranges from "I'd Eat The SHIT Out Of That!" to "That Literally Looks Like Poo."
And while we're on the subject of how I'm planning on doing these posts, let me lay out my overall plan for the series...
Okay, so maybe I don't HAVE a plan. But what I do know is this:
-I will not be doing straight-up recaps. The folks over at Television Without Pity have that whole thing pretty well locked down and, besides, that shit takes FOREVER to do and I haven't the patience.
-These are most likely going to be very free form and laden with bullet points. Deal.
-I'm sure shit will get a lot tighter as it goes along, but keep in mind this is my first attempt at doing something like this on this scale. So... cut me a teensy bit of slack during the early days, m'kay? Thanks, muffins.
-I will not be discussing Padma's outfits (unless she wears something completely bananas that cannot be ignored, like a clown suit or just a discreet layer of peach preserves).
-Comments from you kids are TOTALLY WELCOME AND APPRECIATED. If this series proves popular enough and everyone's having a good time with it, I'd like to live-blog the season finale.
So, yeah, there's that.
But the season finale is a long-ass ways away, so let's get down to the business at hand.
First off... hooray, New York!!! They're in my neck of the woods, fucking finally, and even more literally than you think. If I'm not mistaken, the whole Top Chef production is actually being shot in Brooklyn; apparently even a major network with a hit show can't afford Manhattan rents. Which is hilarious.
But whatever, good lord there's a lot to cover... onward...
17 chefs step onto Governor's Island and are immediately whomped upside the head with the first Quickfire challenge: knife skills. On apples. Because this is the Big Apple, get it, GET IT, says a producer with a headset jabbing you in the ribs with a frantically gnawed on pen.
Yes. We get it. It is to laugh.
So anyway, there's a lot of peeling and chopping and one guy nearly cuts his thumb off and I have a desperate, sudden craving for McDonald's Apple Pies and then it's down to the four doofs who can't peel and/or chop in a timely fashion. They're asked to make a dish with the apples to see who wins, but HERE'S THE TWIST:
Whomever loses this Quickfire challenge is going home!

What? That is fucking harsh and I looooove it. Much as I dig the show, Top Chef has a tendency to be skew a bit formulaic, so this was a nice twist. Oh, and it ties into the fact that New York is a cutthroat city and if you do poorly you'll metaphorically get stabbed in the face with your own kitchen knife. Or something. Apples!!!
The contestants cook and, after twenty minutes, all four dishes look like varying degrees of lame. The two mega-doofs who made salads are OBVIOUSLY the bottom two and, in the end, it's the girl who gets sent home. Because she made a fucking salad. On Top Chef. Have these people not SEEN the last four seasons? Lettuce or whatever doesn't fly. Awwww, but we're sad because the two losers are BFFs forever or something. Whatever, he's the next one to go down, so I don't care about either of them.
But I'm getting ahead of myself.
So the Elimination Challenge happens (or, rather, the SECOND Elimination Challenge happens) and it's all about ethnic food, of which there is a lot of in NYC. They get paired up, they go to a different neighborhood known for one style of cooking or another, and yadda yadda, you can figure it out from there.
As I said a second ago, it all ends up with the aforementioned mega-doof loser... who was only a culinary student, mind you... getting shit-canned and everyone shrugging in indifference at his sunny attitude and hip t-shirts. It was all very dramatic (not really, because the kid clearly sucked on ice). Some of the other people's food did look good, though... there was a couple of lamb things that made me want to eat some lamb, and I think I saw some sort of steak dish, which, mmmmm. And, I don't know, there was probably fish in there somewhere.
Whatever, doesn't matter, because at this juncture the food isn't what's important; the contestants are. So, with that in mind, let's polish off this inaugural post by looking at:
NOTE: Like hell I'm going to put pictures up here of each and every one of them. Look it up your own damn selves. Greedy, greedy...
2ND NOTE: This is, of course, excluding the two knuckleheads who already got voted off.
Stefan: He won BOTH challenges tonight and is clearly the favorite to win the whole shooting match. He's from Finland, bald, kind of arrogant, and he reminds me a little bit of a tough version of the guy who played the professor in Good Will Hunting who's name escapes me at the moment. Anyway, I like him, but I tend to always like Scandinavian people, so who knows.
Jeff: The pretty boy who I instantly hated because his first interview included him talking about his looks and how he always carries a comb with him. Ugh. He DOES, however, look like Chase on House so I'll hold off judgement for a little bit, particularly because he seemed to get less smarmy as the episode went on.
Alex: Dunno. He's Latino, I think, and kind of a big guy, but otherwise he left no impression on me. I think he might have worn stupid hats.
Ariane: BARF. There's always one "mom" on the show who's "doing it for her kids" and whose "kids are her inspiration" and who makes the viewers at home want to find out where she lives so they can smack her kids in the face with a spatula. Needless to say, she was in the bottom two of the Elimination Challenge and it seems like she'll be leaving us quite soon because it's pretty clear that she blows monkey.
Jill: Shrug. There's like three girls this season that look irritatingly alike. She's one of them.
Carla: Hoo-boy. You can tell by looking in her wildly spinning eyes that she's out of her fucking mind. I'm not entirely sure she even knows she's on a cooking show. She mentioned, at one point, her "spirit guides" and how they were going to help her find ingredients. Seriously? She better be gone soon because I can't put up with that shit long-term.
Danny: He's the Long Island native with the stupid beard who otherwise looks an awful lot like my landlord. I really like my landlord, thus I really like Danny. I'll let the beard slide for now. I will say though that if anyone is most likely to threaten violence on another contestant, it's him. That's how we roll in the 212.
Leah: No idea. I think she might have been in the top three at the end, but she's also one of the three who all look the same. Actually, now that I think about it, the nimrod chick who got the boot first thing was one of the three... so, okay, there's only TWO girls who look alike. Well that will make things easier.
Melissa: Got a real strong Texas Chainsaw Massacre vibe off of this one. Not like she's Leatherface or anything, but like she's a cousin who comes over on holidays to eat freshly killed vacationing 70s teens. She said she lives up in the mountains and cuts her hair with a Swiss army knife (or something) and I've got money on her trying to at least once incorporate roadkill into one of her dishes.
Fabio: He's Italian and everyone hates him immediately because, well... he's from Europe and we're led to believe that that's a bad thing. Whatever, It seems we've found who'll be playing the Villain role this season. I don't know, he didn't seem THAT bad; arrogant as all hell, I guess, but what chef isn't? They are going to edit him all evil no matter what, so I guess we should get used to the idea. Also, his name is "Fabio." Heh.
Eugene: This dude was both Girlfriend's and my favorite. Heavily tatted, worked his way up from being a dishwasher to a chef, seems like he might have a switchblade taped to his leg, AND the dude can cook like a motherfucker. Who knows how it'll all shake down, but if the winner isn't that Stefan dude, it'll be this cat right here.
Radhika: Let me sum up Radhika for you... In her first interview, she makes a big deal about how she doesn't want to be known as just the girl who cooks Indian food (because she's Indian). So what does she make for her first dish? Indian food. Nicely done, dumbass. However, she is hot in a Helena Bonham Carter goes Bollywood sort of way, so we'll let it slide.
Hosea: Eh. Not much personality, other than that he's the other bald guy. Girlfriend thought he looked cute in glasses, so there's that.
Jamie: All covered in tattoos and sassy, and totally hot. She announces she's a lesbian within minutes of being in the fancypants loft, so she's "the lesbian" for this season, I guess. Again, though, HAWT tattoos.
Richard: He's "the gay" for this season and an out-n'-proud one at that. But flipping the script a little bit, he's totally a bear, as in all big and hairy and junk, which is a refreshing change of pace for how the gays get portrayed on these types of shows. Anyway, he's probably going to be the go-to quip guy this season. Seems nice enough.
Whew... okay... so that's the premier. Now that I've gotten all the names and whatever out, I'm going to go open myself a delicate can of Natty Light and pair it with a tangy, bright eating-mustard-out-of-the-jar-with-my-hands. Ah, haute cuisine!!!
See y'all next week!!!
Oh, PS, Martha Stewart is going to be guest-judging this season. Whichever episode she's on is going to be a guaranteed riot!


Blogger Todd said...


Also, I think you should be getting paid by the Top Chef people since I now have to watch Top Chef to understand your posts about it.

12:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So far Carla is my favorite. I foresee hours of entertainment from her.

(I don't actually own a TV, so the above comment was based on your paragraph about her and nothing else.)

9:48 AM  
Blogger TFKoP said...

You know it's going to be a great season where, in the first show, we already have a contestant asking for help from spirit guides. And we all know that there's nothing like good spirits to accompany a great meal. (and yeah, her eyes were all chameleon-like...and googly!)

Top Chef ROCKS! Great write up, ZFS.


10:03 AM  
Blogger C-dog said...

Todd... I completely agree. But then again, I think every major company should be giving me money all the time.

Phoenix... I seriously couldn't live without a TV. But I'll try to "bring the story to life" as best I can.

TFKoP... Thanks, dude. Yeah that Carla chick is going to do something freaky. Guarenteed.

2:59 PM  
Blogger Nicole said...

Longest post ever.

2:59 PM  
Blogger C-dog said...

Your MOM is the longest post ever.

3:01 PM  
Blogger Big Daddy said...

I think I actually developed a liking to Bears now because of Richard.

5:16 PM  
Blogger Todd said...

BG: It's true. I've read it in a book.

8:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

At present, I am horrendously ill, throwing up and what not. But much less so after reading this. Very nicely done.

6:46 PM  

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