top chef

A few words about Top Chef 3

As long time readers of Just Hungry may know, I used to recap every single episode of the Bravo TV reality show Top Chef. The first season had me glued to my…er, computer screen. However for various reasons I did not do so for the third season that just concluded. I did watch it though, and have just a few thoughts. continue reading...

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I will be watching Top Chef but...

I am gradually catching up on the Daily Grind, which includes some recorded or downloaded TV shows (yay Lee won Joseph! OMG Katie really got her just desserts, the biatch! (only UK readers will know what I’m talking about)). I’ve watched the first two episodes of Top Chef 3 (aka Top Chef: Miami), plus the Season 1 vs. Season 2 smackdown. I enjoyed the smackdown episode a lot - it was fun to see old favorites again. Wasn’t Stephen’s new maturity impressive? Dave hasn’t changed at all! Tiffani looks sort of like a female version of Mario Batali. And god, Ilan was awful. Etc. etc.

It’s fun and all that still, and the season 3 contestants look varied and interesting, but I just can’t bring myself to recap and analyze each episode of this show any more as I did with seasons 1 and 2. (Judging from the email, I guess a few people will be disappointed…sorry!) It’s a bit of work to assemble screen shots and things, and analyzing TV cooking shows isn’t really a focus of this blog after all. And to be honest, Top Chef is nowhere near being the best or most interesting food-related TV show any more. Plus, the constant, in your face product placement that I complained about during last season is even worse now! It’s really hard to bear. (I also got an email from some PR person wanting to ‘work with me’ on ‘promoting Top Chef’, and well, I’m really not interested.)

When I started doing recaps and reviews of each episode back in season 1, I was one of the few doing it - I thought the show had a lot of potential, coming as it did from the producers of Project Runway. Now there are a zillion blogs and forums doing this - Bravo TV’s site alone has about a thousand of them. The best, by far, in my opinion is from Season 1 favorite Lee Anne Wong, who also cooks the winning recipe for each ep in The Wong Way To Cook, still a horrible title but the video itself is nice. So there are plenty of places to get your Top Chef fixes.

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Top Chef Season 3 starts June 6 with an all-star competition

It only seems like yesterday (actually it was in January) that season 2 of Top Chef ended, leaving many of us baffled and rather disillusioned at the Ilan over Marcel decision. Nevertheless, season 3 is already looming on the horizon. It’s set to kick off on June 6, with a season 1 vs. season 2 All-Star Clash. It’ll be the final four of season 2 vs. the final four, minus LeeAnne Wong (who is presumably not included since she’s on the show’s staff, so to speak) but with everyone’s love-to-hate-him target Stephen Asprinio. Marcel vs. Stephen! I have to admit I am looking forward to that at least.

Some more highlights according to the press release after the fold: continue reading...

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Top Chef Season 2, Episode 13: Finale

I don't have much to say about the finale of Top Chef. Just this:

WTH??? continue reading...

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Top Chef Season 2 Episode 12 (Finale part 1)

I am mildly surprised that Marcel and Ilan won this round, to go through to the final head to head. Though I must admit that at this point I don't really care much about the outcome since I don't care much about any of the four semi-finalists. The whole Elia accusing Marcel of 'cheating' sequence (with zero shown support from Ilan or Sam) was so awkward I'd rather forget it. continue reading...

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links for 2007-01-21

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  • Extra virgin olive oil goes rancid just as fast in the fridge as at room temperature, so storing all those bottles in the fridge is pretty meaningless. Another great report on Harold McGee's blog.

Top Chef Season 2 Episode 11...should we care?

The recap of this episode is brief, because I want to discuss something else about the show itself. But the recap and review first.

  • Cliff was probably going to get booted anyway. Lentils and beef sounds good as combo, but he didn't execute it right. He was playing it too safe.
  • I did feel really bad for Marcel, and Cliff and the others were incredibly stupid in what they did - especially Cliff, obviously, and he deserved to get kicked off the show. Still...seeing him with a shaved head would have been funny...
  • Why was it up to Padma to yell "you idiots" to the contestant? She has that much authority? If it came from Tom Colicchio fine...but from..Mrs. Rushdie? (I have admitted already that I dislike her more and more, which is why I probably noticed it.)
  • Elia looks great with a shaved head! So does Ilan. They should both keep the look - there's a precedent for sexy bald top chefs.

topchef_baldmontage.jpgI think Chef was bald...

  • Ilan's chocolate truffle with a chicken liver center is a close second to last week's watermelon and 'gnocchi' with gorgonzola sauce by Sam for the "what were you thinking" wacky food award. I do dimly see his logic though, because of the texture of the liver when cooked...but still. Liver. Chocolate.

  • Geez, how did they get Eric Ripert (of a Super Serious New York Restaurant (Le Bernadin) on this mess show? 15 minutes of fame blabla...
  • I always wonder in these situations - did the Romantic Dinner couples have to pay for their dinners? I wonder if I'd pay for a Top Chef dinner myself...there's always the risk of Chocolate Covered Livers...
  • .
  • Apparently (though it was sort of lost in the confusion) Ilan's dish was the winner...demonstrated here by Lee Anne. Looks nice!

So anyway, after the totally unnecessary and condescending tease about which chefs would be eliminated (which was obviously going to be 'none' since Cliff was disqualified for manhandling Marcel), all four remaining chefs jet off to Hawaii for the final rounds.

But there's a bigger question to be asked... continue reading...

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Top Chef Season 2 Episode 10

Oh, Mikey, we feel bad for you. After your triumphs last week, you are judged to be the worst of the remaining six, all of whom did a mediocre to bad job, and you are jettisoned. We hope that you will open your own gastropub some day. Or at least run your own TGIFriday's.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

To be honest, this season of Top Chef is wearing thin on me. I no longer look forward eagerly to next week's episode. There is no single cause for this, there are several. continue reading...

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Top Chef Season 2, episode 9: Love and Hate

After a two week hiatus, the show returns to our screens big and small, with an extra-longish episode. The theme of the show can be summed up in two sentences:

Everyone loves Michael - even, this week, the judges.

Everyone hates Marcel. continue reading...

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Top Chef Season 2, Episode 8: Let's party under fake snow

topchef_mia.jpgAll stressed out Mia continue reading...

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Top Chef Season 2, Episode 7: Role Reversals

I almost forgot that there was a new Top Chef episode last week, and since I was away from home I didn't get to watch it until tonight. Therefore this is a very brief recap.

The theme of this episode seems to be role reversals: much maligned Marcel wins the Quickfire challenge and gets immunity. Then the women end up as top three and the boys who are usually on top - Sam, Cliff and Frank - end up as the bottom three in the Elimination challenge. continue reading...

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Top Chef Season 2, Episode 6

I hope everyone in the U.S. had a great Thanksgiving! Jumping into another Top Chef episode recap. continue reading...

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Top Chef Season 2, Episode 5: Offal and bits

(This is an abbreviated recap/review of episode 5, since I'm up to my eyebrows in work at the moment with not much time to spare for blog-related stuff, reading as well as writing.)

One thing about Top Chef: if they suddenly feature someone they've been practically ignoring up to that point, like Josie in this episode, you can be sure that that person is going to get kicked off. continue reading...

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Top Chef Season 2, Episode 4: Cheating! Or is it?

So...let's get right to the end first. Were they right in eliminating no one? Was it a cop-out by the judges? Don't they have the cameras on all the time in the kitchen to check what people are doing? Was Sam right to bring up the 'cheating' issue before the judges - and then wimp out when asked to name names? Should Mia have pushed the issue on? continue reading...

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Fairly low-fat creamy red pepper, tomato and garlic soup with not low-fat grilled cheese, bacon and mushroom sandwich

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The theme of the elimination challenge in the most recent Top Chef was to create an adult version of childhood comfort food. The winning combo, created by Betty, was a variation of the classic pairing of cream of tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwich. Instead of just tomatoes, she added roasted red peppers to the soup, and instead of just cheese, she put grilled portobello mushrooms in the sandwich. continue reading...

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Top Chef Season 2, episode 3: Cravable!

topchef2_tomrestrained.jpgFor some reason Tom Colicchio has to be held down by both Gail and Padma when Betty wins.

Compared to episode 2 this was a lot more entertaining. Team challenges are usually exercises in boring drama, while individual challenges focus a lot more on the food.

And I love that word they used, Cravable. Food should be cravable. continue reading...

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Top Chef Season 2, Episode 2: Don't take the lichees if you're on a reality TV show

This recap of episode 2 is brief since it's a week late due to my absence, and there really isn't that much to say about it. continue reading...

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Top Chef Season 2, Episode 1: Flames, snails and frogs

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Well well, so season 2 is upon us.

15 contestants is way too many to start with, so I can barely remember half of them. The new host? I will reserve my judgement (more on the hosting position a bit later). Let us jump straight into the challenges. continue reading...

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Top Chef Season 2 starts next week

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Set your TiVos or iTunes Music Store reminders. The second season of our favorite American cooking competition show is just a week away! New host, more contestants, change of venue to Los Angeles -- could be exciting! (Or, a disaster. We'll find out.) continue reading...

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Craft and 'wichcraft: two sides of Tom Colicchio

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Yes, I admit it - my intensive viewing of the Top Chef reality show gave me a renewed interest in Tom Colicchio. I have been to Gramercy Tavern, but I'd never had a chance to go to Craft, which presumably is his more personal vision of what American cuisine should be. I'd also never made it to 'wichcraft, his growing mini-chain of take-out sandwich joints. continue reading...

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Top Chef Episode 12: The Finale

Watching the final episode of Top Chef was like reading a reverse-murder mystery, where you know who the murderer and/or the victim is already (think Sunset Boulevard), but you want to know exactly how it happened. All the conventions of reality television pointed to Good Guy Harold winning, with Bad Girl Tiffani getting her just desserts, pardon the pun. It did in fact happen that way, but nevertheless it was an entertaining ending to the season. continue reading...

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Top Chef Episode 11: Cooking in Vegas

The challenges for the penultimate episode were to make dishes for particular types of customers that are typically Las Vegas: high rollers, poker players and circus performers. Unlike previous challenges, the contestants had a kitchen stuffed full of all kinds of luscious looking ingredients. It was rather funny when Harold complained that it was "a little too abundant". continue reading...

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Top Chef Episode 10: The Reunion

Since this episode didn't have any actual cooking, there is no need for me to review it totally. So here are some short observations about the reunion show, plus my overall opinion of the show now that we are nearing the finale.

First, about the reunion episode itself: continue reading...

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Top Chef Episode 9: Truffles and Wine

topchef_daveandtruffle.jpg Dave sniffs out the challenge

Despite the fact that my girl Lee Anne was eliminated in this round, the show redeemed itself in some respects from the debacle of the last episode. One big reason for this is that the judges for the main elimination round, a group of chefs from Napa Valley restaurants, had some good and fair comments. continue reading...

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Top Chef Episode 8: Disillusioned

Let me state this right off the bat: I absolutely hated this episode.

There is a tendency to lump together all unscripted television shows as 'reality'. This isn't quite right. A true reality show has these characteristics: continue reading...

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Top Chef Episode 7: Don't educate me, feed me!

As the weaker contestants are eliminated and the field becomes less crowded, it's getting clearer that there are two stong contestants on Top Chef: the girls, Tiffani and Lee Anne. Sure, Harold is a very talented chef, but he seems to lack that leadership quality and spark. A showdown between the two equally tough, outspoken and talented - yet very different - women would be really fun to watch. continue reading...

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Top Chef Episode 6: Ted Allen likes chi-chi food, boo

This is a slightly shorter review than usual because I am buried in work. However, that doesn't mean this wasn't a very good episode. As a matter of fact, for me it was the best episode of the series so far. We finally got to see the contestants create food that really looked exciting and delicious and top-quality-restaurant-ish, as a collective. And, my girl Lee Anne won the elimination challenge, finally! continue reading...

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Top Chef Episode 5: Weird Food and Street Food

This week's episode had an overall theme of fusion cuisine...I think. The main elimination challenge was about making street food, but more on that later. Let's review the blind taste testing challenge first. continue reading...

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Top Chef Episode 4: Convenience

This week's Top Chef was about convenience foods. As much as I'd like to make food from scratch using the freshest of fresh ingredients all the time, the reality is that during the week at least I just whip up stuff that I can make quickly. I'm sure this is the case for a lot of people, especially if you work full time and/or have kids. And sometimes, we don't even have the time to go shopping, and have to fall back on whatever we have stashed in the pantry or freezer. continue reading...

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Top Chef Episode 3: Kids, Monkfish and Hoity Toity Chefs

The theme for this week's Top Chef episode titled Nasty Delights, was making food that looks disgusting into something delicious. But the other theme, which seems to be developing as a major emphasis in this series, was the importance of the chef as a marketer and promoter of his goods. continue reading...

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Top Chef Episode 2

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First off, an apology to regular readers...I've had a pretty bad cold this week, which meant mainly staying in bed with a box of tissues, drinking gallons of herb tea and feeling sorry for myself. But even though I don't have much of an appetite I still enjoy watching food shows. So here is my episode 2 review of Top Chef. (This is the cooking contest show that airs on Bravo TV in the U.S., and is also available for purchase/download from the iTunes Music Store.

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Top Chef

Warning: this entry contains major spoilers for the first episode of Top Chef.

Top Chef is a new reality show that airs on Bravo TV in the US. It's a cooking contest show where contestants vie for the privilege of being crowned Top Chef. (And some prize money too.) The first episode is being offered for free on the iTunes Music Store. (Note, it's free but you still need a U.S. credit card to download it.) continue reading...

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