Cooking is like baseball. I’ve said that here before, and I’ll say it again right now, mainly because I just spent the last two and a half wee hours of the morning watching the Yankees play the Angels in Anaheim, in lieu of starting this TV Watch, and so the baseball metaphor’s sticking in my head. Two nights ago, the Yankees (whom I love — screw the underdog!) lost to the Angels 18-9; it was pathetic. Then last night they beat ‘em 8-2. That discrepancy would normally make no sense, except it’s baseball.
Thrilling developments. After last week’s downer ep of Top Chef — which made me want to volunteer at a battered-women’s shelter, I felt so angry at Howie, and so awful for Sara N. and Casey, with their open-toed shoes and exposed upper bodies — last night’s edition marked a graceful return to sanity, both on the show’s part and (I think) on my own. Let me come right out and say it: The show got it wrong last week, with that mean feed-the-drunks challenge, but so, in a different way, did I.
Something happened to me this week, and I didn’t even realize it till I sat down to watch Top Chef last night. Over the course of the past seven days, my entire being turned against Howie. Damnedest thing: I thought I liked the cannonball-domed sweathog okay, but then last night I pressed play on the DVR, and within just a couple of seconds — timed to the moment we first saw his turtle’s head pop into the frame and his lips start yapping — it washed over me that, no, actually I really, really hate this guy.
Unlike the drill-sergeant antics on Fox’s Hell's Kitchen, on season 3 of Top Chef the food always looks mouthwatering; Judge Tom Colicchio is an exemplary combination of talent, constructiveness, and high standards; and not a morsel of entertainment value is wasted. Like most Bravo competition shows, Top Chef proceeds from the premise that there is fun in putting a group of exceptionally skilled and ambitious people together and pushing them to do their best.
I knew for sure 37 minutes into the episode that Joey was going home last night. So did you. At that point in the show, the frozen tricolored fusilli with garlic that he’d heated up to mush with his partner, Hung, for the elimination round was tanking at the grocery store, and we kept cutting ahead to Joey in the studio as he explained what went wrong, only his face was pink, his eyes were rheumy, and his voice was cracking.
Good afternoon, hungry masses. Apologies if you went looking for this TV Watch earlier today and couldn’t find it. Last night my DVR — stuffed to bursting with saved episodes of 30 Rock, movies from TCM, and unwatched installments of Simon Schama’s Power of Art that I’ll probably never get around to — politely declined to record Top Chef for us. Good thing Bravo practically runs this show on a drip; I caught this morning’s 8 a.m. feeding instead.
First things first. This came up again on the ”Previously on Top Chef…” thing at the beginning of this episode, and I didn’t mention it in the last TV Watch, so here I go. Did it bother anybody else that last week’s guest judge, Alfred Portale, jumped on Micah because she said, ”I know Americans like to put ketchup on everything” as she presented her meat loaf with red and yellow pepper sauce? ”I don’t like the way she said us Americans,” Portale whined like a talking head on Fox News to the other judges.
Micah? Micah gets whacked? Hard to see that coming, this soon. I remember all the way back to two weeks ago, in the first episode, when Micah was the one to beat. (The female one, at least.) Now she’s gone? This startling development reminds me of when top-liner Samuel L. Jackson got eaten by the shark only halfway through Deep Blue Sea.
Maybe it’s far too early in the season, with so much left to be revealed about all our kitchen cutthroats, but I like to imagine that right after last night’s Top Chef, a few contestants called each other up and exchanged shocked reactions to Hung’s behind-the-scenes trash talking. Perhaps Howie called Sara N. and said, ”Holy [bleep] — two weeks in a row! Did you have any idea Hung was such a [bleep]?” And Sara N. replied, ”I know, right? He seemed like a totally cool guy.”
Last night, a few hours before the Top Chef premiere, I ate dinner at a high-class restaurant in Brooklyn — one of New York’s best, or so I’d read. Things were off from the get-go. We didn’t get bread plates for our bread. Our suave French waiter didn’t have his English or his menu down. In my starter course, brash grapefruit didn’t agree with tamer snap peas. After that, skate appeared, admirably buttery yet light, but the collards that came with it were doused in three-alarm lemon.
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