"Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn't mean politics won't take an interest in you”


Thursday, June 14, 2007

When You Crave Top Chef

Cross-posted at Daily Kos.

The third season of America's Top Chef started Wednesday night. After two seasons on the West Coast (SF & LA), the Bravo reality series moves east, to sunny South Beach.

"Bienvenido a Miami!"

My television viewing is typically limited to news, sports, CSI and Law & Order (gotta get my fix of Freddy Thompson as the fearless Arthur Branch). My blogging usually focuses on political topics. But, I've got this addiction to "America's Top Chef" and I thought I'd deviate from my normal blogging fare, if only to prove how much of a renaissance man I am.

Not sure why I find Top Chef so interesting - I'm not a cook. My culinary skills consist of pushing buttons on a microwave. Perhaps that's the reason. These chefs are asked to cook under pressure and deliver beautiful and tasty (at least they look delectable) dishes. It could be I'm searching for a new recipe for the anxiously anticipated DKos KookBook.

Or perhaps it's the knives and wide assortment of other sharp instruments in close proximity to conniving (yet extremely talented) contestants fighting for money, prestige, a trip to Aspen and the title of "America's Top Chef". It's a recipe for pure entertainment.

Let the back-stabbing begin!

We're told at the start this year's group of contestants are more talented and accomplished than the previous two seasons. We are introduced to them as they gather for a cocktail party at the Versace Mansion on Ocean Drive. Nice digs.

As they're relaxing and getting to know one another, in walk judges Tom and Padma - and they've got a surprise in store. The first Quickfire challenge starts now! And the contestants are asked to create an "amuse bouche" with the leftovers from tonight's cocktail party. And they've got ten minutes. Come on, boys and girls, get to it!

Well, Micah wins with her "Tuscan Sushi Revisited." Christ, this woman not only throws together this beautiful morsel with figs, fish and who knows what else but she has a friggin name for it too? Come on. You gotta be kidding me!

Up next is the Elimination Round where the fifteen contestants get to create a surf and turf with a twist. What the hell is on that table? There's Alligator Tail and Rattle Snake, Eel and Geoduck. Sounds like what little boys are made of. Seriously, what are they going to do with that? Uhm, Geoduck? (pronounced "GOOO- eee- duck")

Oh, they're creating a surf and turf with exotic ingredients. Our contestants are preparing an exotic menu: Snake and Eel, Kangaroo & Abalone, Alligator & Monkfish Liver. And I have to ask again, "What is Geoduck??" (pronounced "GOOO- eee- duck")

All in all, the contestants impress the judges. Although guest judge Anthony Bourdain observes of one dish, "I would like this if I were drunk" (One gets the impression Tony has spent many a night perched on a barstool and knows barfood when he sees it). Another dish he deems barely worthy of being served by Air Cambodia. Not sure, but I don't think it was meant as a compliment. Padma derides one of the chefs who tried to explain his decision to fry rattlesnake and eel, "You could fry my toe and it would taste good." Again, not a compliment.

Did I say it was the backstabbing contestants providing entertainment? I meant to say the JUDGES. Yeah, that's it.

The Judges agree - Tre and Hung have excelled - and Tre's dish wins the first elimination round. This ratchets up the pressure on Tre, as the winner of the first elimination round in the previous seasons has gone on to win the entire contest. Can he make it three for three?

There are four chefs who end up in the bottom group - Howie, Brian, Clay and Dale. Clay, the self-described darkhorse from Mississippi, who underwhelemed the judges in the Quickfire doesn't seem to grasp he's prepared (and served an inedible dish. He doesn't have an answer when the judges ask, "Do you know why you're here?"

Well, the judges couldn't either. Clay becomes the first contestant to hear the dreaded words, "Please pack your knives and leave."

Meanwhile, back at the suite, the other fourteen are sharpening theirs.

Oh, and for those of you wondering, geoduck is a shellfish and it's found in Puget Sound. It remains a mystery as to why it's pronounced "GOOO- eee- duck".

See? I'm a 21st Century Renaissance Man.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Gooey Ducks grow to about two pounds in four or five years.