Top Chef at the midpoint: An MHC clip-show

November 29, 2006

topchef_desktop_thumb1.jpgIt’s that time of year. Shows go on hiatus and we’re stuck with re-runs and dull holiday specials. Of course, we could turn off the mind-numbing boob tube and do something crazy like, say, read. Dramatic pause. Ha, ha, ha, ha!

But seriously, folks. There was no new Top Chef tonight, so we’ve devised a way to fill the TV void… by talking about TV. We thought we’d devise our own short clip show of sorts and reflect on the season that has been Top Chef.

The highlight so far is…
Husband: Anthony Bourdain‘s stint as guest judge. His appearance in the second half of last week’s show really demonstrated the program’s potential (and how it’s falling short). Bourdain’s appearance was both comical but duly critical — it actually was about the food, instead of just snarky drama. My favorite Bourdain quote was his description of Michael: “Betty Crocker and Charles Manson had a love child and it’s cooking for me.”
Wife: Love the drah-ma. From stolen lychees to the addition of furtive tablespoons of sugar to toothbrushes dropped on nasty dorm floors, the attempts to make compelling TV out of mundane interactions between (often intoxicated) chefs are admirable. What’s next? Someone changed my oven temperature and used all of the butter? Can’t wait!

Last year, Top Chef gave us “It is what it is.” Is there a catch phrase this year? Anything?
H: I don’t know if there’s a Top Chef catch phrase, but the thing we’re sure never to forget is Marcel‘s hair. Part Wolverine, part Farah Fawcett. What is in that?
W: I’m still fond of “It is what it is” and I don’t know why these chefs don’t use it more. I use it all the damn time… It should be a bumper sticker. There’s no way this group could top it… and the best lines of the show so far have come from Anthony Bourdain, and that kid at Camp Glucose who declared that she “wanted to marry the hot diabetic.”

Best Elimination or QuickFire challenge?
H: The vending machine QuickFire challenge. First, because you got to see the contestants make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. (Some of the crap in those machines was frightening.) Second, because we got to see Michael’s true inner spirit — which said, ” I don’t really care about this contest” — via his pornographic Cheeto emerging from a lump of Snickers offering.
W: Well, since my hubby has named the obvious best challenge, I’ll go with the ice cream contest as runner up. We got to see Marcel’s cutting edge molecular-gastronmic instincts lead him awry as he prepared bacon and avocado ice cream for 7-year-olds in board shorts, and Emily‘s inner devil rear its ugly head as innocent and average looking beach-goers were subjected to a bitter and hostile tongue lashing for not enjoying her ice cream. And she got kicked off. Ain’t karma grand?

How the show could be improved?
H: I think there’s a dearth of big personality providing guidance to the contestants. While Tom is great, I think having him and another chef of his caliber (perhaps Anthony Bourdain or Danielle Bouloud, both of whom already have TV shows) would really spur the contestants and make them step it up, as Tom has been trying (with limited success) to do.
W: I’d like to see more of the, ahem, food that these contestants prepare. Especially in the early episodes, we viewers glimpsed the dishes for only a second and had no notion of the ingredients, or even how they tasted. I like this show because it’s (supposedly) a meritocracy. It would help to judge the chefs’ skills if we could actually envision eating their food. Or, the producers could bag that and just inject more drama about stolen produce.

Since we always pick a winner and loser, let’s turn it around: Who of those chefs who’ve been eliminated would you invite back?
H: Emily. Actually, I don’t want Emily to come back, I just want her to be a color commentator for the show so we can hear her nasty remarks about what’s happening.
W: None of ’em. And let’s get crackin’ on eliminating more. Seriously, don’t we know who the final three or four are going to be? Let’s cut to the chase, producers.

Your favorite moments? The funniest or saddest bits? Heroes and villains? And predictions for who will come out on top?


  1. I personally loved last season’s “I’m not your b****, b****.” That would be a sign to hang up in the office.

    I agree there needs to be some more food porn. One of the things I’ve also noticed in the quickfire challenge deliberations is they don’t name the dish again. In some cases they don’t really describe enough why it was good. I could handle a little bit more discussion on that end, and a little less in the grocery store scenes – unless there’s another lychee or beer for cheese situation.

  2. I was wondering what the deal was. Is there a new one next week or are they waiting until after CHristmas/New Years?

  3. Claire, I looked up on their website. There will be a new show next week. However, I couldn’t see how far out they were going. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are only going to be a couple shows between now and the end of the year.

    Synaethesia, I’m with you I’m not your b—-, b—-. I think what makes that funnier is how effeminate Dave was in saying it and how snotty Tiffany was leading up to it. Yet, by the end, Dave seemed a bit out of control and Tiffany seemed just sad—I mean did you see the reunion show!

    And definitely, we need more food porn. My wife said last night that she thought it hurt the show especially because so much of eating (the smelling and tasting) can’t be portrayed on TV like with fashion on Project Runway. Hopefully, when they get down to a smaller group we will really start to see them focus more on the craft so we get a real since of how well things are actually made.

  4. Marcel! That’s his name! The only TC I’ve seen was this episode and it was approx 15 min, at the gym, with no sound. I found myself thinking 2 things:
    a) I don’t want this guy to win. He seems like an a-hole.
    b) His hair looks like Jim Carrey in Ace Ventura, Pet Detective

    Love your blog! And the photos!

  5. Emily, I was making pancakes this morning for breakfast when my wife read this comment about Marcel’s hair looking like Ace Ventura’s. I’m just glad I wasn’t drinking something at the time otherwise I’m sure my pancakes would have been ruined by a “spit-take.” We both universally agree that is the best description of Marcel’s hair so far. I think we they should have a professional perhaps that guy from the hairstylist show on Bravo come decribe it and repeat it for all those up and coming pet detectives.

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