Thursday, July 19, 2007

Obsession with Top Chef

I love the TV Show Top Chef, on Bravo. Just love, love, love it. It is sophisticated reality TV with a tolerable amount of drama. I really admire how these competing chefs think so quickly on their feet and how fast they cook (with the exception of Howie, who is always stressed about time)! What they manage to create in the 30 minute Quickfire Challenges is incredible. It is a competition of brains, creativity, raw talent, and a little brawn. Season 3, Miami, has not let me down. It is just as good, if not better than, the first two seasons. The competitions are more difficult and the contestants come from some highly-regarded restaurants and from very entrepreneurial backgrounds. Competition is fierce, which makes for good television.

Season 3 is underway and the contestants are thinning from the original 15. I really admire how honest and fair the judges are about how they make their choice to eliminate someone. The judges are Queer Eye's culinary expert, Ted Allen, show host, Padma Lakshmi, Tom Colicchio, celebrated culinary figure and co-founder of Craft Restaurants, and Gail Simmons of Food & Wine. Their decisions are based on each chef's response to each specific challenge, not on their performance to date. So on Top Chef, when a chef wows and even wins a challenge one week, they might be kicked off the next. The guest judge is also always a very interesting and admirable person from the world of food. This season, not surprisingly, represents a variety of celebrated chefs from Miami. Personally, I would be shaking in my socks if Anthony Bourdain was going to be judging something I made. Thanks to excellent video editing, I can hardly ever guess who is going to be asked to "pack their knives and go home." Did I mention this is the best reality TV show ever?

This season my favorite chef is Tre. Tre is self-taught (so cool!) and his style is refined and simple. I admire his consistency cooking and plating very nice dishes which meet the challenge. I think that while he has been riding in the middle (not winning or losing much) he is going to excel as more and more chefs are eliminated. He has the versatility and ability to execute under pressure that the other chefs lack. My least favorite chef is Hung. Hung is the drama factor this season (much like Marcel was in Season 2). He is pompous, rude, hyper, and does not accept any criticism. He is not courteous in the kitchen. He makes terrible messes running around like a mad man and nearly cut someone with his knife on last night's episode. But, he'll be around for a while. Between the drama that he adds to the show and the fact that he is, as much as I hate to admit it, an excellent chef. Mike's favorite chef is CJ. I think that is because, like Mike, he is very tall and has a great sense of humor.

Best yet, this season Bravo is putting some of the recipes on the Top Chef website. You can make some of the successful creations at home without the pressure of the clock.

So watch, Wednesdays at 10pm ET/9pm CT. The show repeats immediately afterwards at 11 ET/10pm CT. There are lots of reruns if you want to catch up on missed episodes.

My husband just started working for a start-up that makes awesome widgets. Here is the very cool widget that they made for Top Chef. You can check out some of the judges' blogs to get their insights on the show.

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