November 10, 2006

"Couldn't she see the simple beauty and Dali-esque artistry of the lone Cheeto stuck in a mashed-up cube of Snickers?"

Ha ha.

Did you watch "Top Chef" this week? Unlike Otto, this week's cheaters wriggle off the hook:
As the judges try to decide who should be knifed, Sam lets it slip that there may have been some cheating -- in the form of recipe-twiddling, post-nutritional analysis -- going on. However, Sam won't say who he thinks was getting happy with olive oil squeeze bottles. BUT Mia steps up and points out how St. Betty, the Patron Saint of Teeth and Screaming, made her cookies with sugar instead of the approved Splenda recipe.
Did you buy Betty's claim that she didn't understand the rules? Do you accept them not cutting her? Or do you accept it only because the oil drizzlers were bigger cheaters and they managed to fly under the radar. The only reason they did is because Sam is "not that guy" -- not the guy who identifies the cheaters even though he is the guy who cries cheating in order to save his own skin.

I don't like it when no one is eliminated. I'd have accepted cutting Sam for attempting to balance on the knife's blade of being that guy and not being that guy.


knoxgirl said...

"Mastershef" on BBCAmerica is really good, still can't get into "Top Chef"....

Anonymous said...

I watched Top Chef for the first time this week, catching a couple of consecutive episodes on Bravo. I was surprised to find how much I enjoy this show, because I cook a lot and used to be a foodie. (Parenting kind of stomps the foodie out of a person... they're just not compatible.) So I find myself nodding along with a chef, or thinking, "WTF?!!?" when I see some choices.

This show works better for me than Project Runway did, even though fashion is purely visual, because I'm so into food and cooking.

That said, I can't believe Michael is still on the show. His attitude alone should've gotten him booted this time. The amuse bouche Quickfire was really challenging and everyone else managed to step up, but he only made a token effort. Lame, lame, lame.

Betty gets on my nerves more than Marcel (who reminds me of Eddie Munster; he really needs to do something with that hair) does. That said, I think the editing of the episode supports the fact that she didn't understand that she wasn't supposed to change the recipe at all. She told the camera about the sugar before they even went to the camp! Is that enough of an excuse? Obviously the producers didn't want to lose her, because she is a fantastic cook.

I had a lot of sympathy for the chefs on this challenge. I've been writing a low-carb column for a couple of years now, and the challenges of calorie-restricted cooking are great. The challenges of cooking for kids are even greater, and having to design a menu that was low calorie and would appeal to kids is very tough.

But all of the chefs (except the cute diabetic guy) clearly had never given a thought to calorie restriction, because anyone with experience in low carb or low cal cooking would tell you right off the bat that Splenda, with its completely different molecular structure, isn't going to set up a meringue. Just ain't gonna happen. Xylitol, maltitol, or erythritol would've been fine, but Splenda, no way.

I was annoyed they didn't boot someone off, too. I was so happy that the obnoxious blonde got auf'd after serving the inedible surf & turf at the firehouse: justice! Now that Lost is off Wednesdays, I'll be watching Top Chef.

Serenity Now said...

I'd have accepted cutting Sam for attempting to balance on the knife's blade of being that guy and not being that guy.

Your complaint about Sam is what exactly? 1) you doubt his oil-spritzer story. 2) you believe him, but think he had an obligation to accuse specific people. 3) his "i'm not that guy" dude-babble irks you on an aesthetic level. 4) something else?

If he really did observe cheating, I don't understand why it was so terrible for him to act as he did.

Sanjay said...

Don't watch the show, but I may have to now because I've seen the commercials and I just found out this morning from a heavily TV-watching colleague -- that woman is married to Salman Rushdie? Are you totally kidding me? For cryin' out loud, don't enough people want you dead?

Joe said...

What drives me nuts with this show and several other "reality" shows is when the judges say "there's no way to know." Baloney! At any given moment there are at least a dozen camera crew members and at least one associate producer on the set shooting hours of video tape. They know damn well who cheated and if they don't they need to start reviewing video tape.

Chad said...

Betty sucks. It's possible that I hate her more than any other reality t.v. "star".

Anonymous said...

It's wry to think I've lived long enough for the "bread and circuses" to include actual bread again.

Cedarford said...

I see you follow Television Without Pity, Ann!

To me, TWOP and the reviewers and commentators make a show you follow doubly enjoyable. I follow Top Chef, Veronica Mars (the hysterical feminist rape identity politics commentators alone are worth it), and 24. 24 TWOP gave the world the "Jack Bauer Man-Purse of Death".

PS - Veronica Mars is one of the 5 best TV dramas, low rated because it is written for intelligent people. It is not HS or 90210 stuff.

And, I snicker everytime Jack heads into action to save America from the latest preposterous plot twist and reaches for his man-purse.

On Top Chef, this season, it is reality TV at it's cheesiest. As opposed to last season - so far - Crappy production, stupid artificial drama concocted by the writers....definitely not yet about winnowing out the good cooks from the bad because "Flounder" (Michael) is still on the show. Flounder survives, while "drama" accounts for all the winnowing out, once you get past "teams" carrying the incompetent cooks and the use of "kiddie approval".

(Because children, of course, know how to judge what is best for all of us. Must be Nancy Pelosi did some consulting).

IMO, Season 1 was better at this point because they did have real competitions that gave the audience a sense of who was a better individual cook, who had flaws, but could step up their game - and who were the bottom-feeders. And they weeded out some walking disasters early on.

And I think with Real Competitions rather than teams agonizing about what kiddies like best - you got a better sense of the personalities through actual work in the kitchen than so far this season.

Hopefully they can pick it up. Last season you had some really good likable chefs (Leanne, Harold) talented but hysterically dysfunctional Dave and Stephen adding to the fun, and the obviously gifted but unlikable Bitch-Queen Chef. (Tiffani the self described "duality-driven bisexual")

So far, though, of the women, only the Mexican gal, Elia, seems likable. Mia and Betty are plastic smiling phonies. Marisa, the bad pastry chef, is an incompetent snake. Josie appears to be loud and untalented. The redhead they got rid of last week was a particular sourpuss. Betty would have had an excuse if the redhead was still around and had just passed by Betty's batter, causing her cookie mix to lose all it's sweetness.

But so far other than Flounder, the men haven't really separated out. Cliff has been solid, an agreeable alpha male, but not showing he is a very creative cook so far. Wolf-Boy is showing he is more likable than at the start. Frank is capable of good stuff as well as mushroom drug fantasy crap. Big Diabetic guy Sam is a cipher. The Queer Eye guy's clone is good. Gay Carlos is finally showing he is perhaps more than a Queen 4-star chef's boy toy.

It's a very watchable show. I recommend it because you can easily figure it out and root for people - and get some good dishes for your own menus and entertainment.

The panelists? Padma as the spokesperson serving mainly as eye candy is a good replacement for last season's Billy Joel's child bride. The food lady is the excellent straight man. Tom Cold Dickio is the right mix of judge, jerk, authority/father figure. And they do sometimes get great guest judges like Chef Ming this season and last - Lorraine Bracco. Bracco, who was surprisingly, and awesomely good, as a real judge of top food and wine.

Elizabeth said...

Sam lost my sympathy on three counts: he should have called it when he saw it; he should have named names on the olive oil once Betty was named for the cookies; he wouldn't be specific and used the phrase "I'm just saying..." which drives me right up the wall. It's a weasely, mealy-mouthed way of casting aspersions without actually standing up and stating a case.

I'd have supported bouncing Betty and whoever used olive oil, but not one without the other.

Anonymous said...

Hey, I like Betty. Marisa is the real ass on the show this season. No doubt she will go a long way if she keeps up the shenanigans. They will keep her for "drama".