Passing Opinion Off As Fact Since 2009

Passing Opinion Off As Fact Since 2009

Thursday, December 9, 2010

A One Screenshot Top Chef Recap: Week 2

The T-Rex was considered the overly entitled brat of dinosaurs, right?

As last night's episode was coming to a close, I was reminded of a much talked about quote from last week's Gawker Recap, "Unlike all-star seasons of other shows, there isn't one winner in the bunch and, just like all inmates say that they're innocent, each of these contestants think they should have won. But they didn't. They are literally losers." At the time, I chuckled and tried to focus instead on my first day of schoolesque excitement. After last night's judges table, I realized the quote actually highlights what will likely be the running theme of this season. Every one of these chefs save black Tiffany has an obscene chip on their shoulders that is more revolting than the thought of eating Jen's plate of mush. This was a hard pill for me to swallow as I legitimately thought Jen was going to win but last night made me realize that all bets are off when the competition is actually a battle royale of losers.

It is also important to consider that not only did these contestants lose their seasons, they have lost outside of the show. What I love about Top Chef is that the winners, save Hosea and whatshisface from last season*, have gone on to have more legitimate careers than any winners of any other comparable reality show: Harold just opened his second critically acclaimed restaurant in New York, Ilan owns one of my absolute favorite restaurants in the country, Stephanie's Girl and the Goat was easily the most celebrated new restaurant opening in Chicago last year, and Michael V is set to open LA's most anticipated restaurant next year. Also consider that Brian V (easily the series' 2nd most talented), Kevin (arguably the 3rd most talented), Sam, and Stefan did not feel the need to return because of their success outside of the show. The fact is these "All-Stars" are still just grunting along like they were pre-TV**. As talented as Jen might be, she is still running someone else's kitchen like she was three years ago.

Yet Jen, and the rest of the cast for that matter, in the first two episodes carried herself like she was not just a winner of Top Chef but an actual Top Chef. Like they were all supposed to be on Top Chef Masters but accidentally went into the wrong kitchen. I hate to beat a dead Hosea, but Hosea won Top Chef Season 5, it is not like winning the title alone makes you a great chef. Tom, on the other hand, is the real deal.

Usually my favorite part of a Top Chef season is watching Tom slowly grow to admire the really talented chefs. This season, Tom already knows all their food (partly because it seems like NO ONE has gotten better) so this season his focus will likely be on pulling these egos back to reality. Not just reality television reality, like real reality, the one where all these guys have day jobs cooking some one else food.

Two Stray Thoughts:

- Dale's Joe Jonas/Pastry Chef comment seemed like Bravo's way of calling him Gay

- How awkward was it bringing back Katie Lee Joel, a Top Chef loser in her own right?

*The jury is still out on Hung, who has yet to really put himself out there.

**Spike is the only exception here. Since leaving the show he has done an awesome job of branding himself, opening a very popular high-end fast food concept, and even signing to a major agency. He is one of the few chefs so far that I have enjoyed watching because he obviously does not plan on winning.

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