Thursday, November 13, 2008

Top Chef Season 5 Blogging!

Top Chef is back for season #5! Let the merriment commence!

Ok, seriously, I do like this show, not because I want to eat the food, but because I want to be able to cook food like all these people do. I'm a decent cook & baker, but these people are freakin awesome, and their ability to take nothing but raw ingredients turn it into a culinary masterpiece using only a few knives and the ideas in their head is one that I wish I had.

This season the show takes place New York City, and features a pretty eccentric bunch of characters. I have to be honest here: the show is fundamentally a cooking competition, and I'm starting to worry that the Top Chef producers are moving away from that in favor of pure sensationalism. Case in point: the very first quick-fire challenge of the series eliminated a competitor before they even got into the kitchen.

First, the chefs were asked to peel a bunch of apples using only a paring knife in a time trial. I ask you, what exactly does it say about someone's cooking skills that they're able to peel a bunch of apples 5 seconds quicker than their peers, using a technique that no one uses at all anymore and that they'll never use again in their entire careers?

Second, the losers of the peeling had to finely dice their apples, again in a timed trial. Dicing is a fundamental knife skill, but again, does being a second or two faster than someone else really tell you all that much?

Finally, after the 17 were pared (haha, get it?) down to 5, they were finally allowed to cook. And one poor girl who made a salad got the boot, and was sent home about an hour after she arrived. That's got to be a downer.

Like I said, sensationalism. Anyway, there are certainly some interesting characters this time around. Among the more interesting ones:

Imagine a 44 year-old cross between a southern grandma who does southern comfort and a hippie karma queen who actually used the words "vibe" and "karma" as part of her working vocabulary.

Jeff is very good looking. And he knows it. Scratch that, he doesn't just know it, he's internalized it as an a priori fundamental truth of the universe. During the opening credits he actually winks at the camera. Before he goes out into his restaurant, he always asks a server whether his hair's ok (seriously, he does that, he said so, I'm not making it up.)

One of the three openly gay contestants on this season's show. Patrick's so young that he's still in school at CIA, and also pretty cute. Alas, he used gummy black bean noodles to make his Chinatown dish, and was sent home after the first elimination challenge. Pity, he seemed nice.

His name is Fabio, what more need I say? Well, I'll tell you what more I need say: he's personal chef to William Shatner!! Hence the picture! Beam me up, Fabio! KHAAAAAAAAAAAAAN!

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