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TV Wed Nov 09 2011

Top Chef Texas, Episode 2: All-New, Never Before Seen, Gimmick You're Surely Familiar With

It was another full hour of self-proclamations of doom and shame about being sent home in the first cut, some editing-enhanced judging tension, and a little bit of cooking on tonight's "Top Chef" episode -- but unlike last week, this was a relatively Chicago-lite installment. Because most of our chefpresentatives (too much?) were already safely installed in their cook castle, we caught only a few glimpses of the five who made it through last week (and the mostly heat-related trials that seem to await them in the future of this season). The major Chicago moment came early in the episode, when Aria's Beverly Kim took a risk on a Korean-style octopus dish and was awarded her blue jacket -- the badge of entry to Chateau Chef, where Chuy, Heather, Sarah, Chris, and Richie were already enjoying champagne and bunk beds. (If you need a fix of our home team, however, Sarah Grueneberg and Chuy Valencia will be featured on Thursday's Chicago Live!, in conversation with Kevin Pang -- ticket info is on their site.) Three quick thoughts on tonight's episode:


  • The final 16 are chosen! Hallelujah, the chosen chefs have been proclaimed, and shall be feted throughout the -- what now? Someone else gets to come back? Son of a... Look, I'm all for the last-minute twists, but the minute has barely begun. The new online series "Last Chance Kitchen" is going to bring the last two chefs cut from tonight's show back for a final shot at redemption! First time in "Top Chef" history -- except for all of those other times when former contestants come back for a final shot at redemption. Perhaps they're using a different working definition of "final" than I'm familiar with. Because for me, this show just put itself in danger of becoming "Gossip Girl." Just because the whole "Top Chef University" attempt to create and monetize a TC social network hasn't panned out doesn't mean the standards for inclusion within the show itself need to be massaged into meaninglessness. I did not order the Blair Waldorf Salad. (Yeah, I said it.)


  • The selection of the 16th and final cheftestant at the tail end of the episode seemed to drag on far beyond the usual "Top Chef" standards. Like some rogue "Hell's Kitchen" AD sneaked into the editing bay and added an extra commercial break and some reverb to those tinkly dissonant chimes on the tension soundtrack. Couldn't that airtime have been better spent with, you know, the food? The first episode did an excellent job of side-stepping this reality TV show trap -- it'll be interesting to see which way the rest of the season leans.


  • As Drive Thru editor Robyn noted during tonight's episode, Bravo is sort of like the guy who steals your stash, and then offers to help you look for your stash. "Ohhhh, bummer bro, did you look everywhere? How about under the couch?" Oh, your intellectual and moral but still TV-watching self needs a break from reality shows where the stakes are constantly shifting and somewhat artificial drama tends to ride roughshot all over content? Check out our programming! Oh man, have you noticed how people are kind of picking on the cruise ship chef? Do you think those two Moto guys are going to turn on each other? And by the way, have you heard about this awesome "Real Housewives" thing? You're a tricky minx, Bravo. But you keep me coming back.


 
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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

The State of Food Writing

By Brandy Gonsoulin

In 2009, food blogging, social media and Yelp were gaining popularity, and America's revered gastronomic magazine Gourmet shuttered after 68 years in business. Former Cook's Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Kimball followed with an editorial, stating that "The shuttering of Gourmet reminds...
Read this feature »

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Drive-Thru is the food and drink section of Gapers Block, covering the city's vibrant dining, drinking and cooking scene. More...
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Editor: Robyn Nisi, rn@gapersblock.com
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