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Sunday, December 3

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TV Thu Jan 12 2012

Top Chef Texas, Episode 10: War of the Restaurants

Another week of dramatic music cues, out-sized supermarket bills, and sweat in the kitchen. Must be time for a Top Chef recap. As always, three thoughts on this week's installment.

It's restaurant wars! Which, as I had to clarify for my less invested co-viewer, is just an annual elimination challenge, not an entirely new show. Though with the drama and strain this challenge always, always entails, it could be its own franchise. But for now, it's just that constant promise for TC viewers and cheftestants -- as much a signature of the show as Tom worrying a piece of criticism like an angry terrier (this week's can't-drop point of contention: you call it an Almond Joy and don't give Tom enough coconut, he will take major issue with calling your dessert "Almond Joy" -- even if he actually liked it. Tom is cranky like that). And every year the Magical Elves seem to dream up some variation to keep it new and fresh. In the past, it's been side-by-side dining in a divided space, or trying to make an original concept work in a pre-existing dining room. This year the teams were again asked to build from the ground up, tables and silverware and decor included -- and to then eat at each other's restaurants. I watched this episode last night after a full day of work and three hours of grad school -- and felt almost as exhausted as the poor chefs on my TV. Five hours to pull together a room, complete a service, and make everyone feel pretty happy at the end of the night. And as you could perhaps predict, the team that made every feel happiest at the end of the night this year -- the boys' team -- ended up on the bottom, and Ty-lor Boring ultimately was sent home. See, always dreaming up some variation to keep the viewer engaged.

My less invested but more awake co-viewed pointed this out to me. Did anyone else notice that guest judge Emeril Lagasse's commentary in this episode was a careful (and not particularly interesting, helpful, or critical) exercise in semantics? He constantly was asking for more flavor, more seasoning -- without ever once saying "Let's kick it up a notch!" Is it a copyright thing ya think? Bam!

Beverly Kim pulled out the win with her flavor-packed braised short ribs with Thai potatoes, but it was not pretty. After all the talking-down and blowing-up in the kitchen, it almost felt like Bev's win was the consolation prize for taking so much chef-on-chef abuse -- which also seems to be the engine that keeps this season moving forward, in the editing bay at least. With only three Chicago chefs remaining, and of course only one coveted spot at the top of the heap, will it be bossiness, crying, or liquid nitrogen that prove the keys to success? ...Stay tuned!

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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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