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Posts Tagged Top Chef

Cruel Cruel Summer

Filed Under: TV Reviews

So I know I’m several weeks late with the inevitable roundup of summer television, but I like to get a little settled before I pass judgment on hours of programming that I’ll probably continue watching out of sheer boredom after I’ve long since established that it’s making me progressively dumber (see: Rock of Love). I like to catch a few episodes, allow myself to get mildly invested in the characters/contestants/suitors before I decide whether a show is “worth” an hour of my Sunday afternoon, which might otherwise be spent watching foreign films, reading literature or pontificating on the meaning of life. Seriously, I’m a very busy person.

So here’s what I’m watching this summer, and what you should be too, if you know what’s good for you.

tvali-100x100THE BACHELORETTE: I’m a little late to this particular line of shows; all I know is both The Bachelorette and predecessor The Bachelor (shit started in 2002!) are the mainstream equivalents of VH1’s romantic contest-based programming. The only difference is there’s more mush—poetry, hand-holding, prolonged eye contact without resulting sexual contact—and fewer strippers. Bachelorette Ali, who is apparently a cast-off from a past season of The Bachelor (sort of the ABC version of Real World/Road Rules Challenge), seems sufficiently generic; she’s the kind of girl you’d pass in a J. Crew with a small dog in her purse. Her eligible men are equally nondescript, to the point that I’ve watched at least three episodes and couldn’t pair names with faces. Fortunately for ABC, the sheer voyeurism of watching people try to fall in love means it’s hard to fuck this one up.

Verdict: Watch with a hand on the remote. Some scenes—like Ali being serenaded by anyone, anywhere—are too perfectly awkward to miss. Others, like the ENDLESS rose ceremony, are easy to skip.

tvtopchef-100x100TOP CHEF D.C.: Here’s the thing about Top Chef: it’s getting a little…old. The formula is the same every season and even though they switch cities, unless you’re familiar with the culinary inner-workings of Chicago versus New York versus D.C., the guest chefs and restaurant cameos aren’t going to make much of a difference. It doesn’t help that a lot of the challenges are the same (and then again repeated on Top Chef Masters which, let’s be honest, is just a space filler between TC seasons so you don’t start watching something else in that time slot). That said, this season of Top Chef seems to have the requisite cast of characters: the early front-runner, the power-hungry female, the trod-upon foreigner. Add some spices and voila! Decent television.

Verdict: If you’ve watched the last six seasons, you might as well keep on keeping on. But make sure you have food around; after one particularly tantalizing episode I found myself dipping pretzel rods in butter.

tvworkofart-100x100WORK OF ART: In its never-ending quest to find the “top” everything—chef, fashion designer, hair stylist, hair stylist for poodles—Bravo has moved on to perhaps the most subjective of all topics: art. Work of Art throws a bunch of weirdos with artistic inclinations in one room, where they tackle assigned inspirations that run the gamut from portraiture to book covers. To be honest, I had limited hope for this show. I get the Bravo thing, I buy into it, but as someone who’s spent life wishing her technical ability matched her drive to create art, I wasn’t keen on watching people have their work slammed. So far, Bravo has proved me wrong: the ‘assignments’ are broad enough that it’s hard to argue people are being pigeon-holed and the variety in skills is huge; the show includes everything from painters to performance artists. The only weak point: the judges. But to be fair, Tim Gunn set the bar pretty high.

Verdict: If you like Bravo’s other fare, this one is well worth the time. And if you don’t like Bravo’s other fare, why the fuck are you reading my blog?

tvyourecutoff-100x100YOU’RE CUT OFF: VH1 never ceases to amaze. Just when I think they’ve exhausted the possibilities for trashy spin-off shows, they come up with something totally original (and by original I mean “original”) to hold the line until Ray J and another gaggle of hookers can be rounded up. You’re Cut Off follows a dozen spoiled princesses (think My Super Sweet 16, plus ten years) as they’re thrown in a house together with a life coach who teaches them lessons like “Toilets don’t clean themselves” and “Shoes don’t HAVE to cost $4,000.” It’s predictably entertaining to watch women who count tiaras among their casual-wear try to figure out how to grocery shop, or sweep a floor. Unfortunately the life coach/host isn’t harsh enough to make me feel like the ladies are learning anything so much as biding time until they can return home to their pampered lives, a few thousand dollars richer (what does VH1 pay its minions these days?) and decidedly more famous. I would venture to say that a re-casting of Sharon Osbourne, who whipped even sluttier and trashier girls into shape on Charm School, would have made for a much better show. Assuming Monique is booked.

Verdict: When it comes to the on-camera demonization of 20-somethings who have never had to work or think for themselves, I am decidedly in favor.


5:45 PM on June 29th, 2010 | 

Posted by kira

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Colicchio Goes On A Diet

Filed Under: Food and Drink

colicchioAfter watching chef Tom Colicchio on countless seasons of Bravo stalwart Top Chef (and by countless I mean five), I’ve grown to respect and perhaps even like the bald-headed foodie icon, whose presence on reality television softens the fact that his Craft restaurant empire is way out of my price range. 

So it was a little disappointing to discover during the 81st annual Academy Awards Sunday that Colicchio has joined the ranks of celebrities hocking something inane just to make a quick buck. 

Indeed, despite Top Chef’s ludicrous pandering to sponsors Glad and Kenware, I was surprised to see Colicchio himself starring in a Diet Coke commercial. Joining the ranks of former Diet Coke spokespeople Adrian Brody and Kim Basinger, the renowned chef has hardly sunk to the bottom (where there’s currently a tie between Tony Hawk’s Bagel Bites and everyone who’s ever endorsed Right Guard Xtreme Powerstripe), but considering chemically-sweetened diet soda is a far cry from gourmet dining, it’s a rather odd pick for Colicchio. Sort of like Rachel Ray’s endorsement of Dunkin Donuts, except Colicchio wasn’t wearing a scarf that small-minded morons might confuse with traditional Arab garb. Smart thinking, Tom. 

I guess with this whole recession thing putting a damper on fine dining, even a culinary scion has to sell out every once in awhile. 

[Fun Fact: Past Diet Coke slogans have included three reprisals of "Just for the taste of it!," as well as "You are what you drink" and -- oddly -- 2006's "Light it up!"]


3:32 PM on February 24th, 2009 | 

Posted by kira

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Characters Welcome

Filed Under: Screenshots From Kira's Television

The more I watch this season of Top Chef, set in Manhattan, the more I continue to ponder three things: (1) Why does this show have to be on on Wednesday nights, when I am more often than not in the midst of a five-day detox from the food, drugs and alcohol of the weekend? (2) Why am I so unabashedly awful at cooking? And (3) Who the hell was in charge of casting?

Although I’ve remained loyal so far this season (something like a whopping four episodes) primarily because of the Big Apple scenery, I have to say the New York cast has quite a few real lookers that keep me coming back for more. 

1. A heroin addict.


2. A muppet


3. And most impressively, what might very well be a mentally disabled person.


Bravo may have long since moved on from its status as the go-to channel for the gay population, but don’t say they haven’t stuck with diversity.


9:37 AM on December 4th, 2008 | 

Posted by kira



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Amuse-ing my Bouche

Filed Under: Food and Drink, TV Reviews

bouche-426x450Wednesday night marked the much-anticipated premier of Bravo’s Top Chef, the only reality television show both high-brow and popular enough to compete with Project Runway in terms of fans who aren’t willing to get progressively stupider in the name of pop culture (sorry VH1, I call ‘em like I see ‘em). Adding to the hype is the fact that this season is Top Chef’s first in New York City, arguably one of the most important food towns in the world, and definitely more important than past host cities like trashtastic Miami and icky old Chicago.

Like any real reality TV fan, I made sure to catch the show’s premier, in part to do a necessary faux-hawk count (shockingly, only like 0.5 this season), and in part because ever since this show started, I have just really really wanted to like it. Read More ›


10:06 AM on November 13th, 2008 | 

Posted by kira

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