For years, Ive studiously avoided Top Chef, Bravos reality chef-competition show which is unusual for me considering my near obsession with practically all things Bravo reality-TV programming. (And in my defense, I do believe the best of the crop, Project Runway, is a multi-Emmy nominee, no?)
But Top Chef eluded me for years mainly on the argument that there was really no way for me to judge whether or not the resultant work was any good. And so, generally speaking, it all came down to the drama, and even during those unavoidable Bravo marathon screenings of the series helpful at times, annoying the other 90 percent of the time I just couldnt get on board. Until now.
This fourth season represents a breakthrough, probably due to the presence of Atlantas own finalist, Richard Blais, who not only seems to be the most talented of the group but also seems the most level-headed. (For a chef, mind you. Those folks are nut-jobs! And some of them are friends of mine.) So Blais is in the final three after Antonia was bumped in last weeks part-one finale. The final finale hits the screen Wednesday at 10 p.m. Im pulling for Blais, natch.
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Whoever won, judge and chef Tom Colicchio aint talking, at least not in his interview posted this morning on Salon. But he does talk about almost everything else. Whether he likes to admit it or not, Colicchio is great TV; hes the Simon Cowell of the judges even though he says he tries not to be nasty in his assessments. (I dont mug for the camera, he tells Salon. Yeah, right!) Maybe not, but hes brutally honest. Hes laser-sharp in his critiques, but you can tell he also likes to make blanket statements that sometimes ring just a bit hollow. I remember popping in one time a couple years ago and he was all indignant about a dish that essentially had not graced an oven and was served cold. When one judged questioned why that was such a big deal, Colicchio snapped, Its a cooking show. Hes supposed to cook, or some such nonsense. (Actually, its a chef show, Tom. Try some sushi.)
One thing I love about the interview is how he takes fans to task for criticizing the judges decisions, as if viewers can taste the dishes the judges do. (Which was my original problem with the show, but of course Ive slightly gotten over it.) The comment came in response to a question about why Dale, a popular contestant, was booted off. Colicchios response:
I wasnt there that night. When I saw the episode the night it aired, I could see why people were upset. But I didnt taste the food. And this is what I keep lecturing people about when they say we make bad decisions. I think, Great, I'm glad you were next to me eating food. I don't remember seeing you.