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top chef

top chef

if i'm not obsessing over design, i'm obsessing over food. one of my favorite things is to plunk down on the couch with a good magazine and lazily watch the food network or my new favorite- top chef. one of the perks of living in new york is that you occasionally run into micro-celebrities and in the past week i've run into two personalities from bravo's top chef- chef harold dieterle and judge (and food and wine contributor) gail simmons. on the way to hockey we saw gail on the f train wearing converse sneakers and looking much younger in person. and then last night we saw harold at "little dishes" while we had dinner (yum). i was facing the window and saw him coming in and nearly had a coronary.

my summarized take on top chef is: none of the chef blow me away really, but my favorites are harold, lee ann and tiffani. tiffani needs a serious attitude adjustment (hello, the challenge with the children?) and i wanted to fire harold myself after he decided to serve raw tuna to residents of sf's mission district, but those three seem to love FOOD the most. stephen plates beautifully but i don't think he really thinks about flavor as much as the others. for me design and food are so closely related so i think the show is great in terms of thinking about the layout of a plate or the combination of flavors in a dish. what do you guys think, anyone watch the show? (and how much did i love the junk food taste test challenge)



Blogger melissa said...

I went to Fleur De Lys (episode 1 challenge) and had a lavendar mojito at the bar. The chef (judge for quickfire challenge in that episode) was talking to the couple sitting next to us. The bartender brought us a tier of little sweets (compliments of the chef). I could have died and gone to heaven, if we had dinner there, I probably would have! Ah, Top Chef!

12:08 PM  
Blogger stellaforstar said...

i totally agree with your picks of tiffiani, lee ann and harold! i was especially impressed at lee ann's ability to please that guest judge who sampled their gas station food. that panini-thing she made must have been awesome for him to thumbs-up it. by the way, i have never written here before, but i have been faithfully reading your blog for over a year now and have made many purchases based on your recs. so thanks! my blog is a food one, if you wanna check it out...also a blogspot one....

4:30 PM  
Blogger Jessica Horvath said...

I hope Lee Ann or Tiffani win, and even though Tiffani needs serious attitude adjusting, she seems like she knows her stuff. Stephen is just annoying, and has no social skills.

There aren't very many strong personalities that grab me on this show, but definitely lots of drama. I miss project runway, especially Santino.

Also, does this show make anyone else really hungry?

4:46 PM  
Anonymous strobie said...

why is it you think sf mission district folks shouldn't be afforded the enjoyment of raw tuna?

5:19 PM  
Blogger design*sponge said...

oh of course they deserve raw tuna :) the purpose of the mission was to create street food that would be popular in the mission and would be easy to eat as you walked. a rare tuna salad that required a bowl and fork was described as "not street food friendly" but all the judges. and i totally saw what they meant. they were looking for fast, easy, finger/hand food. i'd watch the episode for more explanation, they explained their "rules" better.


5:34 PM  
Anonymous kg said...

food, design, hmmm...

This is probably old, but I like My Restaurant Rules (Australia) where the challenge was for 5 couples to take an empty space and design a restaurant from zero and make it profitable. That would be neat-- deciding the concept, decor, food style, marketing, everything of the restaurant and then putting it into play. I don't know if they have this in the U.S. but it's the only "reality" program I have watched but they are so bad with programming here (Italy) they can't even figure out how to show stuff in sequence, so I can't get to the end of the series, I'm stuck in rerun land.

But I'm so sick of people being launched to "mini celebrity" status via TV shows. In Italy, actually being on TV is a profession, an aspiration of many young people...especially young women, and not so young... Now there's a reality show fot EVERYTHING.


10:53 PM  
Blogger natasha said...

i love the show, also. steven's food must taste disgusting. i have no doubt of that. when he says what is in a dish, as someone who has discerning taste and cooks a lot, i yell at the tv, how disgusting that would be...ew! i think he doesn't even care how it tastes.

and tiffani, she is so into food that she forgets that she is not making it for herself, but rather, for the customer, and they are what matters. in a service industry, if they don't like it, you are sunk. period. as an artist, i understand wanting to stick to your beliefs, but she can do that in her own kitchen, not for someone who is paying 200 bucks for their meal. until she is gordon ramsey, she has to try to make the client happy. and if that means making french fries because they are 8 years old, then that is what you have to do. end rant.

11:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

such a "mission-esque" comment as they (mission dewllers) do have a chip on their shoulder.

1:33 AM  
Anonymous angelique said...

no one seemed to mention how utterly annoying stephen is. stephen has the biggest ego of anyone i've ever seen, and every time he opens his mouth, it's to say something like "when i looked at the competition, i knew i had won... i'd like to bring her up to my level, but it's just not possible... do any of you know what a plantain is?" i mean WOW. it's really bad. it's comical it's so bad.

9:52 AM  
Anonymous sallyman said...

Hi, I live in San Francisco and my husband was born here... and when we watched the challenge where Harold and Lisa came up with raw tuna for the Mission... we just laughed and laughed. Don't get us wrong, the Mission is an ecclectic place -- hispanics, whites, asians, rich, poor, middle class living in harmony -- and it's probably one of the most interesting neighborhoods in the city, but let's be honest here... it isn't exactly known for it's Japanaese food... and the area around the Bart station (where the street carts were set up) is still considered a crack corner...

But anyway, WHERE IN THE WORLD -- including JAPAN -- do people eat raw tuna in the streets? Such a bad idea.... and actually, completely offensive if you're a real sushi chef.

10:11 AM  
Blogger Vajra said...

Word! I would not be able to live life as it is known without Top Chef to (sorta) fill the hole in my heart now that Project Runway is over. Although Top Chef is good, it has nobody like Jay or Santino or Andree or Tim Gunn or Chloe or Daniel or...This season's Project Runway was fantastic. You can tell I have a serious Jones. Top Chef hasn't quite the hook of PR but it's good. Tiffani and Lee Ann are the top chefs, hands down, with Lee Ann being my favorite. Harold seems like he could be great but so far his dishes haven't been quite all that. Stephen is a kid: he's all arrogance and thinks he's never going to die. The day when restaurants were all about the architecture of the dishes is so five minutes ago. Although I have no objection to the appetizer being a feast for the eye, the food has to taste good, Stephen. Heloooo?

12:56 PM  
Anonymous strobie said...

since we don't get the show here in Holland, I can only take the comment as presented by d*s, which is why I questioned it (and she clarified) --- I agree serving tuna (or any food) in a non-portable way as street food would be silly... however, the fact that it was raw or tuna doesn't really mean much --- I've had plenty a ceviche in the mission (technically not cooked). Chip on shoulder? bah! chips and salsa, ole!

by the way - great job on the first podcast w/ Lotta Jansdotter! :)

5:38 PM  
Anonymous Ms Megan said...

I enjoy the show, it is obvious who are the stronger competitors and that Stephen is nuts. He makes me giggle during his confessionals, he also has the funniest facial expressions. As for Kg's comment, I think that shows like Top Chef and PR are different from other reality shows in that these are people are being celebrated for their talents rather than for being attractive or controversial. I personally feel that they have earned their 15 minutes. I will agree with you on all the rest of the mini-stars on television.

7:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i actually know tiffani. i am a chef in her hometown and had the utter displeasure of working with her in a kitchen. she knows absolutely nothing about cooking. has the worst attitude and definitely doesn't deserve, based on merit or talent to be the 'top chef'. it is sort of the 'philosopher king' conundrum. those that should be the top chef would never try out for such a show. true chefs are generally those that don't like publicity or the spotlight, enjoy the hot, sweaty cramped quarters of a kitchen, and are more comfortable with a side of beef than another person. thank god for 15 minutes of fame. let's hope it doesn't increase to 20!

love your site!!!

10:12 AM  
Anonymous Cuse said...

I agree with d*s. I can't see any of them being superstars after winning.

The show is pretty good, but it doesn't have the same punch that Project Runway has. The host and judges could have been a little more well-known. Or at least have some more personality.

10:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't even understand how Ted Allen chose Stephen's dish to win (last week)...6 bites of oyster on a plate? That's an appetizer? Like Dave said, it was more like a "painting". I like Ted Allen a little bit less now!

I am not a fan of Miguel either, nobody has mentioned him. Poor guy, seems mentally challenged. He's gotta go.

1:57 PM  
Blogger design*sponge said...

i agree. i didnt even think the plating was THAT good. it looks messy to me. i think steven doesn't really EAT his food. even harold said he thought the flavors didnt work in a few. my money is on lee ann coming from behind...and harold and tiffani staying on top.

would love to hear more from the commenter who worked with tiffani...oooh dish!

ds :)

1:59 PM  
Blogger Aethlos said...

I'm favoring harold or lee anne to win, but i will admit i can't believe harold's tuna-cart blunder... omg, RARE TUNA as street food?! So so so so stupid. I really enjoy this show, except for stephen, whom i can't stand. billy joel's wife is chilly and pretty, i really like hyperemotional dave and his 'flavors' obsession, lee anne is great, harold is smooth. I will hate to see dave, lee anne, or harold go... ouch. Stephen is appalling, tiffani's tude will get her canned. I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU SAW HAROLD in the flesh... i think he's dreamy and sexy. NICE POST! Sleek blog.

3:36 PM  
Blogger Aethlos said...

and hey, strobie, it's not about 'deserving' tuna... it's about RARE/raw food on the STREET, in the heat, etc. Hawkers carts are not the most sanitary places to begin with - food should reach high temperatures and not even LOOK uncooked on a street-cart. If i saw rare ANYTHING on a street cart i would have to pass. It's about the food, not about the patrons.

3:39 PM  
Anonymous Prof $1.50 said...

I'm okay with the raw tuna--well, that raw tuna in that context, and i'm also okay with a bowl/fork for street food (hello! there are no hand-washing sinks; it's more sanitary for the consumer!). But I watch the show because I totally have a crush on Harold. It was that bit where he said he should be the one eliminated from the team.

Also, I generally find these chefs rather amateurish and less interesting than most of the folks I meet in the kitchen! I am nevertheless obsessed, thanks in full to its availibility on iTunes (I don't have a TV)

Great blog, cheers!

11:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Harold really seems like the only top chef on the show - in that he's quirky, loves the kitchen, rough around the edges, etc. as the anonymous poster listed above - and he's also shown some admirable class and kindness in dealing with the others. And Aethlos, you're right on the money, all of that adds up to make him inexplicably incredibly sexy. Is it the gratuitous swearing? The goofiness? Those bizarre glasses he has on from time to time? Who knows, but I'm jealous of the run-in and glad I'm moving to the city soon! Now, here's my question: Was this show poorly produced or something? The contestants regularly look more miserable, bitter and bored than those on any other reality show I've seen...

12:37 AM  

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