June 18, 2010

Reality Rundown: Crazy Hair Does Not Maketh A Top Chef

The Next Food Network StarSo You Think You Can DanceNew! Top Chef DC

The Next Food Network Star - Unlike last season, it looks like camera-presence is going to be a big factor early into the race. Each star is assigned a portion of a recipe for vegetable lasagna which they'll have to complete on camera. Some are fast talkers, some slow cutters, and others give off some wonderful dead air silence. Lucky for them, the challenge this week requires no cameras! Ace of Cakes Duff Goldman closes down the Santa Barbara carnival pier for a party of 100 guests and they'll be catering. The catch? Create a savory dish based on carnival food classics.

I actually thought Brianna's chili meatball sounded delicious, and it really played off the candy apple, but she was miserable to the party guests. Aria had a cool idea to make a banana split made of meatballs, garlic toast, and tomatoes- but she fumbled on the meatballs. Confidence-lacking Aarti is the winner of the week with a play on funnel cake with some tandori chicken on a scallion pancake. That nutjob Dzintra is in the bottom again for an overcomplicated dish and scatter-brained personality, but Doreen and her odd mouth fail at her root beer float pulled pork and she's eliminated.

So You Think You Can Dance - The first night of the legit competition begins, and then so does my uneasiness regarding this season. Up until now I've actually been excited for the All Stars, but after the first few dance numbers, I start to panic. I'm not enjoying this. There's no chemistry. Maybe this was a bad idea. That is until Alex Wong and his partner, S2's Allison, perform a contemporary piece by the usually zany Sonia. It is so unbelievably good- Mia declares it the best dance performed in SYTYCD history. Now to play devil's advocate he was a professional ballet dancer so he should master this, but it was just an amazing piece by Sonia. From then on, the night got great. Lovable small town Kent stole the show for me with his cha-cha (with S3'a Anya), and I was impressed by Robert and S4's Courtney's African Jazz. I think the worst was tap dancer Melinda's jive with Pasha, and I think that some other people got better praise than needed, but I won't totally rip them in week 1.

The results show features a great Twyla Tharp dance performance, an embarassing performance by Usher (might wanna work on the live singing pal), and the premier of the new Justin Bieber video. Boy was I excited. We also found out the bottom 3: Melinda, Alexie (who did hip-hop with Twitch), and Christina (paired with Mark- another favorite of mine- for some trippy jazz piece). I predict now that this new formula is flawed and over the course of the next 5 weeks, all the girls will go home first. While the judges have the ultimate say, it's the voters (teen girls) who are voting for their crush, not the dancer. But these 3 dancers were clunkers, so it is pretty accurate. After dancing for their lives, Alexie is eliminated and I'm pretty bummed. Her hip-hop wasn't awesome, but it was also a smooth more romantic style, an the poor girl has auditioned for this show like 5 times. Talk about determination and heart! She also has far more personality and star power than the other 2 but I guess that's showbiz for you.

New! Top Chef DC - A bunch of chef's are welcomed to the nation's capital and there's not a faux-hawk in sight! There's some food, mingling, and occasional bragging (OK, just Angelo). Tom and Padma (with her pregnancy boobs) join everyone on the rooftop to run the first Quickfire of the season: the mise-en-place relay. They'll have to peel potatoes, dice onions, break down a chicken, and the last 4 remaining will then create a dish with these ingredients. The final 2 include the arrogant but talented Angelo and speedy prepper Kevin; Angelo wins the High Stakes Quickfire and pockets $20k. The Elimination Challenge is announced and it is to create a dish based on where you come from. They will also be competing head to head in groups of 4, so the top 4 get to select their competition. Some chick whines about being picked early, which implies she sucks, but hey morons, you all had to be picked at some point.

The cheftestants serve their dishes to a party celebrating the kickoff of the Cherry Blossom Festival, which includes the elite likes of former Bachelor Andy Baldwin, as well new judge Eric Ripert. The stars are out tonight! Angelo and Roberto end up as the best again, with an arctic char and coffee-rubbed trout respectively. They are joined in the top 4 by Alex and his deconstructed borscht and Kevin's Pennsylvania lamb (should add Kevin was Top 4 in the Quickfire too). Angelo wins the first elimination challenge meaning his arrogance is kinda justified. Tim, who was in the Top 4 of the Quickfire, is in the bottom 4 with his fish dish, but luckily John's Detroit-inspired maple mousse is a disaster. He didn't even make his puff pastry and he must've been high thinking he could successfully pull off a dessert on Top Chef especially in week 1. John packs his knives and we're given the message that exotic hair does not make you a sho-in for the Top Chef prize.

Photo Credits: BravoTV.com, BuddyTV, FoodNetwork.com


Steve G. said...

The second they interviewed John, I thought he would either stick around for way too long (a la the other hippie freaks like Angela and Carla) or he would be the first one gone. When you're nuts and on Top Chef, it means you better be an incredible cook, otherwise you get bounced pretty quick.

I just can't get into The Next Food Network Star. Something about it just doesn't appeal to me. I think it's the fact that the cooking and food quality seems to be on equal or less footing with the presentation and personality aspects. Hey Food Network, how about you just hire the best cook? Who gives an eff if they aren't that great on camera? That's what editing and multiple takes are for.