In all of the Reality TV Food kingdom, none of the food shows shine so bright as Top Chef. Why? Not that the show is technically so much better than the others. In fact, Bravo has been known to be chintzy. But the show lends itself to snark primarily because Bravo picks out CHARACTERS better than any other network and edits them in ways that make me hoot with laughter or go stark raving mad. Top Chef 3, Episode Two is a case in point. Let's examine our cast of cheftestants, shall we?
Sara the Worry Wort:
Our tiny chef tanked during the Citrus Sunshine Quickfire Challenge and created an, uh, I, ah, well, er, I'm trying to think what the heck the name of her dish was, but since Sara couldn't describe it to Norman Van Aken, the guest judge, I couldn't remember it either. The camera zoomed lovingly in on her, which revealed one of two things. Our Sara was leaving or she was going to make a dramatic turnaround. Because Bravo producers like to keep us on our toes we knew she would stay. And sure enough, she made it to the top three. But, Sara, dahling, even this non cook know that Scotch Bonnets are so hot they’ll take the roof off your mouth and the skin off your fingers.
Brian the Daring:
Hats are Brian’s shtick. They look great in Miami where hats are a must. He reminds me of a retro Rat Packer, you know, one of Frank Sinatra’s followers in the 60’s. Because Brian’s willing to go for the gusto and follow his gut, he’s all over the place, bad one minute, and fantastic the next. We already know that he was a bottom feeder in Epi One. Then he turned around and won Epi Two with his seafood sausage, and deservedly so according to the judges. He and Hung decided to dress upscale for the party. And he placed a flower arrangement on his table. A nice deft touch.
Dahlings he is fast becoming one of my favorites. What can I say about Hung that hasn't been hung out in full view before? (Yes, that was bad.) That he is talented? Shorter than CJ? (Oh, pardon, everyone is shorter than CJ. But everyone has more cojones. So I guess they're even.) That he moves like a road runner in the kitchen? That he is full of himself but has the talent to stand behind his mouth? Hung was having fun out there, and his smiles were infectious. I am going to enjoy watching this high energy, outspoken chef. A lot.
Micah the Prickly South African
I adore her. Love her. I was probably separated at birth from her. We’re what’s known as HMBs, High Maintenance Bitches, but we’re worth it ‘cause we’re so damned outrageous. Micah’s outspoken, talented, and as transparent as saran wrap. She lives with 13 people, and like Ms. Place she is not a morning person. So she sulked when she performed poorly during the quickfire challenge. So she reached the height of ecstasy and plumbed the depths of despair in three milliseconds. So WTF what? Girlfriend can cook, and that’s all that counts.
CJ the Rude
Does this guy even know how he comes across? What on earth made him reveal that he's lacking a nut? Didn't he know this statement would give Ms. Place snark fodder for the rest of her life? I exulted when I heard him say this. But what was the point? Just say cancer, stupid, get the sympathy vote and SHUT UP. Then he turned out to be a mean spirited sonofabitch. OK, he was edited as a mean spirited sonofabitch when he said to Casey, “I’m not helping you,” as they shopped for food. Plus my misogynist radarscope revved up into overdrive when, as he was bending over his grill, he said to Lia, “It’s the only time I wish I was 5’3”. No offense, Hon.” Wait a minute! Hon. HON? Let me tell you, I won’t be crying when he’s asked to take his remaining reproductive endocrine gland and go. (Oooh, did CJ hit my girlie nerve or what?)
Tre the Arrogant
Let’s let him speak for himself, shall we? “I’m not a braggart or a pompous A-Hole, but I’m seriously better than the rest of the competition, and I’m not gonna lose, since no one but Hung comes even close to being able to lick my boots.” Lack of self-confidence is not an issue with Tre, but despite his arrogance and smugness (“I can do this in my sleep”), I am rooting for him. He doesn’t get into another chef’s face and he gives credit where it’s due, and the man can cook, except for that barbecued salmon. Tre took his downfall like a man, standing in the bottom four without whining. Ya gotta give the man points for taking it on the chin with nary a scrape, while at the same time conceding that his dish was a “bad nightmare.”
Casey the Cute But Feisty One
I just don’t see the staying power here. She’s a canvas against which some other chefs look great. For some reason I don’t expect her to go the distance. Casey’s cute and I’m sure her food is delicious. Perhaps Bravo is toying with my mind and she’s a sleeper cell waiting to explode. I just don’t see it. Not yet. But I'm willing to keep an open mind here.
We only get glimpses of Lia here and there, just enough to know that she’s a competing chef. We even get to hear her occasionally. Bravo tends to do that when they’re still sorting their characters. This tells me she won’t be cut too soon, because they’re still in the process of developing her story. My opinion about her is neither here nor there, so I’m taking a wait and see attitude.
Sandee the Self Taught
She was totally flummoxed by the judge's decision to cut her. Is it coincidental that this is the second self-taught chef to get the boot? Ok, so she poached instead of barbecuing or grilling her meat. The guests liked her food. Plus her dish WAS high end. Even if the judges couldn't taste the lobster, how bad could that flavor combination have been? Was her performance really worse than the drek the Joey/Howie morons created? The judges' reason for asking her to pack her knives wasn't compelling enough for me. Plus I liked her. I really, really liked her.
Other Sara, the Invisible
I think I might have gotten a glimpse of Other Sara for a nanosecond in this episode. She was drinking from a water bottle. This means that she’s a developing story. I just haven't seen enough of her to make an opinion yet.
She said she felt at a disadvantage, but I forgot exactly why. She’s also fairly invisible just now, which means we’ll see more of her soon. Except for Sandee, Sara the Worry Wort, and Micah, the women have not received as much camera time as the men. It's significant that though two men won, seven men have been at the bottom so far. This means that the women's strategy of cooking under the radar is working for the time being.
Gay. Talented. And a perfect Bravo cheftestant in that he is colorful, articulate, and fun to watch. Even though he stood with the bottom four guys in Epi One, I have a feeling he'll be in this competition for a longer haul than some of the others.
Clay, Southern Man
He’s already kaput. Finished. Gone. No words wasted here, except that I’m starting to see a pattern. If you're self taught, you’re out. Frankly, I think starting with 15 chefs is too much. I'm having trouble remembering them all.
Howie the Self Saboteur
Howie has a death wish when it comes to winning Top Chef. It just ain’t gonna happen. He may be colorful. He may look like Tom’s mini me. But I just don’t think he has it in him to win this competition. It’s like he’s deliberately setting out not to win. Isn't he a professional chef? How come he didn't know that pork sliced too soon would dry out in that hot sun? So I've decided not to waste my time rooting for someone whose Achilles Heel is bigger than his bald pate.
Joey the Whiner and Complainer
Joey reminds me of my ex: It’s always somebody else’s fault. Been there. Done that. And I refuse to put up with whining A-Holes any more. Frankly I don’t care if Joey's culinary achievements are the equivalent of a food Taj Mahal, which they haven't been so far. Chicken drummettes for a high end party? That's just plain stoopid. I hope he gets cut soon, or I will have to switch the channel whenever he starts to complain. I cringe when I watch people like him. And no, I don't think any amount of editing to turn him into a saint will change my opinion.