Saturday, October 21, 2006

Opening Discredits

As promised, we have rested, we have pondered, we have polished our lingual Laguioles, and now here we are, lobster fork in hand, to extract all we can from this season's inaugural episode of "Top Chef." We'll begin by reviewing the opening credits, which we think of as the tasting menu, the parade of personalities working last year's motif of confrontational stripteasing to the synthesizer-poached strains of the opening theme. Since we'll be seeing it all season, we might as well get it out of the way.

st up is Josie, who looks like an anime goddess-imp. Josie does her best impression of an old-fashioned Times Square perv, opening her chef’s whites to flash us coyly, then crossing her arms in a manly fashion, the very embodiment of the butch/femme dykotomy. As honorary lesbians (we’ll happily produce our membership certificate and lapel pin upon request), we salute you. You shall henceforth be known as Empress Josiefine (and, luv, the French would do cartwheels over you, since in France they consider a gap in the front teeth to be a sign that you are highly sexed).

Next up is Chancellor Otto Von Bismarck, gray-haired, bristle-coiffed, skull-and-bones-adorned, patriotically-neckerchiefed, and giving us his best military salute. Jawohl, mein Herr. Or is it, Aye, aye, Captain Jack Sparrow? We truly love the red-white-and-blue ‘round your neck, and the pairing with the Pirate Collar. It's so South of Market; we just wish we knew what pocket you wore your hanky in. You shiver our timbers and make us wonder whether you're going to prescribe a round of "The Star Spangled Banner" or rum, sodomy, and the lash. You shall henceforth be known as the NeckerChef.

Then comes Sam, giving us his best Blue Steel and fiercely doffing his chef’s whites (à la Tom Cruise on that Vanity Fair cover circa Mission Impossible 2) to reveal a black t-shirt reading “Don’t Give Up the Ship.” O captain, my captain, fear not. We can see that you’re calling for seamen who’ll go down with the ship. You shall henceforth be known as Captain Nemo.

Then there’s our compatriot Elia, unadorned except for a halo of curls, fierce, hands on hips, confronting the camera directly. No stripping for her. She’s like Jesusita en Chihuahua meets Salma Hayek as Frida Kahlo. You shall henceforth be known as Frida Bandida. Mija, tu sí que tienes huevos, pero no rancheros ni revueltos, and we admire you for it, and love it cuando te pones como agua para chocolate.

And then there’s Frank. At first glance, we sense a Sicilian teddy bear, and think of nicknaming him the Bambino Bear. But then the combination of his Bravo bio, his official “Frankie the Bull” nickname, the lighting and cinematography (so reminiscent of “Gladiator”), and his threat to Marcel to beat him so badly that his mother won’t recognize him, made us realize that our noses did not deceive us, and that the whiff of unrepentant stereotype and Eau de Goombah signaled the arrival of none other than Joe Pesci. Hey, Joe, if you wanna go by Frankie the Bull on this show, tha’s ok by us.

Next up is Emily, her lips drawn tight, having trouble unbuttoning her chef’s whites, more librarian than chef. According to the Bravo bio, “she describes herself as foul-mouthed and ill-tempered” and “likes to think she is one of the guys and can't stand prissy girls.” Ooh aah, we say, ain’t she butch? We get your code, Mary Cheney. But perhaps she’s just a reluctant voluptuary. Honey, would it kill you to wear a little concealer from time to time? The whole turnip-with-bags-under-her eyes thing just doesn’t work for you. Until further notice or makeover, you shall be known as Butch Cassidy.

And here’s one of our sunshine kids, solid, humpy Cliff, our very own Valrhona Bear who reduces us to a mere fondue. We’re too distracted to think of anything else to say.

Then we see that Joe Pesci is not the only celebrity contestant this time around. Can it be? Yes, that’s Suzanne Somers! Oh wait, why does it say Betty? Alright, Chrissy, have it your way. Hellzapoppin, saucy blond Betty is popping out of her chef’s whites, doing the Sherman Oaks shimmy. Our retinas are immobilized. Henceforth, you shall be known as Spice Rack.

And wait, who’s that, doing the sexy reverse strip tease, his hair teased too, and just this side of marcelled? Why, it’s Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius. Wait, no, it’s Marcel, his head a veritable meringue, the "hair apparent" to last season’s Stephen Asprinio, who now relinquishes to Marcel the “There’s Something About Mary” Award for Overuse of Hair Products. Well, there’s definitely something about Mary, er, Marcel, whose bio says that “he tends to be bossy in the kitchen.” The bossy bottom raises his meringued head once again.

And there’s Stockton’s finest, Michael, looking hempy, not humpy, and throwing in the towel (or is it his chef’s whites?). Honey, we would do the same. Henceforth, you shall be known as Beer Bong.

Then it’s Mia, fierce in her José Eber cowboy hat. It’s clear that the woman knows her way around a weave, a branding iron and a Patsy Cline record, and is probably pretty handy with a wet belt and a rolling pin, too. We can see she’s a woman unafraid of lard and buttermilk and bacon. We decide on the spot to worship and submit to her.

Now comes improbably emaciated pastry chef Marisa, the brittle queen of pâte brisée, trying desperately to imitate E!’s Giuliana DePandi and throwing her jacket over her shoulder in her best Sear’s Catalogue pose. She doesn’t appear to have the requisite attributes, but given the way she presents herself, the only fitting nickname for her is Tart Titass.

And there’s Carlos, Miss XaXa’s idea of a hot, oozing medianoche (made with pulled pork, just the way she likes it, and garnished with a big pickle). Miss XaXa points out that Carlos has seized the lapels of his jacket, and is pulling back and forth, the jacket straining over his back like a chamois buffing a car under the sun of Hialeah. We remind Miss XaXa that Carlos is married, and gay, but she doesn’t seem to care.

And there’s Ilan, this year’s model of cute Jewish boy from Long Island, with his adorably passé fauxhawk, which Hedi Slimane and Maddox Jolie have long ago abandoned, and the little milk teeth all in a row and the adorable mini-cleft in his chin, like a crimp at the edge of a piecrust. A line cook at Casa Mono, él sí es muy mono, and our casa at Snarkshire Moors is his casa.

Finally, tellingly, there’s Suyai, the blowsy, blond, bulimic Brit, unable to button her chef’s whites. Nicely played, Bravo, depicting the girl with body issues as too fat to fit into her clothes. Even worse for the improbably-named Suyai, she bears an unfortunate resemblance to our very own Medusa, Rachael Ray, though if it came right down to it, we can see Suyai beating down Rachael Ray with a rope-soled wedgie (which we and millions of others would pay good money to see).

And that’s our cast of characters. Let the games begin.

1 comment:

Anastasia said...

I remember this season well. And almost woke people up with my outburst of laughter at the jimmy neutron comment.