Wednesday, November 14, 2007

“Pink”-ing Shears at the Ready, Possums

Possums--or, given the plummeting readership following the conclusion of Top Chef and the dearth of posting on this blog, perhaps we should say, "possum"--fret not.

We will, indeed, be covering Project Runway 4 on Pink Navy.

Our claws have had a month to grow back, and we're looking forward to testing them on brocade. (Oh yes, and we'll also be discussing that little Vanity Fair article on Padma Lakshmi, the one where she reveals that Salman Rushdie threw her out!).

More anon, faithful possum.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Pinking Shears in Pink Navy's Future

You might as well know the truth, possums--we're throwing our pink sailor hat into the ring.

A combination of overweening ego on our part and the pleas of a few hardy masochist possums has led to our decision to cover Project Rip Van Winkle, er, Runway, when and if it ever does premiere.

Give us a few days to get our bearings, dust off our Jean-Paul Gaultier sailor uniforms, and plug the leaks that HMS Pink Navy sprang when hitting the Top Design iceberg, and then we'll be glad to welcome you aboard.

As for Possum Central, it will remain open, though we won't post daily. Rather, we'll post as the biatchy spirit moves us, and whenever there is news (so send us stuff), or when we worry about the haunted, Kierkegaardian look in Rachael Ray's over-raccooned eyes.

Thank you, army of possums, for a great season, and for being a bunch of literate, over-educated, snarky, dirty-minded, obsessive, pun-hungry, delightful souls.

Dale Levitski Wuz Robbed!!!

Now, possums, don't get us wrong. We like Casey Thompson a lot. She really did kick ass toward the end of the season, and of all the cheftestants she demonstrated the best sense of humor, the most graciousness and the most poise with regard to bloggers, so we're definitely converts. But we were rooting for our boy Dale. We campaigned for Carlos last season and Dale this season, so maybe it is we, and not Casey, who should be called Typhoid Mary.

Anyway, congratulations, Casey, and sorry, Big Gay Chef Dale.

Amuse-Biatch Finally Makes It in Chow Business, Hears His Mistress's Voice

Possums, we have a tale to tell.

In a show of extreme generosity--not to say sheer folly--Meredith Arthur, who has conducted most of the interviews with the pykagg'd cheftestants, kindly and flatteringly asked the Amuse-Biatch team to the grown-ups' table to hash out what everyone made of this season of Top Chef.

Once the table extension had been added, and our ambrosia salad taken by our hostess Meredith to the kitchen with only a slightly horrified look, we joined our pals Josh Ozersky of New York Magazine's Grub Street, and the Great Keckler of Television Without Pity at the table.

We had a nice, rollicking little chat, and we think we managed not to spill cranberry sauce on anyone. Fortunately, the editors snipped away the bits where we went on drunken rants, made football predictions, and tried to shave Miss XaXa's head. So if you're curious to hear what we sound like, head on over.

And our special thanks again to Meredith of for the invitation. The thank-you card is in the mail, together with a check for the little Dresden shepherdess we knocked over on our way out.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Spoiler Alert!

Take heed West Coast possums! Spoiler ahead!

Spoiler Alert!

Warning! Warning!

Think twice before scrolling......really!

Hail Caesar: Hung Huynhs!!!*

*We have it on good authority that Huynh is pronounced like "win."

Ride a Cowboy, Save an Elk: Most Shocking "Top Chef" Shocker of All Time?

You know, possums, sometimes we think the good Lord is toying with us. After all, being such wicked souls, how can we possibly deserve the occasional blessings and boons that come our way? Maybe there's something to Calvinist predetermination after all?

Or perhaps we ought to turn to personal touchstone The Sound of Music (you know you've grown up and gone gay when Maria stops becoming your favorite character, you begin shamefully lusting after Rolf, and then decide you want Uncle Max and Baroness Elsa as your real parents): Somewhere in our youth or childhood, we must have done something good.

What is the cause of our musings? you may ask. Well, it's this Gothamist interview sent to us by faithful possum Jess.

During last week's episode, Brian MFMalarkey revealed that he had grown up on a ranch and had been a cowboy (and, indeed, his wife's MySpace page, before it was made private, expressed a general interest in Cowboys, and who can blame her?). Dale Levitski revealed that he had slept with a few cowboys.

But, notwithstanding the Bravo prohibition on elk loins ever meeting seafood sausage, are those two revelations connected? Has MFMalarkey become MMalarkey? Tantalizing, unanswered, and unanswerable questions left in our mind as we read this:


When the show was in New York, you were stopped over in Newark, NJ -- how did you entertain yourselves for the night?
Brian and I entertained ourselves in the hotel room together.

[!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That's the sound of us getting the Top Chef slash-fiction vapors.]

Compare with this:


When the show was in New York, you were stopped over in Newark, NJ -- how did you entertain yourselves for the night?
I read the Bible.


When the show was in New York, you were stopped over in Newark, NJ -- how did you entertain yourselves for the night?
Sara and I shared a room and at first we thought would read the bible but then we saw the book about the hotel we were staying in and I read that to Sara.

Not to put too fine a point on it, possums, but if we had our druthers, we'd take chaps over chapter and verse, and the Giddyup Society over the Gideon Society. What say you?

Amuse-Biatch Presents Crouching Possum, Hidden "Dragon"

Though inapposite to what we're about to discuss, we've always loved that Biblical phrase about the lilies of the field. (Alas we must both toil and spin.) But what we especially love are the possums of the field, those hardy critters, the Amuse-Biatch readers who go out and git 'er done, then bring the toothsome morsels back to Possum Central.

One such possum is Amuse-Biatch reader J.D., a fellow blogger who, becoming the second denizen of Massachusetts to come through for us, sent us the following missive:
Great info on Hung and his past. Who knew he was from the Berkshires? That's where I'm from! I was shocked since our sleepy little community doesn't get a whole lot of press. Since I was home visiting the family this past weekend I thought it'd be a good idea to check out Hung's mom's place (he he). I am sad to report it was closed when I arrived, it opens at 4pm and I was there at 2pm. The restaurant is about 40 minutes from my house so we bagged it and called it a day. Not before taking pictures though. Thought you might like to see the place.

PS. Distraught over not being able to eat the "grilled duck breast" that sounded so delicious on their yellow pages menu, I seem to have forgone the traditional wide establishing shot of the restaurant to give you some context. It's a small place on the side of a wide road. There isn't a whole lot around, it's kind of out of the way. I did get some shots of newspaper articles hung on the inner walls. None of which, I noticed, were related to their son's run on national television. Also, being a small town, it would make sense that someone knew that the son of this local staple was about to potentially win a major reality TV competition. No one in my family was aware he was from the area, which means the local papers haven't been covering it at all. Seems weird. Enjoy the pictures.

And so you should, possums. Enjoy the fruits of J.D.'s toiling below, and click to enlarge.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Even on Her Deathbed, Padma Lakshmi Can't Stop the Self-Promotion

Nina Lalli of The Village Voice, our new favorite person, has struck again.
As part of a regular feature where she asks the noteworthy of the food world what their last meal on earth would be, she interviewed Padma Lakshmi. It has been said (or misquoted) that the prospect of hanging concentrates the mind wonderfully, but perhaps Padma didn't have hanging in mind:

At first, she thought we were asking about the last meal she ate.... For her very last meal, though, she'd do the cooking herself, all from her new cookbook, Tangy, Tart, Hot, and Sweet.

You could have anything, anywhere, cooked by anyone . . .

I would probably have, um, the veal ragu with fresh linguine from Cipriani, which I have a weakness for. Or my own coconut-milk beef curry, with fresh curry leaves. And then I'd have cardamom créme anglaise with candied ginger.

Yum, where is that from?

I would take the cardamom créme anglaise recipe in my new book, and drop in candied ginger in the ice cream machine. You know what else? The mushroom flautas from the appetizer section of the book.
You know, all these dishes are in my book—there's even a version of the veal ragu, so if this is my last meal, maybe what I'd want to do is go through and pick the dishes that are the favorites for my friends and family, and cook for all of them—hopefully in my big, new, beautiful apartment in New York that I'm going to find soon! Because for my last meal, I'd want to be with people I love.

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, Who's the Gayest of Them All?: Str8tacting Dale Levitski Risks Making Queen Bees Stinging Mad

Well, possums, we've found another in-depth interview with Chicago's own Dale Levitski, this time on Chicagoist.

But we think Dale had better watch his back the next time he wanders Halsted, or he'll get worse than a dunking. He might just get clocked with a ruby slipper for this:

C: Did you see what Gawker said about you?
DL: Yeah, they called me "the villain of Top Chef!"
C: They said, "Dale embodies the most offensively bland stereotype of homosexuality on television. And as opposed to offensively bland stereotypes embodied by characters like Will from Will and Grace, he actually exists."
DL: Which is so bizarre to me! Have you seen these queeny people on TV? I get emails every day from people around the country thanking me for not being the stereotype.
C: Well, it's just so hard to actually imagine you as that stereotype when you seem to be anything but.
DL: I'll definitely have my little quips here and there, but I'd definitely not say I'm a stereotypical gay guy at all.

If an effigy sporting a mohawk and manpris, and with a scented candle in its mouth, is found in Chicago's Boys' Town, you'll know why.

Psst! Bravo Judges! If You Really Want Personal Drama for Hung Huynh, We've Got Some Right Here

Picture it, possums. Sicily, 1923. Wait, wrong opening.

Instead, picture this. We call it "Bleak Housatonic."

A Vietnamese family comes to this country after much struggle, tragedy, and war-related travail, and ends up settling not in Orange County or in San Jose, where there are large Vietnamese communities, but in rural Massachusetts, in the Berkshires. The family opens a restaurant in order to have a livelihood, and parents and children spend all their time there, trying to make a go of the restaurant, which becomes respected and popular. One of the family's sons becomes a cook, eventually attends culinary school, and ends up working for none other than Guy Savoy.

And then, as The Berkshire Eagle reports, tragedy strikes again:

"On Oct. 20, 2004, a dump truck and an oil tanker collided near the intersection of Clarkson Road and West Housatonic Street, causing 7,000 gallons of No. 6 fuel oil to spill into the parking lot of the Dragon Restaurant. The accident and subsequent cleanup caused the Huynhs to close the Vietnamese eatery — which the family had operated since 1983 — for an entire year."

The mother, who was the restaurant's sole chef, "developed pneumonia that resulted in multiple bouts of headaches, coughing, fever and shortness of breath, as well as anxiety and emotional distress from inhaling the oil fumes." She never returned to work at the restaurant. In financial straits, the family was forced to sell their house, and move into an apartment near the restaurant.

The family filed suit against the trucking company, and now, two days before the world finds out whether the culinary-school graduate will win arguably the most prestigious cooking competition in the country, the brother who was forced to give up his own dreams and take over the restaurant since their elderly, infirm mother couldn't, took the stand to testify against the company that nearly ruined their lives.

And there you have the story of Hung Huynh, his brother Huy van Huynh, and his mother Thoung van Huynh.

Is that sad and soulful enough for you, Bravo? Is it feel-good and Dickensian enough to give him the title of Top Chef?

You're welcome.

The Bisexual Bitch Is Back: Amuse-Biatch and Gong Li Rejoice as Hung Huynh Unleashes His Inner Hatsuhomo

Possums, we have no idea what magical powers Nina Lalli of The Village Voice possesses, but damn, girl is fierce and always gets the goods.

Not content with obtaining flatulent confessions from Captain Sound Bite, she has now gone and gotten the deliciously bitchy and on-the-mark observations of Hung Huynh.

Herewith, our favorite bits:

* Hung said he would definitely be surprised if he didn't win, but "it's up to the judges, and Bravo. Mainly Bravo," he said, laughing.

[Clever chap, that one.]

* "I didn't know this was chef camp, where we all hold hands and walk into the rainbow together. I didn't know that's what competition was. If I had known, I would have done much better."

[A bisexual who doesn't want to walk into the rainbow? What else is new?]

* "When was the last time you walked out of a restaurant and said, 'that steak was so soulful, I'm definitely going back?' No. You say it was cooked perfectly, it was seasoned perfectly. The colors, the flavors, etc. Why am I getting dissed for having some technical skills? The word technique is related to the word craft, and guess who owns the restaurants called Craft?"

[We're thinking of a new restaurant called 'Bitchcraft, where the menu would include individually priced sides of "Meow" and "Aw, snap," because that's what Colicchio has rightfully been served.]

* I told Hung that Rocco DiSpirito had said he reminded him of himself, and Hung said the same about Rocco. "He's confident, he's cocky, he's good looking... his technique is on, his flavor profile is my kind of food. I respect him a lot."

[Uh, blind item or not, we're definitely not touching this one.]

* About the judge's complaints that his cooking isn't expressive enough, he said "What does that mean, when [Colicchio] says 'We don't see Hung.'? What should I do, make sweet and sour chicken and wontons? I'm trained in French food. I love French food. That is me."

[And this would be dessert at 'Bitchcraft, a tart skewering of patronizing, Orientalist, quasi-racist assumptions on the part of the judges that, because Hung is Asian, his "soul" must of necessity give off the scent of lemongrass. And even if you buy into the claptrap that ethnic origin is automatically "soul," let us not forget that Vietnam was once a French colony, and so, as Hung points out, for him, French food is as much a part of his "soul" as pho.]

Amuse-Biatch Banner Year

We wanted publicly to thank Lazarus ("Laz") West, our all-time favorite paparazzo (yup, that includes Marcello Mastroianni), for his excellent work on our new banner.

So this is what a facelift feels like.

Laz managed to encapsulate the entire ethos of our blog with that image of the cat using a corncob as a scratching post. It tells you everything you need to know.

And what we know is that we are very grateful indeed.

¡Gracias, Laz!

Monday, October 01, 2007

Is "Top Chef" Guest Judge Going Blind in Blind Item?

One of the clever possums who read Amuse-Biatch has sent us this little blind item, which our possum surmises might just be about one of this season's guest judges:

Which former celebrity chef had a little drug freakout while on vacation this summer? He became convinced the adult film he was watching in his hotel was a live feed from another room, and stormed into the lobby demanding to be shown to the orgy.

Alas, we have no information as to who this "former celebrity chef" might be, but, as you all know, possums, wishful thinking doesn't cost a dime.

Besos and Breakfast at Tiffani's?

Deep in our pal Lesley's in-depth Eater LA report on the American Wine & Food Fest in Los Angeles lies a little tidbit, buried like a bit of Cabrales inside a bacon-wrapped date, that caught our attention, a brief mention of possible Top Chef Sapphic love:

At the [Todd English at Olives] table was Chef Katie, who we're told might be an opening chef of Beso. Fun fact: She won PBS' Top Chef-like Cooking Under Fire, hosted by English. Katie's rumored to be dating Tiffany, Season 1 runner up of Top Chef. Tiffany spotted in crowd on Saturday. Full circle.

Now, possums, let's unpack this a little bit. First, in addition to hosting the PBS show, Todd English, the renowned and famously attractive chef from Boston, is one of the tasting judges on Wednesday's finale of Top Chef. Beso (which means "kiss" in Spanish) is the L.A. restaurant in which Eva Longoria is said to have some involvement. Katie is Katie Hagan-Whelchel, and Tiffani "I'm not your bitch, bitch" Faison needs no introduction to Top Chef fans.

Once upon a time, and a very long time it was, we were named an honorary lesbian, and at that time, we no doubt would already have been au courant. Alas, times have changed, and so we did a little work.

We turned, naturally, to Tiffani's MySpace page, and look what we found.

Tiffani lists herself as a lesbian (we remember her once calling herself a bisexual, and referring to a boyfriend with whom she made Krispy Kreme bread pudding, but we suppose she has seen the error of her ways), and lists herself as being "in a relationship." Very interesting.

One of her "top four" friends is "Katie," who looks an awful lot like Katie Hagan-Whelchel (KHW), and who, like KHW, hails from Louisville, Kentucky. And wouldn't you know it? "Katie" also lists herself as a lesbian and as being "in a relationship." And the self-same Katie left a message on Tiffani's page on September 14 that reads, "you are the sexiest rilla ever."

We very nearly blushed when we read that. It's so...well, sweet, and the thought of Tiffani happily in love tickles us pink. If Dale Levitski's theory of sex and food is correct, just think of how much better Tiffani's already superb cooking must be.


There is one thing that worries. It's that "rilla" reference. We haven't the benefit of Alice Pieszecki's expertise, but we hope it's not short for "gorilla" and that it doesn't refer to hirsuteness. Remember, lesbian soeurs, just because you follow the siren call of Sappho need not mean that Nair is not your friend. Think about it.

At any rate, if it's true, we wish the happy couple much love and much cooking in Martika's kitchen.

Captain Sound Bite Breaks the Fart Barrier, All Hell Breaks Loose

Well, possums, we are awash in Dale Levitski interviews this morning, but this one, with The Village Voice, may well take the cake.

We start with the news that Dale may have indeed changed hags in midstream:

"Casey [Thompson] is a 'friend for life, the ultimate class act,' and...a 'spit-fire and a bad-ass.' Apparently the two of them got real giddy during the taping of the final episode, when all the pressure induced a case of the giggles. 'We broke the fart barrier,' Dale [said]. 'And then all hell broke loose.'"

Well, possums, perhaps the less we say about that, the better, though we should note that the incident comes as no surprise to us, given that Dale has no fewer than two videos on his MySpace page showing guys setting their own flatulence on fire.

On his blog, Gay Uncle Edward Allen worried about Dale's poor mother ("Dale, does your mother need the Brokeback Mountain visual of you sleeping with 'a few' cowboys? And how many is 'a few?' Bad gay chef!").

We are therefore pleased to report that Uncle Ted need not have worried. As Dale says, "I've become, like, Captain Sound-byte. I keep saying things and then I'm like, oh God, I hope my mom doesn't hear that. But we're kindred spirits. She always says 'You were an asshole the day you were born, and you're an asshole now.'"

And here we thought the Sharon Gless character from Queer As Folk was just fiction. Mother Dale, who also gave him the plane ticket to audition for Top Chef in L.A., sounds like just the sort of mother any gay boy would be proud to have.

The interview does end with an intriguing tidbit: "Dale says he wishes it was his job to be on Top Chef every season...." Given the rumors of his role on Season 4, he may well get his wish.

“Top Chef” Shocker: Gay Cheftestant Caught Thinking Outside the Buns

Yes, possums, 'tis true.

As Dale Levitski reveals in this otherwise innocuous interview, in addition to being chased down the street by everyone whose boyfriend he is supposed to be, he has been caught in a den of sin:

"I pretty much get recognized every where I go... I guess I'm a pretty recognizable person." Dale, who admits to very rarely cooking for himself, said his popularity has gotten him into a bit of trouble. "I got busted at Taco Bell twice... this girl said, 'You can cook better than this!'"

So you see, possums, Dale, in the end, is a not-so-secret Taco Belle.

"Well," said Miss XaXa, "isn't that what he would be anyway if he married you?"

We declined to answer, other than to affirm, "Yo quiero Taco Dale," and to warn, "He'd better not be seen anywhere near your chalupa." There is, after all, a difference between thinking outside the bun and, well, never mind....

Amuse-Biatch Last Heterosexual Monday of the Season: Padma Lakshmi's "Nipple Ninjas"* Wear White After Labor Day

*Special thanks to AB reader Teighlor for expanding our sexual vocabulary.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Amuse-Biatch Photoessay: What a Difference a Gay Makes

Breaking News: Padma Lakshmi Hits Chicago, Wears Tight Pants

We know, possums, we know. We're just as shocked as you that, as The Chicago Tribune's blog is reporting, Padma Lakshmi would be wearing "a vivid purple knit top and dark tight trousers tucked into snappy boots" at Chicago's Green City Market while filming the new season of Top Chef.

Of course, it's too early to judge, but this bodes well for the Padma Lakshmi Weekly Fashion Review next season. If you want no potential spoilers or information of any kind save for that description of Padma's wardrobe, read no further.

The rest of you should feel free to head over and read the story, which provides some interesting tidbits, including:

* There are 15 cheftestants again, none of whom has a mohawk, though there are "a couple faux hawks," and "one very skinny chef with messy hair [who] buy[s] apples."

* The Quickfire Challenge being filmed at the Green City Market is to "[c]reate a 'fully realized entree' using just five ingredients from the market.... The chefs will be allowed to use oil, sugar, salt and pepper when they return to the kitchens, those ingredients not counting against their five."

* A commenter says the supermarket for next season will be "the new Whole Foods at Halsted and Waveland." We don't know very much about Chicago, but isn't Halsted the lifeline of Boys' Town?

Angry Big MFMan Calls Out "Angry Little Man": Who's the Bigger Man?

As you may remember, possums, a debate of culinary-theological import has been raging: Hath Hung a soul or hath he not? Thus far, there has been no Bartolomé de las Casas to plead on his behalf, no Paul III to issue a papal bull declaring he has a soul.

Until now.

All at once, Hung Huynh is neither automaton nor heathen, for none other than Brian MFMalarkey, he of the soul patch, has stepped forward to attest to the existence of Hung's soul.

Hung has a soul, MFMalarkey concedes to Grub Street, but it's a "really young, immature soul. He’s not focused on the right things in life."

(Such as "luxury living," "gold," "diamonds and jewels," and "CA$H money"? Are those "the right things in life"?)

Continuing his disquisition, Brian says, "There’s no point in being an asshole, and that’s how he comes off. When he was watching CJ die cooking at the airport, I was like, 'Hung, help CJ,' and he just sat there and washed his knife, and I was like, 'Oh, you little asshole.' I think he’s an angry little man."

Well, with all that washing, Hung's knife must be shinier than the pot and the kettle, n'est-ce pas?

At any rate, possums, do be sure to read the interview, in which Brian manages the, er, hat trick of being condescending to cowboys ("I didn’t want to scare them with fancy words and chocolate sauce.") and implying Bobby Flay is not "a refined, amazing chef." Well-done and well-braised, possum!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Amuse-Biatch Official Endorsement: Dale Levitski for Fan Favorite

Mind you, possums, we have an abysmal track record when it comes to these things. Carlos Fernandez, our pick last season, didn't win. Indeed, we may well be on the path toward becoming America's next top, oh, wait, toward becoming the Bob Shrum of Internet fan campaigns.

That being said, we hereby endorse our boy, Dale Levitski, for the Fan Favorite title and the attendant 10,000 smackeroos.

We're not ObamaGirl, so we can't explain in song and wearing skimpy clothes why you should vote for Obama's fellow Chicagoan, but here are a few reasons:

* Because he's, hands-down, the most entertaining cheftestant this season, and the maker of the best quips.

* Because he's slept with cowboys.

* Because he’s not the little fag in the corner

* Because Vogue called his croque monsieur the most perfect in the world, and when Jeffrey Steingarten, the Man Who Ate Everything (and Gail Simmons’ former boss) says something, and the Prada-wearing devil’s Bible carries it, well, it has the ring of Gospel truth.

* Because he’s not lying when he says of himself, “I’m a burnt-Tombstone-pizza, Chicago suburbanite, but I can cook some bad-ass French food.”

* Because Gail Simmons’ magazine, Food & Wine, once named Dale’s restaurant one of the ten top new bistros in North America and published one of his recipes.

* Because when we contacted him, he replied with the exact words you see in his speech bubble above. Bitch is broke and needs the ten thou.

So come on, possums, help a lavender brutha out. Vote for Dale.

Ousted from Elk's Kitchen, MFMalarkey Tells It on the MFMountain: I Hate Bloggers, Fauxmicah!

Possums, it should come as no surprise that, today, "B" stands not for "Brian" but for "bitter."

As Ted Allen, our favorite gay cannibal and honorary lifetime possum, notes in his blog, "I had a conversation with Brian after he came so close to victory and then had it slip from his grasp, and he was pretty disappointed -- more than he let on in the show."

But he was certainly happy to let on in this just-published interview, once again chock-full of delighted-squirm-inducing pronouncements from the MFMouth of MFMalarkey:

* Getting on "Top Chef": "I didn't audition for the show. They sent a scout to San Diego and talked to a lot of people. They were going to put me on Season 2 but decided I wasn't what they were looking for. They got (chef Frank) "Frankie the Bull" (Terzoli) from San Diego instead. Then, they called me for Season 3. I did a few interviews, and they put me on."

[Talk about getting mutton for lamb. To think that Bravo producers last season replaced Brian the Bullshitter with Frankie the Bull! The rejection and subsequent courting lend interesting nuance to MFMalarkey's maidenly comment yesterday that it was he who didn't want to go on the show because he did not want to be a pawn.]

* Cooking for famous food judges: "(New York's) Daniel Boulud (Daniel) and Sirio Maccioni (Le Cirque) were both so passionate, so sweet and so nice. But some of them come in and are cutthroat, like (author/chef/TV personality) Anthony Bourdain. He just wants to be an a--- so he can get more airtime. Viewers don't know all that they put us through."

[Again, ain't it sweet? We didn't realize that the word "asshole" was so verboten within the Fourth Estate.

Here's what the "asshole"

"Indeed. It's not that Brian isn't a good cook. He's clearly very talented. His flavors are usually, it appears, excellent. His technique also excellent. He deserved to be in this competition -- and by whatever means he got there -- deserved to be in the finals. It's that he's often clueless about what he's done wrong -- and why anyone would disagree with him.

I'm sure that Brian still believes that his Jumbo Sirloin With Barbie-Head/Potato Hash was undeserving of scorn. That making an ugly but delicious shepherd's pie for a table of French master chef educators was an adequate effort. And I fear that when he looks back on the inexplicable and insanely awful decision to invite Eric Ripert to cut a fat slab of Gorgonzola onto a (presumably) nicely composed plate of elk ("Help yerseff to some fixin's, pardnuh!!") he's still wondering what went wrong. Where Brian fell down was on the conceptual end. Killed off -- as so often happens -- by a Bad Idea." ]

* Reading the blogs: "I'm weaning myself off them. They're vicious. They attack me, my wife, my dog. These people don't seem to have anything better to do."

[Um, first of all, we do have better things to do (and we do them); it's just that we enjoy doing this (like Hung, we lack both "heart" and "soul"). Secondly, we never attacked your dog; we believe in intraspecies honor. Look, Brian, possum, we'll level with you. You're a very cute guy (especially once you shaved that asinine soul patch), but it's not our fault that you had a penchant for bullshit, airy-fairy dish names, ugly man-jewelry and stupid hats (we're not positive, but we think even the International Male catalogue has banned thumb rings and leather wristbands). You might, as you claim, be loved by the Gays, but possum, we's a tough crowd, and tough crowd equals tough love. Also, it's not our fault that your wife put specific information that presumably implicates you on a public MySpace page for all the world to see. On the positive side, we applaud and congratulate you for not saying that you were weaning yourself "off of" blogs. Good grammar is a wonderful thing to behold. See? We're not all bad.]

* On cookbook author/actress/host/hottie Padma Lakshmi: "She's highly intelligent. We joke that the scar on her arm is where they put in her batteries - she's the only one who wears an earpiece."

[Meow, possum! We can see why the Gays love you. As for the earpiece comment: thank you! It all makes sense now. That's... why... Padma... talks... so... slowly,... because... producers... are... feeding... her... lines....]

* Glad to see her go: "I didn't like Micah - the one who dissed ketchup - from the get-go. Supposedly, she was from South Africa, but her accent was different every day. Later, we found out she was from Massachusetts."

[You'll get no disagreement from us, possum. Miami was definitely not big enough for two bitches in funny hats. One of you had to go. But, also, hmmmmm, just where did you learn Fauxmicah was from Massachusetts? Who could have told you that? Who could it be? Could it be...Satan, er, a blog?!? (You're welcome, possum.)]

*Tips for aspiring "Top Chef" contestants: "I don't know why you'd want to do it. You get destroyed in the blogs, it's exhausting, and the judges are merciless....

[Aw, possum, you should have listened to Sam Talbot, when he told you not to read the blogs. What was it he said again? Something about discovering things about yourself that you didn't know?]

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

A Surprisingly Contrite Hung Huynh (Who Knew Bisexuals Could Feel Remorse?) Disowns Monkey, Looks into CJ Jacobson's Soul and Sees a Loser

It seems, possums, that after the Brian MFMalarkey interview, there is still more delighted squirming to be had, this time from his bisexual little brother, Hung Huynh.

In an interview with The Albany Times-Union, Hung performs an "act" of contrition:

“I regret talking back to Tom Colicchio,” Huynh says, about one of his reactions to criticism. He’d also take back a comment that a rival’s dish was so easy that a “monkey could do it.”

Is Hung disowning his macaque? Say it ain't so! What's a good bisexual villain without his evil anthropomorphic familiar?

“I was a (jerk) at times,” says Huynh, on the telephone from his job as executive sous chef at Restaurant Guy Savoy in Las Vegas....Huynh says, “I was an exaggerated version of myself on TV, as a strategy. … If they were worrying whether I was being a (jerk), they weren’t concentrating on their cooking. I knew none of those guys could outcook me.”

Aw, possums, isn't it sweet that a newspaper can't bring itself to print the words "asshole" or "shit"? "But wait," said Miss XaXa, "does this mean Hung isn't really a certified professional asshole, that it was all an act?"

"Possum," we gravely replied, our forced insouciance masking a gimlet-eyed, vodka-gimlet-soaked lifetime of experience, "he's a bisexual. They're always pretending to be something they're not."

Lest we lose hope entirely, though, Hung comes back with a last Gong Li stab:

He says he does not dislike his fellow contestants – but then mentions C.J. Jacobsen, a 6-foot-10 Californian who has been trashing Huynh in inteviews. Huynh dispatches Jacobsen with a comment as sharp as a knife blade: “C.J. … has been saying that my food is soulless. Well, his food had so much soul that it couldn’t keep him here (on the show). I’m still standing.”

Um, first of all, it's JacobsOn. Second, he's 6'8". Third, meeeeow!

But might the bisexual bitchery have an explanation, a narrative that could be used as fodder by Top Chef's editors? We think so.

Today's Union-Times article tells us:

He grew up in Pittsfield, Mass., where his mother, Tran Thuong, has long owned the eatery in which he learned to cook, Kim’s Dragon Restaurat. His 33-year-old brother, Huy, is now the chef there.

And you'll find Hung saying tonight that he owes everything to his mother, and that he didn't see his father until Hung was nine years old, because of the aftermath of the Vietnam War.

When we did a little digging earlier, we came across a little something that we knew would be useful for the armchair psychologist. It's from a 2005 article in The Berkshire Eagle:

Fans of Kim's Dragon Restaurant on West Housatonic Street were quite upset when the place closed a year ago after an oil tanker and dump truck collided in front of the restaurant, spilling thousands of gallons of oil into the parking lot.

Legal battles and the subsequent poor health of the owner's wife (the sole chef), left everyone guessing as to whether it would ever reopen.

Happily, it has. Huy Van Huynh, son of the eponymous Kim, has taken over the helm and is now, literally, chief cook and bottle washer.

He refers to himself as just a puppet and a slave to his mother's recipes, but is really is more than that.

"My mom tells me what to do and I do it," he says. "I can't argue with the old school. And she's getting old now, about 62!"

While his father, Kim van Huynh, is off enjoying the warmer climes of Florida, his mother has remained here and, when feeling well enough, still helps in the kitchen.

When asked if he misses his father, Huy replies, "Everything but his yelling."

"So," said we to ourselves, stroking a Herrdoktor's goatee, "Hung has a very close relationship with his mother, and an absent father who yells. Very interesting. That would explain a lot in a cheap psychological way, nein?"

And then there was the tragedy of the oil spill on the restaurant, a tasty little narrative morsel. If Hung doesn't get kicked off tonight (as some conspiracy theorists are predicting), this will be the strain of sympathy used to make him a palatable winner. Mark our words.

Out of the MFMouths of...: Brian MFMalarkey Refuses to Be Your Kid-Tested, Homo-Approved Pawn!

Sometimes, possums, even we are taken aback at the sheer deliciousness of certain statements made by cheftestants. We practically squirm with delight.

We don't mind confessing, then, that there was a good deal of delighted squirming when we came across this interview with Brian MFMalarkey. Herewith, the tastiest, squirmiest bits:

* "I was apprehensive about doing the show," Brian said. "First it was a challenge of if I was going to get on the show... Once I got on I really had to think, 'Do I want to do this?'"

"I called up the day before I was going to ship out and said no... I don’t want to be edited. I don’t want to be your pawn... I was really nervous about the whole process," Brian added.

[MFMalarkey showing signs of being confused and "undecided"? Color us shocked.]

* Brian, who said he's very popular with kids, older ladies, and the gay community, had a feeling from the start that he'd make it to the final four.

["Wait a minute," said Miss XaXa. "Wasn't Liberace the last man to be very popular with kids, older ladies, and the gay community?"]

* Either way, Brian said he was confident he'd make it to the final four because he has a lot of diversity in the kitchen and is quick on his feet.

[Well, possums, let us not be so skeptical about his "diversity." It's true he was ever so devoted to sausage, but sometimes it was fish (seafood) and sometimes it was fowl (pheasant). Being torn between fish and fowl is perfect for MFMalarkey, n'est-ce pas?]

* Why else did Brian have a feeling he'd make it to the final four? "A lot of the challenges don't really come down to the cooking skills, but your charisma..."

["Honey," said Miss XaXa, "your charisma was seriously undermined by the soul patch, the thumb ring and the asshats."]

* All joking aside, while Brian said, "CJ's definitely going to be my best friend that I'll know for a lifetime," he also said he has a "really strong bond" with the other members of the final four... "even Hung."

Even Hung?

"[The viewers] have horrible opinions of him. I was a roommate and kind of a big brother to him. He'd start saying the most ridiculous things, and I'd say, 'Hung, Hung, you're on TV,' and he'd listen to me."

[Frankly, possums, we were shocked--shocked!--by Brian's admissions. The idea that a fratty white beach boy would become best friends with a fratty white beach boy is truly surprising. And the idea of Brian, beloved of the gay community, playing "big brother" to little bisexual Hung, well, it's enough to restore one's faith in humanity. It's a fine example of living up to the ideals of Be Kind to Bisexuals Week.]

Now, a teensy potential spoiler alert pointed out by an astute anonymous Amuse-Biatch commenter. On his blog today, Raggaydy Andy says, "After tonight's episode, I will be live at for 'Watch What Happens' with one of tonight's eliminated chefs and Gail Simmons - call us live!" MFMalarkey's MySpace page says he's off to New York for his birthday, and his birthday is today. Donc, MFMalarkey is in New York today, and thus going on "Watch What Happens" tonight as one of the eliminated chefs. What a way to spend your (35? 30?) birthday!

Chicago Sighting: I Saw a Man, He Dined with His Wives

Ah, possums, Chicago, Chicago, that toddlin' town, where the man sighted (LTH Forum via The Chicago Reader) was none other than Marcel Vigneron. The three women with him were not his wives ("Wrong gender, dude!"): Sandee Birdsong, Josie Smith-Malave, and Tiffani Faison. Holy Lesbian Triple Threat!

According to the sighting, Marcel and the Dreamgirls were spotted last Friday at Frontera Grill "with stage makeup on." Furthermore, Marcel "is growing some type of weird Abe Lincoln meets Hobbit-type beard." (There's a joke in there, possums, about Marcel, three lesbians, and beards, but "Marcel is gay" jokes are trop last season for us, and so we desist.) At any rate, what this means, possums, is that it looks as if Season 4 has already begun filming, well before next week's Chicago-based live reveal. If any of you Chicagoan possums catch sight of a stray cheftestant or two, wield those cell-phone cameras and drop us a line.

Amuse-Biatch Is Confused by Age-Old MFMalarkey

Well, it's true, possums. There's a lot that confuses us about Brian MFMalarkey.

(But surely we're not the only ones. Just ask the evil genius who did the set design for this cowboy pic of Brian. That set designer/dresser is certainly no, um, slow poke, and demonstrates an uncanny familiarity with the "set design" of gay porn films, down to the saddle, the blue ribbon, the horseshoe, the handy metal bars and the frying pan. Is it any coincidence that, just yesterday, Raggaydy Andy Cohen, who was present at the Aspen filming, interviewed gay-porn icon [as you will see from the interview, the placement of the hyphen makes all the difference] Ryan Idol?).

But here's one thing that confuses us today. It's MFMalarkey's birthday, and his MySpace page says, "Chef Malarkey is Off to NYC for my [sic] birthday." (We recommend learning from a master, such as Bob Dole, how to speak of oneself in the third person.) So we presume that's where he is, but how old is he in NYC?

MFMalarkey's official Bravo profile says, as did the onscreen title cards, that he's 34. But his MySpace page says he's 29. Um, we thought only gay men lied about their age on their online profiles?

So, is he 34 today? 35? 29? 30? Inquiring minds want to know.

Following an Intense Session in a Smoky Chicago Backroom (No, Not That Kind), Amuse-Biatch LOLcat Albertine Issues Her Endorsement for Fan Favorite

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Amuse-Biatch Rhetorical Q: Is It Just Us or Does Eric Ripert Look Gayer Every Time We See Him? Also, Is Hot-to-Trout Padma Channeling Calamity Jane ?

Bonus Hetero/Lesbian Tuesday Photoessay: Raw-Meat-Loathing, Lollipop-Loving Lioness Gail Simmons Stars in Triptych of Desire

Amuse-Biatch Big-Thumbs-Up, Sapphic Photoessay: Even Cowgirls Get the Yellows

And apropos of cowgirl-on-cowgirl action, here is another classic Sapphic moment, Miss Doris Day playing the title character in Calamity Jane--and what the hell was HBO thinking when it cancelled Deadwood?--and singing "My Secret Love." (Notice how, once atop the, er, mount, Doris and Padma's yellow girl have the same wide stance.)

Finally, a lesbian conflagration of epic proportions: Johnny Guitar, where Joan Crawford and Mercedes McCambridge (the voice of Satan in The Exorcist) go butch-a-butch and mano a mano, especially after Joan spurns Mercedes for a man. The best part is the last minute or so, when Mercedes becomes a pyromaniac and lets you know in no uncertain terms that you. do. not. ever. ever. ever. mess. with. a. lesbian. If we close our little lesbo-fantasist, cinematically cross-pollinated eyes, we can almost hear Mercedes warning Joan that she will suck cock in hell.

On a slightly different (not really) note of not-so-secret love, possums, you should, if you get the chance, watch Raggaydy Andy's Bravo-website interview cum slumber party with Padma, Gail Simmons, and Tom Colicchio, during which Padma reaffirms her continued attraction to Stephanie Seymour. Forget the fact that, in our professional judgment, Raggaydy Andy's question is hopelessly convoluted. It still boils down to, "Whom would you sleep with if your partner gave you permission?" Padma says that her answer hasn't changed. But, let us not forget that Padma is no longer a married woman, and no longer needs permission. So...Padma meet Stephanie meet the fantasies of hetero and lesbian foodies everywhere.

Amuse-Biatch Photoessay: MFMalarkey Climbs Brokeback MFMountain, Amuse-Biatch Says, "Chapeau!"

Amuse-Biatch Paparazzo Photoessay: Cheftestants and Their Evil Metaphorical Familiars: They're Just Like Us!

Possums, we must confess to feeling a bit juvenile when we woke up this morning.

As a consequence, we had a good juvenile laugh when we watched one of the Bravo previews for the season finale and caught Hung Huynh listing the ingredients he took with him to Aspen, including "pickled kumquats." There are times when the sight of a bisexual saying the word "kumquat" is better at inducing the giggles than sucking on a helium balloon. And for this lapse of maturity, possums, we sincerely apologize.

However, pickled kumquats are not the only secret ingredient in Hung's arsenal and we have proof. We are pleased to bring you news from in-house paparazzo Laz West (take that, TMZ!), who once again risked life and limb to bring you exclusive photographs of what he saw. Today, he brings us a candid snapshot of Hung and his evil monkey sharing a private joke about world domination. As you can see from the monkey's expression, Laz managed to slip away not a moment too soon.

"So what kind of a monkey was it?" we asked the good Laz when he returned to safety.

"I couldn't tell if it was a spider monkey or a macaque," came the still-frightened reply.

"Well, with Hung being a bisexual, it had to be a macaque," said Miss XaXa with the certainty of hard-won experience.

Oops, there goes the juvenile again.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Dale Levitski and Brian MFMalarkey Have a Hot Tub Discussion About Which of Them Will Be on Top and Who Will Join Them

Or so Dale tells Gina at Buddy TV:

When we were in like the final six, Brian and I were sitting in the hot tub kind of making our predictions, and we kind of figured that would be the final four. Nothing against either C.J. or Sara, but that’s kind of just the way things were going, and I think if anything, of this entire season, I think I’ve stuck in there as the underdog. Up until this point, I’ve maybe been cooking at fifty percent of my ability. I had not cooked in a really long time before I did the show, so I was frustrated every day because it was like running in quicksand.

This being Gay Days of Our Lives, it goes without saying that Dale met Top Chef while on the rebound. Dale recounts how, as a self-described unemployed prima donna, "my boyfriend dumped me so I asked my mom for a plane ticket to L.A. and I auditioned for Top Chef and I got on the show." Is it wrong that this story somehow makes us think of Sharon Gless in Queer As Folk?

Finally, Dale asks --without coming right out and asking--that people vote for him for fan favorite in order to pay his rent. We wholeheartedly want Dale to win fan favorite, and would like officially to endorse him, but before we do, we must--in order to comply with electoral law and rules about soft money and advocacy ads--get approval of our campaign ad from Dale himself. So Dale, possum, if you read this, get in touch with us. We want you saying, "My name is Dale Levitski, and I approve this ad."

Padma Lakshmi: I Dress Like a 15-Year-Old!

Well, Padma, possum, you'll get no argument from us.

Talking to The New York Times, Padma admitted, “I’ve basically dressed the same since I was 15. My hemlines are a little longer now, and my budget is a little bigger.”

Remembering her hemlines last season (especially on those infamous black shorts), we can only speculate as to how much shorter they were when she was 15.

And yeehaw! Apparently, her favorite hat is a Stetson, which ought to have the mechanical bulls lining up to be ridden. But Padma actually appears to think less of urban cowboys than of patriots, dressing up, as she does, as Uncle Sam the Drag King in “a 1970s, baby-blue, pinstriped Pierre Cardin men’s suit...[worn] with a red and white necktie and a Stetson hat.”

Finally, she's glad to be filming Season 4 in Chicago, not known for its balmy Octobers, because “because I’ve run through my summer wardrobe. Now you’ll start seeing a lot of fall pieces.” You heard it first, possums. Next season, all you het boys and Sapphic sisters will get Padma the Sweater Girl.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Amuse-Biatch Photoessay: Appearances to the Contrary, Lioness Gail Simmons Doesn't Like Her Meat Raw

Amuse-Biatch Road Trip Photoessay: Tre Wilcox Wonders Where He Went Wrong, and Miss XaXa Wonders Where His Hand Wrongly Wandered

First Reaction: Cuisine de Grand-mère and Not So Grand Mair

Well, possums, as anyone who's ever seen The Triplets of Belleville will tell you, having a French grandmother can make all the difference of the world. One must never underestimate Mamie dearest.

And Casey Thompson's Mamie certainly came through for her, inspiring Casey's chicken dish, even if the name (and the pronunciation, ouch!) were a bit of a coq-up. And even though tough old birds* faulted her for not using a tough old bird, we don't fall in that camp. As some of you may have discovered at some point in your lives, possums, coq is occasionally difficult to come by, no matter how much vin is involved.

But you know, there is one thing that gave us pause and made us uneasy, namely, the condemnation by all and sundry of Hung Huynh as being a technical wizard but lacking soul. Perhaps we just have sensitive noses, but we detected the whiff of (perhaps unconscious?) racial stereotypes of Asians as emotionless automatons. We thought immediately of an article by classical music critic Alex Ross that we read in The New Yorker in April:

In the classical-music world of ten or fifteen years ago, you heard intermittent murmurs of unease about the number of Asian performers who were showing up on the rolls of conservatories, in the ranks of orchestras, and on concert stages. The oft-repeated criticism was that these players showed great technical dexterity but lacked the mysteries of “depth” and “soul.” Such talk had an unsavory taste....

As does the talk about Hung lacking "heart" and "soul." Well, he is bisexual, so undoubtedly the heartless part is correct. But the rest of it does smack of something unattractive, even if it's not sinister. It's a way of dismissing those who are better than you: what I do may be a mess, but at least it's got heart. "Heart," whatever the schmaltzy term means, seems to be of paramount importance in our country. Emotional truth trumps all else, and cannot be questioned. Laziness, idiocy, lack of skill, and lack of competence can all be forgiven and covered up with "heart," with "gut instinct," which is why we're asked to elect the candidate we'd most like to have a beer with, and to "trust" our leaders, especially when they have "gut instincts" and can look into the "hearts" of Russian tyrants.

But we digress, possums, and we'd better stop ranting before we find ourselves unwittingly quoting Ayn Rand, who is not our cup of tea (though she is a good deal of camp fun, especially the movie adaptation she wrote of The Fountainhead, starring Patricia Neal and Gary Cooper, a phallic pneumatic drill, Miss Neal's pneumatic breasts, and a beautiful and no doubt unintended homoerotic subtextual love affair between Gary Cooper and Raymond Massey).

*We kid, possums. We have the utmost respect for André Soltner and the rest of the FCI panel. Just read David Kamp’s The United States of Arugula to get a sense of the watershed importance of Soltner’s restaurant, Lutèce.

All We Don't Need Is Love: The Gospel According to Gail Simmons

Goodness, possums, it seems there was a new episode of Top Chef last night. Can you believe it?

This reality-television anabasis has been dragging on for so long that we very nearly forgot.

We look upon October 3 as soldiers look upon the end date of their tour of duty.

Although this season may not actually be longer than last season (we can't be bothered to check the dates to confirm), it certainly feels that way. It's not that the season is terrible--it isn't, and in many ways it's an improvement on last season. And yet there's nonetheless something bland and undercooked at the core.

Thank goodness for sleek, glossy-lipped, feline-eyed, vixenish General Simmons, who in her report to Congress--er, blog--puts her finger on one of the major problems:

I too must remind myself on occasion that most challenges are not meant to be team efforts, are not meant to prove your ability to play nice. They are meant to be competitive, to test each chef’s skill and speed. It drove us crazy at times how lovey-dovey the cast could be and how easily they forgot that, at the end of the day, there is only room for one winner. But not Hung. In this instance especially, I applaud his choice to keep his secrets to himself, even if it meant frustrating the others. He worked hard to execute that dish well and it paid off with a win.

Exactly, Miss Gail. It nearly drove us crazy, too.

And you know what, possums? We still don't understand what the other cheftestants were doing sitting around the table trying collectively to gather tips on how to make the classic Le Cirque dish (and we were nearly driven out of our minds by hearing everyone pronounce it "Le Sirk"; Douglas Sirk and Le Cirque are both fabulous, but one thing they're not is homonyms). The bottom line is--it's not cool to try to copy the smart Asian kid's homework, and we, for one, are glad that he metaphorically leaned over his desk and covered his paper. Gong Li would be proud.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Amuse-Biatch Beaver Boots Were Made for Road Trips

We asked her where she was going, possums, but Shinsei anything.

And next thing we knew, Miss XaXa, while shoe-shopping at Dallas’ own Needless Mark-up, and accompanied by The Big Shamu, dropped in on cheftestant Casey Thompson.

And we have to confess, possums, that we are pretty miffed. Why? Well, because, for once, we don’t have a single bitchy thing to say. Just imagine how that feels.

Casey—whose beaver boots of late have clearly been made for kicking ass, what with her winning two Elimination Challenges in a row—was gracious, charming, a good sport, and displayed a levelheaded sense of humor about the snarky things we’ve occasionally been known to say.

And speaking of levelheaded, her highlights were looking quite good. Damn! Foiled again.

And she reads our blog. Oh, and she has a French grandmother. Merde!