Friday, June 29, 2007

Lady Rushdie Makes a Knight of It with a Man Not Her Husband; Amuse-Biatch Is Rodgers & Hart-Broken As It Asks, Is the Lady a Tramp?

Possums, from what we’ve seen of Padma Lakshmi, it certainly seems clear that “she gets too hungry for dinner at eight” and wouldn't “bother with people she’d hate,” but that does that mean that, as Page Six is suggesting, Lady Rushdie is a tramp? As Sir Salman might have put it, the ground beneath our feet is shaky indeed. According to the New York Post:

“While [Sir Salman] Rushdie was being knighted by the Queen of England last week, [Padma] Lakshmi was spotted hanging out into the wee hours at the Rose Bar at the Gramercy Park Hotel with a well-known chef who was there without his spouse. ‘They seemed to be quite interested in what each other had to say,’ said a witness. ‘They were oblivious to the people around them.’ Sources say Lakshmi has also forged a friendship with an unidentified billionaire. A friend of the model said she and the chef ‘are just friends - and like any marriage, she and Salman have their ups and downs.’ A rep for Lakshmi declined to comment.”

Miss XaXa, ever the romantic, was duly horrified. “You mean that while Helen Mirren was touching Salman with a sword to make him a knight, Padma might have been involved with a different kind of sword?! Say it ain’t so!”

We reminded Miss XaXa that our own on-set source from last season had mentioned to us that Padma discussed divorcing Salman Rushdie as soon as a documentary on him was finished filming, and then there was the report in March about bearded lady Diane Von Furstenberg bemoaning the upcoming divorce as well.

“I don’t care,” said Miss XaXa. “Once your husband gets knighted, a woman says to herself, ‘Yes, Sir, that’s my baby.’”

Eager to stanch our bleeding sense of chivalry, we concurred, “An aristocratic title and the ability to fly business class—who would give those up?”

Amuse-Biatch Photoessay: Micah Edelstein Undone by Meatloaf

Thursday, June 28, 2007

First Reaction, Part I: Dick Around the Conch Tonight (Apologies to Bill Haley and the Comets)

Oh possums, never, not even during the run of “Sprockets” on Saturday Night Live, have we wanted to touch anyone’s monkey less, and yet, following this week’s episode (which we have subtitled, “Elks and Whelks”), Hung Huynh’s monkey is all we can think about. As Miss XaXa put it, “Is it a rhesus piece or is it a macock?”

And yet, it was in part thanks to his monkey that Hung made another stab at transforming into Hatsuhomo, demonstrating that he’s still in the running towards becoming America’s Next Top Potentially Gaysian Villain. (This made up somewhat for last week’s performance, where the self-anointed CPA, Certified Professional Asshole, acted more a like a real CPA and less like a real asshole as he helped Sara Nguyen figure out that 20 times 10 equals 200, and that she was using up her whole budget on meat, thus helping her into the top three during the Elimination Challenge.)

As Hatsuhomo, Hung finally answered the question, What Would Gong Li Do?

Well, for starters, how about hogging shellfish, leaving defenseless crayfish to die on the floor, turning off ovens, referencing your monkey, and dissing Beard Award-winning chef Alfred Portale as not getting the concept? In fact, as we learned, it takes big croutons to mock Alfred “Master Chef of the World” Portale.

We were introduced to Chef Portale during the Quickfire Challenge, announced by Padma as “catch and cook,” which unforgivably reminded us of that horrible Jennifer Garner movie. (We were extremely impressed by the flourish with which Lady Rushdie pulled the cover from the fish tank holding the live seafood; it suggests a history, or a future, in game shows and magic acts.) Upon seeing Chef Portale, we thought he looked vaguely familiar. “Doesn’t he look like Adam West’s gay, nerdy accountant brother?” we asked hesitantly. “Gayer than the original Batman?” scoffed Miss XaXa. “I don't think so. Besides, Alfred was the butler on Batman. Try Stanley Tucci in The Devil Wears Prada.” Why, of course!

Joey Pickles helpfully informs us that Chef Portale is known for his plating techniques, and references the Sistine Chapel, making this the second Michelangelo reference of the season. Given what happened to Micah, the first person to reference the old sonnet-penning, marmoreal poofter, we wonder about Joey’s fate in the next two weeks. Is there, as Carrie Bradshaw might type on a PowerBook filling the screen, a Michelangelo curse? (“Make that a Micahlangelo curse,” suggested Miss XaXa.)

The contestants had mere seconds to scoop up shellfish from the tank with a net. Hung went first (though we’re not quite sure why; is it because he won the last Quickfire?; if so, how was the rest of the order determined?), and demonstrated a thing or two about Vietnamese fishermen. Even Sara Nguyen was forced to say, “Save some for the rest of us.”

A crayfish plunged to the ground from Hung’s heaping bowl, or, as CJ puts it, the “crawfish falls awry.” (He’s got the oddest locutions; is it an Orange County thing? Linguists of the world, get to it.) Mr. “How You Walk, How You Talk, How You Approach the Ingredient Tells Me Who You Are” apparently doesn’t believe in the five-second rule, and, in a move designed to endear him to PETA, leaves the wee beastie gasping for air, shell(fish)-shocking and awing the other cheftestants. Hasn’t he ever seen The Little Mermaid, or Finding Nemo? Doesn’t he know? It’s the perfect Hatsuhomo move, demonstrating his contempt for crustacean life to his competitors (Hung the Merciless!) and creating a potential slip-and-fall, premises-liability issue to wipe one of them out. He’s almost like a villain in one of those godforsaken Jackie Chan-Chris Tucker movies.

Invisible Gay Dale Levitski takes off his Invisibility Cloak, giving us the best line of the night, “I don’t really have time to dick around with a conch,” which sounds better and gayer with a Chicago accent. Indeed, it almost sounds like his coming-out statement, or, as Kanye West might have put it, “I ain’t saying he a conch-dicker, but I never seen him with no clam-digger.”

“Actually,” Miss XaXa reminded us, “clam-diggers are all he seems to wear in the kitchen.” Well, we’ve never let truth stand in the way of a bad Kanye West pun.

Hatsuhomo dismisses his competitors for mixing shellfish with white wine because “my monkey can do that.” We can’t decide if this is of the “Aw, snap” or “Meow” variety. In any event, Hung still has a ways to go in the “cutting remarks” department of Gay Villainy. Where, oh where, is George Sanders when you need him?

Pretentiously-behatted, alliteration-and-assonance-addicted poseur Brian Malarkey tells us that he had better win this seafood Quickfire, since he works in a seafood restaurant. If he didn’t win, his employers would fire him and his whole world might dissolve. “Actually, Brian,” Miss XaXa snarled at the television, “my whole world might dissolve if you don’t take off that fucking hat. Asshat! You’re losing your hair, deal with it.”

Howie, who’s got the cockteasing Bravo Redemption Edit™, makes ceviche, and, since this is a Quickfire, speeds the “cooking” of the seafood in citrus juice by adding salty sweat dripping from the end of his nose to the dish. CJ serves “fruits de mer,” which he pronounces as “froots de mare,” which in turn positively gave us the vapors. CJ, possum, it’s pronounced “FROO-EE,” like “Phooey” with an “r”; hell, you could even get away with pronouncing it “free.” But “froots”? Froots?!? We sat there clutching and kneading an antimacassar for a good five minutes before we calmed down. We won’t go so far as to say that if you can’t pronounce the name of the dish, you probably can’t cook it, but we do say, If you can’t pronounce the name of the dish, why don’t you just call it what it is, e.g., “assortment of shellfish”?

In the end, though, Asshat, his soul patch, liberal use of white wine, and his fucking habit of giving cutesy names to everything (“eyes with fries,” “medusa,” “electric venom soup,” “tres rios” [WTF?]) prove too powerful, and he and Hung’s white-wine-addled monkey win the Quickfire Challenge, which, though it makes our world dissolve, grants him, alas, immunity from elimination.

Playing Chicken with Fauxmicah as Snobbery Karma Ketchups Up to Her and We Search for a Colonel of Truth

Yes, possums, like a bat out of hell, meatloaf-making Micah Edelstein was pykagged tonight.

You ought to have heard the cackling and clucking when Micah announced, ever so disdainfully, "I'm from South Africa, I've never eaten fried chicken." Miss XaXa could barely contain herself, "No she di'n't! Her chicken's gonna get fried tonight."

As you may remember, thanks to a faithful Amuse-Biatch reader, earlier this week we broke the story of Micah's grade school and high school years in Bridgewater, Massachusetts. With her statement, Fauxmicah would have us believe that she spent at least seven years in the Massachusetts public school system without tasting fried chicken. To which we say, Ha! Pull our other leg, Micah; it's got bells on.

Wayward and Biatchstein did a little investigation, and we found a Kentucky Fried Chicken right in Bridgewater, located at 218 Broad Street. There is also a KFC at 985 Belmont Street in Brockton, and Brockton also has a Crown Fried Chicken. Middleboro has Fisher's Chicken House and Justins Chicken House. And there are KFCs in South Africa.

Well, perhaps it's true that she's never eaten fried chicken, but if so, it's not because she's from South Africa; it's because she's chosen not to.

On tonight's episode, she made it sound as if she were a recent immigrant, as if she had just moved to the States a few years ago with $400, a suitcase, and her baby daughter, whereas she had spent her youth in quaint old Bridgewater. She also said she had lived in the Bahamas and was quite familiar with conch, and yet for the life of her could not pry the little critters from their shells, hammering and poking at them with scissors as if it were a Jim Carrey routine. And then there was the duplicity about the lamb from last week's episode. All of this leads us to believe that she has truly earned her nickname. Goodbye, Fauxmicah, and good luck.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

So Sayeth Lady Rushdie

Possums, it is once again time for "So Sayeth Lady Rushdie," our occasional feature highlighting the surprisingly wise pronouncements of that bikini'd Oracle of Delphi, Padma, Lady Rushdie. Without further ado, let Her Ladyship speak:

"Why do you need more books?"
The London Sunday Times, March 11, 2007

Answer given by Lady Rushdie, owner of 250 pairs of shoes, to a question by her husband, Sir Salman, about why she needed so many shoes.

"But I do have a weakness for mistletoe. I keep it up practically until Easter!"
YOU Magazine, December 19, 2004

And speaking of keeping it up, our favorite quote of the week: "Very nice sausage," Lady Rushdie's reaction to Brian Malarkey's barbecue dish.

As Miss XaXa said, dangerously skirting stereotypes, "Chino Latino?!? Brian, honey, you should have called it the Dirk Diggler." And then, turning to us, "She loves the sausage and shoes?! My God, I've been all wrong about her."

(Straight male and lesbian readers of this blog, please feel free to thank us for the photo of the Tamil temptress.)

Cheftestant Sara Nguyen Attacked by Angry Tam-o’-Shanters!

Well, at least according to the translator who renders Carlos Fernandez's blog into Spanish for Yahoo! Telemundo.

We're beginning to suspect that the Spanish translation of Carlos' blog is being done as a collaboration between Google Translator and Thomas Bowdler.

As regards Sara and the Tam-o'-Shanters (not a bad name for a band, Miss XaXa points out), Carlos' original text reads, "Oh, those raging Scotch Bonnets. They look so cute, but ouch." The Spanish reads, "Ay esas rabiosas gorras escocesas se ven tan monas, pero ¡ay!" The translator apparently doesn't know that Scotch bonnets are chile peppers (the Spanish equivalent would be "chiles habaneros"), and has translated the term literally. Thus, to a Spanish-speaker, the sentence seems like a tag line for the remake of Brigadoon as a horror film. Beware the rage of the tam-o'-shanter!

And while we're at it, since when are "webisode" and "wrap" (as in "wraps de lechuga") Spanish words? And, of course, there are spelling mistakes (and FYI, blood orange is supposed to be translated as "naranja sanguina," not just "naranja"; an orange and a blood orange are not the same thing).

Perhaps most annoying of all is the bowdlerization. The translator (presumably) has edited the blog to remove even Carlos' mild attempts at ribaldry, and has excised all mention of Carlos' husband Chuck and their Monday evening outings. Do they not want people to know Carlos is naughty and gay? Chica, puhleeze!

Somebody get our Chulo Chef a better translator, pronto.

Breaking Bravo Product-Placement News: Howie Kleinberg and Joey Paulino to Serve as New Spokesmen for Ex-Lax





Bravo's Big Picture: The Birdcage

Except that, as Miss XaXa pointed out, with Tom Colicchio and Norman Van Aken in the picture, it ought to be called The Bear Cage.

"Well," we reminded Miss XaXa, "Lady Rushdie does seem to have a thing for bears."

Did somebody say bears?

"Forget The Bear Cage. With these two, bear pit is more like it."

"Well, Bravo's Big Picture has been The Untouchables of late. Maybe we ought to call these two The Unbearables."

"Considering that tonight's the hot tub episode," said Miss XaXa, "I sure hope they're called the Unbare-ables. There are some things I just don't need to see, and floating manboobs are on that list."

"You don't have to worry," we reassured Miss XaXa. "It looks like Casey's bazooms are the ones doing all the floating."

And then, being constitutionally incapable of leaving well enough alone, we went a pun too far. "With Sandee, and Padma, and Tom and Joey and Howie, couldn't we call this episode, Lesbian and Tamil and Bears, Oh My?"

Miss XaXa did not deign to respond.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Pomp & Circumstantial Evidence: Romy & FauxMicah's High School Reunion

(Remember, possums, as with men, click to enlarge.)

Trouble Over Bridgewater: Fauxmicah Countered?

Don't blame Wayward and Biatchstein, possums. We merely followed our our inbox, that is.

As you may remember, cheftestant Micah Edelstein's Bravo bio lists "South Africa" as her hometown (whereas, for comparison's sake, the bio for Hung Huynh, who was born in Vietnam, lists Pittsfield, Mass., as his hometown). And we saw some rumblings on other blogs regarding the authenticity of Micah's South African accent, made by people who said they went to school with Micah. (And, as one reader pointed out, Micah did seem rather good at coming up with conflicting stories, e.g., telling the camera that she bought the lamb for her barbecue because it was on sale, but telling the judges that she did lamb because "we" (presumably her family, or perhaps South Africans in general) always barbecue lamb whereas Americans have hot dogs and hamburgers.)

In the interest of clearing up the confusion, we asked for documentary evidence, and Amuse-Biatch reader "T." obliged us. T. writes:

"I also went to Junior High and High School with Micah. She was in my homeroom.... We were not that friendly in school but she really didn't bother me. I have nothing against her; I just want to set the record straight. It is sad that she seems so ashamed of Bridgewater, Massachusetts, as to lie that her hometown is South Africa. Bridgewater is actually quite a town here in New England with a premiere State College that was actually the first teachers college in the country. Bridgewater is also home to a state prison, which has a mental hospital that is one of the best in the state. It is a very quaint New England town, which has grown a lot in the last 20 years but has been able to retain its charm. It is a much sought after town to live in and thus has very high housing prices.


I don't remember Micah having the accent in high school, but she didn't have a true Boston Accent either, just no accent. She has been well travelled her whole life; I remember her talking in home room about going to Europe and stuff when we were in Jr. High. I found it very interesting to listen to her tell others of her travels, since the majority of us never went anywhere past Cape Cod, New York or Florida to see grandparents.

She hung out with a lot of the popular/smart kids in school. I just think it is interesting seeing someone from my past on TV. She has always had this worldly cultured way about her so I am not surprised of how her life has gone. I wish her luck but hope she doesn't forget where she really came from because it is a place, though not exotic also not a place to be ashamed of."

Now, we should make it clear that it is Bravo, rather than Micah, which has listed "South Africa" as her hometown, so there's no proof that Micah is lying (well, except about the lamb). It's entirely conceivable that Micah mentioned Bridgewater, Mass., and Bravo opted for the more exotic place; or perhaps it was Micah who omitted Bridgewater. We simply have no way of knowing.

However, what most fascinates us is the glimpse into Micah's high school past because, for one, her high school had much better yearbook photography than ours. According to T, Micah was on the soccer and tennis teams. Check out the following pictures, possums (click on each picture for a larger version). And consider this Wayward and Biatchstein investigation closed.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Under Lady Rushdie's Umbrella-Ella-Ella-Eh-Eh-Eh

Possums, as you head off for the first full weekend of summer, which may involve rain for some of you, we thought we would offer this little tidbit about Lady Rushdie, since our Padma Lakshmi Weekly Fashion Review feature seems to have been made obsolete by the fact of an actual wardrobe budget this season.

Lesley Abravanel, the nightlife columnist for the Miami Herald, was one of the guests at the "upscale barbecue" featured in this week's episode, and she had this to report:

"I just remembered something else: Padma must be a total diva because she had someone following her with an umbrella until it was time to film. I didnt see an umbrella over Gail! "

The thing is, this rather makes us like Padma more. That's the spirit, Milady!

Mario Batali to Play King Lear as His Own Children Metaphorically Stab Him with a Sharpie

Possums, it's time to dust off your Harold Bloom-approved editions of King Lear and turn to the bit that says, "How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is to have a thankless child."

Now imagine Mario Batali declaiming those lines while clad in flowing robes and orange Crocs (we'll leave it up to you to suggest who should play the Fool in this production) as he contemplates this situation:

In May, in a cri de coeur heard round the Blogosphere, Chef Batali told New York magazine, while discussing culinary plagiarism, "Hey, we watched Ilan [Hall] win [Top Chef] by taking the Casa Mono tasting menu and presenting it as his own..."

Imagine, then, the paternal horror he must have felt at the most recent Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, which he attended with his wife and his little male Goneril and Regan. According to BusinessWeek, as Ilan Hall, whose very presence there was one of the prizes for winning Top Chef, walked by Chef Batali, Molto Mario shouted at him, "My kids want your autograph, man!"

Our hearts bleed to read this. How much sharper than a serpent's tooth is an autograph seeker's Sharpie!

Special Mario Batali Disclaimer: Chef Batali, not that you'll ever read this, but just in case you do, please be advised that the preceding (though culled from the sources cited) was meant to be humorous.


As you know, possums, Amuse-Biatch always loves a li'l' tinfoil hat action, and we are wondering whether there might be something in a mysterious comment left on The Gals' blog by one "AJ" regarding cheftestant Micah Edelstein, the behatted one with the South African accent:

"micah grew up in massachusetts, and left after high school. her accent is completely fake. i went to grade, middle, and high school with her."

Now, we've known a goodly number of South Africans in our time (Melktart, anyone?), and we have to say that her accent sounds pretty damned convincing. (What sayeth Kara Janx, South Africa's official ambassador to Bravo?) And if it's fake, well, call up Meryl Streep.

At any rate, "AJ," back up your charge, possum. Send us, for example, Micah's yearbook picture. Let us see the Goth proto-Demi Moore in all her teenaged, prom picture glory. Otherwise, all that's fake is this kind of accusation. You know where to find us.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

First Reaction: 'Cue the Violins for the Last of the Fauxhawkians

“Two puns in one headline? Isn’t that a little much?” asked Miss XaXa.

We stared at our nails. Yes, it’s true, possums, our favorite martial-arts-practicing, slogan-teeshirt-wearing, magazine-editing lesbian, Sandee Birdsong, was, in the lexicon of the game, pykagged last night.

“Besides,” Miss XaXa continued, “it isn’t even true. She’s not the last one with a fauxhawk; there’s still Dale.”

But of course. Who could forget Dale Levitski? Well, apparently, just about everyone. As we said to Miss XaXa, “If he were a superhero, he’d be the Invisible Gay.” He was hardly to be seen in this episode, but perhaps that’s just as well, as attention seemed to be an unwelcome thing last night.

The Quickfire Challenge—to use Florida citrus—was judged by Chef Norman Van Aken, who, fittingly enough, was the very definition of “acid,” and perhaps also “florid.” Micah, who is not a morning person (though Lord, is she ever a mourning person), made it into a bottom three with a dish of baby spew, er, pardon us, “avocado soup,” along with torch-wielding petal-pusher Sandee, and confused, carapaced, veiny shrimp Sarah Nguyen (really, though, we’re not the ones calling her a shrimp; it was CJ, who envied her for being 5’3”). And it was CJ who, despite spilling his citrusy seed upon the dish, was in the top three, along with Hung and Tre. Ultimately, it was Hung, huffin’ and puffin’ his way to villainy, who came out on top and earned immunity, if not camp status.

The Elimination Challenge was to cook “upscale barbecue” for Lee Schrager, founder of the South Beach Wine & Food Festival and, according to the South Florida Business Journal, the spokesman for “Southern Wine & Spirits, the nation’s largest alcohol distributor.” No wonder he has access to champagne and, by extension, women, as Hung admiringly points out. (We reiterate: you don’t have to be gay to be a Gay Villain. And really, how convincing was Hung anyway?)

Which brings us to our main problem with the upscale barbecue: where was the upscale? 14 small grills on a strip of mangy lawn by a canal does not upscale make. As Tom Colicchio himself put it, which is the greater sin, no barbecue or not upscale?

This question, along with other, more pressing ones, will be answered in a proper episode recap coming this weekend.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Scary But Harmless: Casey Thompson Fries Up Fellow Competitors While Amuse-Biatch Expresses Pronounced Disapproval

While you wait for tonight’s episode, possums, let your brain turn to mush as you watch this morning show segment from NBC5 in Dallas featuring cheftestant Casey Thompson as she tries to fry a fish and talk to a blowsy, vaguely nurse-like hostess while saying absolutely nothing.

(Miss XaXa thinks the nameless hostess resembles not so much a nurse as the meddling female neighbor on Small Wonder, that creepy but compulsively watchable, long-ago syndicated show about a pinafore-wearing robot named Vicky. On closer inspection, we think she’s more like the Philip Seymour Hoffman drag queen in that Robert DeNiro movie Flawless.)

During the segment, you will learn nothing about frying fish, and next to nothing about Top Chef. The two things we gleaned from Casey were that (1) the restaurant she works in and the restaurant Tre Wilcox works in are both owned by the same people; and (2) she thought the other contestants were scary but harmless.

Casey herself seems harmless, and the scariest thing we’ve seen about her has been her headscarf, but we do have a bone to pick with her.

During the Quickfire Challenge last week, she was picked as the Definition Girl, the Vanna White of sorts (last year it was Ilan Hall) who helpfully defines the term “amuse-bouche” for the audience. Naturally, we winced as we heard her pronouncing it, “AH-moose bouche.”

Of course we blamed her, as she really ought to know better, but we were willing to cut her just a teensy bit of slack because Padma, Lady Rushdie, pronounced it the same way while introducing the challenge.

But she really got our goat when, later in the episode, she scoffed and sneered at Clay Bowen’s apple-sized amuse-bouche. “I’m an executive chef, I know what an AH-moose-bouche is.”

Look, Junior Missy, Elle Woods, Floaters, Mini-Spice Rack, Sweet Potato Queen (we haven’t quite settled on a nickname), you may know what it is, but you cain’t hardly pronounce it. For the love of God, it ain’t that hard. It’s pronounced just the way it looks—ah-MEWS—like the English word “amuse.” (Padma certainly knows better; witness her asking Tom, after the tasting, “Were you amused?”).

So, darlin’, if, despite being an executive chef, you cain’t pronounce the word, don’t you go bein’ all stroppy about it with poor Clay.

And while we’re at it, why is it that, as the brilliant and ever-perceptive Eric3000 points out, Fontainebleau is being pronounced “Fountain Blue” rather than the correct “fawn-ten-BLOW”?

Oh well. Plus ça change....

Über-Biatch Alan Richman Gives Harold Dieterle a Thumbs Up, Sits in Sarah Jessica Parker's Booth, Calls Anthony Bourdain a “Scoundrel”

If there's a bigger biatch than Alan Richman in the world of restaurant critics, we're not sure we'd like to meet him or her. Frank Bruni has nothing on him, possums.

And yet, miracle of miracles, Richman has just given Harold Dieterle's restaurant, Perilla, a rather good review: "fabulous is going too far, but there is little not to like about this pleasant, understated restaurant."

Mind you, the review is not entirely free of biatchiness--Richman doesn't like the lighting, which he calls "assertive," doesn't like the fabric upholstering the booths, and snarks about how Harold wouldn't come out to greet him though he did come out for Anthony Bourdain and Sarah Jessica Parker.

Still, as he says, "Dieterle can cook. He has technique and instincts." That's high praise from anyone, but especially from the Über-Biatch himself. Congratulations, Harold.

Fightin’ Words: Carlos Fernandez Translator Calls Anthony Bourdain a “Chupacabras”

It will come as no surprise to you, possums, that, like just about everyone, we are great fans of last season contestant Carlos Fernandez. Miss XaXa developed the mother of all gay crushes on him, anointed him her Chulo Chef, and drove six hours to eat and gossip up a storm with Carlos at the Hi-Life Café, the restaurant he runs with his charming husband Chuck.

Naturally, we were thrilled to learn that Carlos has a gig writing a blog for Bravo, doing cooking demonstrations on the unfortunately named “Miami Spice,” and appearing on Bravo’s Spanish-language sister network, Telemundo. We want only the best for our Chulo Chef.

Imagine our dismay, then, when we came across an interesting little discrepancy while comparing Carlos’ blog and the Spanish translation on Yahoo! Telemundo.

On his Bravo blog, Carlos writes, “It was nice to see Chef Anthony Bourdin. (“Hey Chef Tony, Alex says hi!”) I don’t understand why he didn’t judge the Quickfire Challenges. Perhaps that was filmed too early in the day for a bloodsucker! Ha!”

(A smidge of background info: after judging the Thanksgiving episode last season, Bourdain referred to Carlos as “Alex Fernandez” on Michael Ruhlman’s blog. You should know, though, that we found something equally egregious. On Frank Bruni’s blog in the New York Times, the caption lists Carlos Fernandez as “Carlos Rodriguez.” It’s so hard to keep them Latins straight, much to Miss XaXa’s despair and Chuck’s gain.)

At any rate, we think that by “bloodsucker,” Carlos meant “vampire,” since Bourdain is a notorious nocturnal flâneur (though not as nocturnal as John Travolta). And yet, the Telemundo translator rendered it as “chupacabras.”

For those of you who may not remember, a “chupacabras” (or “goat sucker,” from its “habit of attacking and drinking the blood of livestock, especially goats”) is “a lizard-like being, appearing to have leathery or scaly greenish-gray skin and sharp spines or quills running down its back…[,] a dog or panther-like nose and face, a forked tongue protruding from it, large fangs, and to hiss and screech when alarmed, as well as leave a sulfuric stench behind. When it screeches, some reports note that the chupacabra’s eyes glow an unusual red, then give the witnesses nausea.”

We will not go into whether this is an accurate description of Anthony Bourdain (though we will say we thought he looked remarkably well-rested and smooth-skinned on last week’s show; Clinique had better look into the rejuvenating properties of goat’s blood). We simply think it’s unwise for Carlos’ translator to get our Chulo Chef into a scrape with the old bloodsucker himself.

Miss XaXa, however, is having none of it. “Come on. Bourdain would probably love being called a chupacabra. It makes him more of a badass.”

Be that as it may, we ask only one thing of you, Tony. Don’t blame Alex. No tuvo la culpa.

Top Chef Harold Dieterle Yearns for Amy's Buns

In a lobster roll, that is, possums.

Describing his dream picnic to Forbes, Harold opted for Prospect Park, Brooklyn, and in addition to that lobster roll--''only if it's on an Amy's bun"--the D-man has a thing for Kettle chips.

Alas, no martinis for Harold. He's a g&t man, a man after our Beefeatin' hearts.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

“Top Chef” Shocker! Gay Cannibal Declines to Eat Tom Colicchio!!

You know, possums, it must be difficult for journalists to resist BabbaWawwics, the urge to ask kooky questions that will elicit revealing answers, e.g., Barbara Walters’ own immortal, if perhaps somewhat apocryphal, “What kind of tree would you be?”

This may perhaps explain why the boys at gay news website posed this question to Top Chef judge Ted Allen:

“You’re trapped on a deserted island with Tom Colicchio, Carson Kressley and Rupert Everett. Whom do you eat to survive, and how would you prepare them?”

Our first reaction was to say, “Congratulations, possums, on making another successful connection between gays and cannibalism! Gay blood libel, yay!”

Actually, if we’re honest, our first reaction was, “Nice going on the ‘whom.’”

Miss XaXa, as usual, was a bit more sanguine, “Oh come on, they just wanted to ask a dirty question. What’s wrong with that? Besides, he’s not a cannibal. Maneater, maybe; cannibal, no. Look at those adorably rabbity front teeth. He eats carrots, not people.”

She did, however, have a problem with Ted Allen’s answer, which was:

“First of all, I’m not eating Carson. He’d be all stringy. Carson is a little too lean. Tom Colicchio is a delicious-looking man, but I think I’d have to go with Rupert. Many of us in the community would find him the most delicious. If we’re on a desert island, I’d dig a pit. Something spicy or sort of Caribbean would be good for Rupert Everett.”

“Rupert Everett?!?” sneered Miss XaXa. “He’s like that rib you throw back on the platter because there’s not enough meat. Not worth the mess.”

Did we mention that Miss XaXa is from the South?

Our objection was, “Rupert Everett is so venomous that eating him would be like eating fugu.”

“Don’t you mean ‘fagu’?”

We had to concede the justness of that.

Still, seeing as how Tom Colicchio is all meat, the very definition of “beefy,” we were at a loss to explain Ted Allen’s answer. But then it hit us: this was an LSAT question, a logic puzzle.

Let’s say you were stranded on a desert island with hot daddybear Tom Colicchio, Carson Kressley, and Rupert Everett. You may be there for years, or however long it takes J.J. Abrams to screw up the concept, and you want to end up with Tom. What do you do? First, you get rid of the competition. Rupert Everett is much better-looking than Carson Kressley, and if anybody’s going to turn Tom gay, it would be Rupert. And so, pet to pot. That leaves Carson, who is indeed stringy, but since Tom is such a good chef, he would be able to give him the Crafsteak treatment and tenderize him. And that leaves you and Tom.

Ted Allen, you’re a genius. We’re sorry we ever doubted you.

Monday, June 18, 2007

So Sayeth Lady Rushdie

Possums, to celebrate our hostess’s ascension from mere Padma Lakshmi, 28th Most Beautiful Lady in the World, to Padma, Lady Rushdie, we are inaugurating an occasional feature, “So Sayeth Lady Rushdie,” to share with you a few of the memorable pearls of wisdom fallen from Her Ladyship’s rather fetching mouth (and which we found on Her Ladyship’s website).

Without further ado, dixit Padma:

“There’s nothing useful about being married to [Sir Salman Rushdie], though. I think it works against me. I do have it easy in that I can take business class instead of coach, but I would have that if I was married to anybody.”

“In fact, I’d have to be really dumb to think that being with a writer was going to help with an acting career. I live in America. They don't give a shit about that stuff.”

“Dude, sometimes I try to say I shouldn’t go to things [parties] with him [Sir Salman] but ... I'm fucked if I do and fucked if I don’t.”

--The London Sunday Times, April 2, 2006

Amuse-Biatch Plays Consigliere to Joey Pickles

As you ought to know by now, possums, Amuse-Biatch tries, whenever possible, to be of service to the cheftestants. And it is in that spirit that we write today.

Based on the teaser clips of what’s to come “on this season of Top Chef,” it certainly looks as if “aggressive” Joey Pickles needs the most help, what with that damned “Italia” shirt, the profanity, the threats, the debased Damon Runyon poetry of taunts about being a man.

Granted, Joey is no Frank Terzoli—we haven’t heard any threats to beat a cheftestant so badly his own mother won’t recognize him—and we haven’t seen any clippers being pulled out.

Still, you know, we worry, especially since the vibe, the unspoken message, we get from the interaction between Joey Pickles and Howard Kleinberg is, “This show ain’t big enough for two short, fat, ethnic, hypermasculine guys with regional accents.”

But Joey, possum, before you do anything rash (such as beating us up for calling you “possum”), consider this. When we heard, after the threat-and-Clippergate bonanza of Season 2, that Top Chef was moving to Miami, we snarkily speculated that the assault and battery laws must be more lenient in Florida than in California.

Turns out we were wrong. To wit:

Chapter 784.011 of the Florida statutes defines an assault as “an intentional, unlawful threat by word or act to do violence to the person of another, coupled with an apparent ability to do so, and doing some act which creates a well-founded fear in such other person that such violence is imminent.” Chapter 784.03 defines battery as occurring when a person “[a]ctually and intentionally touches or strikes another person against the will of the other.”

By contrast, California Penal Code section 240 defines assault as “an unlawful attempt, coupled with a present ability, to commit a violent injury on the person of another,” and Section 242 defines battery as “any willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon the person of another.”

The Florida standard is a lot easier to meet. For battery, all you need is intentional touching of a person against her will, whereas California requires force or violence.

So watch yourself, Joey Pickles. Watch yourself, possum, er, buddyboy.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Welcome to Meowmi: Part I

Possums, as we pointed out last season, from an audience standpoint, Anthony Bourdain is a great Top Chef judge, since he is entertaining and can out-quip and out-bitch just about anyone. From a blogger’s standpoint, however, episodes featuring Anthony Bourdain are difficult, since he is entertaining and can out-quip and out-bitch just about anyone.

Nonetheless, we’ll do our Amuse-Biatch best with the leavings as we turn to the premiere episode of Season 3.

To the sounds of what the closed captioning helpfully identifies as “Latin music,” we get the Miami signifiers of turquoise waters and bronzed bodies on the beach, and we’re off to meet the cheftestants at the Miami airport.

First up is Sara Mair, who informs us that she is a “chef/fromagier.” Actually, possum, you would be a “fromagère,” but never mind. We so love cheese, and the chic of the puffy sleeves on your jacket, that we’re willing to overlook anything at this point. Blessed are the cheese-makers indeed.

Next up is tremulous, toothsome Clay Bowen, son of the Mississippi clay. There’s something very 19th century about him, a touch of The Red Badge of Courage underneath the incongruous guayabera he is sporting. He thinks he can win the competition, ole Clay does. “I feel the South hasn’t really been represented on Top Chef much.” Oh, Clay, possum, wasn’t that what General Lee said right before the Battle of Antietam, er, Sharpsburg? Score another point for Bravo Foreshadowing™.

And then there’s Frank Terzoli. Oops, it’s actually Joey Paulino, decked out in a blue “Italia” soccer jersey. “You think he’s Italian?” we ask Miss XaXa, who is herself of Italian extraction. The question becomes even more rhetorical the minute he opens his mouth: “If I win the money, my mother gets it.” (To which Miss XaXa said, “But if you don’t win the money, whose mother's gonna get it?”) This is followed by the curiously related, “I’m the biggest, baddest motherfucker here.” Miss XaXa groaned, “Didn’t The Sopranos end last Sunday?”

Joey drives home the point by giving us a syllogism that would have made Descartes proud, “I’m from New York; I come to kick ass.” No, Joey, you come to perpetuate stereotypes about Italian-Americans on television. Judge Ted Allen told an interviewer that Joey earned the nickname, “Joey Pickles,” which is as good in its way as Paulie Walnuts (and not as pungent as Miss XaXa’s suggestion, “Joey No-Neck”), so Joey Pickles it is.

And here comes Dale Levitski, the beefy, fauxhawked, po-mo homo from Chicago. We’re quite certain about the “homo” part, but we have sketchier evidence for the “po-mo” part, mostly those mirrored aviator sunglasses, the epitome of 1970s gay clone culture. We’d have to confirm it with Edmund White (He Who Was There), but we think Dale is wearing them ironically, which is enough for “post-modern” status (though we have doubts about the Dickensian urchin outfit he wears in the kitchen later). Mostly, we’re just happy there’s a Gay on here.

And riding along we find Tre Wilcox of Dallas, who loses no time in telling us that he has “a tattoo on [his] body” (where else?) that says, “You gotta have passion.” (However, when see the inside of his forearm, the actual text of the tattoo is the broader, “Gotta have passion,” which is significant because that makes it more of a personal reminder, more a metaphysical Post-It to oneself than a broader injunction to the world at large.)

Now, we like Tre and, as the episode shows, he’s a talented chef, but we call “merde” on his tattoo, which looks like it was done with a ballpoint pen by a fifth grader. Not that we’re suggesting he should have gotten a rose on his ankle, but something better than an item on a grocery list of platitudes. Did the tribes of the South Pacific invent tattooing so that it could end up as the equivalent of those one-word motivational office posters, the ones that say “Teamwork” or “Perseverance” and illustrate the concept with dolphins or canoes? If you’re going to risk not being buried in a Jewish cemetery, shouldn’t it be for something really good?

There’s a rendez-vous at Casa Casuarina, the former home of Gianni Versace, also known as the Gays’ own School Book Depository. The cheftestants blithely, even callously, step across the spot where the man who put Elizabeth Hurley in safety pins (sob) was assassinated (sob) by gay serial killer Andrew Cunanan (sob). The least Raggaydy Andy and Bravo could do would be to spring for a commemorative plaque.

Most blithe is potential Great Gay Hope and Potentially Gay Asian Villain-in-the-Making Hung Huynh, who starts subverting stereotypes right away, declaring, “I am not Zen in the kitchen.” It’s like a PSA with the recommended daily amount of liberal guilt; it makes you think, Hmmm, did I automatically assume he would be Zen in the kitchen because he’s Asian?

Our consciousness felt immediately raised, especially when Hung announced that for about a year he has been labeled a “CPA,” or Certified Professional Asshole. “It’s only been a year?” asked Miss XaXa. “No wonder it seems so fake.”

We reminded Miss XaXa that he was, once again, subverting stereotypes about Asians being good at math, and that she ought to give him the benefit of the doubt, as perhaps he used to be an amateur asshole before, but is now being paid and has had his assholery certified, and if that isn’t the American dream, to get paid for what you do well, then what is?

Even our favorite new lesbian, Sandee Birdsong, who hails from Miss XaXa’s former stomping grounds on Saint Simons Island and who should know better, gaily traverses across Gianni-hallowed ground and into a reception area, where, as the closed captioning tells us, “soft jazz music” is playing and the other cheftestants await.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Breaking News: 28th Most Beautiful Lady in the World Officially Earns the “Lady” Part of Her Title

Possums, we have received word from across the pond that, in the immortal words of Tom Jones, “she’s a lady, whoa, whoa, whoa, she’s a lady.”

Yes, indeed. With the announcement that Salman Rushdie has received a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II as part of the Queen’s Birthday Honours List, Padma Lakshmi, as the wife of Sir Salman Rushdie, may now henceforth be called Lady Rushdie.

Unfortunately for our Padma, at least according to Wikipedia, she, as the wife of a knight, is “officially styled Lady [Rushdie] as a courtesy title only.” This is of little importance, of course, for, as Padma’s own website reminded us last year, “Padma is the 28th most beautiful lady in the world! That is, according to England-based Harpers and Queen.”

And that’s no courtesy title. Congratulations, Lady Rushdie.

However, do be careful, possums, when addressing her. As she told Esquire in 2006 for the “10 Things You Don’t Know About Women” feature, “We don’t think it’s cute to be referred to as ‘the little lady.’”

My Abalone Has a First Name

And it ain’t Tom.

Now, we should preface this, possums, by saying that we admire and respect Tom Colicchio. He’s knowledgeable as hell, and, based on his blog, he’s undeniably the best writer on the judging panel, except, perhaps, for Anthony Bourdain.

This is why we were so baffled during the premiere to hear Chef Colicchio repeatedly pronounce “abalone” as “a-ba-lawn.” We checked a few dictionaries (Random House, Merriam Webster, American Heritage) and we didn’t find this pronunciation.

And so, of course, we wondered, Have we found this season’s lychee? (The “LEE-chee”/“LIE-chee” debate went on for several weeks last season after Otto Borsich left.)

So we’re not saying Chef Colicchio’s pronunciation is baloney, but can any of you, possums, help dispel the mists of “a-ba-lawn”?

Or is Tom Colicchio led astray
Just like P-A-D-M-A?

Hung Jury Still Out

As you know all too well, possums, Bravo’s self-promotion is relentless.

But during Wednesday night’s premiere of Top Chef, it seemed that the promos for Kathy Griffin’s show were coming at the rate of one every other minute (we surmise even the Cubans don’t have to put up with that much Fidel on their televisores). As such, we think Miss XaXa can be forgiven for channeling Bravo’s seemingly new Fearless Leader halfway through the TC3 premiere and yelling the party slogan, “Where are my Gays?!”

Ubi sunt her Gays indeed. Hell, where are ours?

Not that she’s fickle, but Miss XaXa pressed the point, “Where is my Carlos for this season?”

It made us check and replace the batteries on our gaydar, for we heard only the faintest twittering during the show. No immediate sexual tension, no knives-as-phalluses metaphors, no bunkbeds (though that hot-tub does bring with it the hope of a new Mike-Melissa-and-Flora thing, but if we were you, we wouldn’t admit to getting that allusion).

(Yes, of course, there is Dale, he of the faux fauxhawk, but if you recall our screeds on the hermeneutics of homo hair from last season with respect to Marcel and Ilan, you will understand our dismay at the fauxhawk as a gay signifier. As Miss XaXa put it, “I mean, is it ‘cause he’s from Chicago?” And don’t even get us started on the whole Dickensian urchin look he sported during the Elimination Challenge, with those Oliver Twist manpris and boot-things. We’re all for “food, glorious food,” but how can you “consider yourself a [Gay], consider yourself one of the family”?)

Does that mean, then, that Hung might just be our Great Gay Hope?

(Mind you, we’re not discounting Sandee as a possibility for this season’s Josie, down to the twee ‘50s first names. Though her Bravo bio doesn’t say anything on the subject as such, the four people for whom she wants to cook a meal are Angelina Jolie, Gina Gershon, Jennifer Tilly, and Anna Nicole Smith. As Miss XaXa says, “I mean, come on.” So you have Jenny Shimizu’s ex-girlfriend, the stars of Susie Bright-approved, cult lesbian criminal sex romp Bound, and Anna Nicole Smith. Alright, we’ll give you Anna Nicole Smith, but, really, come on. But, again, even if it’s true, we are distressed by the fauxhawk. Hedi Slimane, what hast thou wrought?)

Now let’s talk about Hung for a moment. As we’ve complained in the past, Bravo breezily traffics in stereotypes, both good and bad (don’t get us started on the whole “spicy Latin” thing; we got a cramp when we heard the Bravo announcer on one of the promos say, like some drunken frat boy, “Moo-ee caw-lee-en-tay”). But there’s something altogether admirable about Hung so wholeheartedly embracing the stereotype of the (Potentially Gay) Asian Villain. He says as much himself.

Having just finished The Book of Salt, Monique Truong’s rather splendid novel about a gay Vietnamese chef who cooked for Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, we were looking forward to Hung as a gay Vietnamese chef who, well, you get the point (though in his case, the novel would probably be called The Book of Vinegar).

And yet, vinegary as he is, Hung still lacks something in the villainy department. We admire the way Hung playfully subverted the whole Asians-are-good-at-math stereotype by saying he is a “CPA…[beat]…Certified Professional Asshole,” but there was something a little forced in the quip. An asshole is usually just an asshole, and it takes more than monomania to make a good villain. It’s a question of style.

Take last season’s Marcel Vigneron, for example, whom Hung knows. Though we in the end concluded that Marcel is not gay, he was the superior Gay Villain. (As for Ilan….)

Of course, we have our doubts about Hung. Miss XaXa convincingly argues that no gay man would call himself “Hung”—too much pressure—and would instead have changed his name to “Jimmy” or “Ken.” It’s a powerful argument, though we note that Hung also has a little fauxhawk thing going on, throwing us further into despair.

Look, Hung, possum, it’s like this. We want you to succeed. We want you to achieve your villainous goal. And we think you could benefit from a little instruction. Let us tell you a story.

Recently we picked up an old magazine that had a piece on the actress Gong Li and her first English-language role as Hatsumomo, the bitch goddess villainess in gay Rob Marshall’s version of Memoirs of a Geisha. According to the piece, when Gong Li did her first scene with the child actress who was to play her nemesis, Gong Li had only to look at her and the child started crying. In fact, she couldn’t stop crying and had to be replaced. Gong Li didn’t have to say a word; all it took was a look. Now, that’s how you play (Potentially Gay) Asian Villain.

So we ask you, Hung, please, take a tip or two from Gong Li, if only so that we can make “Hatsuhomo” and Memoirs of a Gay Chef puns.

But regardless of what stereotype you want to embrace—whether you want to be known as Hung the Merciless or as Hatsuhomo—we support your endeavor. (If we were you, we’d start by burning the hat that the Vince Vaughn wannabe from San Diego is always wearing; trust us, it’s what Gong Li would do.)

Thursday, June 14, 2007

First Reaction: Fried or (Half) Baked?

Oh, possums, just when she was doing so well....

Watching Top Chef: 4 Star All Stars (surprisingly, it was not subtitled, “The Grudge”), we were paralyzed for many reasons (about which we will have much more to say later). But it was the 28th Most Beautiful Lady in the World, Padma Lakshmi, who gave us the biggest jolt of botulinum.

Her hair looked good. Her clothes were sexy but tasteful—the black polka dot dress looked good, the pants ensemble looked good, the cinnamon-colored dress looked good. Heck, even her scar looked good. No hot pants, Ugg boots, or shearling vests in sight.

Our unfurrowed brow began to furrow.

And then she corrected Marcel’s pronunciation of “gelée,” just as we were in mid-wince after hearing “jell-EE.”

Aghast, the twin figures of Henry Higgins and Mr. Blackwell, who daily battle for such scraps of our soul as remain, stood mute.

Would there be anything for us to do on Season 3? Would we have to retire? Would we be perennially doomed to sweetness and light?

Fortunately (for us, at least), last night’s premiere of Season 3 revealed that there is, indeed, a reason for us to go on living. You ought to have seen the grin of relief on our basement-dweller faces, possums, as she mispronounced “amuse-bouche” yet again. Ah-MOOZE? That’s nooze to us.

And then, of course, she went on to utter the immortal line of the night, “You could fry my toe, and batter it well, and it would taste good.”

Though Tom Colicchio rolled his eyes, we positively purred. We may well have cackled. Miss XaXa, momentarily lulled into compassion by the booze, pleaded, “Come on, give her a break. She’s still making progress.”

Remembering those hot pants from last season, we had to concur. From camel-toe to fried toe is quite a journey indeed.

Is it any wonder she married the man who wrote The Ground Beneath Her Feet? (We will have much more to say about this as well; here and now we call Top Chef 3, “The Foot Fetishist’s Season.”)

Still, Padma, fried or baked, we’ve missed you, possum. Welcome back. And to you, possums, we say, as our other theme for the season, “Welcome to Meowmi.”

P.S. Regular posting will follow, including a full-fledged, Amuse-Biatch recap.