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!


Monday, September 17, 2007

Knight's Lady in White Satin: Amuse-Biatch Throws a Moody Blue Fit Over a Fugly White Fit

Padma, possum, tsk, tsk, tsk. We understand wanting to look smashing at the Emmys, but, as in the case, smashing so often turns to smashed. There's no two ways about it--the dress is too tight. Our heterosexual brethren may disagree, but so be it. White is an unforgiving color, and satin is an unforgiving fabric. Together, they're spectacularly unforgiving. In fact, we haven't seen anything so unforgiving since our mother found out she would never have a daughter-in-law. And, oh, possums, we wish we could bring you the photo of Tom Colicchio and Padma posing on the red carpet, Padma towering over him in wrinkled satin, Tom sporting a boxy jacket and ugly shoes. If we had a heart, it would be broken. And to add insult to injury, Top Chef lost the Emmy to The Amazing Race. All of Ilan Hall's efforts were for naught.

Update: Here it is, possums.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Padma Lakshmi Stalker Alert, Part II: If "Cancer Boy" CJ Jacobson Makes a Wish, Does It Have a Foundation?

Well, possums, it seems Padma Lakshmi's got all the menfolks nuts about her.

First, she was being stalked by a man with huge balls. Holy sagging elephantiasis, possums!

And now, she's being stalked by a man with one ball.

Seemingly the only person in the world who loves the word "wanton" as much as we, CJ Jacobson tells our pally pal Josh at Grub Street, "Did you see the wanton and sad expression Padma had when I walked off stage? She’s running from me now, but..."

However, CJ saved the best of his bitchiness, wantonness, and post coital melancholia for our West Coast pal Lesley at Eater LA:

Did you ever dream you'd make Padma breakfast in the morning?
Yes, I dreamt several times that I would cook her breakfast.

It seemed like you two had a special bond. She practically broke into tears when she told you to pack your knives, and she blurted it out instead dragging it on as she usually does.
Yes, I saw that same wanton look in her eyes.

No, um. Not wanton, sad. She looked sad.
Oh, that was sad? I guess the crying comes after the wanton. She looked way sad, like when someone has to make a tough decision. You do get to know each other well on the show. You bond with the judges as much as anyone else. You know, really, I don't think she liked being in Newark any more than I did.

CJ also tells Lesley about not wanting to be "cancer boy," about Joey Paulino's less-than-stellar pizza, Anne Hathaway's birthday party, and missing the show's g/l/b/t crowd, which was a bit of a surprise, coming, as it did, from Mr. Ungay.

CJ Jacobson's Defense to Being Jacked by the Not-So-Giant Broccolini Stalks: Bravo Made Me Do It!

It's certainly one of the most interesting defenses we've seen so far, possums, and it goes something like this:

CJ was voted off because his desiccated, burnt, mint-oil-slicked broccolini was, in Tom Colicchio's opinion, the worst dish of Top Chef's three seasons. So, one wonders, why did CJ serve it in the first place?

CJ tells Grub Street that the broccolini were overcooked

"and looked bad, so I didn’t want to send them out. I said, 'I’m not sending these out.' But they said, 'You have to send them out.'

Who did?
I can’t tell you specifically. But it was production. I said, 'I lose if I send these out,' and I did. In retrospect I should have said, 'Screw you,' but I did send it out so it is my fault."

CJ tells our pal Lesley at Eater LA a similar story:

"I didn't want to put the broccolini out but I was told I had to. It would've been an OK dish if it was cooked propertly. Those ovens are really fast. They get up to 400 degrees right away, and it's a convection oven, so it overcooked and burnt the broccolini. I don't know what would've happened if I didn't put it out."

It smells like a minty, potentially successful duress defense to us. Shouldn't Justice Colicchio have been apprised of this fact before imposing the tear-jerking sentence of death by pykagging?

Is Padma Lakshmi an "Adorable High-School Outcast Who Avenged [Herself] on the Heathers of the World by Becoming Famous for Something, Sort Of"?

That is what The New York Times appears to suggest, in an article by Guy Trebay analyzing the front-row attendees at Marc Jacobs' fashion show. As pictured in the Times, Padma was there on Monday night, sitting next to hip-hop impresario Russell Simmons.

(And again, where the hell is his right hand? Why is everyone so handsy with Padma? Not that we disapprove. Far from it. We love merry widows and gay divorcées.)

It's That Guy Again

First, it was this. And now this.

Seriously, it's driving us crazy. Who is this guy, and why is he wearing flipflops? And where are their hands? Is this the mysterious male Shannon that Lee Anne Wong refers to in her blog? Inquiring minds want to know more than ever. (And he does bear a resemblance to CJ Jacobson, so that might explain a lot.)

Amuse-Biatch Photoessay: Nah, Too Eazy

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Amuse-Biatch Photoessay: Brave Newark: Tony and Tom Go to Ibiza After Their New Jersey Civil Partnership Ceremony

Possums, remember that Looney Toons episode featuring Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd, and a planeload of hats?

The point was to show that the hat could make the man. In this case, however, it has unmade him.

Tom, Tom, Tom, tsk, tsk, tsk. There's a reason La Cage aux folles wasn't set in New Jersey.

En plus, the hat makes Tom Colicchio, of all people, look like a bottom. If we squint, we can practically make out the speech bubble over Tom's head: "Honey, whaddya mean you didn't pack the suntan lotion?"

Jowly Green Giant CJ Jacobson Takes His Ball and Goes Home

Oh, come on, possums. As if you all weren't thinking the same thing. At any rate, farewell to the big crawfish, who at last fell awry.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Breaking News: Josie Smith-Malave Attacked, Gaybashed, Spat On

For once, possums, we don't have a snarky thing to say.

Josie Smith-Malave, the cooking world's most affable lesbian (sorry, Sandee Birdsong, you're a close second; and Tiffani Faison, you're a brilliant cook, but affable, not so much), was reportedly attacked over the weekend on Ilan Hall's native soil, Long Island.

According to a report, Josie "was among a small group of women asked to leave a Sea Cliff, Long Island[,] bar over Labor Day weekend," after which "about 10 young people followed the women out and began screaming anti-gay slurs, spitting on them and beating them....[T]he women, who were on Long Island to attend a friend's birthday party, suffered bruises, and one received injuries to her head. One of them had a camera taken in the attack."

Our best wishes go out to Josie and her friends, and we hope authorities (or lesbian avenger Jodie Foster in The Brave One) get the fuckers.

"Alien v. Predator" Finally Has a Worthy Sequel: Spice Rack to Take On the Jowly Green Giant

That's the scoop that our pal Lesley of Eater LA brings us. On Sunday, October 14, in Los Angeles, California, Betty "Spice Rack" Fraser will go funbags to (smaller) funbag with CJ "Jowly Green Giant" Jacobson in a cook-off.

CJ, possum, you'd best be careful. You may have survived Arianna Huffington, but Spice Rack is a real ball-buster, a giant-killer.

"Hell, she's a man-eater," Miss XaXa concurred. "Just look at that picture. It looks like she's eating CJ's remaining..."

"Now, now," we hastened to interject. And with good reason, for Lesley has another scoop up her sleeve (she could work at Baskin-Robbins). But don't click unless you want to view an extremely plausible spoiler alert about the finale.

For those of you who don't care, go fish.

Amuse-Biatch Goes Apocalyptic: The End Is Nigh!

Or so we hear, possums.

According to what sounds very much like a press release, the first part of the Top Chef finale, filmed in Aspen, Colorado, will air on September 26.

On October 3, the second part of the finale will reveal the winner "LIVE from Chicago," where Season 4, according to another report we read, is scheduled to start filming this month.

The end, then, is mercifully near.

As for tomorrow night's episode, our pal Lesley at Eater LA has done a little Sherlocking to uncover their "secret" destination. Check it out.

A Woman Stands Between You and Harold Dieterle's Meat Balls

Her name is Alicia Nosenzo, and, as Eater tells us, possums, she's Harold's business partner, and the woman who guards the reservation gates at Harold's restaurant, Perilla.

Nosenzo confirms what we might have expected: "There’s definitely some young women who come in who have crushes on Harold."

And the other side of obsessive, unrequited crushes?: "Some people come and are really critical, like they’re judges on Top Chef. We are always happy to hear when someone comes in with low expectations and we are able to greatly exceed them." Spoken like a true no-Nosenzo woman.

Amuse-Biatch Photoessay: As Oscar Wilde Might Have Put It, Following Her Divorce, Padma Lakshmi's Clothes Have Turned Quite Gold with Grief

Padma, front-row at the Marc Jacobs show last night. Divorce definitely suits her. And Tom Colicchio has also been in attendance at fashion shows. The Fug Girls just spotted him at the John Varvatos show, along with Alice Cooper and LL Cool J, and again wearing loafers without socks.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Amuse-Biatch Photoessay: Brian MFMalarkey Tells You Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex But Were Afraid to Ask

Dedicated to Keckler at Television Without Pity.

Amuse-Biatch Heterosexual Monday: Equal-Opportunity Objectification

What, you may ask, possums, does the world's number-one soccer player, Portugal's own Cristiano Ronaldo, have to do with the world of food?

To this, we have one thing to say: Just try finding a picture of a male chef or food-world professional with his shirt off. Just try.

To this, Miss XaXa has one thing to say: "Who doesn't know just how good Portuguese sausage can be?"

She means, of course, linguiça. "Besides, look at those summer melons."


Amuse-Biatch Photoessay: An Idol-Rich Episode?

Possums, call us crazy, but was that "American Idol" Fantasia Barrino on the three-hour cruise? Think of it, an episode with two fantasias (the other being Hung Huynh's Smurf village)....

Miss XaXa, of course, had a different take. "First Christopher Ciccone, now Fantasia. This is the season of the Has-Been."

Treyf Fetishist Ilan Hall Homeless and Living on Animal Skins

Our pal Sabrina of YumSugar sent us word of a serendipitous encounter with Ilan Hall at the Cynthia Rowley fashion show. Among the highlights:

FabSugar: What did you have for breakfast?
Ilan Hall: I think I had baked chicken skin.
FS: What's your guilty pleasure food?
IH: Pork skin.
FS: All of the skins!

IH: I know, I know, I've got a fetish.
FS: If we opened up your fridge, we would find...
IH: Nothing, I'm homeless right now.

Oh such a kidder, possums. No doubt he's homeless in the same way that Jay McCarroll of Project Runway is homeless (didn't we read somewhere that he's bought a condo?), but isn't the whole pork skin thing going to make his nice, blogger-hating Jewish mother very unhappy?