Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Exclusive! Amuse-Biatch In-House Paparazzo Watches for Ilan Hall's Return from SoBe





















Laz, Amuse-Biatch's in-house paparazzo, happened to be in South Beach, and managed to capture this shot of Top Chef winner Ilan Hall. Laz was unsurprised to find that Patek Philippe also makes its watches in "pimp style." We daren't hazard a guess as to how badly the "pimp style" watch, the other accessories, and the big-screen television have dented Ilan's post-tax winnings.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Arse & (Penthouse) Letters: New York Times Restaurant Critic Comes Out of the Closet, Provides Example for Ilan Hall

Well, we'd had our suspicions, of course, as had any sentient reader of The New York Times Dining & Wine section. But Frank Bruni, the Times' chief restaurant critic--currently embroiled in a feud with Jeffrey Chodorow (the impresario behind Social Hollywood, where Top Chef filmed the lunch held for Jennifer Coolidge)--appears finally to come out of the closet in his latest review, due to be published in tomorrow's paper, but available tonight online.

Mr. Bruni chooses a peculiar coming-out journey: a trip to review the steakhouse inside the Penthouse Executive Club. Yes, possums, as in Penthouse Letters. And so Mr. Bruni set out with a group of men for the fleshpots of the Far West Side. As he tells it:

We were strangers to such pulchritudinous territory, less susceptible to the scenery than other men might be, more aroused by the side dishes than the sideshow: underdressed, overexposed young women in the vestibule, by the coat check, at the top of the red-carpeted stairs up to the restaurant, on the stage that many of the restaurant’s tables overlook.

Mr. Bruni is greeted by a lissome lovely, who says that her name is Mahogany.

“Mahogany?” I said.
“Yes,” she purred.
I was getting my bearings. “Mahogany,” I asked, “do you know where you’re going to?”
She didn’t miss a beat, noting the reference, summoning the singer, and moving on to another of the dreamgirl’s hits. “I’m ... coming ... out!” she sang, waving her arms, wiggling her hips. Mahogany and I would get along just fine.


That's right, possums. Frank Bruni is exchanging Diana Ross cues with a hostess at the Penthouse Executive Club. This may indeed be the gayest exchange in the history of the English language, and we are immensely proud of Frankie.

Not that the review doesn't get gayer, and saucier:

And when one of her sorority sisters sidled up to us to pose a question not commonly uttered in fine-dining establishments — “Is there anyone I can get naked for?” — the response was silence. On this visit to Robert’s and on subsequent ones, I was derelict in my duty, failing to sample much of what the restaurant had to offer.
But the beef, I devoured — breathlessly, ecstatically.


Way to go, Frankie. Or, better yet, you go, girl. And should we ever have you over for drinks, we'll make sure the gin is Beefeater, or nothing at all.

Ilan Hall: Watch What Happens





















That, possums, is a Patek Philippe Aquanaut Luce small pure white quartz movement with date. Case in steel set with 46 Top Wesselton diamonds - approx. 0.58 carat. Tropical composite strap available in pure white. Water resistant to 60m.

Completely Heterosexual, South Beach-Bound Ilan Hall Proves That Pink Shoelaces and White Louis Vuitton Don't Make You Gay

Oh, possums, there are times when, sitting in our dank basements, we shake with a palsy of envy and rage, and this is one of them. Our boy Ilan Hall was spotted en route to heterosexual mecca South Beach spotting pink shoelaces, a white (!) Louis Vuitton belt with a candy-colored (!) logo, a Louis Vuitton duffel bag, and a white Patek Philippe watch encrusted with close to 50 diamonds and valued at over $10,000. All of this while we basement-dwellers must gnaw on raw turnips and try to forget our agoraphobia by trying to knock down the blessed. Oh, H.G. Wells, where art thou?

Actually, we have a more pressing question: Is the Louis Vuitton bag the same one The New York Observer spotted last week, and which Ilan tried to pass off as a Gucci, or is there a Gucci bag in addition to the Louis Vuitton? Inquiring gay minds (and Marc Jacobs) want to know.

Amuse-Biatch Legal Advice

Far be it from us to stir up trouble, but we've been wondering of late whether Padma Lakshmi might not have a colorable lawsuit against Mariah Carey, and the producers of Mariah's cinematic magnum opus, Glitter.

All of us, possums, suffered from Padma's odd vocal inflections and seeming befuddlement and watery moves. The more uncharitable attributed all of this to herbal essences, but we are starting to believe there may be another, better, explanation.

Of course, there might be a problem with the statute of limitations, and workers' compensation laws, and oh, dunno, medical evidence, but we are furiously theorizing that Padma's problems may stem from her work on Glitter, where she played Mariah's arch-rival, Sylk (that's her in the photograph, looking more lively than we've ever seen her).

You're probably too young to remember, possums, how John Wayne, Susan Hayward and Agnes Moorehead died from cancer after working on a film shot in Utah in a location downwind from where the military had tested several atom bombs. (In fact, out of 220 people who worked on the film, at least 90 died of cancer.)

Might not something similar have happened to our Padma on the set of Glitter? Just look at the photograph, and at the trailer for the film (sorry, possums, we couldn't bring ourselves actually to watch the movie). Padma appears about 31 seconds into the affair, and her appearance culminates three seconds later, in a cloud of fur and feathers, her hands on her hips, her bazooms out to here. You'll know what we mean.


Perhaps the surfeit of sequins and feathers did her in; a stray sequin or a renegade bit of marabou up her nose, into her brain and, lodged there, affects her speech patterns and coordination. The vivacious, bitchy, over-the-top, flamboyant, to-die-for Padma was replaced by a seemingly lobotomized femmebot.

And look at what happened to Mariah Carey after Glitter: a meltdown on MTV's TRL, trying to strip in public and live on-air. (Come to think of it, doesn't that resemble what Padma was trying to do with her outfits on Top Chef?) So if you have any medical expertise, please write in and let us know whether we might be on the right track.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Amuse-Biatch Relapse

Possums, we’re afraid that a solid week of sweetness and light was simply too much for us. The strain of having to say so many nice things so often and in such a short period of time simply took us over the edge. (And to those of you who wrote to complain that we weren’t saying anything nice at all, that it was all thinly veiled sarcasm and left-handed compliments, we say, with troubled mien, “O ye of little faith!”)

So yesterday morning we made a run for it. We broke out of the Rainbow Springs Gayhab facility through the window and high-tailed it to the nearest IHOP and ordered ourselves the Rooty Tooty Fresh ‘n’ Fruity, the absolute gayest thing we could find. Then we watched the Oscars, and that was truly our downfall.

And the moment when Melissa Etheridge accepted the Oscar for Best Original Song from Queen Latifah and Queen Lottafat (sorry, John Travolta), with Ellen DeGeneres still onstage—well, so much concentrated gayness simply overwhelmed our neurons, and the careful conditioning of Rainbow Springs went out the window, too. We began playing “Spot the Lesbian” (Jodie, possum, those shoulders!) Our every extremity began to tingle when Jennifer Hudson outsang and outracked Beyoncé (heck, she could outrack Betty “Spice Rack” Fraser). We got verklempft when Marty won for Best Director.

That’s it, possums. We’re never going back to Rainbow Springs. If they want to take us back, it will take more than butterfly nets. They’ll have to take us out feet first, and in a gold lamé “straight jacket.” Sorry, Teacup Kitten and company. And hey, hey, possums, the Amuse-Biatch is back.


Chat on a Plate: Puffery Pastry Edition

It's Monday once again, possums, and we have the perfect bloody Mary for your Oscar hangover. Join us for tonight's edition of Chat on a Plate, co-hosted by The Gals and Ms. Place. We will welcome competitive swimmer, pastry chef, and sexpot de crème Marisa Churchill for lively, free-ranging (but well-behaved, possums!) chat about leechee v. liechee, what it takes to be a pastry chef, kouklas, and huckleberry compote. Bring your bustier and goggles, possums, and join us as 7 p.m. Pacific, 10 p.m. Eastern.

Friday, February 23, 2007

The Last Day of Sweetness & Light: Padma Lakshmi Shows Us How to Be Easy & Exotic

Possums, it is here at last, and none a moment too soon, the last day of our week-long experiment with sweetness and light.

Naturally, we've saved our sweetest and lightest for last--ladies, gentlemen, and possums, we present Ms. Padma Lakshmi.

Now, take at look at the cover of Ms. Lakshmi's cookbook, Easy Exotic. Our old, pre-gayhab selves would have had a field day with the title, but our newly sweet and light selves say, "Brava! Padma is definitely exotic. And she's easy...on the eyes!" See how that works? Our old selves would have made much of the patently phallic "stem" surging from the bunch of bananas toward Padma. Our new selves simply note how the curve of the stem echoes the curve of her lovely shoulder. Our old selves would have wondered about the artfully dissembled scar. Our new selves say, "Scar? What scar? Padma is immaculate."


Now take a look at this other photograph. Our old selves would have wondered if she was wearing a brassiere and noted that it must have been very cold where the photograph was taken. Our new selves use the photograph as an opportunity to highlight Padma's recipe for curried butternut squash soup, a soup that eats like a meal, especially for the woman with an always keen appetite and who, to judge from the list of ingredients, is a fan of herbs (and spices). We include the recipe below, but you can watch Padma make the soup with Martha Stewart, a pairing of curry and cream if ever there was one:

Curried Butternut Squash Soup
Serves 6 to 8

1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup diced shallots
3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup minced fresh peeled ginger
4 bay leaves
1/2 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 1/2 pounds Butternut Squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into chunks
1 1/3 teaspoons coarse salt
1 teaspoon curry powder
2 cups homemade or canned, store-bought low-sodium chicken stock, heated
One 1-inch chunk palm sugar (available in Asian grocery stores)
One 15-ounce can low-fat coconut milk
Freshly chopped chives, for garnish
Fresh curry leaves, for garnish

1. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add shallots and cook, stirring, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic, and continue to stir; add ginger. Continue cooking until shallots are soft and translucent, about 3 minutes. Add bay leaves and red pepper; continue cooking for 1 minute more. Stir in squash, salt, and curry powder; cook for 10 minutes.

2. Raise the heat to medium-high, and add chicken stock. Cover, and bring to a boil. Immediately lower the heat, and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring and mashing every 5 minutes. Add the palm sugar and cook for 5 minutes. Add the coconut milk and continue cooking for 10 minutes.

3. Remove bay leaves from soup. Using an immersion blender or in batches using a bar blender, purée until smooth.

4. Reheat soup, seasoning with salt. Garnish with chives, and serve immediately.

Treat yourselves to this soup, possums, and let it warm your insides in the same way that, we hope, our week of sweetness and light has warmed you.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Sweetness & Light Thursday: Amuse-Biatch "Accentuates" the Positive











Oh, go on, possums, you knew this was coming.

Oh, possums, never have we been so glad to see a Thursday. Just one more day of sweetness and light! Britney, gurl, we know how you feel. Many is the time we've been tempted to flee Rainbow Springs, when the demons of biatchery have beset us, but keep your Promises, Brit-Brit, and Promises will keep you.

At any rate, this being Sweetness & Light Week, we come here not to bury but to praise. We start with our charmingly accented Elia Aboumrad. Not only is she possessed of delightful accent, she also is a trendsetter and a fashion leader. If Elia hadn't done it first, there is no doubt in our minds that Britney would not have done it. Amuse-Biatch, Perez Hilton, Us Weekly, TMZ, Kevin Federline, KFed's attorneys, Lindsay Lohan--we all owe you a debt of gratitude, Elia. Not only that, you also offered Britney, who is near your age, the perfect defense. As you said, if you don't shave your head now, when? Also, your wig is much better than Britney's.


Ah, there. We feel not only sweeter, but so much lighter, almost as if we'd shaved our heads.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

A Bounty of Sweetness and Light! More Positive and Truthful Comments About the Cheftestants from a Recovering Amuse-Biatch

Uh, give us a minute, possums; we'll think of something. We're thinking, we're thinking. Ah yes, Michael Midgley has great skin! Um, and navy's a good color for him. And he apparently believes in hydrating at the beach, which is so important. And is that Mugu Rock in the background?


Um, let's see. Sam "Samuel! Samuel!" Talbot is...tall, yes, he's tall. And he has a solid English surname. And he's from a beautiful state, North Carolina. And his knives are sharp. And he likes dogs. And he likes sepia tones. And he likes Air Supply, as he appears to have chosen "All Out of Love" as the theme song for his MySpace page. Let's see, anything else? No? Alright, then, that should do it.

Top Chef Ilan D. Hall Joins the Amuse-Biatch Crusade to Bring Back Sweetness and Light, Gucci Handbags

It is Ash Wednesday, possums, and we were ebullient and uplifted (in that Cross Your Heart, 18-hour way) after early-morning services (we wore our charcoal YSL turtleneck in order to match the ash daubed on our forehead, but our brow was equally touched with sweetness and light).

Taking a gander at the salmon-colored pages (well, Miss XaXa says they're more pink than salmon, but pink sounds so, like, gay) of The New York Observer, and relieved that there was no article by Simon Doonan to test our post-Rainbow Springs sobriety, we were about to turn to the irreproachably heterosexual Andrew Sarris' column, when we came across a tidbit on Top Chef Ilan D. Hall, who, just in time for the paschal season, shows himself appropriately repentant, humble, and full of the new spirit of sweetness and light.

The author describes running into "an expensively but hiply dressed man in a wool-knit beanie cap, with a Louis Vuitton bag the size of a 4-year-old child" who turned out to be none other than "Top Chef conquistador Ilan D. Hall. "

After congratulating our beloved Ilan on winning, the author decided to compliment the indubitably heterosexual Ilan on his sac à main:

"Nice bag, Gucci?"

"Yeah." But it looked very Louis Vuitton.

"Look at you, buying Gucci bags right and left," The Transom gushed.

"No, it's old." But it looked very new.

We got into the elevator, The Transom first. "So what's going on with Cliff? He's not in jail is he?" Cliff is Cliff Crooks, who was ejected from Bravo for getting rough with contestant Marcel Vigneron's gorgeous mane.


"Nah, he's in his restaurant, he's doing really well," Mr. Hall said.

"Yeah!" said The Transom, angling for another high five. "That dude actually probably deserved to get his head shaved."

Then things got hot: Mr. Hall furrowed his epicurean brow. "He deserved more than that." Snap!

Already we feel sweeter and more light.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Amuse-Biatch Is As a Kitten in a Teacup


Amuse-Biatch Sweetness and Light Week, Tuesday Edition: Worshipping the Golden Calf, No Bull














We begin our week of sweetness and light with this sweet photograph of Marcel Vigneron and Top Chef Ilan Hall on the beautiful beach in our nation's newest and most beautiful state, Hawai'i. We were particularly touched by this seaside agape, this brotherly and entirely unambiguous breaking of bread and sea urchin.

We were also struck by how shapely and well-developed Ilan's calf is, how perfectly proportioned, the hint of striated muscle at the knee, and, of course, the well-turned ankle. No fatted calf for a real Top Chef. Ilan's are the limbs of a Greek kouros, and correspond to the Classical notion that beauty is reflective of virtue. Ilan's fitness to be Top Chef is thus manifested in the fitness of his calf.

Lest we fall into the Biblical sin of worshipping the golden calf, we hasten to add that our admiration is completely heterosexual. Ours is a judgment based on objective analysis of undeniable pulchritude. In other words, we're so, like, comfortable with our sexuality that we can say another straight guy has nice legs without being, like, all gay about it. And anyone who thinks ill of it is just a perv, and not going with the spirit of sweetness and light, and that's not the kind of reader we want on this blog.

Amuse-Biatch Emerges from Gayhab to Make Amends, Inaugurates Week of "Sweetness and Light"

As you know, possums, we have been spending some time of late at the Rainbow Springs Gayhab, and it was with some excitement that we looked at our correspondence over the weekend, eager to have news and support from the outside world.

Instead, we found this letter from a longtime fan, who writes to us periodically:


Just wondering if anyone told you today that you have no talent. If not, let me be the first.

Come on losers...how about some personal information? Maybe something like who you write for. Oh, that's right. You can't get a paying gig. That's ok. Just keep trashing people in anonymity and continue to live in obscurity. I think that's best for everyone concerned.

Have a spiteful day!

In addition to this fine and cheering note written from banjovial888@yahoo.com, our ironically anonymous fan also left this comment:

The "authors" of this site are perfect representations of the little kids who got picked on who grow up with chips on their shoulders, lashing out at anyone more skilled, successful or recognizable than they are.

My assumption is that after being rejected by legitimate media sources, they instead chose the anonymity of a blog to spit their venom. And such arrogance!

At least we can rest easier knowing their audience is so small to render their diatribes harmless. Except of course to those they are harming with their words. No matter how thick a person's skin is, no one likes to feel hated. Although something tells me these insignificant "writers" would rather by hated than ignored.

Well no more hate for me...it's time to ignore. Maybe they'll go away and leave the writing to real professionals.


Now, possums, our old, unenlightened selves would have focussed on the grammatical and typographical errors, and speculated about the identity of this anonymous fan who puts so much stock in "real professionals" writing and who once signed herself, "Mom."

But not our new selves. No, sirree. Frightened by the possibility that anonymous fans such as this one might indeed ignore us, we looked deep within our hearts and realized this fan might just have a point. Accordingly, we have resolved to have a whole week of what, if memory serves, Audrey Hepburn referred to as "sweetness and light" in Roman Holiday. All week long, we will say only nice, positive, completely heterosexual things. From now on, we are all kittens and goodness. Cross our newly lightened hearts.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Chat on a Plate: "Cleveland Rocks" Edition

Monday may be chefs' day off, but they're "on" with the Gals, Ms. Place and us.

Tonight's live "Chat on a Plate" will be with Otto Borsich, and will take place between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. Eastern time.

Some members of Otto's family will also be present, so keep it clean, possums. Leave all the pirate-like wenchin' and pillagin' stories for another time. We'll see you there.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Padma Lakshmi Re-Animated!


She talks at normal speed! She giggles! She wears dark lipstick! She's Padma, and you'd better watch out, because this time, she's speaking softly and carrying a big curling iron.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Amuse-Biatch Watches Morning Television at Gayhab As Ilan Hall Shows FOX His Coq

What Valentine's Day would be complete without our beloved, entirely heterosexual adjudged Top Chef winner, Ilan Hall, appearing on Fox's Republican-but-randy morning show? That's The Morning Show with Mike and Juliet, the guilty pleasure about which The New York Times television critic wrote:

He’s smarmy. She’s contrived. He leers at girls like an old stage ham. She talks about freezing her eggs and getting her breasts done. Together they’re Mike Jerrick and Juliet Huddy, Fox’s new morning pair, who use their unholy chemistry to pervert the breakfast hour on “The Morning Show With Mike and Juliet.” We owe these two a warm, warm welcome.

We know what morning shows look like on the networks accused by conservatives of liberal bias, but a morning show produced by Fox is more mysterious. Will it just be a last stop for “American Idol” rejects? Can we expect hair-care demos from Hannity and Colmes?

Surprise. In its more than three weeks on the air, “The Morning Show” has opted, above all, for creepy prurience.

And, well, Ilan's appearance did not disappoint. It was smarmy, and contrived, and creepy, and a little bit prurient. Ilan, sporting an increasingly porcupine-like "mulhawk" and apparently having ditched the multiple-wristwatch fad he blames on Suyai, appeared to teach ole Mike and Juliet how to make coq au vin. He sounded gayer than we've ever heard him before, but then our counselor here at Rainbow Springs Gayhab in the Hollywood Hills pointed out that we were spewing homophobic invective, and we felt mightily guilty for setting back our sobriety.

Fortunately, this being Fox, such unpleasant thoughts of gayness were not allowed to linger, and we were treated to a live appearance by... Ilan's girlfriend! Carolina! Yay!

Ok, that was our best Kermit the Frog impression. We have to sit down for a minute now.

And she talks! And she breathes! And wouldn't you know it, they conveniently started dating on Valentine's Day a year ago. Awwwww.

Watch for yourselves as perky blonde Juliet, relieved that no Frenchy-named, molenukewler gastrowhatchamacallit contestant took the prize, trills to Ilan, "Thank God you won! Thank God you won!"

Thrill as Ilan presents her with a gift, a framed picture of himself! Share our pain in gayhab as we struggle not to yell at the television, paraphrasing a Top Design contestant, "How can you argue with a narcissist?"! Delight in how quickly the girlfriend trope is trotted out! Wink virtuously as Carolina admits she's never had Ilan's coq, and Juliet invites her to sample it! Laugh "Rapturously," "Left Behind-edly," and no-land-for-peacefully as Ilan takes the sprinkling of kosher salt to remind the faithful base that he is Jewish, you know, like, from Israel! Shiver with naughty delight at Shriner-style ribaldry as Mike talks about chicken sucking up sauce! Sigh heteronormatively as Mike tries desperately to get Ilan married!

It's a belated valentine from us to you, possums.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Amuse-Biatch Shares Its "VD" with You -- Valentine's Day, That Is






















Normally, we hate Valentine's Day, mostly because of all the people who say "ValentiMe's Day." However, this year is different, because we got a Valentine's Day card from reader Dianna, and we are only too happy to share it with you. And look, Mrs. Hall, proof that Ilan is straight!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Amuse-Biatch Cocks Its Eyebrow as "Top Chef" Contestants Discuss Female Curves and Swollen Appendages












Just in time for Valentine's Day, Rob, ahem, Baedeker of Forbes Traveler, brings us an article on the most romantic restaurants in America, as picked by contestants from both seasons of Top Chef, and in which the contestants provide food for thought on the subjects of romance, sexiness, and Annie Oakley's trigger finger.

As always, we bring you the cherce bits, seasoned with our gratuitous commentary.


“I’m a sucker for a sunset,” says Harold Dieterle, winner of "Top Chef" season one. And to soak up the day’s last rays over a romantic meal he recommends The Beacon restaurant in Sag Harbor, New York. Dieterle warms to this venue’s top-notch cuisine, “rustic” ambience and magnificent view of the harbor. For even more rustic charm he recommends the Saddleridge Restaurant in Beaver Creek, Colorado, where “old-school Western antiques” like Annie Oakley’s gun lend a meal the romance of the frontier.

Um, we love you, Harold, and you may, indeed, be one of the coolest straight men we've ever encountered, but taking a woman on Valentine's Day to a place named Sag Harbor or Beaver Creek seems a little cruel (should I get plastic surgery?) or overeager (is that all you think about, wading in my beaver creek?). And Annie Oakley? Totally a dyke. Just ask Calamity Jane.

Unblushingly, though not surprisingly, Marisa Churchill favors "finger foods" from, er, The Slanted Door.

Stephen Asprinio, winner of the Duh Award, and amusingly described as a "young chef-entrepreneur" (what, is "sommelier" no longer every other word he utters?), preaches the importance of sexiness. “This sexiness can be expressed through a multitude of design elements, such as a chair shaped to resemble the curves of the female body, or captivating color schemes within a particular décor.” Dude, that's the gayest thing we've heard since Ilan last opened his mouth to talk about his girlfriend. On the other hand, we might be wrong, and it might be the case that straight men consider "captivating color schemes" and think of an Eames chair as a metonymic vagina.

Betty "Spice Rack" Fraser tries to make a sexy pun that falls flat, if you will, telling us that a Valentine's Day meal should include “bold flavors that will excite, if you will, the taste buds....”

Andrea Beaman argues for a Valentine’s Day meal, since “[o]ver-seasoned food can make the diners retain water, and swollen hands, feet and eyes are not conducive to romance....” We can, however, think of other swollen appendages that are conducive to romance.

In the Depths of Its Dark, Dank Basement, Amuse-Biatch Rests Its Chin on Its Fist and Mutters, "Hmmmmmm."

It so happens, possums, that from time to time, a stray comment will jog our addled, prosecutorial memory, and then we like to play compare and contrast. To wit--

Compare & Contrast No. 1

From the January 17, 2007, blog of Top Chef executive producer Shauna Minoprino, discussing Clippergate:


1. We allowed the chefs to have a camera because one of them had asked for one because it was their last night and they wanted to mess around and have some fun. I think we all expected them to film themselves doing impressions of Tom and Padma and some of the producers (that's what usually happens and it makes for fun extra content for the Bravo website).

From adjudged Top Chef winner Ilan Hall's interview with Epicurious.com:

Epi: Were there any scandalous or funny moments that didn't air?

IH: There was a scene in the house where we all imitated Padma and Tom and created a cook-off at a fake judge's table. And I think Mike was edited too much; he's hilarious on the show but he's a lot funnier in person. I'm sure they had to because his humor is a bit dirty.


Now this is going to be a bit of an "iffy" chain, so bear with us.

If producer Minoprino is to be believed, the cheftestants were given a video camera on the last night of filming before the finals with the expectation that the contestants would do impressions of Tom and Padma. It seems reasonable to assume that the producers were hoping for that kind of footage because it did not exist at that time, i.e., prior to that last night, the night Ilan and Elia shaved their heads. However, there is no indication from Minoprino as to whether such footage was ever obtained.

But, if Ilan is to be believed, that footage does, in fact, exist. So we wonder, was that footage filmed that same night of the long clippers, and if so, why hasn't it turned up as "fun extra content for the Bravo website"?

Because if it's true that the footage exists, and it wasn't filmed the night of Clippergate, then the producer's stated rationale for giving the cheftestants a video camera would seem not to make sense.

Is one of them not telling the truth? That conclusion we leave to you, ladies and gentlemen of the dark-basement jury.


Compare & Contrast No. 2

From the same Epicurious.com interview of Ilan Hall:

Epi: Anything you regret saying on camera?

IH: After the show was aired, Bravo showed me doing an imitation of Harold, who won the year before. They kind of cut it up differently; they made me say something nasty, it was a fragment of a sentence.

Epi: That one-liner generated some nasty blog posts, huh?

IH: It's all positive. Even when people say negative things toward me. It's all good for me. Especially in New York, I'm getting so much positive support. Most of the heat is coming from the same 300 people that blog on every blog site. I can't let it bother me. My girlfriend said, 'Doesn't it bother you? People are saying nasty things about you.' But it doesn't, you can't get upset by that.


From Ilan Hall's suspiciously well-written February 11, 2007, "interview" that he "phoned in" to Newsday's Sunday Opinion editor:

They kept me saying some nasty things and cut away some nice things, because they wanted to make it more compelling to watch. But they never put words in my mouth. What you saw on TV was me, just an edited me.

Compare & Contrast No. 3

From Ilan Hall's February 11, 2007, "interview" with Newsday:

I didn't feel self-conscious during the filming, but you always know the camera is there. Sometimes you can find ways to sneak around it. The other finalist, Marcel, was a master at avoiding saying nasty things on camera. When we saw the show on TV, we thought, "What about all the stuff he said the second the camera turned away?"

From the February 12, 2007, live chat hosted by The Gals, Ms. Place, and Amuse-Biatch:

Carlos Fernandez confirmed that contestants are required by producers to wear their body microphones at all times, even when they go to the bathroom.

And so, if Ilan is to be believed, and Marcel did make comments the second the camera turned away, the body mike would presumably have captured those comments. As we remember from Lycheegate, Bravo has no compunction about using voice-overs, so why wouldn't Bravo similarly use these "nasty things" Marcel said? Again, ladies and gentlemen of the dark basement, it's all up to you.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Completely Heterosexual Otter Ilan Hall Gets Real About Reality & Epistemology, Falls Prey to Fideo-Eating "Hyperbola" Virus














In a companion piece to his mother's editorial on why people care so much about reality television and how unjustifiably mean people were to her baby boy, Ilan Hall talks to Newsday about: keepin' it real, how we can ever know what reality is, how Frank Terzoli's quest to promote cheeseball Italian stereotypes extended to singing opera on the set, how Michael "Beer Bong" Midgley gave the Roseanne Barr treatment to "The Star-Spangled Banner," the politics of the ladies' room, his bad reputation on the blogosphere, Marcel's sneakiness, and how (in hyperbole that would do the Bravo marketing department proud) the Bravo editors are like Michelangelo (who, of course, was straight). Here, as always, the cherce bits:

It's interesting to see what the editors decide to keep or leave out. There was a whole thing in the first episode of "Top Chef" where Michael got into an argument with Frank for singing opera. They made an agreement that if Michael would sing the entire national anthem perfectly, then Frank would stop singing. Michael is a natural comic and doesn't have the softest voice in the world. It was hilarious. We thought it would be entertaining for us as potential viewers, but it was never used.
...

[The editors] create situations that make you seem a little more conniving than you actually are. They don't show entire conversations that would explain why you are reacting in a certain way. They will cut out encouragement or instigation from other contestants. But I would say the editors' work is like Michelangelo's. He felt that the final sculpture was already inside the stone, and his work was to bring it out. The editors are polishing off bits they feel are unnecessary. They are sculpting this world from many hours of shooting.

...

They kept me saying some nasty things and cut away some nice things, because they wanted to make it more compelling to watch. But they never put words in my mouth. What you saw on TV was me, just an edited me. I didn't feel self-conscious during the filming, but you always know the camera is there. Sometimes you can find ways to sneak around it. The other finalist, Marcel, was a master at avoiding saying nasty things on camera. When we saw the show on TV, we thought, "What about all the stuff he said the second the camera turned away?" The portrayal of him is what he wanted it to be. Viewers think he's a little annoying, but he's really much more difficult to get along with.

Amuse-Biatch Emerges from Its Homophobic, Agoraphobic, Misanthropic, Camera-Shy, Envy-Ridden Dark Basement to Admit It Has a Problem

This fine Sunday morning, we sat in the bright sunlight streaming in through the French windows here at Withering Depths, lost in what poet Wallace Stevens termed "complacencies of the peignoir," and looked up as our houseboy Agador, clad only in his habitual marabou thong (well, after the split from Helen Hunt, Hank Azaria had to find work, and we were only too willing to oblige), brought us our glass of soursop-and-blood-orange juice and our stack of morning papers.

Imagine our delight when, flipping through the pages of that fine Long Island institution, Newsday, we came across an
editorial written by Mrs. Rita Hall, mother of Top Chef victor Ilan Hall. Mrs. Hall, who happens to work at Newsday, wrote a trenchant analysis of reality television, and described her own reactions to watching Top Chef:

What I didn't expect was how much I believed what I saw and how much friends who have known Ilan since he was little reassessed their opinion of him, good and bad, based on the edited version of reality that they saw weekly on the small screen. And how just as involved - though utterly presumptuous and cruel - the viewers in the blogosphere can be.

"Utterly presumptuous and cruel?" we queried of the cryptically-monikered Miss XaXa, as she looked at us through her sunglasses and cocked her Hermès-scarf-swathed head at us.

"That sounds about right," said Miss XaXa, interacting with us. "How very well-put."

We sat back, pleased with our human interaction, and resumed reading.


And what of the anonymous souls who spent so much time discussing and disparaging a person they would never meet and who would have no effect on their lives? Cryptically named writers jumped to wild unsubstantiated conclusions and, despite having slavishly watched each episode, made charges and claims that belied what they had seen:

Ilan doesn't deserve to win. (He won more elimination rounds than anyone and was in the group judged the worst only once, far fewer than anyone.) He's gay. (This homophobic invective didn't bother Ilan except that he has a girlfriend and he said so.) What was with the head scarf? (He covered his head for continuity; he changed his hair at the end of filming and they needed to insert interviews into previous episodes when his do was different.) Why the sunglasses in bed? (To avoid the morning onslaught of the bright lights and cameras that was their wake-up call.) Ilan is the bad guy. (In an ongoing conflict with fellow contestant Marcel, bloggers largely sided against Ilan, even though, over 13 weeks, almost every chef had a dispute with Marcel.)Why were they so interested? So certain of their impressions?

I can only imagine that cabin-feverish loners sitting in dark basements envy and loathe reality-TV stars. Reality TV provides a chance for previously anonymous Everymen to become well known. The blogosphere allows people who previously had to interact with other people to bloviate anonymously. How frightening the cameras would be for them. And how they must hate people who live with live cameras so easily.

First of all, Mrs. Hall, it's not a basement. It's a tastefully appointed subterranean lair. Or at least that's what the realtor told us.

And speaking of euphemism, "he changed his hair at the end of filming"?!? But we understand, Mrs. Hall. You're a mother, and we know that if we'd had a mother, it also would have been difficult for her to write, "He shaved his head after instigating and videotaping an assault on Marcel that included an abortive attempt to shave Marcel's head."

But the homophobia? We're afraid we must plead guilty to that. When we, of all people, speculate that someone is gay, it most definitely is "homophobic invective." As soon as we file this post, we will be checking ourselves into the same gayhab that Isaiah Washington so recently and so successfully attended. In fact, while we're there, we're also considering the three-week counseling program that turned pastor Ted Haggard "completely heterosexual." It's the least we can do.

Still, the most valuable lesson to be extracted from Mrs. Hall's editorial is this: Mothers, don't let your babies grow up to be reality-show winners.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Chat on a Plate: Chulo Chef Chooses to Chew the Fat

Possums, it's time to put your thinking caps on. You have all weekend to mull over what questions you want to ask of our very own Chulo Chef, Carlos Fernandez of The Hi-Life Cafe.

Do you want to know what his favorite movie is? What would make him turn straight? (We suggest you not go there; Miss XaXa already tried and failed miserably, and if she can't turn a man straight, well, then there ain't no hope for anyone else). Or maybe you'd like to find out which cheftestant had the best butt? Or perhaps you want tips from Carlos and his partner Chuck on how to celebrate Valentine's Day?

Well, the man with the rose in his teeth will tell all, in a live chat this coming Monday, February 12, at 9:30 p.m. Eastern, co-hosted by The Gals of Top Chef 2: They Cook, We Dish and Ms. Place of Dishin' Dat. See you there.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Amuse-Biatch Beats a Dead Horse Good, and Raggaydy Andy Tackles the Whole Truth About the Paradoxical "Integrity" of Editing

In the latest edition of his daily blog, and in apparent response to viewer feedback, Bravo VP Raggaydy Andy Cohen once again tackles Clippergate, why there wasn't a reunion show, and how Top Chef became unbalanced:

The lingering question that y'all want to re-address is one that I answered on Watch What Happens several weeks ago, the Elia/head shaving question. On almost every show we do ... we condense material that takes place over hours and hours of time (like cooking and judges' table) into minutes. The night in question was no different and we did not alter the integrity of what happened, which is that Marcel was bullied. That was the focus of what occured that night and what led to Cliff's dismissal the next morning.

Another question that I have been asked a lot is why Marcel was not disqualified for tackling Elia on the beach. There is not a person on the production team who equated that with Cliff's incident with Marcel weeks later. It was plain frollicking by the beach between friends, which at that point they were.

In the big picture "listening to viewers" category, we are constantly striving to find the balance between the drama and the cooking, and many of you felt we didn't hit it right this season. It IS a show about cooking but it's always a tough call in the edit room when there is drama that is informing what's going on in the kitchen between the chefs. You feel we missed the mark on that BIG TIME and I hear that loud and clear.

One of several reasons we didn't do a reunion show this season was because of your feeling that the show was too negative and the drama too intense. See season one's reunion show if you want a refresher on how a cooking reunion show can turn into an episode of "Jerry Springer" and that will further clue you in about our thoughts this year. You weren't crazy about that show, either.

We have something much better planned for the chefs this year, so watch what happens for more on that!

Now, we're going to be serious for a few minutes, so just bear with us.

While we appreciate Raggaydy Andy's addressing the question more fully than before, if we may be so presumptuous as to offer advice, part of the problem may lie in the repeated use of the word "integrity."

Take a look at how Merriam-Webster defines it:

Main Entry: in·teg·ri·ty
Pronunciation: \in-ˈte-grə-\
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English integrite, from Middle French & Latin; Middle French integrité, from Latin integritat-, integritas, from integr-, integer entire
Date: 14th century
1 : firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values : incorruptibility
2 : an unimpaired condition : soundness
3 : the quality or state of being complete or undivided : completeness
synonyms see honesty


Now, when a thing is edited, it by definition lacks "integrity," because it is not whole or complete. But let's leave that aside for a moment. Instead, let's focus on what Raggaydy Andy says, namely, that Bravo "condense[s] material that takes place over hours and hours of time (like cooking and judges' table) into minutes." However, this, and the word "condense," seem to imply, at least to us, that the chronology of an event is preserved, e.g., if it takes a cheftestant two hours to bake a cake, the "condensation" may show it happening in two minutes, but it doesn't first show the cake being put in the oven and then the flour being mixed with the eggs. No matter how "condensed" the time, things are still shown in the order in which they occurred.

But, as we know all too well, this is not what happened in Clippergate. Bravo altered the chronology of events, and both Elia and Marcel have confirmed that Cliff and Ilan attempted to shave Marcel's head first and only after that attempt was unsuccessful did Elia and Ilan shave their own heads. And yet Bravo can't seem to admit that, and won't say, "Yes, we altered the chronology, and Elia shaved her head after the attack on Marcel." It really would be that simple. But that's what makes viewers angry, this unwillingness to own up to a clumsy lie after it has been exposed as such. And so, until Bravo comes clean or releases the "integral" video of that night, the repeated use of the word "integrity" will continue to be so jarring and ring so false.


Now back to frivolity, bitchery, and Padma Lakshmi's clothes.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Ilan Hall Pops Out with the Truth About His Cherry

In an interview with The New York Times, adjudged Top Chef winner Ilan Hall discussed his first encounter with an unknown cherry.

The Surinam cherry, that is, which, this being Ilan, turned out to be something quite different than what it seemed at first--not a cherry at all:

“It was one of the things that grew on the Big Island that was at the great market they brought us to,” Mr. Hall said in a telephone interview, referring to an outdoor farmers’ market the contestants visited. “It was the first time I had seen three-quarters of the things there.”

The Surinam cherry, which Ilan used in his dessert dish for the finale, turns out to be related to the clove and, according to Ilan, tastes “sort of cool and perfumey.” And Ilan “wanted to use it because it was so out of left field.” Hmmmm. Sort of like...never mind.

Clydesdale Horse of the Apocalypse Clip-Clops Down the Runway, Creates Novel Legal Defense for Demented Astronaughty Lisa Marie Nowak





















Call it a hunch, possums, but we get the feeling that whoever did Rachael Ray's hair and make-up to go with the unwisely chosen Donna Karan dress for the Heart Truth fashion show held last week doesn't much care for our oft-petted Clydesdale Horse of the Apocalypse. Ray, a television "hostess," cookbook "author," and, by the looks of it, a former linebacker, doesn't seem particularly comfortable as she does her little turn on the catwalk, you know what we mean?

Still, those stylist bitches backstage really did a number on her. Guerrilla bitches, we salute you for making her look embalmed, indeed, almost like a taxidermist's lemur. Talk about fashion roadkill. And to think we might have lived an entire lifetime without being subjected to the nipples of Rachael Ray's Reader-Proven Small Bazooms™.

Still, her whole Six Feet Under look has given us a brilliant idea.

As you may be aware, astronaut Lisa Marie Nowak (alas, doomed ab initio by her parents' choice of Christian names; as the only other famous Lisa Marie is surnamed Presley, need we say more?) has been charged with attempted murder in a James M. Cain-worthy plot in which she, according to The New York Times, equipped her car with "a compressed air pistol, a steel mallet, a knife, pepper spray, four feet of rubber tubing, latex gloves and garbage bags," and drove from Houston to Orlando while wearing a diaper, a trench coat, and a wig to confront her romantic rival at the airport.

Now, a U.S. Naval Academy woman with a master's degree can't simply content herself with ripping the weave off the bitch who is trying to take the affections of another astronaut whose gestures of common courtesy have been magnified into obsessive, stringy-haired amour fou. No, such a woman must needs douse her rival with pepper spray, and plot to kidnap and possibly kill her.

So what does Rachael Ray have to do with all of this? Well, we're getting to that, but it has nothing to do with adultery, or spitting, or lesbian prostitutes (at any rate, as far as we know).

Remember the mocked "Twinkie defense" (yes, we know it never really happened, and has been debunked, but bear with us), which was associated with Dan White, who gunned down San Francisco mayor George Moscone and gay martyr Harvey Milk? Well, it's just possible that space-high Lisa Marie might be able to use something of that concept here, and all thanks to Rachael Ray.

As we
reported in December, "NASA asked [Rachael Ray] to create meals for the space shuttle. Thai chicken was the favorite." Captain Nowak is a NASA astronaut, and in fact flew on the space shuttle last year, and was scheduled to work on an upcoming mission. Presumably she's been exposed to Rachael Ray's food as a result. So, we ask you, might she not legitimately assert a Thai Chicken Defense? Might not a Rachael Ray product have driven her over the edge? Might not the chicken dish, created by a woman who may well know what it's like to have her man's affections toyed with, have driven her mad so that she didn't know right from wrong? It's the M'Naughton rule in a delicate coconut-milk curry. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, when faced with this case, we ask you to spit. You must acquit.

In Time for Tonight's Episode, Amuse-Biatch Again Reminds You to Think "Pink"

In an homage to, and parody of, the legendary Diana Vreeland, Kay Thompson, creator of the Eloise books, asks you to think pink. Check out Pink Navy, possums, and see what a little amuse-biatchery applied to the seat cushions looks like.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Finding Out They Make Little Boys Gay, Hasbro Recalls Almost One Million Easy-Bake Ovens














Well, possums, we had a feeling there was a problem with those Easy-Bake ovens, and now some of them are being recalled.

The Associated Press begins its report thus:
"Lots of young girls have an Easy-Bake Oven, or have a friend who has one. Now, Easy-Bake Ovens that have been sold since last May are being recalled because a girl can burn her hands on them."

Awww. Isn't that cute? Isn't that droll? A girl can certainly make condescending jokes, can't she?

However, when discussing the recall of the toys, which (ding, ding, ding!) "are purple and pink and resemble a kitchen stove with four burners on top and a front-loading oven," the AP changes its tune a little. Now it is not just girls who are in danger of getting burned. Instead, "Hasbro says it has received 29 reports of children getting their fingers or hands caught in the oven's opening. Five children have been burned."

So it's children, is it? Not just girls? We demand to know: Just how many little gay boys have gotten "their fingers or hands caught in the oven's opening"? And how many have been burned? If a whole generation of little homos is dissuaded from cooking by traumatic experiences related to faulty Easy-Bake Ovens, the whole future of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia could be at risk.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Tray Chic Padma Lakshmi Has a High Old Time, Tries for "Brownie" Points, on Jimmy Kimmel

Chicago Strikes Back: Bravo Crackhead Maureen Ryan Demonstrates Knife Technique on Padma Lakshmi

Normally, Chicago Tribune television critic Maureen Ryan is a benevolent, quasi-Kabbalistic observer and lover of things Bravo, Project Runway in particular.

Not so much for Top Chef, especially when it comes to host Padma Lakshmi. In an
article from yesterday entitled, "'Top Chef' lacks the right recipe and list of ingredients," Ryan goes Chi-town on the Lakshmi posterior:
- The preening, pouting Padma Lakshmi is possibly the worst, most inept TV host of all time (with the exception of the comically wooden Season 1 "Top Chef" host Katie Lee Joel). How does Lakshmi manage to combine simpering self-regard with an almost complete lack of talent? I just don't know. I guess that's a skill of some kind.
Not bad for a first try, Maureen, possum. Just keep sharpening those knives for Season Three.

Amuse-Biatch Homoerotic Super Bowl Ad of the Week

What is it about chocolate, men and cars? First it was the Oreo ad with the two cops, and now this. The Christian fundies assert that soy beans make you gay, but now they may have to worry about chocolate, too, and Hershey, Pennsylvania, could become the new Key West.


Friday, February 02, 2007

Ilan Hall Tries to Earn His Straight-Boy Street Cred by Calling His "Girlfriend" Fat

Silver-tongued smooth operator and newly queened, er, crowned Top Chef Ilan Hall, winks and clicks his tongue at Entertainment Weekly as he gives them the skinny on being a former fatboy, exposes his "girlfriend"'s eating habits, and demonstrates a surprising amount of adjectival self-awareness. As always, the cherce bits:

Did you think you guys were portrayed accurately?
Yeah, absolutely. You can show a limited amount of things from so much footage, but I think our personalities came through.

Have you been getting more hate from fans, or more love?
I'm getting a lot of love. I'm getting a lot of hate on the Internet, but to my face, everybody's been really nice to me.


So you're keeping up with things on the Internet, then?
I mean, people send me things. My friends send me things here and there. What can you do?

...

Do you cook for your girlfriend?
Yeah, I do.

Does she do any cooking?
No, not really. She just eats a lot.

How did she feel about having a third of the restaurant that you, Mikey, and Sam created for that elimination challenge named after her?
She was very honored, and then upset with me when she found out that it failed.


[Miss XaXa's reaction: "Nice try, honey. I'll look for the 'topchef' screen name in the Water Sports chat room on Gay.com."]

...

Have you always been so skinny?
No. That's a funny question. No, actually. Toward the end of elementary school and through junior high school, I was quite heavy.


...

Have you ever done anything risqué while on the line, Kitchen Confidential-style?
[Laughs] I'm not gonna tell you that...

Okay then, a few quick-fire questions for you: Favorite protein?
Pompano fish.

Favorite fruit?
I don't know — these are hard! Honey crisp apples
?

[Stop, E.W. You're killing us. We need to get our eyes checked, as when we first read the answer to his favorite protein, we saw the word "Pompadour fish," and immediately thought of Marcel. As for his favorite fruit, before we could say anything, Miss XaXa broke in soothingly, "Let it go, baby, let it go. It's too easy, even for you."]

...

Describe your style of cooking in five words.
Simple. Salty. Clean. A little greasy. Is that five words?


[Well, other than clean, we think the self-portrait hits the nail right on the head. "Oh, I think he's clean," said Miss XaXa, "since Marcel said he used to spend forever in the bathroom."]

Radio "Liar"?: Selfless Sam Throws Pity Party, Demonstrates Sea Beans Give You Gas















Reader N.R. sent us this link to a lovely radio interview with Sam "I Am (Not That Guy)" Talbot, the charming, mature, and-oh-so-goodlooking-we-just-wet-our-panties-over-his-stubble-and-his-struggle-to-overcome-diabetes-and-sebaceous-hair-and-self-regard cheftestant on this season of Top Chef. Have a listen as Sam tells you the! truth! about! sea beans!, and reluctantly exposes the heartwarming fact that though his veins may be insulin-deficient, they nonetheless overflow with the milk of human kindness, charity and love, inasmuch as he wanted to function as Marcel Vigneron's sous-chef during the finale because he felt sorry for Marcel, and because Marcel, unskilled chump that he is, had real need of Sam's skills (pursed lips and interview-room sneering being essential to a five-course tasting meal), whereas Ilan would be just fine on his own.

Make yourself a cup of cocoa, put on your bunny slippers, clasp your Tickle Me Elmo to your palpitating poitrine, and prepare to sigh and swoon as iridescent soap bubbles of Karen Carpenter-scored sweetness pour forth from your computer speakers. But be careful, possums. The whole thing is so sweet, it might well send you into a diabetic coma.

Amuse-Biatch Looks Back More in Sorrow Than in Anger, and Weeps for All That Might Have Been














We were struck by several things in this photo, but first among them was this thought: Do you realize that this is the most animated we have ever seen Katie Lee Joel? It suggests delicious possibilities.

(Miss XaXa's first reaction was, "It's all a lie. Tyra Banks doesn't look like she's gained any weight.")

So what could have made the difference? Whom or what can we credit as Katie Lee Joel's Re-Animator? (Triangular little blue pills don't count.)

Let's see. She's holding a glass of what appears to be champagne, but booze was plentiful throughout the first season of Top Chef, so that couldn't be it. And the Gail Simmons allure of gimlet-eyed dominatrix with large bazooms and a McGill degree is the same as it ever was, so that couldn't be it. So what's different about this picture?

If you hesitantly said, "Um, the big black drag queen in red pleather on the right?" you are correct. Ding ding ding ding.

Now, if standing next to RuPaul made Katie Lee Joel this animated, think of what RuPaul could do for Padma Lakshmi. No matter how much Padma toqued up, RuPaul would set her straight, jolt her awake, guide her, dress her, Henry-Higgins her accent a little, and teach her how to walk in heels.

There are some who have petitioned to have Ted Allen as a mentor next season, and to this we would like to add a petition of our own:

RUPAUL FOR PADMA LAKSHMI MENTOR ON SEASON THREE.

Petition signing begins in the "Comments" section below.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Bruni-lleschi Breaks "Dome" of Silence Over "Top Chef" Finale

The New York Times' chief restaurant critic, Frank Bruni, is not one to leave his fans salivating for more of his purple prose stylings. And so, after yesterday's eyebrow-raising take on Top Chef (it's really about the food! ha!), he chimes in with his thoughts on last night's finale. As always, the cherce bits:

Could the phrase “Kenmore Pro Kitchen” have been used more frequently during the course of this season? Talk about a fruitful sponsorship deal! I think the whole situation plummeted to its nadir when the chef Tom Colicchio, addressing the final two contestants, worked the phrase into his comments.

...

Ilan’s selection of braised short ribs as one of the five courses in his big meal was disappointing. I love braised short ribs, but at last count, they were on 109,451 menus. And that’s in Manhattan alone.

I have to wonder how hard Marcel’s comrades worked on his behalf. It was clear that Betty and Elia were much more invested in Ilan, whom they were helping, than Sam and Michael were invested in Marcel, who chose them to stand and work at his side. Sam’s comments to the camera about the things that went wrong as Marcel prepared his last supper (for now) had a bit too much glee in them.

The arithmetic I did as the judges assessed each of the final two contenders’ five courses didn’t add up clearly to an Ilan victory. The way I heard the judges, Marcel’s first course trumped Ilan’s. Ilan’s second course trumped Marcel’s. Their third courses were a tie. Marcel won the fourth round, and the fifth — well, the diners who ate the meals didn’t make their preferences immediately clear.

That’s two for Marcel, one for Ilan and two in doubt, though, at the end, the judges seemed to tip that fifth course, dessert, in Ilan’s favor.

So why did Ilan come out on top?

From the Halls of Montezuma to the Shores of West Chelsea

















Go have a gander at PINK NAVY and see what the sailors have been doing with their fo'c'sle.

NBC Universal Family Turns On Itself Like Jim Carrey Hitting Himself in "Liar, Liar"

In a a surprising move reminiscent of Jim Carrey hitting himself in Liar, Liar (a Universal Pictures production), MSNBC, a subsidiary of NBC Universal, the parent company of Bravo, published a scathing online article today about Top Chef. You can read the article here, but we include some cherce bits for your delectation:
A hairy situation
The defining moment of the season came a few weeks ago when some of the remaining five competitors decided, after a night of drinking, to shave their own heads, and then shave Marcel's. At least, that's what viewers saw. After Ilan and Elia shaved their heads, Cliff woke Marcel, and as Ilan cheered him on, wrestled Marcel to the ground and held him in a headlock. As a result, Cliff was sent home for violating the show's rules.

That wasn't quite what happened, however. Careful viewers noticed that, in one of those scenes, Elia still had all of her hair, and was on the floor laughing as Marcel angrily stormed off. In other words, she and Ilan shaved their heads only after their attempted hazing of Marcel went awry. Editing the scene out of order seemed designed to protect the show's integrity, which was waning episode by episode as interpersonal conflict took over.

After the incident, the producers refused to allow head judge Colicchio to dismiss all four participants, like he wanted to do, and thus let Marcel win the competition by default. On his BravoTV.com blog, Tom wrote that "[p]roducers stepped in with a veto. Sending all of the chefs but Marcel home wasn't going to happen."

Of course, the departure of those four contestants would have prematurely ended the series on a low note. But it would have also been a fitting note, as the competition and cooking often fell away in favor of "Real World"-style immaturity and unnecessary drama packed with deceptive editing.

Less about food, more about drama
In its second season, "Top Chef" became more of a soap opera set on a reality show than a competition about cooking. Otto quit the competition after admitting to have taken food from a store that his team didn't pay for, although he did return it. Mia quit to save Elia from elimination. Michael used his budget for one challenge to buy beer for himself. All the chefs were spared elimination but put on probation after accusations of cheating during a challenge. Cliff was sent home for his part in hazing Marcel. Betty fought with Marcel. Frank fought with Marcel. Ilan screamed at Marcel. Elia accused Marcel of cheating but offered no evidence.

First Reaction: Good Sports, Bad Sports, and Water Sports














First, possums, our condolences.

Not to Marcel Vigneron, who lost the title of Top Chef to Ilan Hall, but to the poor Food & Wine intern who had to pull an all-nighter on Monday after the magazine accidentally published on its website an article profiling Ilan as the winner. The intern (and no doubt Gail Simmons as well, since she was quoted extensively) had to work in an atmosphere of panic and vitriol to write a dummy article about Marcel (several hundred words shorter than the Ilan article) so that the magazine could preposterously claim on Tuesday that it had prepared two articles in advance, one for each contestant, without knowledge of who the winner was.

Never mind the fact that the finale took place over a month ago, and that the magazine has known the identity of the winner for that long. Of course, the readers of Food & Wine and the viewers of Bravo must be credulous idiots, so what does it matter? The credibility of each "institution" remains absolutely pristine, untarnished and unbesmirched by the non-shenanigans that never took place. And if we may offer a bit of career advice to the poor Food & Wine intern: Kid, set your sights on Washington; you have a bright future in manufacturing evidence of non-existent WMDs. Or at the very least, see if Ruth Reichl will give you a job.

At any rate, back to the matter at hand.


The episode began with a beach side scene between Marcel and Ilan that was the falsest, most trumped-up thing we've seen since, well, since the Food & Wine "Marcel" story and the editing of Clippergate.

Sorry, we couldn't resist. How about this, then? That beach side scene between Marcel and Ilan was the most uncomfortable and staged beach side scene we've seen since Charlton Heston encountered the Statue of Liberty on the beach in Planet of the Apes (or since Charlton Heston and Stephen Boyd threw spears together in Ben-Hur; just ask Gore Vidal).


Strolling awkwardly along the Hawaiian beach, good sport Marcel (remember the "Korbel as fine champagne" show of good sportsmanship last week?) and Ilan might have been starring in a new version of Blue Lagoon (speaking of fakery, we are reminded of the story that Brooke Shields was such a bad actress that, in order to get her to simulate an expression of passion with any degree of conviction during the sex scenes, the director had to pinch her big toe out of camera range).

Marcel tells us that with such a beautiful view of the ocean, who could think about rivalries? Ilan, on the other hand, says that he would have enjoyed the beach more "with a beautiful woman." This had us rolling our eyes and pounding our wee fists in mirth against the moiré silk cushions. Honey, puh-leeze. The lady doth protest way, way, but way too much. (Confidential to Carolina: if "adam4adam.com" and "manhunt.com" appear on his web browser's history, don't say we didn't warn you.)

Marcel and Ilan reenacted the oyster-girl scene from Tampopo, but with a sea urchin, with Marcel opening the sea urchin and sharing the inside of its trembling, moist depths with Ilan for breakfast, in a scene that would have been booed off the screen in a French film as overly symbolic. Just how many ways can Bravo get those two to enact deflowering on camera? (Miss XaXa was reminded of Ilan's obsession with Marcel's virginity and cherry desserts when she heard the comment a fellow Southerner made to her boyfriend: "You can't have my cherry, but you can have the box it came in." Ilan might learn a thing or two from the wisdom of the South; in perhaps the nicest touch of the night--irony alert! paging Alanis Morissette!--he served cold, libido-lowering Surinam cherry sorbet for his dessert.)

Marcel, er, pricked his finger on another sea urchin, and was advised to "pee on it." Never a boy to miss an opportunity, Ilan queeries, "Marcel, would you mind if I peed on your hand?" 1.5 million gays (roughly 85% of Bravo's audience) turned in unison to grab a Kleenex (see? we do product placement, too) to dab at their eyes. You see, in Gaytopia, that's the equivalent of asking for his hand (though, of course, he should have been on his knees). Marcel turns him down, and Ilan tells us, "I would love to have peed on Marcel." Well, better luck next time, kid; Manhattan is full of men.

(It was nice to see Marcel take his shirt off; he certainly has nothing to be ashamed of, as he's quite a lithe little sea monkey. Since Ilan had talked on the pre-finale episode about doing sit-ups in order to prepare himself for the finale in Hawaii, we were hoping, nay, expecting, to see him take his shirt off to expose his washboard stomach. However, as with so much of Top Chef, our expectations were not to be met. In fact, Ilan looked as if he'd gained a double chin, so we suppose he never got around to those sit-ups. Maybe that's why Marcel wouldn't let Ilan pee on him; the gays are notoriously bitchy about their men gaining weight.)

At last it was time for the Return of the Undead, where PYKAG'd cheftestants are brought back to wreak havoc on, er, assist, the two finalists. The revenants were Michael "Beer Bong" Midgley, Mia Gaines-Alt, Frank "El Bully" Terzoli, confirmed whore Betty "Spice Rack" Fraser, Slippery as an Eelia Aboumrad, and Sam "Not That Guy" Talbot. Marcel, no fool he, picked Sam (no doubt because Sam is a diabetic). Ilan picked Eelia (who, he conceded, is a better cook than he). Refusing Frank's tempting plea to pick him so that he could knock Marcel's ego down and teach him how to talk to people (Frank, caro, Bravo is basic cable; HBO and The Sopranos are higher up the dial), Marcel accepted Sam's suggestion that he pick Beer Bong. And we groaned. Way to sabotage him, Sam. Nicely played. Sure, bring Typhoid Mary into the ICU. Ilan picked Spice Rack the Confirmed Whore.

And they cooked and served food (with Beer Bong forgetting to bring the fish and some orchids, and no doubt the eggs, too, and with Sam saying all manner of highly flattering things about Marcel, whom he dubbed "the kid," and Marcel shattering our ear drums a final time by pronouncing gelée as "jell-EE").

You might need to sit down for this, possums, but Ilan served a five-course Scottish menu inspired by his Scottish father. Oh, why did we even bother? Of course he served a Spanish menu using the recipes from his job at the Mario Batali-Andy Nussbaum tapas joint, Casa Mono. And Marcel served newly created dishes. So in the end, when Ilan won, it was--how can we put this in terms everyone will understand?--as if Jeffrey had won using Uli's designs.

At Judges' Table, the Undead Sous-chefs were questioned about who should win the title of Top Chef. Elia "(Ilan) Hall Hath No Fury Like an Obscenely Rich, Chocolate-Smearing, Defeatist Mexican Socialite Bitch Scorned" Aboumrad, despite not having tasted Marcel's food, went on a little tirade that would make Lucia di Lammermoor and Andrea "I Drowned My Five Kids in the Bathtub Because the Lord Told Me To" Yates seem sane. The judges had a good deal of fun playing with her. It was clear she had as much credibility by that point as Food & Wine and Bravo combined.

Of course, our paisana's meltdown is not entirely inexplicable. She seems to have an obsessive, perfectionist nature. Brought up in a rarefied world of extreme luxury in a country beset by overwhelming poverty, she misses making the Olympic swimming team by two seconds, gives up competitive swimming, finds cooking, takes every course at the Ecole Lenôtre, is hired by Joël Robuchon in Paris, travels to Las Vegas to help open Robuchon's first American outpost, trains a meringue-headed little punk named Marcel Vigneron to work at the Robuchon joint, then goes on a cooking competition with him where many of the other contestants hate the little punk, then shares a room with the two people who hate him most (first Spice Rack the Confirmed Whore, then Ilan), and then an attack on the little punk doesn't turn out as planned, and finally, to top it off, the little punk she trained beats her and goes to the finale.

We'd be pretty pissed, too. But Elia, querida, did you have to be so Telemundo about it? (Note that, loyal Bravo apologists that we are, we use Telemundo, a Bravo/NBC affiliate, rather than Univision, as a point of comparison.) In this brave, post-Ugly Betty new world of television, was it really necessary to confirm for American viewers the telenovela stereotype that upper-class Mexican women are eye-rolling, backstabbing crazy bitches? Is this what Thalia and Salma Hayek worked so hard for?

And then the two finalists talked to the judges. Blah blah blah. Ilan says he should win because he is more passionate and more forgiving. We were shocked by a snorting sound, until we realized it came from us.

Forgiving? Ah yes, so forgiving, in fact, that you instigated and participated in an assault and battery of your opponent, orchestrated accusations of cheating against him, said you wanted to piss on him and make him cry, and then relentlessly badmouthed him in the press after filming. Ah, Ilan, you are an inspiration to us all. No one can turn the other cheek quite like you. Your magnanimity, your charitable spirit, know no bounds. Forget Mother Teresa. Next we'll be finding images of you in cinnamon buns.

And then it's the moment of truth. For the life of us, we can't understand why Padma's lip was trembling and why she seemed on the verge of tears when reminding Marcel and Ilan that a Kenmore Pro kitchen was at stake. Other than an outfit and accessories that made her look like a cross between Pocahontas and G.I. Joe, nothing else about her stood out in the episode. (You're going to have to try harder in Season Three if you want to match the beach outfit from the Raphael Lunetta challenge, Padma.)

And then just like that, Ilan was declared Top Chef, and we declared ourselves exhausted and humorless.