Thursday, October 11, 2007

Pinking Shears in Pink Navy's Future

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

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

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

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

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

Dale Levitski Wuz Robbed!!!

















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

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

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

Possums, we have a tale to tell.

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

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

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

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

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Spoiler Alert!

Take heed West Coast possums! Spoiler ahead!

Spoiler Alert!

Warning! Warning!


















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

Hail Caesar: Hung Huynhs!!!*






















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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dale

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

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

Compare with this:

Hung

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


Casey

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

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

Amuse-Biatch Presents Crouching Possum, Hidden "Dragon"

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

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

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

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



Tuesday, October 02, 2007

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

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

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

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

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

Yum, where is that from?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You're welcome.

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

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

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

Herewith, our favorite bits:

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

[Clever chap, that one.]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amuse-Biatch Banner Year

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

So this is what a facelift feels like.

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

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

¡Gracias, Laz!

Monday, October 01, 2007

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

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

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

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

Besos and Breakfast at Tiffani's?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

However.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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
















Yes, possums, 'tis true.

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

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

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

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

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

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






















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