Wednesday, April 30, 2008
This generally violates the rules of reality television, and left us, as you no doubt have noted, very little to work with. We are therefore turning to answer your queries and questions, possums, insofar as we are able.
Without further ado, then, let us turn to Possum Query #1: Is Stephanie Izard a lesbian?
Judging by the number of you who have inquired, the question has been weighing on your minds. Miss XaXa comes down firmly on the side of "nope, straight girl." We, on the other hand, are not so sure. Needless to say, we don't know, but all we can say is, Look at the evidence and decide.
Reading and writing about Casey "Beaver Boots" Thompson, and then turning our gaze to the current season's mostly lusterless roster of cheftestants, made us, we confess, ache with nostalgia for Season 3.
In fact, so dire is our nostalgia that we even began wondering about one of our all-time favorites, Brian "Asshat" MFMalarkey, who managed to combine Spike Mendelsohn's penchant for repellent headwear with Ryan Scott's prettiness, loquacity and smarm. Indeed, the fact that it takes two of this season's cheftestants to gather up the personality of one cheftestant from last season may say all that needs to be said.
Imagine our bliss, possums, when we discovered that MFMalarkey has started to post videos of himself on YouTube. One occasionally reads about drug users dying from taking heroin that is too pure and unadulterated, and we feared the same might happen to us after viewing this clip. It's all there--the not-to-be-believed hats, the loquacity, the smarm, the self-regard, the preposterous homoeroticism, and, as a bonus, a laugh so maniacal that it might have come from the very attic of Mr. Rochester's house in Jane Eyre. Enjoy!
Beaver Boots is back, possums, and how we've missed her.
Last season, as is our wont, we needled and teased and mocked Casey Thompson, but she had a good sense of humor and, after reading the blog, rolled with the punches. She definitely earned our respect and admiration, and was extremely gracious to (beaver) boot when our own Miss XaXa and The Big Shamu of The Karmic Kitchen went to Dallas and dropped in on her.
And now, in a new interview on Slashfood, Casey is, appropriately enough, doing a little slashing herself:
What do you think about this season of Top Chef? Are you watching?
I'm supposed to be blogging this season, but I have not have time. I've tried to sit down and watch the first couple shows. The third and fourth I could not get to. I was a little disgusted by their behavior. There are some really strong chefs but I also think there is a lot of riff-raff that they need to get through – those that don't seem to have the experience. They may have worked for some restaurant in New York City, but it may not have even been good. For some, I can't believe what they came up with, and I can't believe they haven't been eliminated yet. But I think that eventually once those clear out we are going to see some really good cooking from some of the better contestants.
Putting our Spelling Bee-atch cap on, we thought we detected a mistake. Isn't "riffraff" actually spelled "N-I-K-K-I C-A-S-C-O-N-E"?
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Amuse-Biatch Asks Raggaydy Andy, Ever So Gently and with Great Concern, “Is There Anything You’d Like to Tell Us?”
That is just how we felt when we read today's installment of Andy Cohen's blog:
Chris Hanson, the "To Catch a Predator" dude, interviewed me yesterday in my office about a piece he's doing about pervy TV executives. Just joshing, it's about a reality TV scam artist. Though I knew the topic, when I was sitting there across from him I was pretty sure I was going to get busted for something and that I would be escorted out of my office momentarily after the interview. I'm not guilty, I swear.
Raggaydy Andy, possum, qu'est-ce que c'est? You can tell us, go on. Of course, the mind boggles, but we wouldn't so much as blink if we heard an anecdote involving René Fris, the leftover ingredients from a Quickfire Challenge, and Michael Kors' shades. We promise.
On the other hand, as Miss XaXa put it, "I'd feel guilty, too, if I'd been caught wearing those shoes with that suit on The Real Housewives of New York reunion show."
Monday, April 28, 2008
Fear not, possums, mesdames, and mesdemoiselles. It's not quite what you think. Instead, as our pals at Eater found out, Sammy has been bragging because--get this--he finally got a job. He has, as Eater puts it, "signed on to run the restaurant at Jamie Mullholland's new surf shack in Montauk, Surf Lodge." So for those of you longing for Long Island or for watermelon with blue cheese, head on out starting Memorial Day.
Sunday, April 27, 2008
From Jennifer Biesty's interview with our pals at YumSugar:
YumSugar: [...]Other than having to leave, is there anything you'd do differently?
Jennifer Biesty: I kinda wish, okay, this is going to sound totally vain, but I wish I didn't wear my glasses.
From the most recent episode of Top Chef:
“Mojo is Cuban, so we’re going to throw a little bit of tequila in with our sauce.”
Friday, April 25, 2008
Possums, we were fans of Jennifer Biesty because of her general air of solidity and maturity, both in cooking and in temperament. However, we have just been reminded that not for nothing is her nickname "The Beast," and not for nothing does she have a shark's fin atop her head.
In her exit interview with our pals at Grub Street, she kicks a trashcan or two:
Did the judges make a mistake [Wednesday] night?
I really thought — especially with how [the judges] were talking about the Polish-sausage dish — that there was no way that we would go home, or I would go home. So their mistake? I don’t know — they make a lot.
What was your impression of guest judge Johnny Iuzzini?
He was kind of pompous and arrogant, really working the camera. Out of all the judges so far, he was the most disingenuous. He was really there more to get his face on TV than to actually be a judge.
In terms of the hairstyle, who pulls it off better: you or Richard?
Me. You can tell the difference between a $20 haircut and an $80 haircut.
What did we tell you, possums? Never piss off a lesbian. Still, we wonder: Can Richard fight a fauxhawk war on two fronts?
Yes, possums, there is actually a story to go with that photo. Following her split from Salman Rushdie, Padma Lakshmi was linked to Teddy Forstmann, a then-67-year-old Republican billionaire who had also dated Elizabeth Hurley and Princess Diana. (Fun tidbit: According to The Evening Standard, "American intelligence agencies were bugging Princess Diana's telephone over her relationship with a US billionaire,...tycoon Teddy Forstmann....").
At the time, the newspaper reports about Padma's new old man were denied, and it was claimed that if Padma and Teddy had been seen together, it was only because Teddy's company was doing licensing and endorsement deals for Padma. Then the ever-reliable Page Six reported that Padma was dating billionaire Adam Dell, as in, "Dude, you're getting a Padma."
And now, the still-ever-so-reliable Page Six is reporting that, no, actually, Padma is disporting herself with billionaire Teddy after all. From this story, it would seem that Teddy does indeed walk softly, but is he carrying a big stick? Teddy is 30 years older than Padma and seven years older than Salman Rushdie, prompting Miss XaXa to ask, "Does she like them well-aged, or, well, agèd?"
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Well, possums, "Meeeeeow!" is all we have to say about the blogwar between Season 3 finalist Dale Levitski and Season 4 presumed finalist Richard Blais.
From Dale's blog:
I staged [interned] at Trio under Grant [Achatz] for a few days before the flip of my reign ….
And what I saw changed my life.
It was a beef dish.
I stood next to a pole in the kitchen and watched in awe as an army of cooks (most of which I can now call friends) executed a miracle.
20 components on one plate that was nothing short of a symphony.
Beef three ways, ingredients that blew your mind, but made the most basic sense.
In an understatement as a chef: humbling.
One thing stuck out for me. (This was 4 years ago ....)
Smoked beef tounge, presented as pristine as could be under a smoke-filled glass. Unveiled by the server at the table.
Unleashing an epiphany for the diner and any witness alike.
What you, Richard, have ATTEMPTED to do, hack a presentation, TWICE!, was bastardize and mock a moving moment for me as a chef.
I understand the drive you have.
The Need you have.
The Skill you have.
The Love you have.
Did you really Think for a MOMENT that filling a Sysco-wrapped plate full of gadget-filled smoke would prove to the world that you are a good chef?
That it would impress?
That ANY diner would say, ”When I peeled the PLASTIC WRAP off my plate I was blown away?!"
You have done it Twice!!!!!!!!!
F*** you, Chef.
I have seen this presentation done to perfection. The only person you are fooling is yourself.
I CHEERED when your “tool” broke, as I watched the panic of you team ….
Serves you right for shitting on MY epiphany ….
The fact that you won should be YOUR epiphany ....
You don’t need the gimmick ….
There is no need to jerk yourself off with gadgets ….
You deserved it. For the most part …
I hope you learned your lesson.
You are good.
Cut the crap.
P.S. The hair I will take as a “compliment?” … but also a hack job ….
From Richard's response on Bravo's Burning Questions blog:
Bravotv.com: Anything else?
Hmmm ... Well I'd like to address Mr. Dale Levitski, a guy I have never met, and who has never tasted my food, or worked with me. I'd write a response to some of his comments but I'd rather not extend his fifteen minutes any longer. I just think some of his words have been in pretty poor taste, especially coming from a previous contestant who should have an understanding of the show. I can take it, but when my family reads that stuff, and it's not from Joe Blogger, c'mon ....
Well, possums, never let it be said that Dale blows smoke up anyone's derriere.
Looking through the Bravo photo album for this episode, we came across these pictures of guest judge Johnny Iuzzini (and kudos to Bravo for fixing the spelling of his and his restaurant’s names so quickly, though it might be churlish of us to point out that the name of the restaurant, Jean Georges, does not have a hyphen), wearing two different shirts for the Quickfire Challenge, one of which did not make it on the air. How very metrosexual. What gives?
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Jennifer Biesty seems to be a good cook, but as she herself admitted at the beginning of tonight's episode, she was quite often in the middle of the pack. Still, as Gail Simmons says on her Bravo blog, "I have to admit that watching the ending I did not feel it was totally clear why Jennifer was sent home instead of Stephanie." It may just be the fact that Stephanie Izard has been in the top three so often, and has won on a couple of occasions; she's a winner, she just couldn't be sent home. (We still say she's in the final four.)
At any rate, possums, we are now down to one out lesbian, Lisa Fernandes, and two honoraries, Richard and Stephanie, but if one thing is certain, it's that Lisa is not going out without a fight and a string of beeps.
(And yes, perhaps Jen is not totally a boi, but the headline was just too hard to resist. )
As you are no doubt all too aware, possums, the last seven days have been an unceasing dirge, an expression of mourning for our inconsistent, self-avowed “metrosexual,” and Little Mozart of the Fryolator, Mr. Ryan Scott.
Encased, as he was, in the aspic of his own smarm, he was a sitting target, and we will miss him. Oh how we’ll miss him!
It appears, however, that he won’t miss us.
According to The Fresno Bee:
[Ryan] Scott was more curt when asked about amuse-biatch.blogspot.com, a blog that skewers all “Top Chef” contestants.
“You’ve got to have something better to do with your time than that,” Scott says.
Oh, Ryan, possum, we’re hurt, even—dare we say it—hoit.
How odd, and yet how apt, that it should have been your pretty-boy predecessor in loquacious smarm, last season’s Brian Malarkey, who leveled the same charges only last year. And we say unto you, as we said unto him, “We do have better things to do (and we do them); it’s just that we enjoy doing this.” As you yourself might have said, we don’t just blog with our hands; we blog with our heartlessness.
Mind you, we haven’t been as heartless as we could. We received some very interesting correspondence from people very close to you that we refrained from publishing. We have also resisted spinning out your narrative arc as a tale about the revenge of chicken, for it was chicken (piccata) that first brought you national disgrace, and chicken (thighs on a bed of bread) that got you kicked off the show. Did you see a single “When the Chicken Piccata Comes Home to Roost” headline from us? No.
Moments after Padma pykkagged you, you said, with a little poached pear of a sob in your throat, “What this show brought me was cooking, yes, and what it does is it humbles you and teaches you that, you know, it’s, like, wow, I'm not the shit, so, thank you.” But did we do a post about your Pauline conversion titled, “Turd Discovers He’s Not the Shit”? No. And yet this is how you treat us.
But just as our sorrow threatened to overwhelm us, we listened once again to your final words on the show: “This personally changed my life, so it’s gonna change the way I cook. It’s the way I look at an ingredient, but it's not gonna change me, Ryan Scott, as a person.”
Does that mean you’ll still be the vain, smarmy, inconsistent, prevaricating self-avowed “metrosexual” Ryan Scott we know and love?
In that case, possums, we will stop weeping into our gnocchi-soft pillow and face the new day, for though this may be our last Ryan Scott post for a very long time (as you no doubt will appreciate, possums), lo he is risen and will smarm again.
That, at least, is what we learnt, possums, from the video audition Ryan submitted to Bravo’s casting people, apparently at Bravo’s request (and which Ryan posted on his MySpace page). In the video, entitled “The Ryan Scott Experience,” Ryan makes the following promise:
Everything that I’m about is what you’re going to see. The time that I get off, which is minimal, that’s when I eat pizza, that’s when I get my nails done. It’s no joke, it’s no front. This is the man that you guys were intrigued by, and this is the man you’re gonna get to see.
So go ahead, possums. Take a few minutes and have yourself a giggle; we’ll see you on the other side of The. Ryan. Scott. Experience. (If you can't see the video on the screen, click here.)
We came across this gem even before the current season of Top Chef started airing, and we had been waiting until the perfect moment, and well, now that Ryan has been pykkagged, there is no more perfect moment, so we might as well get it out of our system now. What we found particularly fascinating about the video was the way in which Ryan courted sexual confusion and ambiguity, beginning with getting his nails done.
And there was this:
And especially this:
And, of course, this:
Sorry, wrong video. So, possums, metrosexual? “Metrosexual”? Confused? Pandering to Bravo’s core audiences? Only his hairdresser knows for sure.
*As you may remember, possums, in The Sound of Music, when Fräulein Maria, as yet un-Trapped, first meets the children whose governess she is to be, the following exchange takes place
Marta: I’m Marta, and I’m going to be seven on Tuesday, and I’d like a pink parasol.
Maria: Well, pink’s my favorite color, too.
Long-Winded, Dense Gnocco Doesn't Like Being Called Long-Winded or Dense, But Doesn't Mind Being Called Pretty
Rocco DiSpirito on Ryan Scott, from this season’s first episode: “It’s not just his gnocchi that were dense.”
Rocco DiSpirito on Ryan Scott from his Bravo blog: “Ryan and Valerie’s chicken piccata was up next. It took us a long time to judge this one -- not because the dishes were close, but because it was nearly impossible to get through to Ryan. He clearly didn’t know that chicken piccata is thin scallop of chicken that’s dipped in flour, then in egg, then sautéed and served with a lemon-butter sauce that sometimes has capers in it. He breaded his chicken, didn’t pound it thin, and didn’t serve it with a lemon-butter sauce -- but did serve it with awful gnocchi. (So other than that Mrs. Lincoln, how was the show?) We tried and tried to explain it to him. He was very defensive. Instead of trying to learn something from Tom, Anthony, and me, he made excuses and generally frustrated us. “Classically mashed potatoes and rice.” Wha?? I always told my cooks that it’s not the mistake that matters but what you do after you’ve made one to ensure it never happens again. There is nothing worse than a cook who is unwilling or unable to learn from his mistakes, and his gnocchi were a very dense mistake. So I said what I said. Sorry! I know it was a bit mean, but had you seen the entire exchange with Ryan you would have understood.”
Nikki Cascone, completely unedited, from last Wednesday’s episode: “Ryan is so long-winded. Have you ever been up there [Judges’ Table] with him? He, like, doesn’t shut up.”
From Ryan Scott’s interview with RealityWanted.com:
Q. […]: When you watched the past few episodes I am sure you saw some things you didn’t know happened or heard things you didn’t know were said right? Did you catch Niki saying you talked too much or that you’re long winded?
A. […]: I sent her a text after I saw her say I was long winded, she said it was the power of editing and she didn’t mean it that way. I didn’t like the remark made by chef Rocco Dispirito on the first episode either. It’s also cool to see what the judges had to say about us since we don’t get to see that part during the shows production.
Q. […]: Would you do it again?
A. […]: Yes, you always need a pretty boy on these shows. (Laughing)
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Tom Colicchio Threatens to Quit “Top Chef” If Producers Ever Tell Him Whom to Pick as Winner, Challenges Naysayers to “Google” Him
This, possums, is what we learnt from a typically feisty interview with the Ursus Major himself:
There are a lot of great chefs that want to be guest judges on the show, and they are great chefs, but for one reason or another they're not right for TV. I don't really know why. I don't know why I'm on the show, I just know they picked me because they thought I was telegenic for some reason. I don't know why. So that's why I'm always kind of cynical about it. But that being said, I love what we do on the show, I think we choose the best contestant every year, and there is no pressure from the producers or anyone else to pick a certain someone despite what everybody believes. The day they tell us we have to pick someone for any reason other than our judgement is the day I do my last show.
Well, that's that.
What's particularly interesting to us about his comment is the revelation that there are chefs who want a guest spot on Top Chef but are not picked because "they're not right for TV." For one thing, we'd love to know who was rejected for not being telegenic enough (and by telegenic we don't mean just appearance, but also demeanor and personality; after all, it's not as if Bravo would ever pick people who were attractive but robotic or wooden).
But we'd also love to know just how Koren Grieveson squeaked through. By all acounts, she is a fantastic chef, and we don't dispute that, but her affectless demeanor is more suited to Gus Van Sant movies about inscrutable teenage boys than it is to a show promoting itself with the tagline, "Let the flames begin."
Finally, we loved the Colicchy One's response to the vexed and eternal Hollywood question, "But don't they know who I am?":
When we opened in L.A. I had a woman come up to me and say "You're really a chef?" Yeah! Or when you send a person off the show, eliminate someone people really like, they say, "Who is this guy? Who is this guy we've never heard of before?" What can you say, you know? Go home and google me.
It seems somehow fitting, then, that Raggaydy Andy Cohen's own loose lips may just have let something slip. It's what we found when we read a blog entry by Pete Wells, the reporter who penned the piece:
Reporting the article, I interviewed Andy Cohen, the Bravo executive responsible for Top Chef. Before he got down to talking how much bleeping this season’s contestants have required, he suggested, out of nowhere, that The Times run an article on how many female chefs there are. We’ve done that, I told him, impatient to move on to the gutter language. But now I’m wondering if he was inadvertently telling me something about the outcome of this season. After all, no woman has won yet. So I’ll just toss that into the rumor mill.
Interesting, of course, but we don't at all believe that Raggaydy Andy was revealing the winner of the show, quite simply because the finale has not yet been filmed and the winner not yet chosen. However, we do believe something was revealed, because take a look at what then happened on Wells' blog entry:
UPDATE: Andy Cohen called this afternoon to say I’d misquoted him in this blog. He claims the article he suggested to me was about “lesbian female chefs.” That’s not what I heard and it’s not what I took down in my notes, but the phone he was speaking on during that interview didn’t pick up every word he said, and I had to ask him to repeat himself several times. I never asked him to repeat the remark about “female chefs,” though. So it’s quite possible that he’s right and the word “lesbian” was dropped.
Uh-huh, yeah, right. As one of the post's commenters notes, "lesbian female - That would have been a bit redundant, no?" Indeed it would, particularly coming from someone who is openly gay himself. So, as polite as Wells is being in his equivocating, we're going with the Gray Female, er, Lady on this one.
So what's the upshot of all of this? Our guess is, two women in the final four, Stephanie Izard and likely Antonia Lofaso as well.
Padma and Hung are nominated in the Favorite Television Personality and Favorite Reality Star categories, respectively, at this year's Asian Excellence Awards. The awards will be handed out tomorrow at UCLA's Royce Hall, but you will have to wait until May 1, when the awards show is broadcast on E!, to see whether viewers deemed Padma a more excellent Asian than Tila Tequila.
We cannot help but wonder, though, where is Dale Talde? Is he not excellent enough?
Monday, April 21, 2008
Spelling Bee-atch: Is Bravo So Distracted by “Gorges” Guest Judge’s Looks That It Can’t Spell His Name Right (Either of Them)?
Possums, that's a screencap of the preview for this week's episode, featuring as guest judge the renowned pastry chef Johnny Iuzzini.
You'll notice that's Johnny with two n's and Iuzzini with two z's and one n.
So let's see, Bravo. The man is the executive pastry chef for Jean-Georges Vongerichten's three Michelin-starred restaurant, Jean Georges, was named Outstanding Pastry Chef of the Year in 2006 by the James Beard Foundation, and last year was named by Forbes.com as one of the 10 most influential chefs working in America today, and you can't even get his bloomin' name right? And, as possum Lilly points out, Bravo can't get the name of his restaurant right either. Good work all around!
Amuse-Biatch “Metrosexual” Monday: Padma Lakshmi Recommends Serving Your Poached Pears in Dixie Cups (or on a Stick)
At least that's what self-avowed "metrosexual" Ryan Scott says, and we all know how truthful he is. From YumSugar's latest interview:
YS: Alright, let's talk about last night's episode. Really? Poached pears at a tailgate party?
RS: Do I look like a guy that goes to a freaking football game? It's just not me. I wanted to give the whole experience, with an entree and dessert. And the weird part is Padma liked the pear, she thought I should have served it in a dixie cup. So I brought some California flair to a tailgate and they didn't like it.
YS: You should have put it on a stick.
RS: Padma said that too.
Sunday, April 20, 2008
Amuse-Biatch Begins to Fear for Self-Avowed “Metrosexual” As He Becomes Incapable of Keeping Story Straight for Even the Length of a Paragraph
As you know, possums, we've kept track of self-avowed "metrosexual" Ryan Scott's apparently less-than-firm grasp on truth and consistency. As we've noted, for example, he can't decide if he cooked in his parents' restaurant when he was eight or when he was 11, or whether he was a good cook as a child. As we've also noted, in one month he told the same media outlet two conflicting stories: that he had read the blogs and one blog had said something negative about him, and that he had not read the blogs and had any of them said something negative about them?
But we may have come across the best and most breathtaking example of all. As you will remember, on this week's episode, Ryan condescendingly said, "I'm not a big sports fan. Do I look like a sports fan? No, I'm not." Now take a look at Ryan's interview with Bravo's own "Burning Questions" blog:
Bravotv.com: California tailgate -- do you go often?
No. No I don’t go often. I’m the least sport fan you’re ever going to meet. Honestly, it’s really funny, a lot of my friends they’ll ask me, “Who are ‘Refrigerator Perry’ or ‘Lenny Dykstra?’” I mean I know I know a lot about sports -- you’re not going to find me on a Sunday sitting down going to a tailgate. I got Giants tickets last Thursday and I gave them away …. Unless there’s a lot of beer, you’re not going to get me there. I am a sports fan -- I find it great what they do. I think it’s phenomenal ….
Frankly, our head is spinning. He's not a sports fan, he's a sports fan, he's not a sports fan. Oy! It's like Jack Nicholson interrogating Faye Dunaway in Chinatown: My daughter! My sister! My daughter! My sister!
We only wish we could slap him in the same way.
Sadly, though, last year the photos were so small they were well-nigh unusable, but Fortune has smiled on us this year. And so we will proceed to examine the best of this season's photodiaries. The captions are exactly as the cheftestants (presumably) wrote them. Our comments are in brackets, and the interpretations are entirely up to you.
And so, let us begin with this week's ousted, self-avowed "metrosexual," Ryan Scott.
"Is this a guy or a girl? Dublin doesn't know"
[Dr. Freud merely rolls his eyes, saying, in Viennese German, of course, "This is too easy, even for me. The dog of a self-avowed 'metrosexual' in San Francisco is sexually confused, perhaps reflecting the owner's own confusion? Tell me something I don't know." Fair enough, Herrdoktor.]
[Herrdoktor Freud says, "Ah! What woman doesn't like to be infantilized and equated with her boyfriend's dog? No wonder Herr Scott is single."]
"Is this a guy or a girl? Dublin doesn't know"
[Oops, sorry, wrong caption. The actual caption is, "Dub & I reading my friend's new cookbook," which, frankly, is far less enlightening as a caption. Reading, eh? Is that what they call it these days? Looks more like, er, tailgating to us. Another question: In his previous appearances in the photo diary, Dublin "Dub" Scott appears to be black, white, and brown, not all black like this pooch. Had Ryan drunk so much that he couldn't even identify his own dog? Herrdoktor Freud refuses to speculate, but inquiring minds want to know.]