Friday, May 30, 2008

Tom Colicchio Responds to Scallopgate

Possums, earlier this morning we received an email from the Ursus Major himself, Tom Colicchio, regarding our post about the now-infamous frozen scallops. The subject line was “scallopgate.”

With Colicchio’s permission, we are running the email in its entirety and without any editing, so that you, possums, may have the benefit of his side of the story:

Tom Colicchio here. In my blog on bravotv.com I stated that the scallops were in the kitchen because the were provided by Allen Brothers.

Allen brothers sponsored the challenge, and all of the Allen brothers products were placed in the kitchen by the culinary producer.

This statement does not contradict Rick's [Tramonto] assertion that the producers put the scallops in the kitchen.

I hope this clears things up.
tc

Amuse-Biatch Public Service Announcement: Help Dale Levitski Get Laid

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Photoessay: “If I Keep My Head Down, Maybe He’ll Go Away; Besides, I Already Look Like I Shaved My Head, and Bisexual Hung Has a Full Head of Hair”


Amuse-Biatch Photoessay: Gail Simmons Asks Padma Lakshmi for Wedding-Night Advice: “Wait, How Does the Peacock’s Foot Go Again?”




















For your reference, possums.

Amuse-Biatch Photoessay: “I Know! Can You Believe We’re the Two Remaining Specimens of Manhood on This Show?”



Amuse-Biatch Photoessay: “If You Cross Me Again, I Will Snap You Like a Twig”


In Shakespearean Monologue About Frozen Scallops and Free Will, Machiavellian Trickster Spike Mendelsohn Decries Bravo’s “Trickery at Its Best”



As apparently free of irony as he was of hats in this interview, Spike—who, if you will remember, engaged in trickery during the block-party and boxed-lunch challenges—railed against (presumably) the show’s producers for providing frozen scallops, calling the move “trickery at its best.” Yes, possums, we also wondered whether he ducked to avoid the lightning bolt coming his way after that statement. Is it any wonder that Anthony Bourdain predicts a bright future in politics for Spike?

Perhaps the most interesting statement of all (alas, sadly clipped by Bravo) was this tidbit about Lisa Fernandes: “You know, she came for a job at my restaurant [Mai House] two days before we flew over here [to film the show], ironically.”

Ah, there; he’s recovered his sense of irony. Is the irony sharpened, we wondered, by the rumor that Spike was fired from Mai House and replaced by none other than Lisa Fernandes?

Guest Judge Rick Tramonto Denies Frozen Scallops, Tom Colicchio Denies the Denial



















It goes without saying, possums, that we thrilled to Scallopgate last night, and Spike’s “If I’m going down, I’m taking your reputation with me” stance. Let’s be honest; all of us had the same question of guest judge Rick Tramonto, and for all his asshattery, Spike had the gumption to ask it. We thought that Tramonto himself handled Spike’s jab rather graciously, but of course it don’t look real good for a restaurant of such aspirations to have frozen scallops on hand.

In his interview with Bravo, Tramonto categorically denied any knowledge of the existence or provenance of frozen scallops in his walk-in freezer:

Bravotv.com: Spike won the Quickfire and got to choose his proteins ... the big scallop question: Did you know there were frozen scallops in the pantry?....

No, didn’t know there were frozen scallops in there. We never ever purchase frozen seafood, so it isn’t anything that’s kept in my coolers normally. In the real world, when you’re a chef, you may get something you didn’t order from the purveyor, or there are other people there accepting your product and it does make it into your cooler, but you as a chef need to know when there is an inferior product, and you need to be able to say no. As a top chef, your quality conscience needs to be at a top level. Spike failed that test.


Ok, fair enough. Now here is Ted Allen’s take on the matter:

So an issue that comes to my mind, and one that Spike unwisely and impertinently (if fairly) raised at Judges’ Table, is this: Why *were* there giant bags of frozen scallops in Rick’s walk-in? Perhaps he uses them in some kind if mousse, or other dish where the superior sweetness and texture of fresh shellfish isn’t required? I’m not going to ask Rick that question -- he clearly didn’t like it.

Oh dear. Ah, but take a look at what the Tom Colicchio, who himself presides over a burgeoning steakhouse empire, had to say:

Rick Tramonto took Spike to task over this, which brought on Spike’s feisty reply, “With all due respect, the scallops were in your walk-in.” My heart sunk when I heard this because I’ve known Rick for years and can say with certainty he doesn’t use frozen seafood in his restaurant. Along with the high-end steaks they had provided for the show, Allen Bros. had included a variety of other products to round out the restaurant’s existing stock, including frozen scallops, which is how they came to be in Tramonto’s walk-in. I learned later that Rick knew this when we taped the show, but chose not to make a federal case out of it. But as a colleague and fan of Rick’s, I feel it’s important to set the record straight.

Oh, so, contrary to his denial, Tramonto did know there were frozen scallops and knew how they got there. This seems just the teensiest bit awkward. Paging Scott McClellan!

Oh, and is it just us, or are scallops cursed? After all, the wee coquilles St. Jacques have disposed of two cheftestants in a row.

Update: Apparently, Tramonto's PR rep is claiming the scallops were planted by Bravo.

Further Update: Now Tramonto says the scallops were, in fact, planted by Bravo's production team to trip up the cheftestants (what Spike calls "trickery at its best"): “Their team purchased all the food and put it in the coolers,” [Tramonto] explained, saying he felt that most people realized it was part of the challenge. He just wants to set the record straight. “They put those in the mix to see ... who would use them or not.”

Also, when our pal Meredith at Chow.com asked Spike about the scallops, she had her hand slapped in best Dana Perino fashion by the Bravo publicist. Could this be the same Bravo publicist who told The Chicago Tribune, of the scallops, “Sounds like there’s something fishy going on here …”?

Yet Another Update: Tom Colicchio responds to our post.

Bourdain: I’m Not Blogging for Bravo Because of Product Placement, and Dale Talde’s Dish Was the Worst I’ve Had on “Top Chef”

Well, that explains it, possums.

As you may remember from last season, Anthony Bourdain's Top Chef blog on Bravo's website was far and away the most entertaining--who could forget his picking a fight with poor, little freeze-dried Rocco DiSpirito?--and Bravo recognized it. It was nominated for a Webby, and Bravo encouraged readers to vote for it.

So it was rather surprising when the blog did not return this season. And now, courtesy of Bourdain himself on his Travel Channel blog, there seems to be an explanation:

A final note to conspiracy theorists. There is no pressure from the producers to either keep particular contestants--or send others home. In all my appearances on Top Chef, I've never seen it, never felt it. I pity any producer who'd dare suggest to Tom Colicchio that he send someone home who did not deserve it--or spare the poorest candidate for reasons of greater drama. In fact, it's his moral gravitas that makes Top Chef worth watching, in spite of all the heavy-handed product placement and occasional silly challenges.

As for me? I could give a rat's a** who the producers or Bravo want to win or not win . What I've traditionally used the Glad Family of Bags for would probably not make a good commercial. When I read the surprising announcement that Michelob, a beer I don't drink and don't much like, was going to be "sponsoring" my Bravo blog, I advised them that I felt compelled to disappoint them.


Ah, so that was it. Michelob, eh?

As you can probably guess, this came in the context of the controversial decision on last week's episode to oust gayfaced, crotch-grabbing, locker-punching, weepy, gangsta wannabe and walking Napoleon complex Dale Tale. But Bourdain explains all:

So what did happen? How come the more talented Dale, with a far more distinguished record of wins than his teammates, was the one to pack his knives....and...go? Lisa, it appeared, had two seriously screwed up dishes. Dale only had one!

True enough. But oh, what a one.

Dale's "Butterscotch Scallops were supremely bad. Jaw droppingly bad. So bad that there was a long, awkward moment at the table when all the judges just sat there, silent, stunned with disbelief that anyone--especially Dale--could serve something so...disgusting. It's the only time on Top Chef that I literally could not take another bite.

...

Lisa's laksa was screwed up. Unpleasantly smoky. But I could eat it. Her "sticky rice" dessert was awful. But not dig a hole in the ground-stick my head in--pour in Clorox bad. Like those scallops. They were distinguished by their sheer degree of awfulness, sucking everything around them down with.

Judging on Top Chef -- as has been pointed out repeatedly (most recently and succinctly by my learned colleague, Ted Allen) is on a "What Have You Cooked For Me Lately" basis. We are not supposed to care what has been achieved previously. In fact, guest judges don't even know. The shows air long after filming. So Jose Andres, for instance, can in no way be expected to know--or care--if Dale won previous challenges, deserved to win them, loves puppies and long walks on the beach--or tortures hamsters in his spare time. After deliberation, the judges were unanimous in their feeling that it was Dale who--this week--f**ked up worst.

Well, we're convinced, possums. What say you?

SPYKAG!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Salman Rushdie: Padma Lakshmi Dumped Me by Email!





















To which we say, oh buck up, possum; it might have been worse. She could, for example, have dumped you via text message.

But we have to hand it to her; she's a sly one, that Padma. (Still, we wonder whether telling him by email, rather than in person, was at least in part responsible for his response: issuing a press release and throwing her out of his house.)

At any rate, though the emailed "Dear John" is possibly the most interesting tidbit in the piece published by The New York Times over the weekend, the author of the piece also engages in a little biographical criticism of his new novel, The Enchantress of Florence, that is most suggestive:

Beauty and betrayal are both elements of “Enchantress.” “That a woman so beautiful should not be tender, this I did not expect,” says the lover of the mysterious Qara Köz when she leaves him. “I did not expect her to turn away from me so casually, as if she were changing a shoe.”

“I did not expect her to break my heart.”

Even more suggestive is another nugget dug up by Joyce Carol Oates in her review of Enchantress:

She was adept at the seven types of unguiculation, which is to say the art of using the nails to enhance the act of love.... She had marked him with the Three Deep Marks, which were scratches made with the first three fingers of her right hand upon his back, his chest, and on his testicles as well: something to remember her by.... She could perform the Hopping of the Hare, marking the areolas around his nipples without touching him anywhere else on his body. And no living woman was as skilled as she at the Peacock's Foot....

If you are suitably intrigued, then, possums, you should know this, straight from the horse's mouth: “I’m totally eligible, single and available.” So, ladies, start reaching for those nail clippers now.

Inspired by Chris Marker’s “La Jetée,” Amuse-Biatch Presents a Foodie Photoroman

Possums, once upon a time, in the era of the Restaurant Wars, the chef whose story we are about to tell decided to serve not only shank and loin...













but also rack....
















For dessert, she served cheesecake.


















Padma Lakshmi was none too pleased that anyone would dare show more cleavage than she.
















And yet she somehow ended up with sticky fingers, which, as ever, she felt obliged to lick in front of the menfolk.

















For their part, Bravo's sponsors were "Glad."
















And Bravo's editors were suggestively happy, too.
















Fin. The End.

And now, possums, if we may be serious just for a moment, and if you have 20-odd and 20 odd minutes to spare, do take a look at one of the coolest films of all time, the inspiration for Terry Gilliam films and David Bowie videos, “La Jetée.”

Monday, May 26, 2008

Andrew D'Ambrosi On Premeditated Assault, How Season 4 Almost Became Season 2, How the Judging Is Erratic, and How There Is a Lack of Integrity



Andrew D'Ambrosi on why he didn't hit Lisa Fernandes: “I signed that contract; I’m not allowed to do things. Otherwise there would have been 400% more headbutts than any other season.”

Then, in the most tantalizing--and, alas, abruptly edited--bit, Andrew and Spike discuss how Andrew planned to throw Dale Talde out a window at the "Top Chef" house after the cameras left, presumably the same night as Dale's legendary, crotch-grabbing outburst.

Andrew: “That crazy night where he yelled at everybody, I told him to shut the f up, and he didn’t shut up, and I went away for a little bit. And I came back down and he was still crying, and I’m, like, ‘Dude, you have undeserved anger,’ and for some reason that set him off….He tried to, like, run at me, and Blais tried to, like, hold him…” And that’s where Bravo cuts the tape.

Amuse-Biatch Presents Fireworks for Memorial Day Weekend as Pot(head) Calls Kettle Asshole

Refried Been There, Done That: Lisa Fernandes

[Possums, there are posts that sometimes seem premature, as later events make them more topical than when originally published. For this reason, we have decided to inaugurate a "Refried Been There, Done That" feature. To start, we have this post on Lisa Fernandes, originally published on March 12.]

Lisa Fernandes: Canadian. Christian Siriano Fan. Self-Proclaimed Bitch. Dirty, Dirty Girl. What's Not to Like?

Really, possums, just take a look at the testimonials:

Dale Talde: “Lisa, without a doubt…[,] had the worst fucking attitude ever. She was just negative…She'd tell people when she was gassy….”

Manuel “Memo” Treviño: “Lisa [has the worst attitude this season].”

Evangelos “Spike” Mendelsohn: “I’d have to say Lisa [has the worst attitude this season]. She’s a very angry person….[She has the worst personal hygiene.] Gotta wash that bandana, you know what I mean?”

Lesbian with an attitude. Fellows that were in the mood.

To be bitchy.

Oh, wait.

Lisa Fernandes: “I’m rude. I’m a bitch.”

Well, that would seem to settle that. So imagine our surprise when we saw what she told AfterEllen.com about the experience of being on Top Chef:

“People are like, ‘Oh, you’re on a reality TV show,’ but that’s not what it is. It’s not about finding out the gossip, or putting people in stupid situations to see who sleeps with whom and who beats who up.”

Oh, possum. Clearly, you never saw Season 2. Or Season 3. Or read this blog.

Perhaps underneath the gassy, mushroom-flinging, sweaty-bandana’d surface, she’s just a nice, idealistic Canadian girl?

Amuse-Biatch Heterosexual Monday: Padma Lakshmi Works on Her Summer Tan (Bikini)


Friday, May 23, 2008

Orange County Plastic Surgeon: Padma Lakshmi's Arm Scar “Really Ripe for Improvement”






















After the ever-tasteful TMZ did a feature on "Celeb Scars" that included our gal Padma, there was one man ready to jump into the fray to tell us what's what.

Possums, meet Dr. John Di Saia, a plastic surgeon whom we imagine to be the "real housewife"-maker of Orange County (since, on one of his blogs, he provides advice on "Cosmetic genital surgey -- labia minora reduction"). On his other blog, "Truth in Cosmetic Surgery," Dr. Di Saia seems to reach out to Padma Lakshmi, saying, "That arm scar is really ripe for improvement."

From what we've read of Padma's account of things, Padma is actually quite proud of her scar, thanks in large part to Helmut Newton, but just in case....

Amuse-Biatch Is Shocked—Shocked!—to Discover That Bravo’s Editors Are Pervs

Examine this shot-by-shot sequence, possums, of the winning team at Judges’ Table and draw your own conclusions. We don’t know about you, but we would also have liked slow pans up Richard’s and Antonia’s chests as well.





















Yeah, hi, Bravo editors, my eyes are up here.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Self-Avowed Metrosexual Ryan Scott Accepts a Mission-ary Position
















Yes, possums, the moratorium is over, and to celebrate, we've news that Ryan Scott finally has a job. After leaving his previous position, at San Francisco's Myth Café, Ryan told our pals at YumSugar:

I've been able to get my business license together, and I'm working actively with my business partners. We've been together 18 months and we put two offers yesterday on two different restaurants. It just doesn't happen that easily. Any restauranteur knows you can't just do that. We want longevity. I want the next move to be a really good move and we'll hold out until we can be the next Nopa or Zuni Cafe. I want to be open forever, the kind of restaurant where you can come back to all the time.

So what is he doing?

Well, possums, he is going to another café:

Ryan Scott…will officially take over as top chef-partner at the Mission Beach Cafe in San Francisco's Mission District on June 23….Until now, the restaurant's savory selection was a collaborative effort by the staff. But Scott says he plans to completely overhaul the menu and "put my stamp on it."
"I want the food to be simple and clean," says Scott, who wants to keep entree prices under $21.
"I'm not trying to break culinary boundaries," continued the chef, who is playing with menu ideas like veal cheeks, sweetbreads, pastas and "really clean soups and salads."

Well, so much for holding out until he could be the next Nopa or Zuni Café. Still, we're relieved to hear about the really clean soups and salads. If there's anything we and the Health Department hate, it's dirt in our soup.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

MFMad Hat(t)er Involved in Doppelgängerbang












Well, possums, it seems that the Season 3 cheftestants are having a bad case of the Doppelgänger. First, Dale Levitski went after this season's Richard Blais like yo momma with the hairbrush for, among other things, his signature fauxhawk: "The hair I will take as a “compliment?” … but also a hack job …." Meow.

And now, Brian MFMalarkey is going after Spike Mendelsohn, ranking him last because, as he so awkwardly puts it, "You are wearing a very similar hat to me."

And, possums, we understand.

The legal test in trademark matters is risk of confusion, and when your capital as a Top Chef contestant is limited to annoying personality trait + annoying fashion accessory, what's to distinguish you from the next scrawny putz in a deerstalker? It's absolutely enough to bring on an existential crisis even in people whose personalities aren't so shallow that an ant would drown in them.

So, possums, a little compassion, please.

Asshat’s Off! Yay Lesbian!

















Well, possums, if we’ve said it once, we’ve said it once: She who laughs lez laughs best. That, mind you, is a corollary to our other life motto, Never piss off a lesbian, the justness of which a certain Mr. Mendelsohn has just found out the hard way.

Eater is reporting that, in a twist that makes us gurgle with Schadenfreude, Spike Mendelsohn has been fired from Drew Nieporent’s restaurant, Mai House, only to be replaced by none other than Lisa Fernandes.

Come on-a Mai House indeed.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Unbeknownst to Him, Mario Batali Finds Himself in the Clutches and the Cleavage of a Food Blogger




















Miss XaXa with Molto Mario himself, at last night's book signing in the Chicago area.


From Mario's disquisition in Eater.com, "Why I Hate Food Bloggers":

I do not really HATE anything or anybody, it takes too much energy to hate, and I would rather dog someone/thing sotto voce to the large audience than spend a lot of time hating them/it. But blogs live by different rules. Many of the anonymous authors who vent on blogs rant their snarky vituperatives from behind the smoky curtain of the web.

Uh, er, uh, er....

Friday, May 16, 2008

To the Victor Go the Spoilers













Ever since Season 2, our pal Lesley at Eater LA has been the undisputed Queen of Spoilers, and this year, possums, the crown sits ever more comfortably upon her locks. Once again, she has come up with the season finale spoilers. Proceed at your own risk.

Famously Scarred and Bemeloned Padma Lakshmi Thinks the Sweetest Melons Have Markings on the Skin

Amuse-Biatch Photoessay: Cheftestant Pleads for Help After Being Trapped Inside One of the Glad Family of Products

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Tom Colicchio Is Sick of Team Challenges, Blames Jon Stewart for the Profanity on “Top Chef” and Among the Youth of America


Well, possums, we have to hand it to the Ursus Major himself. In the above clip, which was shot in Puerto Rico during the finale, Tom Colicchio fillets this season of Top Chef as if it were a monkfish, and stops just short of throwing the remains in the trash.

Granted, he does it very politely—this season “is a hard one to read,” “a hard season to sort of get your hands around,” “a funny season,” “lots of ups and downs”—but the import is the same: this season has been rather meh.

We couldn’t agree more.

At Judges’ Table, and elsewhere, Tom is rather fond of saying, “This is Top Chef, not Top [Fill in the Blank].” And yet, with a few exceptions, this season has been exactly that: Top Caterer, Top Block-partyer, Top Tailgater, Top Home Cook, and Top Single Mother.

Indeed, we found it particularly revealing when, during that ghastly kids’ challenge,** Gail Simmons said of Stephanie’s dish that it was typical of a restaurant chef who doesn’t cook much at home. Oh wait, that’s a problem? Because, you know, we thought this show was called Top Chef.

But that statement, we think, lays bare the ethos (and the problem) of this season. When it was first announced that Chicago would play host to this season of Top Chef, there was much excitement. In a way, it seemed additional confirmation, if any were needed, that, as the culinary world had been proclaiming for some time, Chicago had really and truly arrived as a food town and foodie destination.

But instead of cashing in on that promise, this season of Top Chef, it seems to us, has engaged in condescension and pandering. The city is home to Grant Achatz, Charlie Trotter, and Homaro Cantu, and instead we get block parties, kid’s meals, tailgate parties, police academy lunches, and cocktail parties at the zoo. They might as well have filmed the show in Any Suburb of Small City, U.S.A., that houses a Whole Foods. Surely Chicagoites don’t cling to sausages and tailgate parties instead of to guns and religion. Surely Chicago is not as bland, as insipid, as the show would have us believe; the daily reports we get from Miss XaXa would suggest otherwise.

And yet we have ended up with “a hard season to sort of get your hands around,” just a hair’s-breadth away from 30-minute meals. Indeed, with the boxed lunches and kiddie meals, the spirit of Rachael Ray seems to hover over the show like a balloon in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade depicting existential dread and gloom. We have no doubt that, if she hadn’t sold what remains of her coin-purse soul to Food Network, she would have been a guest judge by now.

As Tom suggests, another problem with this season is the surfeit of team challenges. “I’m more of a fan of the individual challenges,” he says, and though we love drama as much as anyone (well, actually, more than anyone), we might just have to agree this time. Out of the season’s 10 episodes, eight have been team challenges (and yes, we did consider having to cook with an adorably disadvantaged child of color a team challenge).

Still, our favorite bit in the interview is when Tom gets on to the subject of profanity and lays the blame squarely on the menschy, Ralph Lauren-clad shoulders of Jon Stewart:

I think this is more generational than anything else. I think this is a product of cable tv, where you’ve seen some people like Jon Stewart cursing on his show.

Wait, Tom, do you mean to say that you think Jon Stewart is hurting America?

___________________

**As you may have noticed, possums, we had little to say about the “Common Threads” episode. For starters, children are just not our thing. (We have previously pointed out that, as far as we’re concerned, Children of the Corn and Village of the Damned are documentaries, and our favorite children’s book is Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal. Miss XaXa, as an aunt, disagrees, and helpfully points out that if people didn’t reproduce, where would we get hairdressers and shoe salesmen? She does have a point.) Also, what with the show being overseen by the twin spirits of Uncle Stereotype (i.e., Uncle Ben; where are the Quickfire Challenges sponsored by Aunt Jemima and Sambo’s?) and Uncle Paradox (i.e., Art Smith, a chunko who was Oprah’s personal chef, for heaven’s sake, trying to set the example for healthy eating), we simply had to cry uncle. (And for the record, the now-departed Mark Simmons did not, as some have said, butcher the name of his child sous-chef, Jesusita. His pronunciation was more or less on the mark, as it were, far more so than Padma “I’m fluent in Spanish” Lakshmi’s “JESS-oo-see-tah.” Oh no she didn’t; oh jess she did.)

Amuse-Biatch Asks Alanis Morissette a Rhetorical Question
















Hey, Alanis, is it just us, or is it a teensy bit ironic that the one show on which Sam "Not That Guy" Talbot serves as a guest judge is the show where a cheftestant expresses a fear of being assaulted? Granted, possums, it's not like rain on your Wedding Wars, but we still wonder.

Amuse-Biatch Photoessay: Fashion Police Read Richard Blais His Hairanda Rights Before Taking Him to Gel


Culinary Boner Goes Down


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Sari Excuse: Padma Lakshmi’s Ex-Husband Says Women Only Marry for the Wedding Dress








‘Tis a pity, possums, that Top Chef chose not to do Restaurant Wars this season, else whoever was running front of the house could have said, of Sir Salman Rushdie, “Bitter, party of one.”

You see, possums, just in time for the broadcast of Wedding Wars (and the new Sex and the City film), Padma Lakshmi’s ex-husband is accusing women of Rushdie-ing into marriage:

“It’s strange, given that I’ve been married four times, but I actually don’t think marriage is necessary….Girls like it, especially if they’ve never been married before – it’s the dress. Girls want a wedding, they don’t want a marriage. If only you could have weddings without marriages.”

Let’s see now, possums. Whom could Sal be thinking of? Ah yes. Before Salman Rushdie, Padma had “never been married before.”

Well, that makes sense. Padma married him because she wanted to wear a wedding dress! Of course. Because when you’ve been married four times, it is indisputable that it’s not you who’s at fault; it’s the women, of course.

So let’s take a look at photos from Padma’s wedding, and you tell us, possums, if the schmatte was worth the marriage to her “distant uncle.”








































Friday, May 09, 2008

Upon Meeting Bravo Bride, Amuse-Biatch Thinks It's Not in Kansas Anymore















As you ought to know by now, possums, in the name of bringing you the chercest bits, we're happy to ferret out any Top Chef-related detail, no matter how trivial, provided, of course, that it's entertaining, or at least informative.

We were, of course, curious about the wedded pair at the heart of this week's Elimination Challenge, and yet, when this bit of (public) info hit our inbox on Wednesday, we refrained. Heartless though we are, it made us a little uncomfortable. In the end, though, it is public, so here goes.

The bride, as you may remember, indicated on the show that she hailed from Marietta, Georgia, but according to a newspaper in Lawrence, Kansas, the Journal-World, she also has roots in the Kansas prairie:

For Lawrence native Corey (Smith) Marchetti, her October wedding included...80 crew members, eight top chefs, four judges and about 2.3 million of her, um, closest friends.

Her Chicago wedding to J.P. Marchetti is getting the reality show treatment on...Bravo’s popular cooking competition “Top Chef”....

Yes, the bride puckering up her face at her wedding cake in the show’s tension-filled promo is a 1999 graduate of Lawrence High School and a 2003 graduate of Kansas University.

...

So, how did the couple end up as special guests on such a hot reality show? It all comes down to a phone call from the show’s producers and a date, Oct. 21.

Producers were in Chicago filming this season’s series and were trying to find a venue for a “Wedding Wars”-themed episode. The producers were exploring the possibility of using Galleria Marchetti for the show, a prospect J.P. Marchetti, who runs the venue/restaurant, and his then-fiancée Corey, who does the marketing, found very exciting as “Top Chef” fans. J.P. Marchetti returned the producers’ message as fast as he could.

“Usually when people ask us about a date, they want the date to be open,” he says. “And I said, ‘Well, there’s nothing going on that day,’ so I was hoping you know, they’d move forward. And the guy told me, ‘Oh, that’s too bad.’”

The producers were looking for an existing wedding on that date so the chefs could take over the catering as a show challenge. Upset that despite holding 70 weddings per year they didn’t have the right date, the couple began discussing what they could do to make it work.

“And I was like, ‘Well, you know, we could get married.’ And we thought about it for a minute and we were like, ‘Yeah, we could get married,’” Corey Marchetti says. “So we called back and just kind of threw it out there, thinking maybe they’ll be interested, but probably not.”

Turns out they were interested and got the OK from the network.

But, of course, the couple couldn’t escape a reality show-type hitch ... they had just 27 days to plan a wedding in Chicago that had been planned for April in Kansas. They already had everything set in Lawrence — a church, reception site, florist, photographer and cake.

...

First up on their to-do list? Making sure her family was OK with the switch. The bride’s father, Michael Smith, is unable to travel because of a severe brain injury. It was decided the bride’s mother, Marcia Smith, would walk her daughter down the aisle.


Well, possums, that last bit especially made us reach for our lace-edged handkerchiefs. It's so wonderful to see a couple who, in Meat Loaf's immortal words, would do anything for love. Or for a chance to be on TV.

Finale-Bound: Where the Sunlight's Streaming and the Natives Steaming?

And, West Side Story reference aside, possums, by steaming natives we mean, of course, the hopped-up, cage-match-ready little denizens of Top Chef (Dale, Lisa, Spike, Andrew et al).

But there's a reason for the allusion, and it isn't simply because we're Rita Moreno fans.

See, earlier this week, our pal Lesley at Eater LA let drop a little tidbit no doubt fed to her by a chappie or lassie in an underground parking garage and fearing the all-seeing eye of Big Bravoer:

We have it on very good authority that the Top Chef finale will start taping this weekend. We don't know who is in the finale, and we don't know for sure where, but rumor has it Big Tom, Pads, Gail, Ted and the happy band of guest judges are heading out to the Carribbean (think: sofrito, arroz con pollo, Salsa, J-Lo)....

And then yesterday, Raggaydy Andy, whose blog we scrutinize with quasi-Kabbalistic assiduity for just this sort of thing, let this drop:

My allergies in NYC are so bad that I want to rip my eyes out, which is reason enough for me to be sitting here at a gate at JFK very early this morning. The real reason is that I am heading to a shoot far away.

Coincidence? We think not.

UPDATE: We have confirmation from Ted Allen in The Dallas Morning News. Besides throwing out some coy hints about frontrunners perhaps not making it all the way, Ted reveals that the finale will be shot tomorrow night, and that by the time he arrives in Dallas on Sunday, he will know who won "the title of Top Chef."