Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Tom Colicchio Refuses to Give Us a Watered Down Version of “Say Bitchay”

Possums, we just hate it when others are bitchier than we; it makes us feel like we’re not living up to our name. But when Tom Colicchio does it, it doesn’t bother us at all, especially when it seems he is reading our mind:

The only thing I didn't like about this challenge was the voting power invested in the young culinary students, who, I'm afraid, tended to vote personality over palate….Also -- Top Chef All-Stars? It might be a stretch to say so: Some didn't make it more than half-way through their season's competition. Andrea was eliminated not once but twice, and not one of the members of the “All-Star” team made it to their season's finale....

Exactly, possums. Still, who knew bears could meow?

Wootie Woo!

Amuse-Biatch Photoessay: “Top Chef” Judged by Dwight Shrute’s British Cousin

Jeff McInnis: “Nobody Would Look Me in the Eye”

Amuse-Biatch Photoessay: Midnight Cowboy Rides Off Into the Sunset

Our Sentiments Exactly

The Lisa Fernandes Reputation Rehabilitation Tour Continues on “The View”

What the hell happened to Stephen Asprinio? He still suffers from logorrhea and pretentiousness (which it would be hypocritical for us to mock), but he is no longer bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. He is hunched, humbled, and those glasses diminish him. On the other hand, he’d be right at home on a crappy season of The L Word.

Apropos of which, why, oh why, does Whoopi Goldberg set our gaydar off so strongly? And that dance she did when she tasted Lisa Fernandes’ food, and Lisa’s offer of a private lesson—are we delusional following a few all-nighters for work, or was there something, some chemistry, some flirting there? Now Lisa was very bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, and she got an on-the-record apology of sorts from Padma for the show’s portrayal of her as anything less than “very, very nice.” That’s quite the coup.

As for Spike “Asshat” Mendelsohn, time has not withered him, nor custom varied his infinite staleness. Every time we watch him on television, our eyeballs feel like they’ve caught an STD.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Leah & Hosea to Cook Together Again

And under the auspices of Jeff McInnis, who is throwing a recession-buster of a party in South Beach. Tickets (only 150 are available!) are “$175+taxes+fees” and give you, possums, “access to both penthouses on the top floor of the Pelican [Hotel], culinary entertainment [ahem] by Top Chefs, open bar and ocean views.” The sweet stylings of Nero on the lyre are complimentary. Buy your tickets now! And if you do go, possums, be sure to send us a report.

Was It in the Cards?

Amuse-Biatch Exclusive: Nightmare-Inducing, Joker-Companion Villain Found for “Dark Knight” Sequel

Gratuitous Beefcake Shot (a Little Lean, to Be Sure, But What's There Is Cherce)

Previews: Denial, Gimmicks, Creative Monkeys (Borrowed from Hung?), Leah Sows Her Wild Quaker Oats, and How the Hell Is Nikki Cascone an “All-Star”?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Because We Care: Amuse-Biatch Programming Note for Hosea Rosenberg

“My Zen Is Zonked”: Get That Woman Her Own T-Shirt

Carla lays down the law (and the mop), Jeff goes half-naked and dripping wet, Stefan’s accent adds piquancy to his views on democracy, a lesbian predictably “dialogues,” Stefan channels Gertrude Stein on the parfait and the imparfait, and Hosea resents that Stefan is hiding his candy.

Amuse-Biatch Photoessay: Radhika Finally Snaps and Has It Out with Carla Over the Desserts

Amuse-Biatch Good Vibrations Photoessay: Aren't Those Things Supposed to Be Battery-Powered?

Amuse-Biatch Photoessay: Exclusive Before-and-After Pics from “People” Magazine’s Annual “Half Their Size” Issue; Also, Ixnay on the Black and Brown

“Top Chef” Shocker: Stefan Richter Baits Right-Wing Bloggers Anew with T-Shirt Symbol of Another Evil (Admittedly Faded) Empire

Amuse-Biatch Photoessay: Talk About Marching in Lockstep

We think, possums, that Eadweard Muybridge would be very happy with these two.

Amuse-Biatch Photoessay: Get That Man Some Nipple Clamps

Amuse-Biatch Photoessay: Say Hello to Our Leetle Frend

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Tom Colicchio Doesn’t Want Anyone Choking On It

As Buddy Cole might have said, Put that man in tights!

Yes, indeed, possums, the old Ursus Major himself is being hailed as a hero after performing the Heimlich maneuver on cookbook author Joan Nathan, saving the doyenne of Jewish food in America from an ignominious death.

When the incident occurred, Ms. Nathan was hosting a fundraising dinner party organized by Alice Waters and the sex-crazed wife of “smooth-shouldered” novelist Michael Chabon. This time, though, it was the chicken doing the choking—at least until Colicchio got his “strong” ursine paws on it.

Ms. Nathan, who took a good Heimliching and kept on ticking, told The New York Post, “All of a sudden [Colicchio] got to me and the chicken shot out.” Oh, bubbeleh, he has that effect on a lot of people.

(And kudos to the Rupert Murdoch-owned Post for trying to make a political thing of the near-death experience of the woman who wrote Jewish Cooking in America, The Flavor of Jerusalem, and The Foods of Israel Today: “The culprit was a Persian chicken kebob prepared by Iranian cuisine master Najmieh Batmanglij.”)

Rather than focusing on the crackpot political undercurrents of skewered chicken, we concentrated instead on the visuals in our head. Let’s see. The Heimlich maneuver, to the best of our recollection, involves, um, taking a person from behind, and administering, um, “abdominal thrusts.” Do we have that right, possums?

Well, in that case, business ought to be very good for Colicchio’s flagship restaurant Craft, as all the gay bears and chasers will be flocking there in hopes of, um, choking, or at the very least asking for a hero sandwich. After all, as Ms. Nathan put it, “He’s so strong!”

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Because We Care: Amuse-Biatch Parting Gifts for Ariane Duarte

Possums, because it’s supposed to be a special day, where our new President exhorts us to come together and to serve our fellow men and women, we have determined, just for today, to be nice and helpful, and to answer that call for service.

And it is in that spirit of service and fellow-feeling that we bring these lovely parting gifts to Ariane Duarte. Don’t say we didn’t make an effort—we even tracked down some “Aryanveda” conditioner, just for her. There is hope for our country, and hope for Ariane’s hair.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

“Top Chef” Product Placement Too Shameless and Not Shameless Enough

So claims Product Placement News:

First of all, the product was not used or included in any of the cooked meals. Needless to say, it was an inorganic product placement. Secondly, the product had too many camera shots, which made the placement blatantly obvious. Lastly, some critics felt strongly that the chefs were forced to drink Dr. Pepper. After all, true chefs are always after the flavor and meals/drinks without sugar just don’t fit the profile.

But Betty “Spice Rack” Fraser and a visibly uncomfortable Stephanie Izard sure fit the profile, right?

(You know, possums, now that we think about it, we’d totally watch a remake of Two Fat Ladies featuring Betty and Ariane. Wouldn’t you?)

To the Finland Station: Right-Wing Website Goes After Pinko Commie Stefan Richter for Fashion Choice, Tobacco Use

NewsBusters, a website dedicated to, um, “documenting, exposing and neutralizing liberal media bias,” is seeing red after last night’s episode, in which Stefan Richter, the Hannibal Lecter de nos reality-tv jours,

"could be seen wearing a red T-shirt with a gold hammer & sickle -- the emblem of Soviet totalitarianism which oppressed hundreds of millions and murdered tens of millions -- inside a gold-outlined Red Army star, matching the colors and symbols on the Soviet flag. In the scene on the NBC-owned Bravo cable channel, Richter, owner of Stefan’s European Catering in Santa Monica, California, was lighting up a cigarette as he argued with some other chefs in his contestant group over the elements of a meal menu."

What say ye, Stefan, what say ye?

But hark, what's this?

Yes, indeed. As a garnish to the outrage, right next to the article is an ad for “I’d Rather Be Waterboarding” t-shirts. Stay classy and consistent, NewsBusters.

Amuse-Biatch Photoessay: She *Is* a Lipstick Lesbian!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Hell Hath No Fury Like a Sacrificial Lamb

Well, possums, we cannot lie. We and Martha Stewart are delighted, albeit for different reasons, to see Ariane Duarte go. We were enchanted by the symmetry of the whole thing. Lamb was the first thing she cooked on the show, and also the last, but this time around, the rascal lamb did not redeem her.

As the Mitford sisters would have put it, we roared when, at Judges’ Table, an audibly exasperated Tom Colicchio said, “She doesn’t know how to butcher leg of lamb; what is she doing here?”

Uh, Tom, funny you should ask that. It seems to us that what she’s doing there is gathering wins and accolades from you, and being symptomatic of a season with a lower talent quotient. Y'all chose her; you should know.

Ariane broke down the lamb, yes, but she also broke down. Have a look at her exit interview, the good bits of which we’ve transcribed for you.

“Leah was not a good team player, and neither is Hosea. He’s a wimp. He’s crying, he’s nervous, nervous, nervous when we’re waiting to go to Judges’ Table, with his tail between his legs…I don’t hold grudges, life’s too short, and that’s how I left ‘em. And you know what? What goes around comes around.

Leah is a young girl [contemptuous laugh]. She’s a party girl, she likes to have a good time, she likes to be the center of attention. She can cook, no doubt about it. She’s never wowed me. And she’s got a lot of growing up to do.”

“Um,” Miss XaXa interrupted, “isn’t that the pot calling the kettle…”

“More like mutton addressing lamb.”

Amuse-Biatch “Absolutely Fabiolous” Photoessay: Tom Colicchio’s Hands Reveal He’s Been Spending Too Much Time Around Fabio Viviani

Amuse-Biatch “Ahem” Photoessay: “Cock. I love that!”

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Ministry of Silly Talks: Amuse-Biatch Exclusive Interview with Ted Allen

As you might expect, possums, when it comes to the whole “journalism” thing, our style is more Hedda Hopper than Brenda Starr, and so, when Uncle Ted granted us an interview on the occasion of the premiere of Chopped, his new show on the Food Network, what could we do but take up our pad and our mother-of-pearl Mont Blanc, and channel Louella Parsons for all we were worth? We hope you enjoy it, possums; we will always remember the experience, since Ted Allen took our cherries…jubilee.

Amuse-Biatch: Bette, Joan or Madonna?

Ted Allen: Joan Jett.

AB: And speaking of Madonna, you once famously discussed how you would prepare and eat her pal Rupert Everett if ever you were stranded on a desert island with the Brit. If you found yourself on that proverbial island with the increasingly immaterial girl—she’s all gristle now—what cooking technique would you use to render her palatable?

TA: I’m thinking Ciccone au Vin.

AB: Do people get the munchies when they’re within 5 feet of Padma?

TA: Most people I know have the munchies for Padma. Did I ever tell you that I’ve seen her naked? True story: She was changing once during season 4 in Chicago, and, as a gentleman, I respectfully started to leave the room. And she said, “What, are you repulsed by my naked body?” So I gave her the once-over. I’ve been heterosexual ever since.

AB: You recently averred to an incredulous world that Padma Lakshmi’s job as host of Top Chef is harder than it looks. Have you gotten any tips or learned any lessons from Padma for your new gigs?

TA: Yes. If you already hear voices, it’s a bad idea to wear an earpiece. And don’t swap your flip-flops for Louboutins until the cameras are rolling.

AB: Did you know Gail Simmons was Jewish? We were thrilled to learn she was a member of the tribe.

TA: Jewish? I thought she was Canadian.

AB: As you know by now, your spot on the Top Chef judges’ panel was taken by Toby Young. Was it flattering that they couldn’t find anyone fresh, local and sustainable to replace you and had to import someone?

TA: Absolutely.

AB: What does it say when they have to get a Brit to replace a Gay?

TA: What’s the difference?

AB: Toby Young—you could take him, right? (In a fight, we mean.)

TA: We’re both far too polite to hit a guy with glasses.

AB: Has Carson Kressley ever made clothes for your Emmy statue?

TA: No, but Thom [Filicia] uses his as a toilet-paper holder at his lake house. The roll fits perfectly on her wings.

Chopped, Food Network, Tuesdays at 10 p.m. (Clip below courtesy of Food Network)

Virginia Woolf and Padma Lakshmi Be Damned, Uncle Ted Allen Finally Gets a Judges’ Table of His Own

Possums, the first thing you have to know is that, whatever else people who have not seen the show may say, Chopped, the Ted Allen-hosted cooking-competition show premiering tonight at 10 p.m. on Food Network, is not, we repeat, not a “Top Chef rip-off.”

As Uncle Ted himself put it, on Chopped, “[t]here is no sleep deprivation, no ‘Big Brother’ house full of bunk beds and cameras, no booze-fueled personal drama (as much as we all love the brainwashing and catfights on that certain show I used to judge).”

Or, as Miss XaXa put it, with Chopped you get no nuts.

That’s not to say there aren’t any fireworks. As Uncle Ted told us yesterday during a presser, “There is a lot of drama, [and] buckets of tears come out, [but] all the drama comes from the cooking.”

That’s right—Chopped is a straightforward cooking competition. Each self-contained episode features four young chefs and sous-chefs, mostly from the New York area, in a one-time competition for a $10,000 prize. The contestants have 30 minutes to prepare an entrée that must include all the ingredients in a mystery basket. The entrée is judged by a panel of chefs and the least favorite is, you guessed it, chopped. The remaining three contestants then prepare a main dish using yet another mystery basket of ingredients, and again the judges’ least favorite is chopped. The final two contestants prepare dessert with a third mystery basket of ingredients, the loser is chopped, and the winner gets the dough. Easy as pie, n’est-ce pas?

That’s it, which means that, unlike on Top Chef, “[t]here are no team or catering challenges. Best of all, there is no product placement, so you never see passionate lovers of good food being forced to use packaged convenience junk thanks to Kraft/ Altria/ Exxon’s sponsorship.”

(We loved seeing Uncle Ted playfully but deservedly nibble on the well-manicured but grubby hand that occasionally fed him.)

Sad as we are that we no longer get to see him on Top Chef (and that we were consequently saddled with Toby Young), we are, of course, delighted that Uncle Ted now has his very own show. Instead of merely being a guest at Tom and Padma’s table, the table is all his now. We were intrigued by a little move he gets to do on Chopped, removing a silvery cloche dish cover. During the presser, we asked him whether, as a gay man, he felt he had done it better than a straight host might have (we wouldn’t advise Tyler Florence to try the giveaway move). Uncle Ted conceded that one might perform the move in countless ways—“You could just pick it up like you’re picking up a cat, or with a flourish like a bullfighter with a cape”—but in the end he copped, not immodestly, to “extraordinary élan” in raising that cloche.

We encourage you to savor his extraordinary élan as Food Network raises the cloche on Chopped, tonight at 10 p.m.

(We are working on an exclusive interview with Uncle Ted, which we will bring to you forthwith, in which he discusses, among other things, seeing Padma Lakshmi naked. Miss XaXa, not to be outdone, replied, “Oh please. Everyone’s seen her naked. Practically every Monday on this blog.”)

Toby Young Fesses Up, Feels Fat

Which Cheftestant Used the Services of a Texas Henry Higgins?

From The Dallas Morning News:

The Voice and Speech Trainers Association...estimates that a third of its members now work with the general public rather than sticking with actors and voiceover artists.

"I've trained doctors. I've trained CEOs. I've even trained one of the contestants on Top Chef," said Bettye Zoller, a Dallas-based voice coach....

"They may not admit it, but a lot of very successful people have gotten voice coaching...."

Well, since this is in Dallas, our first guesses are Casey Thompson or Tre Wilcox from Season 3, but of course we don't know. If any of you, possums, has a tip about this, feel free to email us. Discretion guaranteed.

Previews: Trash, Pigs, Condescension and Multiple Missed Product-Placement Opportunities--E, I, E, I, O

Monday, January 12, 2009

When Worlds Collide: Toby Young’s First-Meeting Faux “Pads”

So, possums, want to know what happened the first time the 28th Most Beautiful Lady in the World met the man whose shtick is How to Lose Friends and Alienate People?

From the October 3, 2008, edition of The Scotsman:

“I recently boarded a flight from New York to London with my family and noticed that Salman Rushdie was on the same plane…I thought to myself that the last person you’d want on a flight from JFK to Heathrow when your wife and four children are on board is one of the biggest terrorist targets in the world. The next day I happened to be introduced to Padma Lakshmi [Rushdie’s estranged wife] at a party. And I thought it would be funny to tell her the story.” How did she respond? “She just sort of smiled and nodded.” Does he get that a lot? “Um, yes.”

Ah, possums, isn’t that eloquent response typical of our dear Pads?

Amuse-Biatch Gai Savoir: “Dykon, to Me, Is in the Radish Family.”

My !#*&%@%!!!, ‘Tis of Thee: Trying to Be Patriotic, Brian Malarkey Goes Deeply Un-American

It’s not as if we don’t agree with his point, possums, but “o” what a difference one little letter can make.

(We ought to say, by way of disclaimer and confession, that though we were quite rough with him during his season, we have developed rather a soft spot for ol’ Brian. Whatever else one can say about him (and we said it all), he had personality and gave us lots of material, which is more than one can say for a lot of the people who came after him. The little mad hatter himself, perhaps with the passage of time, has become quite a good sport about the whole thing, which is really the best way for cheftestants to play things. We daresay “Asshat” would seem a term of endearment these days, and you know, it would be. And don’t think we missed it when he called us “twisted.” Coming from MFMalarkey, we can think of no higher praise; we practically purred with pleasure.)

As for the substance of his charges, yes, absolutely. In These Troubled Times, we ought to buy American and bitch American. Besides, isn’t it the teensiest bit hypocritical for Bravo, with all its much-touted and much-vaunted “green” initiatives, to bring in a critic with such a large carbon footprint?

On the other hand, as Miss XaXa points out, Toby Young is so full of shit that maybe Bravo thought it environmentally sound to spread all that manure around.

UPDATE: Bravo fixes the country!

Amuse-Biatch Heterosexual Monday: Salma Hayek Just Called to Say, “Feliz Año Nuevo”

The Talented Miss Kostyra, or Martha Stewart and the Ghost of Christmas Past

It should be no surprise, possums, that we still judge the “holiday” episode to be an abomination in matters both great and small—e.g., Scallopgate II, T Mobile sponsoring paternal cancer. And yet, although the great healer Time and its handmaiden Oblivion have softened some of the edges of whorishness and mendacity, there are still one or two things that we could not forget and could not understand.

For example, why, oh why, had Martha Stewart selected New Jerseyite Ariane Duarte as the Quickfire Challenge winner? Not only had Ariane failed to fulfill the requirements of the challenge, she also seemed to be exactly the sort of person that Martha—our Martha, the Martha we know and love, the Martha who irons her linens in the middle of the night to relieve her stress, the Martha whose own daughter says, “Martha’s scary; you just don’t want to fuck with her”—would never pick, and in selecting her, Martha had been guilty of betrayal to herself. But why? We pondered and pondered, but it made no sense at all.

And then we read Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr. Ripley, and at once the scales fell from our eyes. Of course! Why hadn’t we seen it before? Ariane’s win was due to nothing less than blackmail.

No, no, possums. It’s not what you think. Let us explain.

A long, long time ago, possums (though we can’t say exactly how long, having been taught that it’s churlish to refer to a lady’s age), a crime was committed in Nutley, New Jersey. In an unusual turn, the victim and the perpetrator were the same, a certain Martha Kostyra, one of five children of Eddie Kostyra and Martha Ruszkowski Kostyra. That fateful night (for, under poetic license, it had to be night), and watched over by the spirits of Wilkie Collins and Carl Jung, Martha Kostyra—middle-class, ethnic, not New York and most certainly not Connecticut—was killed and buried in the psychic backyard of New Jersey, where, if the dark imaginings of David Chase are to be believed, so many bodies are interred. Her place was taken by the woman who would attend a silk-stocking Seven Sisters school, marry a Yale Law School graduate with a desirably un-ethnic surname (ironically, he’s Jewish), and amass a net worth of over $600 million.

And while Martha Stewart was doing all of this, Martha Kostyra lay buried in that psychic backyard, her metaphorical bones absorbing the toxicity of the New Jersey soil. At first, Martha Stewart could not be brought down, not by inadequate husbands who couldn’t handle her success, and not by disappointing daughters who dabbled in Sapphic sex and mediocrity. No. It took sexism and the feds (SEC-ism?) to bring her down. And then she had to go to jail and afterward pretend (not very successfully) that she had been humanized and cared what people thought.

And then, another fateful day, when, in the Top Chef kitchen, Martha Stewart came face to face with the ghost of Martha Kostyra, Jersey girl par excellence. Except that this revenant, this apparition, was named Ariane Duarte. Can you imagine Martha’s horror, possums? It’s positively Gothic. All these years she thought she was safe, soaking her past in the milk of myth and WASPishness that would remove the stink of its imperfection and humanity. And yet here was Ariane the Anti-Martha Stewart—dark, loud, ethnic, middle class, slatternly, slovenly, slap dash—the embodiment of everything Martha Stewart had tried to forget and had thought dead with Martha Kostyra.

How could it not seem like blackmail by the gods of fate? What choice did Martha have but to appease this ravening shadow self, this creature from the black lagoon of her subconscious? She would smile placidly, as if nothing were wrong, and, displaying her unrivaled self-mastery, hand that sloppy New Jersey bitch the win, hoping that it would be enough.

And that, possums, is our theory as to why Ariane won. It’s the only thing that makes sense.