Let’s Meet the Cheftestants

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Top Chef premiere! Top chef premiere!

The first episodes of elimination reality shows are sort of pointless since everyone melds together into a bitchy, beige, pointy-haired mass. It’s nothing to quit watching a show over, but it’s certainly a pitfall of the genre.

The first chef to draw my notice (though I still probably wouldn’t be able to pick her out of a lineup) is Eve, from Michigan. She says she’s “surprised that she’s the only chef from Michigan.” Reeeeeally? Don’t get me wrong, I’ve eaten TONS of delicious food in MI, but very little of it is high end or… top chefly. I’ve never been to Eve’s Ann Arbor restaurant though, maybe it’s a high point of culture (but badly cooked scallops and rubbery shrimp make me think I’m not missing much). Anyway, Eve slips herself into the country bumpkin roll being all “I’m the only one impressed by mountains and palm trees, ya’ll are totally unfazed!”

MI may not be a cultural mecca, but it’s also not like, land o’ the rubes. We have lots of impressive nature things, and lots of Michiganders travel to places with mountains and palm trees particularly those in a position to compete on Top Chef. It just seems like an easy and annoying stereotype for Eve to embrace.

Michael is kind of disgusting with his “rack of lamb” and “two lovely coconuts” dish. So smarmy. But I can’t hate it too much because it gave me a great moment of Gail and Padma looking grossed out and Tom Colicchio being all, “No, cuz it’s RACK of lamb, like plastic surgery RACK–” And Gail busting in, “Yeah, we get it.”

Eli quickly secured a place as chef I will love to hate by cattily noting in a poolside interview that no one would want to see cuddly bear Kevin in a swim suit. Um, mirror, look into, Eli, you guys have practically the same physique. It’s sad to me when people on cooking shows embrace fat hatred. Like, come on, if there’s any time and place you should be able to roll out with your rolls out it’s when you’re watching the food network.

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5 Responses to “Let’s Meet the Cheftestants”

  1. Rooo Says:

    Here from Jez, but took a chance that you were that same Gnatalby (and if so, were wondering how many there are) from your comment here.

    I’ve been reading a lot about Chilean wine because there are vintners who have partnered with Chilean charities who are working for earthquake relief. So booze is on my mind.

    So how come there is no booze in these posts? :-)

  2. gnatalby Says:

    Yay I’m so excited you found my blog! I’m an enormous fan of your comments on Jezebel (assuming you are the Rooo who sez bish plz), and yes, I am the self same Gnatalby– it’s my best friend’s childhood nickname for me, so I thought it made a pretty unique online handle.

    I too love Chilean wines, especially their comparative cheapness to awesomeness ratio. And while you may not see the booze *in* the posts, there is pleeeeeenty of booze that goes into the writing of them, as is apparent in some of the sloppier/more effusive ones.

    • Rooo Says:

      So you said

      “Because what I want to say is: “Maybe if you stopped being so judgmental of others you’d stop hating yourself so much.” But that is just unbearably smug sounding.”

      Now JMHO of course, but that doesn’t sound particularly smug to me.
      (And of course, we could go meta in context of why you thought it sounded smug, but … one layer at a time. *struggles to be organized and orderly*)

      I’m wondering — because clearly I’m all aboard the “something needs to be said” train — whether if instead you said something like

      “Maybe if you stopped hating yourself so much you wouldn’t feel so compelled to judge other people.”

      OR

      “Why do you feel compelled to judge her? She doesn’t seem to be judging you.”

      OR maybe even just

      “Why do you feel compelled to judge her?”
      as some people (all right, women, we’re talking about women here) do it as a reflex, since we’ve been taught and encouraged to do it. They don’t even know they’re doing it.

      But I have noticed the more self-hate there is, no matter how well subsumed, the harsher the criticism of others that tends to pour forth.

      And it really is poisonous. To the person who gets hit with it, should they hear; to the person dishing it out — and to you, the peripheral listening friend. Especially if/when it’s constant.

      (Oh, dear. Barely out of the box, and look. A book.)

      Thoughts?

      • gnatalby Says:

        “Why do you feel compelled to judge her? She doesn’t seem to be judging you.”

        I actually really like this response, it’s light enough that it can seem more like a joke and less like a serious criticism of a friend’s character, but it still says everything I want it to say.

        Because I do agree with you, it’s not like I think my friends are uniquely bad people who have invented this kind of behavior, we all run a million cultural programs every day without realizing we’re doing it, and sometimes you just need to become aware of it.

  3. Rooo Says:

    Actually (and I’ll leave it here) I read this today, and this is a much more succinct – and much less critical – way to put what I think I was trying to say:

    “once you stop criticizing yourself, you stop criticizing others”

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