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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Top Chef: Chicago!

Top Chef is back for its fourth season of variably qualified judges, choppy editing and shameless product placement. This season of Top Chef also presents us with the seemingly most talented crop of chefs yet, and the next dozen episodes should prove to be mesmerizing for foodies everywhere.

For those who don’t know, I’m a lover of movies and television but also an avid cook and Food Network addict. I am especially excited because this season of Top Chef takes place in my current home, Chicago. The Top Chefs shop at my Whole Foods! I have no idea why it excites me, but I get some small thrill from knowing that they’ve obtained ricotta salata from my cheese merchant. But enough of that, let’s get on with my summary of how Top Chef, Season 4 promises to shape up so far:

*This season features two chefs who, in addition to competing against each other for the win, are also a lesbian couple from San Francisco. You can say it’s a gimmick, but I don’t care. Bring on the sniping! I want to see a catfight in a cloud of potato starch!

*This season also features an extremely unctuous and Botoxified Rocco DiSpirito smarming it up, now with 150% more bitchiness. I know you’re a genius and what not, Rocco, but we still haven’t forgiven you for The Restaurant, you petulant muppet.

*The first episode featured the chefs at Uno’s making deep dish pizza (yawn), but the next episode (airing 3/19/08 on Bravo at 9PM Central) features the chefs cooking farmers' market ingredients at the Lincoln Park Zoo!

*Mark, the contestant from New Zealand, is totally adorable and, get this, he cooks with Marmite! .

*Owner and chef of the Chicago gourmet Mexican food staple Frontera Grill Rick Bayless will be judging one of the challenges! If you haven't had their Chilpachole de Camarones, walk, do not run to the North Loop and remember: they don't take dinner reservations so have a huge margarita at the bar while you wait for your table.

*I’m pretty sure Padma Lakshmi has a few too many benzos rattling around in her oversized Hermes bag. That woman is a little too mellow, like, barely alive mellow.

*One of the later challenges (leaked by my friends at the Television Without Pity comment boards) requires the chefs to crate a full entree with only five ingredients. Goodbye candied peppercorn coated foie gras with edamame dumplings and truffled haricot verts, hello three bean soup!


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