In a room full of dating couples we must have made a pretty curious table: the skinny, hot Korean-American gal, the intense, precise gay man, the lady in the hat who once bedded Elvis, and the Anglo-Jewish guy with so much hair you could use him to stuff a sofa. Between us we had a lot of the major demographics covered, just not necessarily each others’. Ah, but there was still a lot of love at that table for the whole crew was back together, ready for another month of eating, niggling, whining, eating, praising, eating, and wise-crackery. And eating. Welcome to Top Chef Masters 2.
Curiously the most dislocating thing about the whole experience was the familiar. The dining room set, like the kitchen set, was exactly the same as for Season 1. The actual location wasn’t. We would step off the set and find ourselves in an entirely different building in an entirely different part of Downtown L.A. There were positives to this. One of them was the proximity of the kind of sushi joint that in L.A. was met with a shrug, such is the high standard of Japanese food in that town, and which anywhere else would have been regarded as a beacon of hope. Regularly, after an extended tasting, Kelly would announce that what she really needed now was lunch and would disappear only to return with armfuls of dragon and spiny tuna rolls. I have no idea where all this food went. Certainly it never appeared on her thighs.
Another plus point: we had left behind the adult movie business, with whom we shared our previous location, the noise from which would occasionally cause a suspension in filming. (On the downside my peculiar fantasy, born of exhaustion in the latter stages, that the two productions might somehow get intermingled producing a literal gastro-porn, was now never going to be realised. Shame.)
Not that we had much time to consider any of this, for there is very little preamble on a production like Top Chef Masters. I had only been in the U.S. a little over 12 hours when I found myself in that dining room, at that table, ready to see what the teams had come up with. As the eventual result showed – a win for the pair that didn’t attempt a riff on ingredients – we were always going to score good flavours over whimsy. We saw what Govind and Jimmy were getting at with that lamb chop/ lamb carpaccio combo, it just didn’t deliver. Indeed when I first heard we were being served a lamb carpaccio my first thought was "Interesting. I wonder why I have never eaten one of those before." After eating it, my first thought was, "That’s why." It wasn’t bad. None of the food was bad. It just wasn’t great.
Welcome Back! It's good to hear and read your clever witticisms on all matters of gastronomy. From the comments at panel, I was surprised that rubber shrimp and heavy pasta beat exquisite duck. However, if I were there, the pasta & seafood plate would have been the one I would like to eat - until I heard those remarks. Raw lamb sounded atrocious. The Duck soup looked greasy and ungainly. Taleggio cheese with truffles sounded sublime...
I could tell immediately who would win the 1st competition after the introductions were made.. Esp? No, I think it was politics! Not that they weren' t good chefs...but I think their dish could have ranked last, and they still would have won. Obama's favorite chef! give me a break.
Welcome back, Jay! Love the show, and your presence on it. I became enamoured of your writing last season and consequently purchased your book...excellent! I am a food-writing junkie, and your book is one of my favorites! Enjoy the season!
Welcome back. I was hoping the powers that be would let you back into the country. Glad to "see" you and look forward to your commentary each week.
Jay, glad to have you back. Your critical contributions to the show and your blog here are good to see again.
Put a ukelele (bad spelling I am sure) in Jay's hands and have him sing tiptoe through the tulips and it's laugh-in all over again!!!
Love the competion, Love Jay, overal; love the show. however, I agree with Viewer37 - what the heck does politics have to do with this? Nothing. Other than driving viewers away... With all the hours of tape, I find it sad Bravo spent time actually having the 2 chefs pontificate about Obama (yes, the winners). Sad. Keep it up and you'll lose viewers. Jay, do something about this!