Now, I have spent plenty of time in restaurant kitchens myself over the years and remember with exceptional clarity how stressful and emotional it can be. Working in a very tight space on a very tight deadline with all the weapons and heat that a kitchen requires can be downright brutal, to say the least. Throw in a few over-the-top egos and you have yourself one tasty soup!
So did I learn anything more about these characters after spending ten hours on the Reunion set with them? Sure - I learned that many of them now have agents; new websites, cookbooks and ambitious restaurants in the works, way more makeup on their faces and tons more work from their private clients. The show has changed them all somehow. It will be very interesting to watch their careers unfold.
I also took away with me a few impressions of some of the Top Chefs (in no particular order) that surprised and delighted me. I learned that Stephen can be a charming, low-key and gracious gentleman if you let him. Cynthia is as feisty as the day is long (and oh how long it was). She is also a warm, gregarious spirit. Truly one-of-a-kind. Then there was Mom-of-the-house Lisa who I believe is one of those people you want with you if you are stuck on a desert island. She is so resourceful and resilient. I hope her kids know how good they have it!
More importantly, I learned we should all beware of tears. They are NO indication of weakness. On the contrary, they often disguise a fierce and passionate competitor. Just ask Dave. And don't be fooled by Harold's quiet demeanor either. He is far from the simple workhorse he'll have you believe. He is full of good ideas, good intentions and a well-thought-out plan for success. As for Tiffani, I think she actually plays the game exactly as it was designed. She is clever, quick and very talented. But what her tough exterior hides is a great deal of charm and inner strength. I just wish she would let it show through more often. Ok - I am done with the sappy stuff. Next stop: Vegas!