Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Thursday, January 08, 2009

Top Chef takes on Toby Young,Nip/Tuck returns and American Idol is on the way!

Top Chef started off the new year with a rather challenging Quickfire,as Padma and guest judge Jean-Christophe Novelli personally took charge of removing a certain sweet temptation from the TC kitchens. That way,the chefs had no choice but to find alternate ways to make a dessert style snack taste as good as it should the natural way.

Radhika won the Quickfire for her bread pudding with yogurt and fruit,the second time she's done that so far. After giving her immunity,Padma informed everyone that there would be a replacement judge for Gail for the rest of their "time in New York"(a tad vague there,in my opinion)who would be Toby Young,best known for his super snarky memoir,"How To Lose Friends and Alienate People."(a great read,btw,I highly recommend it)

That made the Elimination Challenge a "getting to know you" dinner for the judges and a group of "foodies/critics",with the food to be made in family style portions and free reign given to the chefs to make whatever they wanted(about time!). The catch was this would a double Elim,since nobody went home for Christmas.

That was the first catch,anyway-as it always is with Top Chef,more was yet to come. The chefs were divided into two groups,the idea being that this would be a "blind tasting"(the dinner guests would not be told who cooked what before eating),so Group A was sent out earlier than Group B,to shop and then cook. When Group B arrived at the location,they found out that they were the extra tasters at the meal. To put the cherry on top of the surprise sundae,the first batch of chefs got to watch their fellow competitors on a hidden camera/TV in the kitchen,giving their firsthand impressions of the meal.

Lucky for Radhika that she had immunity for this round,since Toby started off his snarkfest by comparing her crab bisque with salad to "weapons of mass destruction."

That was only the beginning,folks. Things got even dicer when it was Group B's turn to showcase their food,with the earlier set of chefs ready and willing to voice their on the spot opinions.

Some food did pass muster;Judge Tom raved about Stefan's duck with dumplings and cabbage(I think he wanted to marry it at one point). Toby liked it as well,admiring how authentically German it tasted.

Ariane was in the Top Three yet again,for her skate plate. I swear,every time she gets a chance to cook meat,this woman has the magic touch. Therefore,I hearby dub Ariane the Princess of Protein!

The big winner(at last)was Jamie,who redeemed her scallop sins by serving them up seared with fennel. Nice going,Jamie,but you do have to be careful and not become Repeat-O Girl with this particular piece of fish. Fabio had a point when he commented off camera about her constant use of scallops.

Carla barely squeaked by in the Bottom Three,as her scallop with mint risotto had too much raw garlic in it. She was aware of how her dish had failed and owned up to her errors but Toby had a point(during the deliberations)when he said that her food showed a lack of confidence that he wasn't sure she would be able to get over.

Carla had said that she wanted to make a vegetarian dish but was afraid that the judges would think she didn't know how to make a protein,so the scallop was a compromise ingredient. If the challenge had required her to use a protein,that would be understandable but in this case,everyone was told they could make anything they wanted. She does seem like a nice person,so maybe this second chance will boost her boldness for the future.

Toby did want to give Eugene another shot,even tho his deep fried red snapper was overcooked and the daikon fettucini was an odd choice.

I've never tasted daikon but from what I gathered on the show,it's a type of radish,a veggie that doesn't lend itself to being served hot. Toby thought he showed promise but Tom was offended by the waste of a whole fish(Bourdain would've agreed with him),so Gene had to pack his knives and go.

Melissa joined him and her ahi tuna tacos really took a beating here. During the meal,Toby said that her dish "tasted like cat food" and during the Judges' table,he also commented upon the smell,"that it was not pleasant." Guest judge Novelli didn't like it either and during the deliberation,Tom tried to stick up for her,saying that this dish showed "who she was." "Isn't that why she should leave?" Toby asked. I love this guy.

Next week should be interesting,with barnyard animals and a fight between Stefan and Jamie. Sounds like shenanigans to me!

Nip/Tuck picked up where the first half of Season five left off(due to the Writer's strike)with Sean managing to survive Colleen's frenzied knife attack and becoming wheelchair bound. He's refusing to take up surgery again,insisting that his hands are not yet steady,and taking on a teaching role instead.

Christian,meanwhile,is having a medical crisis of his own,as a mammography for Liz leads him to get one himself and be diagnosed with breast cancer. For a while,it looks as if our boys are going to have to give each some major league comfort(part of which comes from picking up hot girls)but things are not always what they seem.

I do think this new season has gotten off to a good start and I'm looking forward to what is yet to come:



Yes,folks,American Idol will soon be upon us,bringing a brand new judge into the mix. Her name is Kara DioGuardi and according to the EW article I read,she and Paula are big time buddies,with no possibility of Kara being groomed as a replacement for Paula(we shall see,Eve Harrrington!).

The important thing is that we get the good,the bad and the overdramatic that makes this show the ultimate in Guilty Pleasures(especially the bad):


LEGEND OF THE SEEKER: New episodes begin this weekend and the latest one looks like a real doozy. Richard is captured by a magic manipulator named Denna,who plays some very twisted mind games with him indeed:

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