Top Chef: Texas - Let the Games Begin
I have absolutely no tolerance for reality shows of any kind, and I watch little food television programming aside from Chopped, Alton Brown and the PBS Saturday morning line-up. I do not understand the modern paradigm of chef as rock star. I don't know why food blogging has become so entrenched in the pop zeitgeist that it has become a plot line for The Simpsons.
In other words, although I am a food lover and a food writer and a consumer of most things food culture-related, I am not the target audience for Top Chef. In fact, I have never watched a single episode before. To date, my closest run-in with Top Chef has been insulting Tom Colicchio on Twitter and then getting my ass [rightfully] handed to me via DM by the chef himself.
And were it not filming in Texas this season, I would likely not be watching this latest "cycle" either. But it is. And your great State spent $400,000 of your tax dollars getting Bravo here, so I feel obligated to cover the show as a public service. Let's see how accurately the show portrays Texas, or how blatantly it exploits our many stereotypes; let's see exactly how the world desires to see us.
And let's see a Texas without its largest city, while we're at it. Let's see a Texas bereft of the fourth largest city in the nation, and the one that arguably houses the best and most forward-racing food scene. Am I pissed off that Bravo passed up Houston? Absolutely. But not only out of a sense of civic pride -- but because it's so hideously fascinating to see how easily Houston was carved off Texas's carcass like a piece of meat the producers deemed useless, as if we don't even exist.
With that introduction, let's get to the recap -- my very first recap of a television show, ever -- and straight to the ugliest part of the show: the opening credits.
The opening graphic listing three of the NOT LARGEST CITIES IN TEXAS is already embarrassing me. Also, there are roughly 50 establishing shots of boots or boot stores or neon signs shaped like boots. And, of course, some calf roping. Therefore, as a proud seventh-generation Texan who neither owns boots nor calves, I already want to shoot myself.
So many cheftestants, so few fucks to give.
...and Padma's in front of the Alamo. Of course she is. Because we are nothing if not the national consciousness's hackneyed memories of bad John Wayne movies with no concept of the underlying history of the Alamo itself. I wonder if these chefs are as unimpressed with the Alamo as every other tourist ever. They sure look like it, but that could be because there are 1,574 of them and only 16 "real" slots on the show past these first two episodes. I hope they tear each other's throats out like mad dogs.
In that vein, I already hate this Tyler Stone kid. Someone please tear his throat out immediately so I don't have to hear bullshit like this all season long: "I've cooked for many celebrities, politicians..." That's not how you introduce yourself, asshat. How about where you've worked? For whom?
Non sequitur to: "This is really fucked up." You said it, random lady chef.
Emeril Lagasse is here in the Lone Star Kitchen, which -- seriously -- has Texas flags in the background. There is more pandering going on here than in a Ford truck commercial with Sam Elliot voiceovers. Eh... I guess it's nice to see a legitimate, old-school TV chef on a show like this, though.
Other random thoughts: I like the guy with the neck tattoos. I'm a sucker for those types. So. Much. Moto. And...here's Colin, the guy who can't dissociate George W. Bush from Texas. Yeah, that guy. He sounds like a hipster who makes stuff out of nut cheese.
The judges -- Tom Colicchio, Padma Lakshmi and Emeril himself -- hold up a dark blue chef's jacket. Only a few are getting handed out tonight. I'm already rooting against Tyler and the nut cheese hipster, and before I can even think about a better name for Tyler the first cooking challenge has begun!
Challenge for the first group: All parts of a whole pig are up for grabs! An hour to cook each dish! G.E. PRODUCT PLUGS ALL UP IN HERE. It's like Liz Lemon's fever dream. Suckers are taking the easy shit like tenderloin. I like the guy who yelled out for the ears. In other news: THIS IS ALL MOVING VERY FAST.
"I've written my own cookbook," weasels Tyler. OH GOD SHUT UP.
"I let somebody else butcher my tenderloin," says Grayson, who's stupidly handed her cut of the pig off to Tyler. Already with the excuses. Not interested.
"I take a lot of pride in my butchering," VO's another contestant -- maybe the Cruise Ship Lady, I can't even tell anymore -- who's clearly light years ahead of these two fools. Much better.
Meanwhile, Tom Colicchio standing over my shoulder while I'm fixing pork cheeks would freak me the hell out, too. There is too much going on right now for me to even figure out who he's standing over and freaking out, though. Too many cooks in the kitchen, quite literally.
Loudmouth Cookbook Author Tyler (I'm sorry, but I'm simply not going to be bothered with learning names this early on in the reality show mindfucking) is already complaining about how he doesn't work with pig a lot. More excuses. Seriously, please leave.
"The tenderloin is just hacked," says Grayson of Loudmouth Tyler's miserable butchering skills. Well, that's what you get for not doing it yourself. She doesn't have to worry about this schmuck stinking up the show for too long, though...
"You're a chef and that's a basic skill," says Tom of Loudmouth Tyler's pitiful excuse for a pork tenderloin. Thank you for tearing into him, Tom and Emeril. But it gets better: "I think you should just leave now," says Tom. YES SIR THANK YOU SO MUCH. Pack up your knives and go!
"I know where I'm going and that's right to the top," smirks Loudmouth Tyler as he leaves. The top of what? The lucrative world of obnoxious, baseless self-promotion? The Kardashians already have that covered.