A New ‘Top Chef'; No I Think I Can’t Dance

All right, I desperately needed a break this week from family dramas and celebrity jungles. Last night was the perfect opportunity, as “Top Chef Masters” premiered, and “So You Think You Can Dance” began its performance shows. "TOP CHEF MASTERS" Unlike the regular "Top Chef" series, this pits real top chefs from around the country […]

Last Updated: June 11, 2009 @ 7:53 AM

All right, I desperately needed a break this week from family dramas and celebrity jungles. Last night was the perfect opportunity, as “Top Chef Masters” premiered, and “So You Think You Can Dance” began its performance shows.

"TOP CHEF MASTERS"
Unlike the regular "Top Chef" series, this pits real top chefs from around the country against each other. Chefs included: Michael Schlow of Boston, former “Top Chef” judge Hubert Keller of San Francisco, Christopher Lee of New York and cowboy Tim Love of Texas.

 

Also unlike the regular series, all the chefs don’t all start out against each other, with one eliminated each week. I guess these Big Shots don’t have that much time to give a reality show. So they’ve staged it as six preliminary rounds of the competition, with the four chefs going head to head in two challenges for the chance to win $10,000 for the charity of their choice.

 

Only one advances to the final rounds, when the top six are pitted against each other. Well, not really pitted. “Top Chef Masters” is not about backstabbing — these guys seem to get along pretty well. (Yawn.) Though they do seem to give it their all.

For the first challenge, the four were asked to prepare a dessert in 60 minutes for a group of discerning critics — Girl Scouts. Their concoctions ranged from cookies to “chicken fried strawberries” —and the girls were hard to please, especially one who seemed to be going for her badge in “fickle.” In the end, though, Hubert Keller won them over with his whimsical mouse and swan-shaped sweets.

In the second challenge, they had to use microwave ovens and a toaster oven to prepare a three-course in a dorm room to be eaten by the critics and students alike. I got lost in all their fancy food talk (I’m an Arby’s girl myself) but I appreciated Tim Love’s defrosting drama and the comedy of Hubert Keller using the shower nozzle to heat up and cool down the pasta for his mac ‘n’ cheese.

 

Whatever he did in that community bathroom it paid off. Keller was named the winner of the second challenge as well.

As the overall winner, Keller — the former judge — was awarded $10,000 for the Make-a-Wish Foundation and will continue to the next round.

 

"SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE"
I have to admit that I’d never really watched “So You Think You Can Dance” before last night. I don’t know how to dance. I don’t even think that with enough practise I could. But this show elicits fandemonium that’s near “Idol” proportions. That in itself was reason enough to check it out.

Just as with "Idol," the audition shows leading up to this were something of a bore that never trapped my attention. But now that the competition has begun, I admit it: It was intriguing to watch performers with different backgrounds execute styles that may have been foreign to them previously. And, like a child, the bright costumes and music kept me entertained.

 

Standouts for me were the “Jai Ho” Bollywood number and the “crash test dummy” routine choreographed by Wade Robson. (That’s right, the guy who allegedly broke up Justin and Britney!)

Much like the early stages of  “Idol,” too, it still feels a little premature to get invested in any contestants this early in the game. (We don’t want another Anoop heartbreak!) But at least now I know what “jazz blades” are.

"I’M A CELEBRITY … GET ME OUT OF HERE!
"
OK, I lied. I did watch the celebrity jungle show.

 

Monday night we were left hanging as to who would win immunity. Get it? “Left hanging” because they were hanging from a metal bar! Anyway, Lou Diamond Phillips won, so he will be around for at least another week.

Heidi’s sister, Holly Montag, showed up to take the place of the Pratts. Or was it the place of Frances? She stepped up right away, winning a food challenge for the women — their first. She was also “befriended” by Janice Dickinson, but the Baldwins warned her that she may not be sincere.

Sanjaya continued to be amazing at everything, and I actually voted for him to stay. There’s a first for everything. I think he really has a shot at winning, actually. Ironically, Vote for the Worst isn’t even backing him this time; they’re hoping to keep Janice.

Speaking of Janice, where to start? She’s upsetting everyone at camp by scarfing down all the food. Jeez, you’d think for the “world’s first supermodel” she’d be better at starving. She also vehemently denied stealing a granola bar, even though everyone at home saw her stuffing her face with it on camera. I’m also suspicious that she’s the one who has been peeing in camp — apparently a no-no.

 

Lou had to have a “leader-to-camper” talk with her and let her know that people are sick of her antics. Hopefully she’ll be around awhile, as we need some drama now that Heidi and Spencer are gone!