Thursday, September 17, 2009

Top Chef: Team Voltaggio for the win!!

I don't watch a lot of reality tv. I did watch the first season of Survivor. I tuned into a couple of seasons of Real World.

But shows wear people eat gross things and cover themselves in spiders for money? Not interested.

Shows where women (or men) compete and degrade and humiliate themselves on national television to "win" the "love" of someone? Just makes me angry.

Shows where people sit around and do nothing except drink and fight and get it on and we get to indulge our voyeuristic curiosity? Makes me want to give up any hope of there being anything good and creative and purposeful and redemptive about television...

But as someone who has always been anti reality tv, I will recant and concede that there is a whole other genre of reality tv, embodied in my tv-watching repertoire by Project Runway and Top Chef, where like Survivor or The Bachelor, it's a competition for a prize, but where the winner is putting to use a skill that they have or pursuing a passion of theirs to win a prize to help them achieve a dream and a goal related to said skill. Winners are (for the most part) chosen on merit and effort. That kind of reality tv I can get behind.

Anyway, the latest seasons of Project Runway and Top Chef are currently airing, on Lifetime and Bravo, respectively. I started watching Top Chef during the middle of the second season and was immediately hooked. It's interesting, because I don't cook. Mostly because I can't cook. So while I am easily impressed by someone who can, say, simply whip up a tomato sauce from scratch, I am blown away by people who can conceive and execute anything even more complex than that, figuring out flavors and textures and how they'll work together and how to coordinate what needs to be cooked when and how to do it and just, all that jazz. Cooking like that is an art.

Of course, it's also interesting that I enjoy this show because I have a very unsophisticated palate. If you told me I could only eat one thing for the rest of my life, if it's something I like, I wouldn't mind. When foods get too fancy, I get annoyed. Just ask my father. At Thanksgiving, he has to make two sides of stuffing - fancy cornbread stuffing with raisins and nuts and all sorts of other experimental flavors and additions for the group and then also normal, regular stuffing. For me. I am very picky and particular about my food in that I like things plain and simple. My favorite cereal is Cheerios. Plain Cheerios. So I would never be able to create the dishes these chefs create and I could definitely never be a Top Chef judge. Also, unlike on Project Runway, where you can see what the designers have created, its hard as a viewer of Top Chef to really judge the winning and losing dishes because we can't actually taste it, but we can see if it looks good, and for the most part, the judges do a pretty good job of describing why a dish did or didn't work.

Anyway, I have completely digressed from the exact topic of this post, which is Team Voltaggio, of which I am captain. Every season, top contenders start to emerge, and while one or two dark horses might make it to the final four, two or three are usually no surprises, being consistently good throughout the competition. This season, that emergence has appeared much more quickly in the form of contestants Kevin, Jen, and the Voltaggio brothers, Bryan and Michael. Every week I expect all four of these chefs to do well, and every week, they do. In fact, Bryan has already won three elimination challenges. And while in past seasons certain top contenders have annoyed me to no end (yes, I'm looking at you, Hung), I would be perfectly happy to see all four of these chefs in the final four. It's easy to root for people who are not only talented but who seem like people you could be friends with. Or at least don't want to kick in the shins.

And while I enjoy seeing all of them do well, I have a special fondness in my heart for (translation: I am totally crushing on) the brothers Voltaggio, and I've been enjoying not only watching them cook but watching their playful and competitive sibling rivalry as they both support and root for each other to do well but also as they try to one-up each other in every competition.

I am looking forward to the rest of the season playing out (although I am not looking forward to the return of awful, annoying guest judge Toby Young) and with finding out which, if any, of my friends would be into wearing matching Team Voltaggio t-shirts whilst watching the show together.

I leave you with my TV Crush(es) of the Day:

Bryan Voltaggio

Michael Voltaggio

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