Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Delicious Anticipation

Yay! Hell's Kitchen is back. Another fun season of watching British super-chef Gordon Ramsay bellow, bully, and abuse a group of chefs hoping to land a quarter-million bucks and a great job. I'm not aboard the Ramsay-is-so-hott! train (he actually does, as loudmouth Vinnie said, look like a shar pei), but I find him vastly entertaining. No one of the contestants really stands out for me so far, but I'm solidly behind Waffle House Julia, whose colleagues treated her with inexcusable rudeness and snobbery to their own detriment (well, duh, wouldn't you think a short-order cook would be the first choice to fry eggs?).

I'm also looking forward, with some trepidation, to the third season of Top Chef, which starts tomorrow with a face-off between the top finishers from Seasons 1 and 2. After their nonstop pettiness and accusations of cheating, not to mention the outright assault, the entire cast of S2 (aside from Marcel) is dead to me; they make even S1's Stephen and Tiffani look good by comparison. Plus, Ilan isn't fit to flip Harold's burger. So you know which team I'm on.

S3 proper starts next week. It looks like they have made some needed changes, including hiring Lee Anne Wong to coordinate the challenges and adding Ted Allen as a judge to bring some warmth to the rude and dismissive Tom Colicchio. Let's hope the producers learned their lessons from what went wrong last time, cast the cheftestants for talent rather than personality, and keep the focus on the food, not the drama. (In other words, follow the example of Shear Genius, which managed to be remarkably professional, pleasant, and conflict-free.) But if it starts to look like S2 all over again, I'm out of there.

It'll be interesting to watch the two shows side by side. Although both are cooking competitions, they really call for different skills. TC stresses creativity, thinking on your feet, and doing your own thing; HK values consistency, organization, and teamwork. Not to mention a thick hide when Ramsay unleashes his blistering tongue on you. Ah, yes, this should be fun.

Edited June 7 to add re: TC S1/S2 Smackdown: what I said.

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