Tom Colicchio with a Side of Artichoke Hearts

Jul 27th, 2010 | By | Category: Columns

Top Chef is taking place in DC this year – since that’s your backyard, have you been following it closely and who do you think should win?

You are absolutely correct to think that this season’s Top Chef being set in Washington D.C. is simply orgasmic because eventually we’ll get to see head-judge and co-host, Tom Colicchio, in a red-white-and-blue speedo with eager contestants ready to slurp a puree out of his bellybutton. Did you all see the episode the other week where the contestants were getting all rustic by cooking on a farm? You couldn’t help but feel the anxiety for the chefs when you saw those decrepit outdoor grills and about fifty people walking up for food.  And this season’s ultra-sleazy villain, Angelo, was talking about making love to his duck entree, which also kind of adds to viewer distress – but all that melted away as Colicchio showed up.  He was looking quite rustic himself with his Virginia-cowboy jacket and plaid shirt underneath.  Now that just melts my butter.

Artist's depiction of Jonathan's butter, melted.

So, this show has been around for seven seasons and the competition just keeps getting more outlandish.  It’s easy to forget just how talented all these chefs are because almost every challenge is so improbable that people are just set up to fail. You might as well take a collection of non-athletic taste-testing chefs and throw them up against he American Gladiators obstacle course with some culinary judges barking criticisms at them. Pour wine, watch and enjoy.

Remember when Tom completely ripped into Amanda over her failed minestrone soup?

Tom:  When we cook, why do we cut uniformly?

Amanda: (sniveling) Oh God … so everything cooks the same?

Tom:  (while flexing his muscles and looking so stern and peppery) Then why didn’t you cut uniformly?

Amanda: (near tears) Because I’m not worthy?

Tom: I thought so.

Perhaps one of the biggest disappointments of this past episode was that Tom was not present to judge the Quick Fire challenge –but then, the dessert always comes at the end of the meal.  So, anyway, the chefs all had to work with really obscure ingredients and then, like ten minutes in, one of those other judges (I think she was married to Salman Rushdie at one point) announced that everybody had to switch ingredients mid-cooking.  Some people freaked out, someone won immunity, Angelo was acting like a total snob, and somewhere off camera, contestants Kenny and Colicchio were lathering each other up in olive oil.

As for the main challenge–it was the “Cold War Revisited” (probably alluding to the cold harsh terrain of Colicchio’s impenetrable heart).  Now this I found interesting, because the chefs were divided into two teams, each responsible for his/her own cold dish, and then each team judged the other team’s food to determine the winners and losers. So, yeah–everybody freaks out again and starts plotting and Angelo keeps talking about his sexy salmon.  (Note to self: never eat at Angelo’s restaurant…especially if the dish is cream-based.) 

Thankfully when the judging came, Colicchio and those other judges showed up. He, of course, was wearing this charming blue on darker blue suit, one that spoke of sumptuous arctic char drizzled with authority.  Of course, the actual judging was anything but objective, as the chefs just dished out sabotaging comment after sabotaging comment. Really, there is now way for any of us to know who the real winner of the challenge was. Even the technical winner, the highly likable Kevin, was criticized by his opponents for not having enough acidity on his surf and turf dish.

Well, that’s why Colicchio was there to monitor.  “What the hell are you all talking about? There’s no acidity from the tomatoes?!  You insolent little amateurs.”

Ohmygoodness–did I also mention that I totally saw regular guest judge, Eric Ripert, walking down the street when I was in Richmond a few weeks ago?  He was looking all sultry and French and shit.  It was amazing. You know if he had been there, he would have blurted out something like this to Angelo: “What the Hell is this?  It tastes like Velveeta and shame…”  Nice.
Do you want Jonathan to hold you close at night and whisper comforting things about your MFA courses in your ear? Email him at, to discover the answers to your deep philosophical questions–or at least to find out if there really is a pool on the top floor of your dorm.

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