Who Knew?

August 18, 2009

So, I’ve been catching up on my DVR’d episodes of Top Chef Masters and while I am not in love with it as much as I am Top Chef, it still sucks me in. Let’s face it, Kelly Choi is no Padma but she does a decent job and I really do enjoy the fact that the Master who wins each challenge gives the winnings to the charity of their choice.  Plus, the show gets these little breaths of the original Top Chef through snippets of big Tom C., the lovely (so glad she is back) Gail and this last episode even had some of my favorite previous contestants. And I do so love getting the opportunity to watch some of these chefs work – one in particular, but we’ll get to that. First, I have to talk about Rick Bayless! Such a nice guy, such amazing food and so humble. I am one of those people who ventures towards Mexican cusine when selecting an item on the menu anyway, so you get me watching Rick Bayless putting out some of his high-end, authentic, fresh and innovative Mexican cuisine and I am hooked. And then there is that personality that is just so lovable.

Art Smith was fun too. He reminds me of this couple who owns my favorite B&B in Michigan. They love cooking, entertaining, love saying “honey,” and all that good stuff. Watching him makes me want to pay them a visit asap. As much as I like Art and his pet names for all of the chefs and Rick Bayless in all of his previously stated glorious-ness, I have to say that out of everyone on the show, I am addicted to Michael Chiarello. I remember seeing him when he had a show, Easy Entertaining, on Food Network a few years back and I really did like some of his recipes but on Masters, it’s a whole different Michael. I am watching these intros that Tom C. and Gail do when they discuss the featured chef’s accomplishments and hear Tom, “he’s been out of the restaurant business for some time…just got back into it…got a lot to prove…” along these lines and they are showing clips of him in the kitchen of his place, Bottega, in – where else – Napa Valley. The man owns a vineyard for goodness sake and cooks amazing Italian food, who wouldn’t love him?! So anyway, the clips, I’m watching them and noticing, they don’t even look like the same chef. He is rougher looking, stout with salt-and-pepper hair and very much in charge looking. No fancy sweater with khakis to be seen. A look I remember him sporting on just about every episode of EE.

 After watching that first episode, I gathered that the Michael from Masters is the Michael who is truer to himself than the ‘Easy Entertaining’ Michael. And hey, nothing wrong with that…money is money, right? I’d dress like Mr. Rogers and be hokey if someone threw a TV Show my way. Here is what I think, though: I am thinking his fan base is going to grow hugely from being on this program and viewers seeing him in this whole new light. Especially with the viewers of the female variety. The look, the attitude and the food he puts out – seriously, he might be giving some of the hunky (and younger) Top Chef contestants of the past a run for their money. Move over, Sam from Season 2! If you didn’t catch the latest episode that included Dale attempting to chest-bump Chiarello and get in his face over some fridge space, you really should check that out. I know it was a little Jr. High and I will admit that he had been a jerk for testing the previous contestant’s knife skills, but I was still glued.  All caught up and awaiting the finale, I realize now that I am a larger fan of his, and in turn this show, than I thought possible and hope that I am not alone.

Dinner tomorrow night with a friend…