3 scrambled eggs
1 slice of wheat toast
1 glass of water
Top Chef: Just Desserts
I’m going to state this right off the bat. Don’t expect to read about the show, contestants or specific dishes from Top Chef: Just Desserts. A confidentiality agreement prevents me from revealing any details. I’ll write about the episodes I might appear in until after it airs, and I do have a lot to say about the dishes and contestants. I just have to wait until April, when the show premieres.
Through a friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend, I got a chance to attend two tapings of Top Chef: Just Desserts, one on Saturday and another on Monday. This is yet another spin-off of the Top Chef franchise. If you’ve seen the show before, then you’re probably aware that desserts scare the crap out of the contestants, they act all haughty and dismissive about desserts, and then get eliminated for a horrible creme brulee that they’ve never made before but inexplicably tried for a challenge. This new spin-off is Top Chef’s way of giving pastry chefs their due. If you’re familiar with the show’s format, there are occasional challenges where the contestants have to cater a party. I got to attend two such events and will appear in back-to-back episodes. I don’t know if Top Chef producers will care if a tall Asian guy keeps appearing in the show, but that’s their problem to fix in post.
Again, I can’t comment on any particular dish or divulge any details. I will say that most of the contestants are all too aware of certain food trends. I will also say that eating that many sweets at once is grueling. I know what you’re thinking, “oh it’s a tough life to eat free desserts. You’re an asshole.” But eating 10 sweets in an hour is painful. By the end of the meal, I had involuntary shaking and an inability to stare at one spot for longer than two seconds. Another guest, who attended a taping before, told me that I should not finish any dish. I didn’t listen to her and quickly felt nauseated. By the end, I was just taking one bite and tossing the rest. I don’t know how the judges eat so much and stay relatively skinny. Eating on Top Chef is similar to Man Vs. Food. You would think that Padma Lakshi and Gail Simmons would slowly get fat like Adam Richman did over the years. But nope, the only reason why they got fat were for babies. I don’t know how she does it, and I’m not willing to spread wild rumors thinking of possibilities. (FYI, Gail takes over Padma’s hosting duties on Just Desserts, inevitably spurring unfounded rumors that this is the eventual line of succession for Top Chef).
Top Chef is actually the second culinary show taping I went to. Hell’s Kitchen was the other one and I have to say, Top Chef is much more fun and efficient. Hell’s Kitchen is a pain in the ass. You’re in a green room for three hours before taping, and that room consists of folding chairs, a vegetable tray from Ralph’s and bottles of water. I’m pretty sure Cary Elwes was handcuffed to a pipe with only a hacksaw to free himself in Hell’s Kitchen’s green room. They warn you beforehand that service can be slow and you might not eat, and sure enough, dining drags out over a couple of hours. They do provide unlimited wine once you’re seated. Top Chef, on the other hand, provides an open bar from the get-go and the wait is only an hour. Free booze is the secret for most reality shows, whether it’s Jersey Shores, The Bachelor or Top Chef, in getting people to loosen up on camera. Top Chef treats you well in the green room with wine, beer (Stella and Newcastle) and cheap champagne. They also give you 10 different type of cheese, including smoked gouda, blue, brie, white cheddar and this goat cheese mixed with cranberry that I ate too much of. In fact, I was allowed to take a picture of my cheese plate, so this is the only picture I have from the Top Chef shoot.
If you want to know even more about my Top Chef experience, listen to my friend Ryan’s podcast, where a certain blogger is his guest. I was hoping that I could turn my blog into an audiobook narrated by Michael Clarke Duncan, but this podcast will have to do for now.
1 bowl of pho
1 glass of water
After Saturday’s Top Chef taping, two of our newfound friends suggested pho. We were all stuffed, but our body was also screaming for salt and protein to chemically balance ourselves. We ended up at Blossom in downtown LA and even though the pho itself was just OK, it was probably the most satisfying bowl I’ve ever had for the sole fact that it wasn’t dessert. It was salty, beefy and not too substantial, so pho was the perfect curative for sugar shock. After Monday’s taping, I needed to replenish my body’s sodium level again, and dinner at Pho Cafe was mandatory. I feel nominally normal now, though my fingers still twitch involuntarily while typing this very sentence.
3 glasses of water
1 cup of vanilla ice cream
Well, my “I can’t eat sugar for the rest of my life” phase lasted for six hours. I’m a pig.