“Top Chef” Countdown
Credit: Bravo TV
I just got off a conference call with two of the four “Top Chef” judges — Toby Young (at the far left in the photo) and Gail Simmons (far right). This Bravo TV reality cooking show begins its new season next Wednesday with a “supersized episode” that will last from 9 p.m. to 10:15 p.m. Three of the 17 contestants are Atlantans.
The judges answered a bunch of questions from journalists about what they thought of Las Vegas, what the conditions were like on the set, what impact the show has had, and so on.
Here’s what I found interesting:
On Las Vegas:
- Young said he liked it because he could be a “Libertarian” there, walking around the casino floor in his bathrobe and holding a cigar. Um, “libertine”?
- Simmons loved getting off the Strip and visiting the Neon Museum of old signs. She also said the city’s dry climate was a godsend to the chefs’ baking efforts. In previous cities, the humidity played a decisive role in the success and failure of different dishes.
On the show’s impact:
- Simmons says she is repeatedly stopped in the street by viewers who are emboldened to try eel or chiffonade herbs thanks to the show. They also say their kids often come up with cooking lingo after watching the show. They ask to “brunoise” carrots.
On choosing who stays and goes:
- Young says after a while the judging gets hard and “the judges get more quarrelsome as each season progresses.”
- Simmons says “it comes down to technicalities, to the subtle nuances of a dish.”
Other tidbits from the conversation:
- Simmons reveals that Tom Colicchio doesn’t like okra, and she doesn’t like black beans.