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FRANK BRUNI WEIGHS IN ON TOP CHEF

today's ny times features an article about tonights episode of top chef. it contains NO SPOILERS so feel free to read it through. a very rational and interesting take on the show (i still detest "wolverine").
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/31/din...

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  1. Mr. Bruni has not been paying attention: Camp Glucose was a VERY appropriate name for a camp for diabetic, not overweight, youngsters.

    1. jeez, what would the Times do without food boards and blogs for stories? if it weren't for the TC frenzy on CH, TWOP, Anuse-Biatch, Eater, etc. would nayone be writing about it in the Times?

      also vide the PrimeTimeTables story in this week's issue - fed by Urban Daddy and Eater info primarily...

      1. Bruni gives credit to Ilan for using Fig Newtons in a fig sauce when in fact it was Betty who did this. Ilan used pear nectar. A totally minor point but worth mentioning because people tend to see Bruni as untouchable. It blows my mind that anyone bothers to write and risk publishing something when they don't know if it's true or not. (ie, the Bittman/Mexico disaster.)

        1. Good article.

          Though it's naive to blame the contestants for their hairdos, some of which were clearly dreamed up by the producers in order to give them more easily distinguishable visual identities. None of them would have all that hair flying around at their real jobs.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            Well, actually, I went to school with Marcel and we was, in fact, sporting the same hairdo back then. This was in 2005. It may have been sligtly less inflated back then, but only slightly.

          2. Mr Lauriston, surely you're kidding.

            While hairdos have nothing to do with anything, those are perfectly styled "images" created by the contestants themselves. Ilan is known for showing off an array of hairstyles, perfectly styled bandanas (twisted to the side just-so, in gangster mode) and even exaggerated porn-star moustaches while working in his open kitchen. It's all part of an affected look. The same goes for Marcel, who has had that style for years.

            Part of what separates these contestants from other chefs is their interest in fame that goes beyond the kitchen. Part of achieving it is to cultivate an image that says "I'm not just a manual laborer." If this wasn't the case we wouldn't be forced to read awful fluff on sexy chefs at least once a season in papers and magazines.

            While the producers are guilty of plenty of things, botching the editing being among the worst, styling the contestants is not one of them.

            8 Replies
            1. re: gingersweetiepie

              Each contestant had a distinguishing hairstyle that was the same on every episode (until Hawaii). The producers wouldn't have gotten that by letting contestants choose their own looks.

              Some of the contestants they presumably left as is, e.g. Cliff's shaved head. Others they messed with--Marisa Churchill doesn't wear a do-rag and hair-extension braids in real life.

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                I think we'll have to agree to disagree. Part of the contract requires the contestants not to change their looks dramatically for the sake of contuinuity in footage, but to suggest that images were developed by anyone but themselves just makes me laugh.

                1. re: gingersweetiepie

                  What makes you think they had any more say over their hairstyles than they did over the chef jackets they wore on screen?

                  Here's how Marisa Churchill looked when posing for a photo at work before filming started:

                  http://www.sfgate.com/blogs/images/sf...

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    Not much different than her Bravo-TV photo - yes, she's had professional makeup in the Bravo TV photo, but pretty much the same.

                    1. re: LindaWhit

                      In the competitions, she was invariably wearing a goofy-looking do-rag and braids:

                      http://www.bravotv.com/Top_Chef_2/epi...

                      Here's another photo of her at work in real life:

                      http://www.bravotv.com/Top_Chef_2/pho...

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        Please don't get me wrong because I'm definitely not trying to pick a fight. But as you are an SF food writer, do you know Marisa? Because plenty of women in kitchen wear said "goofy do-rags" and braids - anything to keep hair out of the face while working. But when the Chronicle is coming to take your photo, the press savvy ones will dress and style themselves neatly to represent the restaurant.

                        This all goes back to my point: Hair is stupid but if anyone takes it seriously, has fun with, or doesn't care about it at all, its the person with the mane. Bruni's comments were silly but he was simply addressing a charcteristic that's hard to ignore: image. For reality tv and aspirations of stardom, it's important to many.

                        ETA: I realize that I'm pushing a really dumb topic so thanks for bearing with me. =)

                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                          So she's working - her hair is pulled back. As someone dining at a place where she might cook, I WANT her hair pulled back so it doesn't get in my food she's preparing! I still don't see much difference in how she normally looks.

                  2. re: Robert Lauriston

                    The contestants do choose their own looks, though during the contest, until the finale, they were sequestered away for six weeks without any contact with the outside barbering world (unless you count Cliff's clippers). At the finale, Marcel's hair is shorter, but still styled the same way.

                2. Actually, wait. Maybe you were being sarcastic?

                  1. Good description of some of the "high school characters" -

                    ..."a shrunken high school in which every clique had a representative. There was the peevish whistleblower (Marisa), the priggish A student (Elia), the good-time blonde (Betty), the disheveled slacker (Michael), the laconic hunk (Sam), the trash-talking spitfire (Mia)."

                    1. Sigh.... Mr. Bruni ain't no Tony Bourdain, that's fer sure.