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January 23, 2013

TV Talk: Top Chef Seattle Judges Screwed Up Big Time

TV Talk image of Top Chef and Project Runway All Star Logos

Project Runway All Stars Judges Got It Right - Anthony Ryan Auld Wins!

Top Chef Seattle


Bravo’s Top Chef producer’s seem to keep increasing the number of cast members each season, and that’s a mistake. It took quite a few episodes before I warmed up to this cast, but the show is in top form now. Tonight a new episode of Top Chef Seattle will be airing, and after last week’s episode, I’m still feeling a little ambivalent about watching, though I know I’ll end up tuning in anyway.


In last week’s “Restaurant Wars” episode, the judges sent home Kristen Kish, and that was a HUGE mistake and very short-sighted. Kristen has done very well throughout the competition, and was a frontrunner to make it to the finals. Kristen was the team leader of the losing team in “Restaurant Wars.”  
Top Chef Seattle Judges Tom Colicchio Gail Simmons and Padma Lakshmi

The problematic preparation was bouillabaisse. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried bouillabaisse, but it happens to be something I love. The Provençal fish stew is delicious, and I could live on the liquid part of the stew. The controversy stemmed from their being a lack of the liquid portion of the stew, which is what makes it so tasty. So I could understand why the dish disappointed the judges.


The bouillabaisse was prepared by chef Josie Smith-Malave. (According to her biography, she currently lives in San Francisco.) Josie is a colorful character who also appeared on a previous season of Top Chef. She admitted she screwed up, and fully expected to be sent packing. Kristen took full responsibility for her team’s failure, and she thought she would be sent to pack up.

For some reason the female judges on the show are harder on the female chefs. Gail Simmons and Padma Lakshmi seemed to be arguing about which chef to eliminate, with both parsing the semantics and language of the chefs, rather than judging on the food preparation. I think both judges are terrific, but they messed up big time this week.
Top Chef Seattle contestant Kristen Kish

No matter what Kristen said, ultimately the bouillabaisse was Josie’s dish. While it was a team challenge, the individuals are still responsible for their individual dish. If that isn’t a rule, it should be. That would also eliminate any confusion during deliberations at judge’s table

Regardless, the judge’s sent home one of the most talented chef’s in the competition, and they made a huge mistake.


Fittingly, Kristen prevailed over CJ at Last Chance Kitchen, preparing bouillabaisse! So hopefully she will defeat the remaining challengers, to return to the main competition soon.


Project Runway All Stars Season One winner Mondo Guerra

Project Runway All-Stars

Mondo Guerra

Lifetime’s Project Runway All Stars is so much fun. I loved the first edition of the show, and the cast was really great. Mondo Guerra, the winner of Project Runway All Stars Season 1, is such an amazing talent, who deserved to win hands down, as he was in a league of his own. I wish we could see more him on TV each week.

Out of every season of Project Runway - he was the one person who I felt was cheated by the judges, when he wasn’t declared the winner. When he was chosen the winner of All Stars, I felt like a wrong was corrected (despite Mondo having to work that much harder to win).

There aren’t many gay HIV positive people on television, and like hunky Jack Mackenroth in Season 4, Mondo bravely revealed his status during Project Runway Season 8. Having Mondo, and other HIV+ people, on television helps to destigmatize the many misconceptions that surround HIV.




Project Runway All-Stars Season 2

I wish that each season going forward on Project Runway, that they would rotate the judges. Georgina Chapman has a sharp eye, and a strong opinion, and has really grown into her role as a judge on the show. I love seeing Isaac Mizrahi on television each week. In fact it would be good TV to have Michael Kors and Isaac as judges each week, as they are hysterically funny.

While I love the inimitable Tim Gunn, Joanna Coles is a terrific substitute. I like hearing her insight, and she asks the designer’s probing questions that Tim never asks.

Carolyn Murphy did a good job as the host, and got more comfortable, and grew into her role as the host, as the season went on.

In the final runway show, the designers had to design a 7 look collection in 4 days. Can you imagine?

The finalists were Emilio Sosa, Uli Herzner, and Anthony Ryan Auld. Uli Herzner’s collection was very artistic, ethereal and too editorial for me. Emilio Sosa’s collection was colorful and effusive, and while I liked the nod to the forties, I didn’t understand all of the looks. Anthony Ryan Auld’s collection was classic, with clean lines and vibrant colors. What he does extremely well, is that each design seems to have a surprise element, and I like that.

The winner of Project Runway All Stars Season 2 was Anthony Ryan Auld. He had a terrific season, was consistently great, and seems like an incredibly sweet guy. Another gay man won --- Congratulations Anthony!

It was too bad that Joshua McKinley didn’t make it to the finals. He just wasn’t as consistent as the other 3 designers during the course of the show. Despite not making it, it doesn’t diminish his talent as a designer. Though the bitchy snub of his friend Anthony Ryan did tarnish his image a little, if you ask me..  

What the designers accomplish during each episode of the show is incredible, and I hope that the fashion world scoops up these all star designers. I’m bummed that this show is over.




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