March 14, 2012

Top Chef Season 9 Reunion - Mean Girls Try To Save Face

Top Chef: Texas - Season 9 contestant Paul Qui learns he's the winner.
Paul Qui is the Season 9 winner of Bravo’s Top Chef: Texas.


Top Chef Texas Reunion: More Drama, Laughs and Tears


I’m not sure when cable’s Bravo TV became the “gay network,” or when I even noticed, but I watch the Bravo stable of shows more than any any other channel on the dial. Some of the reality shows that Bravo produces could be called trash TV to some extent (I’m thinking of the  Housewives franchise primarily), and I think Top Chef  is one of the best reality competition shows on television, along with Project Runway (formerly a Bravo property), and The Amazing Race.

Last week the Season 9 cast of Top Chef: Texas gathered for their reunion special. The inimitable Andy Cohen hosted the lively gathering, and asked tough questions of all the contestants. Personally,  I think that Andy Cohen is terrific - he’s short, cute and always me laugh.

Andy Cohen on set while taping the Top Chef:Texas - Season 9 Reunion Host.
Andy Cohen is the host of Bravo’s Top Chef: Texas reunion special.

You have to applaud Paul Qui. The Top Chef:Texas - Season 9 winner won $185,000, a Toyota Prius, and then some. What’s also amazing is the fact that Paul said that he went from being a weed dealer, to culinary school, worked his way up and learned the trade, and won Top Chef. I think that’s awesome and have tremendous respect for his accomplishments.

Runner-up and head mean-girl Sarah Grueneberg was asked if she told a judge to “F*ck off” after Paul was declared the winner - which she denied - and then tearfully apologized for it, just in case she did say f*ck off. It wasn’t clear whether or not she did tell a judge to “F*ck off,” and inquiring minds want to know!

Sarah Grueneberg cries during the Top Chef:Texas - Season 9 Reunion taping.
 Sarah Grueneberg
My favorite Season 9 contestant, the beautiful Grayson Schmitz, is not only a good chef, but she’s hysterically funny. She speaks her mind, and as Grayson herself said during the show and the reunion,  “she’s ballsy.” That’s what I like so much about her - and I’ll bet she’s a hoot to work with in a kitchen.

Grayson Schmitz is ballsy during Top Chef:Texas - Season 9 Reunion taping.
Grayson Schmitz
Nyesha Arrington, who totally amazed me in the Last Chance Kitchen competition, seemed much more relaxed in the off-camera moments. My favorite quote of hers was when she said she wanted to beat Heather in Last Chance Kitchen  because she wanted to “shut Heather up.”

Gay contestant Ty-lor Boring bares his butt.
Ty-lor Boring
Ty-lor Boring, who was the only openly gay chef this season, was put on the spot when the producers found some “revealing” photos of him online. Ty-lor said that he had the “tasteful” pics taken as part of his coming out process.

Andy asked Ty if he’s a Bear - and he replied that he's a "furry guy." I myself don't know exactly how one becomes classified as a bear, but I do know there’s a hirsute culture and lifestyle unique to the community of gay bears.
Malibu Chris Crary

Pretty boy Malibu Chris Crary - who was the fan favorite and won the $10K “Miss Congeniality” prize money - made an interesting comment during the Texas Barbecue challenge. Lindsay Autry asked him if he was wearing a wife beater, and he said it “doesn’t match my shoes." I thought to myself - what straight guy says something like that? I'm not saying or inferring that he isn't straight. Regardless, that's a comment only a gay man would make. It's a very campy remark too.
Beverly Kim

When Andy addressed the bullying of Beverly Kim, Lindsay Autry said she apologized, while Sarah repeated herself again, and said she didn’t want to be seen as being “mean” on the show. What I found interesting was that she didn’t apologize for the content or her delivery of what she said, she was sorry just for what she said that hurt Beverly. She apologized for the things she "said that hurt her.” And Sarah's eyes filled with tears again.

Heather Terhune refused to apologize and said “that’s how I felt. I’m bossy-pants but I’m not obnoxious.” She was mean, rude and haughty if you ask me.

Sarah said that Heather received nasty phone calls at her restaurant, and that she also received a death threat. I know what that feels like and I do empathize with her. In spite of her being a bully and acting like she’s superior to the other contestants, we should also remember that Bravo loves that kind of drama. I don’t know if the ‘Heather haters’ are as obstinate and threatening as the right-wing extremists who targeted me, but either way it’s not fun. And Heather still owes Beverly an apology!

Judge Gail Simmons put it best when she said that she felt that Beverly is the only contestant who would handle the comments and bullying “with as much grace” as she did. You have to love Gail Simmons. I do!

It was a great season full of surprises - and I can’t wait for the next one.

It was Bravolicious!

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