A lot of my irritation with Top Chef DC is the rage of a spurned lover. I've been watching, mesmerized, since the beginning of the show, but this season the gimmicks seem cheesier, the judges smugger, the contestants less interesting -- and the food just a secondary player.
In context, though, Top Chef's Emmy win last night for Outstanding Reality Competition is well-deserved. Top Chef is smarter than any other current cooking show. It has spurred an upsurge of interest in all things culinary, and widened many people's understanding of food; I'll bet a lot of Americans are playing around in their kitchens far more than they ever did before.
And it was kind of nice to see beautiful Padma -- usually so composed -- laughing irrepressibly, and Gail Simmons so overcome with surprise and glee that she couldn't stop grinning.
Worth noting: the award was for last season's Top Chef Las Vegas, which featured amazing kitchen talent. We got to watch the dazzling Voltaggio brothers, with their passionate commitment and sophisticated contemporary dishes, battle it out for the title with teddy bear Kevin Gillespie, whose style was simpler, but whose understanding of flavor was unsurpassed. Though they bitched some, these guys clearly respected each other, and even those of us rooting for Kevin couldn't really complain when Michael Voltaggio won.
So we're not going to complain about this Emmy win, either.
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Read Juliet Wittman's take on Top Chef DC every Thursday on Cafe Society.