Judge’s searing critiques add flavor to ‘Top Chef’

Posted Jan. 01, 2009, at 6:15 p.m.

It may be cold (make that freezing) outside but things are definitely heating up in the “Top Chef” kitchen.

The show’s new judge and food critic, Toby Young, is sure to spice things up with his quick-fire tongue. Previews show him calling one of the chef’s dishes cat food. Let’s hope that’s not the worst of his critiques and we get to see and hear more damaging remarks. After all, it’s competitive reality TV. There’s supposed to be snide comments and honest reviews.

I also have been disappointed with one other aspect of the show that appears to be lacking. Where is the drama between the contestants?

There has been little, if any, pan throwing, name calling or dish sabotaging. While it was nice to see the chefs have a little holiday spirit this week — they helped each other out when a refrigerator door was left partially open and the protein was spoiled for two contestants — I wanted to see at least one outsider who wouldn’t pitch in and help salvage what they could for their opponents.

I also will admit to being lame and watching reality TV on New Year’s Eve rather than ringing in 2009 in pomp and circumstance. Yes, the Man on the Couch and I ate pizza and Doritos, and we didn’t even stay awake long enough to see the ball drop.

And while I’m being brutally honest, I have a confession to make. Kathy Griffin made a standup appearance on Bravo after this week’s “Top Chef,” and I liked it.

No, we didn’t watch the entire show, but considering she’s a woman who typically annoys me, I found myself entertained and laughing out loud at her antics. Perhaps she’s getting better, perhaps my expectations for television were lowered by some of the garbage on the screen in 2008, or maybe she just has better material to work with. Let’s face it, our celebrities aren’t getting any smarter except in one aspect that Griffin pointed out. They have learned from Mel Gibson and are attempting to look good in their mug shots.

In closing, I’ve already told you that there’s a lot to look forward to in the reality realm of 2009. First up on what I think will be the hit list is “Superstars of Dance.” Don’t miss the first episode at 9 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 4, on NBC.

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