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Top Chef on TV, and Top Chefs in San Diego

Breaking down the new season of Top Chef, and this weekend's Wine & Food Festival


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Good day San Diego!

The time has arrived for another season of Top Chef, and it just so happens to be at the same time of the San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival. Food is in the air and on the air everywhere! I have some of my Top Chef alums coming to town to celebrate food and drink with me this week, and we have one of San Diego’s legends who went on to the big time in the big city of Gotham stopping by as well. The Top Chef crew you may see dining around SD this weekend: Richard Blais, last season’s molecular gastonomist; CJ and Casey, from season three; and season two winner Ilan Hall. Our boy from Gotham is Gavin Kaysen, and we also have Ted Allen of the Food Network coming in. Most of us are stopping by San Diego 6 tomorrow morning and then off to Macy’s School of Cooking for a class. We will be teaching, not attending (although you should never stop learning). The finale is on Saturday on the waterfront, in front of Seaport Village, so come on down and enjoy the festivities.

For the last two seasons I have blogged for Bravo and given my power ranking of the Top Chef contestants. Take a look and let me know if you agree.

The Malarkey Top Chef 5 NYC Power Ranking

A thrilling way to kick off the new season, with one very unlucky contestant getting sent home before she even got a chance to check out the fancy digs and gunny sacks — “Top Chef” coats.

The CIA crew is sent home in the first episode. I’m sure it’s a great school but the graduates are commonly as vain as Stefan, the Finish vinaigrette fiend.

1. Stefan: Mad skills and the attitude to turn the viewers off. He’s in a league of his own so far and it's going to take someone else to really step it up to knock him out. Padma mentioned that in every season except one, the contestant who wins the first elimination has gone on to win the title of Top Chef. It’s looks as if the trend will continue, and I believe Tre (who won the first elimination on my season) would have made a great Top Chef: He was and is much more Chef-like then the eventual winner, Hung. Unless we see a bad decision by the judges or a complete meltdown, it looks as if we are going to be cheering for a fan favorite, and our Finish friend has no chance at that.

2. Hosea: Very cool and great-looking dish to start the competition. It’s so easy to like this guy and his mountain-high mojo.

3. Eugene: From the land of aloha, no fancy CIA certificate hanging on his wall, but a heart of Marsala gold. One knock: May be lacking the swagger and confidence it takes to Malarkey his way through this game.

4. Alex: Nice dish and not a lot of camera time: This in the land of Top Chef says he will be around for awhile.

5. Leah: She appears to have some skills but this season does not have dominating women like Stephanie of Chicago. She should be a fun one to root for as she is very emotional, and like her mom said, “Don’t cry on TV.”

6. Daniel: Long Island wise-guy attitude is great for Top Chef and he looks to be heading into a tangle with the vain vinaigrette fool, Stefan.

7. Richard: My hometown boy is such a “bear” and a great team player. He misses with his lamb slider but kills it with the line of the week … no, I take that back. He had two great lines: “Tom is cute, I’d buy him a drink. Hell, I’d buy him three,” and “I’ve got to see what Padma’s wearing because I’ve got some queens back home who are dying to know.”

8. Jeff: I can’t knock him for having timing issues, as I crashed on the first elimination challenge by getting a little too ambitious. I bet he wishes he could take back the pretty-boy label he just gave HIMSELF. He’s got luck with him so far because he blew his first elimination dish but was up against Fabio, who flailed.

9. Melissa: Our second cheftestant from the rocky mountain high played it smooth so far ...

10. Fabio: I expect better things to come. He needs to start cooking better and lose the attitude. It’s one thing if you’re cocky like Stefan and you can back it up but if you talk a mad game and your dish gets clowned, you better look around. (A bad rhyme getting ready for the dinner rush. My apologies.)

11. Jill: She killed it with the rasta sauces! Looked like ’80s hotel food but if you were playing puff, puff pass, you had to have choked on your bong water.

12. Jamie: “Rainbow Girl” was very focused and kept her cards close to her chest. Not much to read into.

13. Carla: May spirit guides help you along the path, but my spirit guides tells me “a caterer has no chance in this competition.”

14. Radhika: If it’s going to take her 20 minutes to get her knives out of the bag and get ready to go, then she better spend the next 20 minutes and “Pack your knives and GO!”

15. Adriane: She sealed her fate when she told Tom and the judges that she didn’t need to go into the city to learn about food, she could just look it up in a book. It’s a harsh competition and she should enjoy the rest of the competition with her family at home on her couch.

Best of luck to Patrick, so well-spoken and well-liked by all of the other chefs. I’m sure he will have a great career and “one day be a Top Chef.”

To Lauren: It’s a game and it does not define you. May your husband return home safe from Iraq and one day you will enjoy this whole thing with a big laugh.

I just call it like I see it. I’m not trying to be mean and I don’t know what happens behind the scenes, just giving my opinion…. What’s yours?

Cheers!

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