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I Scream, You Scream: More Red-Hot Drama on Top Chef: Just Desserts

Just when I thought that things couldn't get any weirder on Bravo's Top Chef: Just Desserts ... Last night's episode of the sweets-themed Top Chef spinoff ("Lucent Dossier") featured not only one of the oddest sequences ever to air on a reality competition series but also one of the most head-scratching endings to a contestant's trajectory yet. Which would have been more than enough to put this episode over the top, except that several of the remaining pastry chefs used this opportunity to have breakdowns of their own, with several contestants bursting into tears, expressing serious doubts about the competition, squaring off against teammates, eliminating themselves, and, well, suffering a major anxiety attack and being declared medically unfit to continue on the series. Yes, all of this happened in a single episode that was intended to be about the theatricality and drama of the Lucent Dossier Experience... and the producers got some serious sparks

"The Red Hots Were For My Mommy!": Sugar Shock on Top Chef: Just Desserts

Wow. I don't even know what to say after watching last night's tense and explosive episode of Bravo's Top Chef: Just Desserts ("Cocktail with a Twist"), in which contestant Seth Caro suffered some sort of emotional breakdown during the Quickfire Challenge, in which the pastry chefs were tasked with creating desserts that celebrated penny candy. Yes, we've seen chefs cave under the pressure on Top Chef before but never this earlier and never this severe. Unable to freeze his passion fruit sorbet in time to plate it, the high-strung Seth began to openly sob and was unable to control his emotions, despite the assistance of fellow competitors and the kindness of guest judge Elizabeth Faulkner (of San Francisco's Citizen Cake and Orson), who attempted to take him aside during the judging process to give him a pep talk. It didn't work. Instead, Seth was unable to compose himself and instead uttered some words that will likely haunt him for some

Bravo Announces Top Chef: All-Stars Cast, Launch Date

Last night, during Bravo's Top Chef reunion special, the cabler finally took the wraps off of one of television's worst-kept secrets: that next season of Top Chef would be an all-stars edition that would bring back 18 former contestants to battle it out for another chance at the title. Top Chef All-Stars will launch December 1st at 10 pm ET/PT and will feature the return of Anthony Bourdain as well, as he segues from guest judge to full-on regular judge. (He'll rotate with Food & Wine 's Gail Simmons.) As for the contestants, they are some of the ones you would most expect would be in the running: Elia Aboumrad; Stephen Asprinio; Richard Blais; Jennifer Carroll; Tiffany Derry; Tiffani Faison; Carla Hall; Mike Isabella; Jamie Lauren; Dale Levitski; Antonia Lofaso; Spike Mendelsohn; Angelo Sosa; Dale Talde; Casey Thompson; Marcel Vigneron; Fabio Viviani; and Tre Wilcox. Personally, I'm thrilled to see Jennifer Carroll and Richard Blais return to the kitchen.

Channel Surfing: HBO Renews Boardwalk Empire, Law & Order: Criminal Intent to Return, Lone Star DOA, Fringe, and More

Welcome to your Wednesday morning television briefing. Break open the moonshine! HBO has renewed period drama Boardwalk Empire for a second season, after airing just one episode of the Terence Winter/Martin Scorsese crime drama, which averaged 4.8 million viewers in its premiere broadcast. “All the ingredients aligned for this one, from Mark Wahlberg and Steve Levinson’s initial pitch, to Martin Scorsese’s enormous contributions as director and executive producer, to the genius of Terry Winter and the expertise of Tim Van Patten, to a stellar cast led by Steve Buscemi,” said Michael Lombardo, President of HBO Programming, in a statement. “The response from the media and our viewers has been nothing short of amazing.” (via press release) In other renewal news, USA has finally closed a deal to renew Law & Order: Criminal Intent for a tenth and final season of eight episodes, with original series lead Vincent D'Onofrio set to reprise his role as Detective Robert Goren, while p

The Daily Beast Exclusive: "Top Chef's Surprise Finish"

Still scratching your head over last night's season finale of Top Chef ? Head over to The Daily Beast, where you can read my latest feature, " Top Chef 's Surprise Finish," an exclusive interview with the culinary competition series' executive producers Dan Cutforth and Jane Lipsitz--yes, the brains behind the ubiquitous Magical Elves--as we discuss the winner, what went wrong this season, culinary tourism, the language of reality television, and Justin Bieber. (Yes, you read that last bit correctly.) Head to the comments section to share your thoughts about the now-wrapped Washington D.C.-set season of Top Chef and whether you enjoyed the season or thought that it lacked the sophisticated palate of previous seasons... and what you'd do to correct any of the show's current issues, should you have any.

Singapore Sling: Thoughts on the Season Finale of Top Chef

Um, yeah. After a seriously contentious season of Top Chef , the Washington D.C.-set seventh season came to a close with a final showdown between Angelo, Kevin, and Ed in Singapore, amid a head-scratching judges' decision that made me question just what they were thinking... and what we'd seen throughout the course of the season as members of the home audience. I watched the season finale earlier this week and had a very difficult time keeping my mouth shut about the winner and my intense disappointment over the outcome of the season. While the Singapore installments gave the series a much-needed jolt, it didn't remove the bad taste in mouth about this season as a whole nor the decision to crown a particular person the ultimate winner and bearer of the title of Top Chef. (If you haven't already, head over to The Daily Beast to read my exclusive interview with Top Chef 's executive producers , where we discuss my criticisms of the past season, what went wrong, and

Holy Asian Extravaganza: The Final Four Compete in Singapore on Top Chef

After a lackluster season of Top Chef , having even a single enjoyable and tense episode is a step in the right direction, really. Last night's episode ("Finale, Part One"), which saw the final four contestants jet off to Singapore for the last few challenges before the ultimate culinary showdown, seemed to showcase the spark and magic that this season has been largely missing, forcing the contestants to jump through some pretty narrow hoops as the finish line inches its way ever closer. Perhaps the producers were smart to leave behind stuffy Washington D.C. for the street markets of sweltering Singapore; each of the chefs seemed to far more awake and creative as a whole than we've seen them collectively this season, invigorated by the flavors and scents of Southeast Asia. I have to say that I was extremely impressed by the performance of each of the four. While there were some technical issues at play, each of them turned out gorgeous and complex plates that

Gastro-nauts and Space Cadets: Another Frustrating Episode of Bravo's Top Chef

It's only fitting that a frustrating and uneven season of Bravo's Top Chef should have yet another frustrating twist in the final challenge in Washington D.C. I've been extremely vocal about my dislike of this season of Top Chef , which is strange to me as I've been an obsessive devotee since the very first episode of this culinary challenge series, which is also the first reality series to dethrone CBS' The Amazing Race from its Emmys perch. But while last season rightly snagged an Emmy Award, this season of Top Chef has been almost painful to sit through and several times I nearly walked right out without paying the bill. Lackluster casting, poor editing, and some head-scratching challenges have left me questioning whether there needs to be a shake-up behind the scenes of this series, or whether they just need to cast better next time. Bravo would appear to be launching an All-Stars edition of Top Chef for next season, which Reality Blurred reports

County Fairs, Dancers, and White Castle: The Winner is Named on the Season Finale of Work of Art

I'll admit that I didn't expect to enjoy Bravo's Work of Art: The Next Great Artist as much as I did in the end. Before the season began, I was curious just how the format would work. After all, true art takes time to develop, and the series seemed based around the type of severe time restraints that could hamper true creativity. But a funny thing happened: I found myself sucked in and captivated by what was unfolding before me. I had hoped, all along, that the final three contestants standing would be Miles, Abdi, and Peregrine. And that's just what happened going into last night's season finale of Work of Art ("The Big Show"), in which the final three artists presented a group show, with one of them walking away the winner of the season and their very own show at the Brooklyn Museum of Art. For one thing, I loved just how very different each of these artists was, how each of them focused on different subject matters and expressed their artistic tem

Cheese Course or Just Desserts: A Dramatic Exit for One Top Chef Contestant

Is it just me or does Restaurant Wars always bring out the worst in the cheftestants? The fiercest comments on Top Chef this week didn't emanate from former New York Times restaurant critic Frank Bruni, but rather from the contestants of the losing team. On this week's episode ("Restaurant Wars"), the eight remaining contestants were split into two teams and tasked with running a dinner service at a restaurant for one evening, developing and executing the menu and running the front of house at the same time as the kitchen. It's a fan-favorite challenge that always pushes the contestants well past their breaking points but this season the Restaurant Wars challenge wasn't so much fun as frustrating to watch, given that the eliminated chef was an outstanding talent who went home while other, lesser contestants still remain in the competition. It was this elimination that left me scratching my head at the end of the episode. While I've disagreed wit

The Daily Beast: "Flipping Out's Real-Life Fall-Out"

Wondering just what went down with Flipping Out 's Jeff Lewis and Ryan Brown? Or where their relationship stands now following last fall's explosive reunion special? Head over to The Daily Beast, where you can read my latest feature, entitled " Flipping Out 's Real-Life Fall-Out," where I talk to Jeff Lewis, Ryan Brown, Jenni Pulos, and Bravo's Andy Cohen about Season Four of Flipping Out , Jeff's now booming design business, and whether television ruined his relationship with Ryan Brown. Were you on Team Jeff or Team Ryan last year? And does the piece change your perspective at all or strengthen your convictions? Head to the comments section to discuss, debate, and analyze. Season Four of Flipping Out begins tomorrow night at 9 pm ET/PT on Bravo. You can read my advance review of the fourth season premiere here .

It's a Great Day at Jeff Lewis' Office: An Advance Review of Season Four of Bravo's Flipping Out

Bravo's addictive and hysterical reality series Flipping Out returns next month with a whole new season of meltdowns, freak outs, and dirty, dirty... martinis. (Yes, martinis.) I had the chance to watch the Season Four opener of Flipping Out a few days ago and instantly fell back in love with this series, which manages to effortlessly remain one of the most consistently funny and eye-opening reality series on television today. (That it remains off the radar of the majority of viewers is a crime against reality TV that simply cannot stand.) Season Four finds the gang at Jeff Lewis Design grappling with some very different problems than when we last saw them. Longtime viewers will remember that Season Three of Flipping Out focused on the economic downturn and how the global financial crisis wreaked havoc with Jeff's business... and with his relationship with ex-boyfriend and business partner Ryan Brown. Yes, the fallout from that, er, fallout resonates sharply through

Rant: Dear Bravo, Please Stop The Obvious Editing on Top Chef

Gee, I wonder who was going to pack their knives last night? Honestly, I was going to do a Top Chef culinary recap today, but I'm just not feeling it, especially after last night's episode ("Capitol Grill") fell into the same trap that recent episodes of Top Chef have (which I bemoaned last week at length). I understand that we're in the early rounds right now and there are still a lot of contestants to cover but I've officially had it with the editing on Top Chef this season as within five minutes of each episode beginning, it's painfully obvious to anyone who has ever watched a reality competition series just who will be getting eliminated that week. Is Top Chef about more than just who packs their knives and who walks away the winner that week? Sure. It's a culinary-themed competition and as a voracious foodie, I love watching the chefs at work. But it also can't lose sight of the fact that it's also a reality competition series and t

School Lunch Project: Thinking Outside of the Lunch Box on Top Chef

Is it just me or is it blatantly obvious from the opening minutes of each episode of Top Chef just who is going home that week? I've taken the editors of Bravo's culinary competition series to task in the past for obvious editing but last night's episode ("Outside the Lunch Box") featured the most egregious editing yet, in my opinion. Within about two minutes of the installment beginning, I had identified just who I thought would be packing their knives this week... and was completely correct on that front. Sure, it happens from time to time, but it seems to be happening with alarming regularity on Top Chef of late. Keep an eye for who seems to be the focus of attention that week and who is getting a majority of screen time and nine times out of ten, you've got your eliminated contestant. Which isn't to say that there aren't other enjoyable and rewarding aspects of the series, because there are. But this is, after all, a reality competition