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Still Hungry: Bravo's "Top Chef Watch What Happens Reunion" Leaves Me Wanting More

Perhaps because this season focused on the strengths of the competitors and one particular sibling rivalry rather than on any animosity between the contestants, there wasn't a hell of a lot of controversy for Andy Cohen to discuss. (Certainly no wigs were ripped off anyone's head on Top Chef this season.)

So last night's Top Chef reunion was a rather low-key affair (especially compared with the histrionics seen on Real Housewives get-togethers), with the only remote sparks of controversy being those emanating from Eli's cancer comment to Robin, Ash's feeling that Padma hated him, and, well, that was about it.

Hell, anyone hoping to learn who the fan favorite would be from Top Chef: Las Vegas still has to wait until tonight to find out as someone decided not to announce the fan favorite winner during the reunion special (a likely place to do so) but to wait until Andy Cohen's Thursday latenight talkfest to do so. (In other words: Grr. Though there's no doubt that either Kevin or Jennifer will take home the prize.)

An effort on the part of host Andy Cohen to make it seem as though the cheftestants had bullied Robin throughout the competition sort of fell flat. While I'm not sure why one of the chefs didn't just tell the overly gregarious Robin to shut up while she dithered on endlessly, I didn't think that their dislike of her was anything other than personality conflict. (Her constant talking would have gotten under my skin so I can sympathize.)

As for the cancer issue, Eli admitted that he hadn't apologized to Robin for making the comment (he hadn't seen much of her since her elimination) and that he had cracked under pressure and said something he shouldn't. But he did apologize on-air and that seemed to placate Robin. Was it a little too sharp? Sure. But if you're living and competing with someone, particularly someone who drives you up the wall, there are bound to be moments where you go too far with a blunt comment. Still, the hatchet seems to have been buried for now.

I did love that the chefs each seemed to think that Padma Lakshmi didn't like them. (Including, rather funnily, Tom Colicchio himself.) Having met and eaten with Padma, I can say that she is nothing but sweet and charming and both she and Gail Simmons have told me on separate occasions (which they reiterated last night) that their sole interaction with the contestants is via their food and what they see at judges' table. And I think that's really for the best at the end of the day. It's a culinary competition, not a dinner party, and your success in the season depends on the food that you present on each plate and the way you carry yourself in front of the judges.

All in all, last night's special provided a nice trip down memory lane for the Las Vegas crew (and another chance for Mama Voltaggio to plead the fifth when asked again which of her sons she was rooting for) but the special lacked the incisiveness of other Bravo reunions. As I said earlier, that could have been due to the lack of real animosity or bristling personalities (though Robin, Mike I., and Michael Voltaggio certainly weren't meek presences). But really, the reunion special left me hungry for more, an appetite that could have been sated perhaps by the reveal of the fan favorite prize winner. Hmmm...

Top Chef: Las Vegas Blooper Reel:

Top Chef Las Vegas Bonus Clip: The Brothers Voltaggio:

Top Chef Las Vegas Bonus Clip: The Chefs' Tattoos:

Top Chef Las Vegas Bonus Clip: Run-On Robin:

Top Chef Las Vegas Bonus Clip: Scandalous Behavior:

Top Chef will return in 2010.


AskRachel said…
So annoyed that they didn't reveal the fan favorite. What was up with that?

I thought it was interesting, though, that Michael V. applied first to be on Top Chef and then the producers recruited his brother.

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