ChefTEXANs

“Top Chef’ comes (finally) to Texas … but you’ll have to wait to see Big D

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REMEMBER THE A AL MODE | Simmons, Lakshmi and Colicchio feed a mega-sized ‘Top Chef: Texas.’

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | Life+Style Editor
jones@dallasvoice.com

It’s been apparent to devoted viewers of Top Chef over the years that Texans know how to cook — especially those from Dallas. Right now, former all-stars Tiffany Derry, Tre Wilcox and Casey Thompson all have busy restaurants across the Metroplex, and other Lone Star competitors have made a mark. So it was with a collective “It’s about time!” when we learned Season 9 would be set in Texas.

But aside from being in Texas, there are few chefs from Texas in Top Chef: Texas, premiering Nov. 2. That means just as much attitude, but fewer bragging rights.

Well, almost.

“It’s Texas; they made it bigger,” one of the cheftestants says, amazed when 29 competitors arrive at The Alamo in episode 1. Of course, just because it starts off big doesn’t mean it will stay that way; in the Texas-sized two-part premiere, 14 chefs get eliminated on the way to a lean 15 cooks.

That’s a lot of personalities to juggle in a short time, and with so many chefs, you get few pings with the gaydar to pick out family, but the (few) gays stand out. Janine, despite her early pronoun-neutral coyness, is a fun chef with a good story, while Ty-Lor’s otterish prissiness gives a dash of fabulousness to the proceeding.

The first chef to make an impression, though, is Tyler, who stakes a claim as an early asshole; fortunately, we don’t need to spend much time with him. Some of the others show promise, but do they withstand the buds of Tom Colicchio, Padme Lakshmi, Gail Simmons and new judges Emeril Lagasse and Hugh Atcheson (neither of whom added much to the premiere)? Well, that’s the fun.

If you already like the show, the Texas setting is a plus, and if you don’t … well, shots of the Riverwalk probably won’t change your mind, or make you wanna see it anymore than the slew of other Texas-set reality series littering the airwaves. But it just might.

In addition to Ty-Lor, Chuy Valencia was on my radar as a talented cutie to watch, but for now, we’re confined to the kitchens of San Antonio. The show hits Austin, too, before ending the season in Dallas, so if you’re looking for local landmarks, you’ll have to wait ‘til after Thanksgiving.
Seems like a good idea. We’ll be thinking more about food by then.

Premieres Wednesday on Bravo at 9 p.m.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 28, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Grindr goes non-gay with Project Amicus

On Thursday, the famous hook-up … I mean, location-based social network app, Grindr, will announce its newest venture. Via webcast, Grindr CEO Joel Simkhai will launch Project Amicus, which takes the Grindr idea of men meeting meN and opens it up to “everyone, whether you’re female, male, straight, gay, lesbian or bi,” according to an invitation to the webcast.

So finally, your non-gay male friends can leave you alone about how you’re hooking up all the time … err, making friends, because they can now do it for themselves.

In Thursday’s webcast, Simkhai will announce the app’s name (Project Amicus is a working title), key features and discuss how it will affect the socializing scene, which this guy isn’t all too fond of. But with Grindr’s bragging rights of having 2.6 million users, they have to be doing something right.

To get your invite to the Project Amicus app, click here to begin. If you’re interested in Thursday’s webcast at 10 a.m. Central time, email here to RSVP.

UPDATE: The new app’s name is Blendr. Simkhai tries hard to keep the app sounding G/PG rated by telling the New York Times today, ““If someone speaks the same language or is also into cooking, or crafts, that’s a strong basis of commonality and you might want to go meet them.”

—  Rich Lopez

Diablos win their HellFest tourney — and praise from other teams

The first time the Dallas Diablos Rugby Football Club held HellFest, a tournament where they invited other IGRAB member clubs to play in Texas over Halloween, one team showed up.  But they did it again anyway.

And boy did they do it right. Eight teams, represented players from nine clubs, descended on Dallas last weekend for a round-robin tourney, and by the time it was over, there were nine hospital visits, countless bruises and black-eyes … and nothing but nice things to say from all the players.

The tournament itself was an all-day affair on Saturday, with games beginning around 9:15 a.m. and continuing until after 5 p.m. In the final: The Diablos’ home field advantage lifted them over the Minneapolis Mayhem for a 12–0 victory. Bragging rights, but not arrogance. During the after-party at the Dallas Eagle, players from Atlanta to L.A. praised the organization of the event. “The best I’ve ever attended, gay or straight,” one Air Force enlistee told me. They were all impressed by the clockwork play, the officiating and the after-game buffet, and had nice things to say about Dallas (the men and the city — and the block party).

It seems certain it’ll take place again next year. And next time, they’ll plan for even more teams.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones