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“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

‘Top Chef’ set in Texas next season

In the category Worst Kept Secret, Bravo officially announced that the upcoming season of Top Chef will be set in Texas. Filming is well under way.

This is not news to anyone following the series or Texas foodies, who have been blogging about seeing chefs all around San Antonio and Austin already.

What is a surprise is that it took so long for the series to officially make its way to the state. Stars in prior seasons — including the recent all-stars — include locals Tre Wilcox, Casey Thompson and Tiffany Derry.

The series will begin airing later this fall. Next week, Top Chef: Just Desserts, with a Stephan Pyles pastry chef among the cast, begins airing. We’ll have a review closer to the air date.

Read Bravo’s press release below.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

‘Top Chef’ recap: Bad day for the gays

Jamie, left, and Tiffany, center, went home last night

The last two weeks have been rough on gay North Texas fans of Top Chef: All-Stars. First, last week Fort Worth chef Casey Thompson (founder of Brownstone) fell following a dim sum challenge; then last night, the two remaining out chefs — Tiffani and Jamie — were kicked off during a double-elimination challenge involving, ironically enough, fish. (Sorry ’bout that.)

On the upside, cutie Fabio and Dallas chefs Tre Wilcox (looking especially buff in a tanktop while fishing) and Tiffany Derry are still in the running. We’ll take what we can get,

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

‘Top Chef’ going gay and Texan in December

On last night’s reunion episode of “Top Chef: D.C.,” Bravo revealed that the next season will feature “all-stars” from each of the seasons past, and not only are several of them gay, some are from right here.

Among those in the eighth season (and first all-star), set to begin airing Dec. 1, are first-season runner-up Tiffani Faison, right, fifth season’s Jaime Lauren, both lesbians, and third season runner-up Dale Levitski, center, who lost to bisexual chef Hung Huynh.

Levitski bested third-placer Casey Thompson, left, who at the time was at Shinsei but now has her own restaurant, Brownstone, in Fort Worth. Thompson will also be on the all-star season, as will fellow third-season alum Tre Wilcox (formerly of Abacus) and the immediate past season’s Tiffany Derry of Go Fish near the Galleria. That’s a lot of Texas — and a lot of gay — to keep us entertained.

Of course, until then, the new installment of “Top Chef: Just Desserts” has plenty of gay guys and even Morgan Wilson of the Dallas Ritz-Carlton. Bon appetit.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones