It has been a surprisingly long time since a “classic” Top Chef series has aired: Almost a full year since something other than All-Stars, Masters or Just Desserts. And I have to say: I miss the original, where up-and-coming chefs with lots of talent actually compete to see who’s the best. (Later in the fall, it will return — set in Texas.) But, like a heroin addict settling for Methodone — not as good, but a compromise replacement — the new season of Top Chef: Just Desserts will have to tide me through. It’s not the real thing, but it’s close enough.
Well, more or less. Top Chef and Project Runway have always stood out because their contestants have real skills — you sense the producers sincerely want the best, not just those who make the best reality television. (What’s A-list about the A-Listers?) Increasingly, reality competition shows rely on crazy incompetents and arrogant bastards (or bitches) to keep the conflicts alive.
This season of Desserts seems to backpedal on that promise , with Craig, pictured lef, the flamboyant newcomer tp pastry, throwing a wrench into the plans of more seasoned chefs, including Dallas’ Lina Biancamano (she who creates the confections at Stephan Pyles, also pictured). The deal with the self-centered Melissa, who you know will stay around too long just to offer viewers a villain.
The season premiere, which adds superchef Hubert Keller as a judge, doesn’t have the spark of last season (yet), and it’s not clear yet who will add the most enjoyable camp factor. But I take my fixes as they come. It’ll last me til Top Chef: Texas; I just know it will; it’s gotta.
— Arnold Wayne Jones
Premieres Aug. 24; airs weekly on
Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on Bravo.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 19, 2011.