If it wasn’t for Tom Brady leaving the Patriots in the dust for sunny Tampa Bay, ESPN may have already cycled through every NCAA men’s basketball conference championship game by now. These, my friends, are desperate times for people who NEED competitive sports on their TV screens every waking hour of the day. My house was so low earlier in the week, we watched the finals of American Kennel Club’s Best in Show (don’t get me wrong, we would watch this anyway, but it really filled the void this time. Oh and it was from February…). Losing the NBA hurt, losing Spring Training and the delayed start to MLB dug the knife a little deeper, but losing America’s treasure, March Madness, to COVID-19 is where we all felt the pain. You, my beloved readers, have now been deprived of my dog’s uncanny ability to pick winners in March Madness, so until next year…
In the meantime, where do we turn? A quick trip to the grocery store and a glance at the internet sparked my inspiration! I have been daring enough to hit the grocery store twice in the last week- I know, I’m extremely brave. Each time it’s been mixed with texts to friends that had gone before me to warn me of the damage, or strangers in the parking lot consoling one another about their lacking hauls. Because we live in a world where the grocery store must tell us not to buy 20 of every item, we have inevitably been left with a strange mix of options. The entire saga feels like an episode of Top Chef, I just need Tom Colicchio at the front door telling me I have 30 minutes and $50 to find meals for a week! My haul may look something like what I came away with last night- frozen pizza, 2 blue Gatorades, bananas, frozen veggies- corn, green beans, sweet potatoes, and Asian rice vegetable medley, baked Cheetos (this is to reinforce our reserves), steak and cheddar hot pockets (did I mention the store had basically no meat?), salted cashew halves, 2 bags of shredded cheddar cheese, salsa, taco shells, and an Annie’s Mac and Cheese. Can you imagine the meal I would serve to Padma and Gale? I can’t, thankfully we have lots of chicken in the freezer and a turkey from Thanksgiving we never cooked!
I digress. If cooking using the ingredients in your house at this moment doesn’t feel like a victory, maybe watching your favorite Top Chef All-Stars will! As one of Bravo’s only Emmy-nominated shows, Top Chef began as an amateur culinary competition that has transformed into a competition between the best of the best rising chefs in the country, many of whom were nominated or already are James Beard Award winners. Not only do the contestants draw you in, but the host city is also just as much a part of the show as people. Top Chef has highlighted the culinary history and styles of places like New York, Chicago, New Orleans, Boston, Charleston, Colorado, and most recently Kentucky (they even did a challenge in Rupp Arena as pictured above!). Between the quickfire challenges (short challenges for immunity or prizes) which can include anything from a mise en place relay race to using an obscure ingredient, to the elimination challenges (longer, themed dishes), the show doesn’t lack for action. Did we mention the chefs are critiqued in front of everyone? You haven’t lived until you’ve heard Tom ask why his piece of pork wasn’t cooked, or Padma ask “did you mean to add so much salt to your potatoes?” or even Gale asking if a chef tasted the dish before they served it…I mean, come on, you don’t get that kind of shade in Spring Training baseball!
Maybe reality TV isn’t your thing, but if you watch one show on Bravo as a family (or alone- I am here for self-isolation), make it this one. On March 19th, Top Chef embarks on a new season in LA, pitting 15 chefs that fell short of the title on previous seasons and are back with vengeance to claim the Top Chef Crown and $250,000, the show’s biggest prize to date. We may not have the best NBA players battling for home playoff seeding, but we do have Philly’s own Jennifer Carroll (Spice Finch, Philadelphia) back for the 3rd time battling Brian Malarkey (famous from his appearance at the “naked wasted dinner” on RHOC). We also have the lesser Voltaggio brother, Bryan, taking on a fan favorite from last season in Kentucky, Nini, and the obnoxious mustache Joe Sasto from season 15 in Colorado. Mix all of these “cheftestants” with Lee Anne Wong (from season 1 AND season 15!?), and a personal favorite of mine, Angelo Sosa (seasons 7, 8) among others, and we can guarantee, between the personalities and the talent we will be in for some epic Judge’s Tables. So place your bets, fill out a survivor pool, prepare some gameday eats, and settle in to a competitive season of Top Chef, because March Madness has been canceled, it’s not coming back, but Tom Colicchio, Padma Lakshmi, and Gale Simmons are here for you.
Your first look at Top Chef: All Stars is here! Get ready for the most competitive season yet as your favorite cheftestants get a second chance at the title. #TopChef All Stars premieres Thursday, March 19th on @BravoTV! For more info: https://t.co/xikGUcxSAS pic.twitter.com/E9SYVx6AGt— Bravo's Top Chef (@BravoTopChef) February 11, 2020