Top Chef: California Road Trip: Most wonderful time of the year

I look forward to Top Chef every year. It’s probably my favorite reality show ever, and in my top ten of shows ever, I genuinely enjoy it each season that I watch, and it’s inspired me a few times to reach beyond my normal culinary horizons.

But, I made a realization last week that the reason why I love award shows and competition reality shows so much is because my crazy pop culture brain was raised in a sports house so thing I like + competition = BIG WINNER IN THE HAPPY SPACE.

I love picking my favorites, tracking how the judges treat them and seeing how they navigate challenges. I like seeing who becomes friends, who can’t stand each other. How group challenges get going and good god, I can’t wait for restaurant wars.

And I also love seeing how the various locations change the game up and this year, with the location changing every week, as the chefs work their way through California, the challenges have been a lot of fun. (Vegas is still my favorite season though…)

But last week, the two banked episodes I had were an absolute godsend. I hadn’t eaten solid food, and being able to watch the gorgeous and delicious looking Top Chef food was such a godsend. I think I finally understand porn. (I’m not a porn person…) It was amazing to be able to at least fantasize about the food.

It actually caused Mary and I to almost get into a fight as I was watching large pictures of delicious food, while we couldn’t eat. She was very grumpy. (My sister has never been on a diet in her life, so the idea of food porn is foreign to her, as is the idea of not getting to eat when you’re hungry.) But all in all, I’m happy to have Top Chef back for the next few months, I’m enjoying this season.

The one criticism that I do have is that the chefs all seem to be a good deal cattier than usual. It’s not as though I don’t enjoy the cattiness on a certain level, but it seems a good deal more in the face this year than previous years, and I get that the show is reaching a space where it simply can’t be as pure as it once was, but it’s still a little disappointing. I also think that the road trip concept is fantastic and the gold course challenge was incredible and pairing with craft beers was also a lot of fun. (And not just because Padma in golf clothes was adorable.) And overall I think it’s been a good half a season.

Last week’s “cook a dish that represents you 10 years ago,” was probably my favorite Top Chef challenge, and it really did help me to get to know the chefs a little better.

I’m looking forward to seeing how it all turns out.

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