Mark Blankenship

Who’s Going To Win Top Chef?

This season of Top Chef has been my favorite so far. The chefs are more talented than they’ve ever been, the focus has been on the food not chef antics (well, except for everyone’s conflict with Robin) and somehow the Vegas setting, which might’ve undermined the shows credibly, has allowed for some of the world’s great chefs–Joel Robuchon, Thomas Keller–to act as judges. Today, I join my blogging friend Mark Blankenship (check out his great blog, The Critical Condition) for a discussion about this season of Top Chef and our predictions for who will win.

Acquiring a Taste for “Top Chef Masters” (or, Corn Dogs as Metaphors)

[Hey, this is Adam The Amateur Gourmet. I’m on vacation in Barcelona, Spain and while I’m gone I’ve asked some awesome people to fill in for me. This post comes from one of the smartest people I know, a master of the written word and lover of pop culture, Mr. Mark Blankenship. Mark’s blog, The Critical Condition, is a playful, thoughtful, and insightful look at all things pop. When he’s not blogging, Mark writes features in the arts section of The New York Times. Take it away, Mark!]

Thanks to Adam for having me back. It’s a pleasure to be here!

So… let me acknowledge this up front: “Top Chef Masters” will never be “Top Chef.” Kelly Choi lacks that Padma Pizzazz, and though strangely-hatted food critic Gael Greene could have her own show, her fellow judges Jay Rayner and James Oseland are just… icky. Do you know what I mean? They’re perceptive and articulate, sure, but they seem so satisfied with themselves. It’s like, dude: The joke you made about the pig’s ear wasn’t funny, so stop chuckling about it. I’ve written that OTC (Original “Top Chef”) takes itself too seriously, but watching those smug smuggers strain to be lighthearted is even more irritating.

A (Butter) Rose By Any Other Name

[The Amateur Gourmet is on vacation and, while he’s gone, he’s asked his friends to cover for him. His old friend Mark Blankenship, who writes for The New York Times and Variety and has his own blog called The Critical Condition, talks to us today about a butter rose.]

Before I begin, let me thank Adam for the invitation to transform from a pop culture critic into a foodie. The world looks different over here. And more delicious!

When Adam threw open the doors of The Amateur Gourmet, I started paying a lot more attention to what’s happening on my plate. Or more specifically, I went to a wedding last week and got really interested in the food.

As usual, I was impressed by the fancy touches, like this rose made out of butter. Butter! I know, right?

But this time, I did more than just admire the butter. I started to think about why it impressed me in the first place.

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