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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

"Top Chef" Lisa: Forever in our hearts and minds

It started with one brave soul.

And like Ronald Miller passionately performing the African anteater ritual to a stunned school auditorium in "Can't Buy Me Love," slowly everyone else got swept up in the domino effect and attempted to hang on for the wildest ride of their lives.

Ladies and gents, nothing else in the short history of Channel Surfing drew our bloggers' collective intrigue and ire like last season's roller coaster ride with "Top Chef" Lisa.

To look back on our Season Four posts is almost like reading the schizophrenic diary ramblings of a lovelorn teenage girl. We can't live without the show. We never want to see it again. We know its taking our devotion for granted, but we can't wait to forgive its transgressions while scribbling "Top Chef Forever!" in pink pen on our favorite unicorn folder.

It started with "Top Chef" pioneer Malavika Jagannathan laying out a few simple reasons why Channel Surfing readers should give the reality cooking show a chance. Slowly, Thomas Rozwadowski was indoctrinated, leading both he and MJ to mock original villain Spike's penchant for soup and fedoras before the knives really got sharpened for "I can barely make pasta even though I'm Italian" Nikki -- lovingly dubbed "blue-tinted glasses chick" by our highly-inventive staff. Snarky, fairly innocent jabs at Zoi (pronounced Zoy) and "Mimbo" Ryan followed, until the oven mitts really came off when Sara Boyd and Adam Reinhard joined the hate fest -- looking back, a restraining order really should have been required of Boyd -- as the Doo-Rag Wearing Fire-Breathing Hose Beast known as Lisa began crossing her arms, rolling her eyes and offering up "magenta drunk polish sausage" MINUS THE POLISH SAUSAGE to the stone-faced judges seemingly in her back pocket.

With our blood boiling like so many steaming pots of water during an Elimination Challenge, long overdue sanity finally prevailed once Too-Cute-For-Words Stephanie edged Richard the Baby Breeding Blaisinator in the ho-hum finale oh so many months ago. And now, a new class of culinary contenders and pretenders emerges -- this time with our collective feet in the frying pan from the very start.

So to celebrate the return of "Top Chef" -- tonight on Bravo at 9 p.m. -- we bring you our 10 favorite quips from last season's vicious, violent, and veracious post-a-thon. We wrote 'em, so of course we love 'em. But really, you kind of had to be there ...

Then re-join us here Thursday afternoon for a special "Top Chef" Commercial Interruption, the first of many in what we hope will be a deliciously demented, jicama-filled Season Five.

10. Thomas on “Mimbo” Ryan: “Look, if your 'California tailgate' concept is so terrible that it can't beat a chef who used store-bought sausage AND forgot to leave enough peppers and onions for the judges to accurately rate her food ... well, Ryan might want to become a Subway sandwich artist or start flashing his smile for 'Hottest Reality TV' calendars. He was like the Rex Grossman of chefs while in the Soldier Field parking lot.”

9. Sara on Lisa the Flabby-armed Devil-Woman Whose Mango Sticky Rice Tastes Like Dog Vomit: “The ‘chef who shall not be named’ continues to think people are out to get her and I can't remember the last time she made something that was appetizing to the judges. (With the exception of the wedding cake that tasted good but looked like a pyramid of poo.)”

8. Sara on anorexic host/judge Padma’s culinary “expertise”: “Yes, Padma is gorgeous, but girl needs to zip the lip when it comes to analyzing the dishes. She's a model and everyone knows models don't eat, so really, what credibility can she lend? For her to be a deciding factor at times is just ridiculous. I can't help but feel for the chefs who have to sit there and listen to her criticism on how the dish should've been made better, clearly based on her years of experience as ... ?? Exactly.”

7. Malavika on the Ultra-Defiant Frowny-Faced Cross-Armed Queen of the Damned: "Yes, Lisa is a great villain, but 'Top Chef' has produced villains in the past (Hung, the winner from last season, and Marcel from the previous season) who were both talented AND giant jackasses. Dale had villain-ish qualities, so why settle for You-Know-Who's pathetic attempts at arm-crossing and rice-making. Seriously, I think homegirl would screw up Uncle Ben's minute rice, given the chance."

6. Adam on the Too-Good For Polish Sausage Revolting Blob Who Must be Profusely Congratulated By Her Peers: "Her demands for acknowledgement from Richard and Stephanie bordered on the surreal, and reminded me a little of Glenn Close in 'Fatal Attraction' -- 'I'm not gonna be ignored, Dan!' But by that point, in my heavily discombobulated state, she could have ripped her face off, 'Mission: Impossible'-style, revealing herself to be, in fact, reality-show whore Danny Bonaduce and I wouldn't have batted an eye."

5. Sara on Croc-Man Richard's moment of truth: "When Richard said, 'I'm just going to come out and say it ...' I thought for shizz he was about to spit some Blaisin' fire at Miss I-Can-Make-Coconut-Soup-So-Give-Me-The-Gold-Medal-Ugface. There should've been a fight. Richard kept talking about how she shouldn't have been there ... my God man, get some danglers and say it to her face!"

4. Sara on Mayor Fatty McFatterson of Uglytown, USA: “It's ironic that last night's ‘Top Chef’ tested the chefs' skills at slaughtering full pigs, and even though Lisa had a clear advantage (being from the same family and all) she still ended up on the bottom.”

3. Malavika after Dale got voted off in favor of Jabba the Lisa: “I'm so angry, I want to eat everything with butterscotch as a giant middle finger to the judges.”

2. Thomas on Grumpy Sourpants McBulbousButt the Gross: "I'm past anger at this point. I find myself laughing hysterically while sticking plantains down my pants and contemplating a name change to Jicama McSweetbread. I don't even know what that means, but having been so thoroughly befuddled by Lisa's continued existence, it will have to do."

1. Adam on … yeah, you guessed it: “Stalin with a spatula. Hitler with a hibachi. Pol Pot with a ... pot. Lisa's the 'Top Chef' villain we love to hate. Or just hate."

-- The Channel Surfing staff and "Top Chef" Lisa Fan Club

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