Long time waiting room staple Entertainment Weekly is reporting that sitcom star Emeril Lagasse will be joining the judges panel on the next season of Bravo’s Top Chef.
I am genuinely excited about this. While he’s made his share of regrettable career decisions; Emeril Lagasse is an American treasure who singlehandedly turned Food Network into a destination channel (before Travel Channel and Bravo sauntered along and stole all their thunder). He carried the torch for Julia Child through the late nineties and introduced a whole segment of the American population to cooking food they never previously would have thought to try.
He’s a class act; comparable (for better or worse) to a Jay Leno of the cooking world.
Tony Bourdain agrees with me.
They’re also adding avid bottle cap collector Hugh Acheson to the judges panel. Acheson was easily one of the best personalities on the last season of Top Chef Masters, and despite getting eliminated twice, seems to know a thing or two about food.
Plugging Emeril and Acheson into the mix with Padma, Gail and Chef Colicchio will make for interesting chemistry. Anything that keeps Saveur editor and insufferably pretentious douchehammer James Oseland off the main Top Chef show is a good thing.
I find Top Chef Masters to be a worthy spin-off, save for the awful judging.
They mixed it up this last season and added Ruth Reichl, who is awesome, but she seemed to be more in her element on her criminally under-watched PBS show than she was as a judge.
Curtis Stone is Australian, and therefore I cannot like him, as I am deeply prejudiced against Australians. He’s obviously telegenic, but more than that, he seems to be able to speak extemporaneously on a number of cuisines and techniques.
So bully to him; he’s a boon for the show.
The real problem is Oseland and his pissboy Alan Sytsma. Those two are so ridiculously foppish in their demeanor that they shouldn’t be allowed to review a dish unless they’re decked out in powdered wigs and pantaloons.
Thankfully; they also toned down the appearances of Saveur contributor Gael Green, who despite being in her late seventies, never turns down an opportunity to tell you about all the times she’s been laid.
I think the most exciting part of this upcoming Top Chef season is the location: TEXAS! They’re actually doing three cities; Dallas; Austin and San Antonio (Ha! Huck Fouston.) so hopefully they’ll take advantage of what I think is one of the more underrated food scenes in the country. Dallas/Fort Worth has the estimable Tim Love along with a slew of other quality chefs; Austin has amazing bar food and the best sushi restaurant in the continental United States and San Antonio has a Popeye’s Chicken across the street from a Whataburger. So that’s pretty cool.
When the next season of Top Chef starts; you can count on Reducer for all the nit-picky coverage and play-by-play analysis you’ll be looking for.