36 Days Until Woodfire Grill & Reflections on Reality TV
I have a confession to make. I love reality television. I know, I know. As a high school teacher, I should scoff at shows like ‘The Bachelor: On the Wings of Love’ and ‘The Real World: XXIV’ (Yes, ‘The Real World’ is on it’s twenty-fourth season and finally in Washington, D.C.) Hurray! As someone who loves cooking and reality television, it’s only appropriate that I always wait in eager anticipation for each season of ‘Top Chef.’ Ok, that’s an understatement. I’m obsessed with Top Chef. Padma is gorgeous, Tom Colicchio cracks me up, and the food is absolutely beautiful. I love the quick fires, elimination challenges, and the contestants. These folks are real chefs. They know what they’re doing and all have established culinary careers. This is not the amateur reality television. ‘Top Chef’ is the real deal.
When David and I moved to Atlanta last summer, we decided to go without a television for the year. Leaving the flat screen at home, I was a little nervous about this life change, especially considering my love of all things “reality,” but my students had introduced me to the world of Hulu so I figured it couldn’t be too bad.
Upon moving into our quaint apartment, I found that I loved not having a TV clogging up the living room. Hulu, Netflix and the internet have allowed me to continue watching the shows that I’m particularly interested in like ‘The Office,’ ’30 Rock,’ ‘Mad Men,’ ‘Dexter; and yes, ‘The Bachelor.’ We watch sporting events at friends’ houses when we want to but I definitely watch less television. It’s been great. We don’t just turn on the tube when we’re looking for something to do. We cook more and have more people into our home as a result of going “sans TV.”
BUT, the major downer of this whole ‘no TV’ phase of life is that it’s impossible to get episodes of ‘Top Chef’ on the internet. Bravo is super stingy about releasing its episodes, causing me much frustration as week after week of episodes passed with me missing them. I had to scour the internet to learn about the contestants, find out Padma was pregnant and figure out what SUV would be featured in their trips to Whole Foods, and shamelessly promoted throughout the season. I was particularly saddened by this unexpected internet let down because I moved to Atlanta right when the latest season began and three of the chefs from this past season run restaurants in Atlanta.
I tell my friends back in DC that Atlanta has some of the best restaurants in the country and Top Chef is a perfect example of this. Richard Blais owns Flip, Hector owns Pura Vida and Eli used to be the head chef at Eno. My favorite, Kevin Gillespie, owns and cooks at Woodfire. How can you not love Kevin? Great smile, fabulous beard, so well composed on screen, and he loves pork! Did you notice that the Top Chef producers always used Kevin’s interviews to debrief and explain challenges. Great chef and public speaker. Kevin avoided drama, befriended many, excelled at ‘Pigs & Pinot,’ and was very funny. Even though the last episode didn’t go his way, he still won fan favorite, (and “Betsy’s Favortite”) as well as so many challenges throughout the season. Kevin also supports local farmers, including Crystal Organics, by buying their produce. He even hosted a benefit dinner for Love is Love Farm when they were hit by the floods this fall. A southerner and an Atlantan, Kevin’s here to stay and working to create the perfect restaurant for Atlanta diners. Check out this recent interview with Kevin from yelp.com where he discusses his future in Atlanta. Doesn’t he sound great?
Now you’re probably asking yourself, “Betsy, how do you know so much about last season’s Top Chef if you’ve just been complaining that you couldn’t find it on the internet?” Good question. Bravo so nicely put two episodes on bravo.com during the season. Of course I watched those. When I visited my parents in October, I immediately set their Tivo for every ‘Top Chef’ rerun that would air throughout the weekend. My friend, Laurel, had me over for the finale at the end of the season. (If only I’d known her earlier in the season!) So I ended up getting to watch the majority of this season’s episodes, but not as many as I would like. Bravo, I beg you, put episodes online next season! I miss Padma’s outfits, judge’s table, the “Gladware Kitchen,” the GE equipment, trips to Whole Foods and other product plugs.
All of this being said, hopefully you now understand my love for all things Top Chef. While I’m sad that I missed out on watching this last season in its entirety, (Bravo, if you just put it online, we wouldn’t be having this conversation right now) I’ve loved being in the midst of the Atlanta restaurant scene during the Top Chef hype. I’ve already dined at Flip, Pura Vida, and Eno, but I have not yet been to Kevin’s Woodfire. Business has been booming for Kevin since the show aired. This is wonderful news except for people, like me, who have trouble planning ahead and getting reservations. Good news! I just made my reservations for Woodfire for Thursday, February 18th. Yes, it’s over a month away but I’m already thinking about it. I’ve looked at the sample menu and am hungry just thinking about it. (The menu changes every day of course.) I’m not even worried about gluten-free options because I’m sure the folks at Woodfire will do it right. Maybe I’ll even get to meet Kevin…