Last night I got to make my big-time reality TV debut — sort of. If you watched the premiere of the 13th season of “Top Chef,” you might have spotted me. Or maybe not, if you blinked.
The thing about cooking competition shows like “Top Chef” that have always bugged me is that you can’t taste what the contestants are whipping up. On something like “Project Runway,” you can see the work they’ve created and form your own opinion, but with food you have to take the judge’s word for how it tastes. Or at least I had to until last night, when I got to be one of the people tasting that food.
As Padma Lakshmi explained to the 17 contestants, they were secretly being judged by a handful of food critics and entertainment reporters, including myself. Those scores determined which chefs ended up on the top and bottom — and faced elimination — regardless of the show’s regular judges’ opinions.
Judging all the dishes meant tasting them all, which was a challenge in and of itself — 17 dishes is a lot of food. I should’ve taken a cue from the pros, who never seemed to finish a whole portion.