Monday, December 25, 2006

Iron Heat

My apologies for how poorly this blog has been kept. Not much of a cooker these days, and what I do prepare isn't worth sharing. (Trust me.)

Well, here's a special update. A secret blog entry -- since it feels inappropriate for my other blogs and this blog probably gets zero traffic at this point.

I recently watched the special Iron Chef showdown,

Rachel Ray vs Giada De Laurentiis!

I've gone the extra mile and uploaded screencaps: an exceptionally cumbersome thing I rarely trouble with.

I won't be giving a beat-by-beat recap. That'd be better served by someone else's blog. I won't even be dwelling much on the actual food aspects, or the final scorecard:
I found the idea more interesting than the actual produced show.

Some people would ask, why would they do this? Pit two of their most popular "food stars" against each other?

I ask, what took them so long?

I think one of the fascinating things about "food tv" is that a person can have a food show, or multiple food shows, yet have questionable culinary credentials. RR's got some restaurant experience, but not as a chef. G-Delly's been to pastry school, I think. Neither has been the chef of a restaurant, which seems to be a prerequisite for Iron Chef challengers. That said, the beloved Paula Deen and the distasteful Emeril have been curiously absent from Iron Chef. I reckon some of the TV personalities are probably a bit chickenshit. Which is why my respect for both RR and G-Del has suffered a boost.

Iron Chef America does a good job of casting its Food-TV personalities...
Alton Brown is the perfect man for color commentary, able to fill time with secret-ingredient fun facts from his encyclopedic food-geek knowledge.
Kevin Brauch used to have a show called "The Thirsty Traveler", which was basically a globe-spanning bar crawl. He's got an easy rapport with Alton and it's nice to see him working. Some Food-TV Stars are challengers, some are just reliable support staff. Again, respect for RR and GDL throwing caution to the wind and agreeing to the challenge.

Of course, at the top of the show, both ladies are let off the hook by news that they'll be "assisted" by the Iron Chefs who trained them...

The relieved G-Del linked with


The irrepressible RR linked with


Yes, it's a total cheat. RR and GDL are reduced to being assistants.

Non-sequitur shout out to the lovely Cat Cora. Who wasn't used, but I uploaded her picture anyway because I'm an admirer of her steely, reserved beauty.

Hey, the competition out the window, let's focus on the superficial things...
Battle Cranberry gives us the opportunity to compare
The aerobicized Princess Giada, and
The plucky ex-cheerleader Rachel...

First time I saw Giada, I thought "Natalie Portman". I thought, "This person is way too pretty to be a cooker." I grew up watching Julia Child and The Frugal Gourmet. When Giada filled a pot of boiling water with pasta on her show, it was shot as if it were a sex scene.

By contrast, Rachel always came across as unstoppably perky. Pretty, but not the kind of pretty that makes you do a double-take (like Giada). The kind of pretty that grows on you.

But as long as we're talking pretty, stop the press...
Jill Bernstein. Senior Editor of Entertainment Weekly.
I ended up uploading an inordinate number of screencaps of this judge...
Yes, I understand why they'd load the panel with "easy" judges, but why would they pick a judge that's prettier than both of their stars...?
Jill Bernstein. Prettiest girl in the classroom.
Jill Bernstein. The radiant girl you had a crush on in 9th grade and never said anything to.
Jill Bernstein. [Something to describe Jill Bernstein.]
I bet she's got a really attractive fiancé...

Yes. I'm very lonely and have entirely too much time to think about it.

Aside from dreaming about which pretty girl I'd most like to go out with in my fantasy world, the actual show was pretty dull. Giada and Bobby were slightly more crazed. Rachel and Mario didn't break a sweat.

In a bold move, Mario prepared drinks for the judges.
Alton tried to get Flay to comment on the move but
Flay couldn't be bothered to say something witty. He seemed fairly humorless throughout. Just like he is on his "Throwdown" show. He's got a competitive streak that doesn't let up, even when he's supposed to be playing second fiddle to the Italian Princess. Ain't no "friendly competition" in him.

My interest reignited during the final judging...

While the judges were about the gentlest judges I've ever seen on the show...
(I love you, Jill...)
When Giada/Bobby (Giadobby) unveiled their ravioli with crumbled biscotti...
The clean-shaven judge dared to comment -- ever so apologetically -- that it wasn't entirely his cup of tea.
Resulting in a notably unhappy GDL. Yes, there was an element of mugging for the cameras, but she seemed genuinely hurt. Clearly not accustomed to ANYONE disliking her cooking and telling her about it. And this judge was not mean in offering her criticism. He seemed extremely reluctant to have to say it, in fact.

Make no mistake, this is where the show started getting hot.

I was never a big fan of Rachel Ray. I never quite made it to the "Rachel Ray Sucks" level, but I also wasn't inclined to keep the channel set whenever "30-Minute Meals" or "$40 a Day" came on.
But something happens when she relaxes that black-hole smile of hers. And don't get me wrong, it's an adorable black-hole of a smile. But watching her at her final judging on this show... trying to maintain a modest smile while gentle criticisms floated toward her... the forced smile she flashes up at Mario...
Or this shot. As several judges tell her that her pasta is slightly undercooked. If you watch the video, it almost looks like her heart is breaking. To suffer such an unimaginable insult. And to have to take it without cracking. Her sexy smoker's voice uncharacteristically low -- humble -- as she mumbles, "Gotta cook it a little longer, hyeh..."
I'm sure she's not as perky in person as she is as a television persona. (How could anyone be? They'd die from the toxicity.) But watching the enthusiasm drain from her visage made me realize how gorgeous she can be. Maybe not as gorgeous as a Jill Bernstein... but a warmer, girl-next-door gorgeous.
Watching her try to force the pluckiness made it even more endearing. You could start to see the war beneath the teeth. This woman is TRYING.
In the end, the losers seemed genuinely bitter/hurt. As friendly as the match was supposed to be, you could see the loss meant something. Check out the murder in Bobby's face. The humility as Giada's lips disappear.
Mario just waltzed through the whole show and doesn't seem the least bit surprised at the outcome. Rachel looks like she's just gotten the Malibu Barbie Dream House for Christmas.

But was this ever about food?

I say, Rachel Ray wins this one, hands down. For winning my heart. Arguably the most over-exposed of the lot, she managed to come across as disarmingly human and girlfriendable.

The runner-up is Jill Bernstein. Points lost for being a bit too pretty and thus not quite girlfriendable.

Third place, sadly, Giada De Laurentiis. Points off for covergirl looks and a Hollywood bloodline. The show didn't humanize her for me. Which is probably why I uploaded so few stills of her.

Whoa. This was a lot of work just to illustrate how lonely my life is. A long way to go for such a sad and obvious point!

Merry Chrimbo!


Jason said...

Don't feel guilty...I stumbled onto this blog after wondering, "who was the gorgeous judge on Iron Chef?" (I only saw the last 10 minutes)

M. Alice said...

Nice screencaps, eh? Couldn't find many other pics of Jill online, so I'm happy to serve the internet.

Public Safety said...

I too stumbled upon this blog after seeing Jill on Iron Chef. Nice pics.

Eric said...

It's kind of funny, I too, came looking for pics of that judge babe. Although I do like how Giadda's show pretty much focuses on her breasts.

cancermonkey68 said...

jesus... i just saw this episode 2 years after it came out... and too found this site/blog looking for jill. i am amazed.

bigjohn75602 said...


gib said...

hahhahhahahaaaa....i find myself in the jill bernstein cul-de-sac, driven down after breathlessly searching for this gorgeous woman! thanks for the caps, very nearly a public service :)

JohnnyP said...

same here! ended up here after wondering who this incredibly gorgeous woman was! wow, she is totally fine!!!!!!!! wow man

MC Tech said...

HILARIOUS. We're all here for Jill. Thanks for doing the screen caps and posting them here. Hopefully, we will all see more of her in the future.

That being said - I respectfully disagree. I'd take Giada over Jill. :)

M. Alice said...

This is officially the most popular entry on a very sporadically updated blog. It ought to be renamed the "Jill Bernstein Fan Club" blog. I wonder if Jill's ever stumbled upon this, horrified at how she's been immortalized on the internet. O Jill, why are you so pretty...?

earl duggan said...

Fun fact...Jill's brother Dan (not hot) is cohost of Chicago's longest running sports radio talk show. I think he's mentioned on a few occasions she is married (I believe her husband makes guitars). Never realized she was this hot.