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Pack your knives and tune it

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A little over 24 hours from the return of “Top Chef” on Bravo. It premieres Wednesday night at 9. Tom Colicchio, Padma Lakshmi and Gail Simmons return as judges. Gone is Ted Allen to the greener pastures of The Food Network, replaced by Toby Young.

I’ve always thought Ted was great, but he might not be the type of TV Bravo was looking for. Ted’s always been thoughtful, intellectual but not afraid to lend fair criticism.

Toby Young has made a career of more or less pissing off those around him. Methinks Bravo is seeking the “Puck Factor.”

Until last season, most of the contentiousness and conflict was between the contestants. Last season, some of the chefs took the judges to task, showing a new exploitative avenue.

Emotion is what puts the TV in Reality TV. Whether it’s weeping would-be pop divas or machine gun bleeping from an overwrought chef, outburst affect viewers. Once compelled, they’re lost forever.  It all goes back to Puck from the Real World. Oi.

But I haven’t even mentioned the new season’s biggest guest: New York City. Previous host cities have included Miami, Chicago, and San Francisco. All are respected restaurant cities and have their strengths, but none can compete with New York across the board.

It’s home city to all the judges and good portion not only of this year’s contestants but many from previous seasons, which means we can probably look forward to a lot of guest appearances.

Be sure to look for our “Top Chef” podcasts on Thursdays following the show. Links to it will be available on this blog.

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