Hello, I'm Marijke and I'm a food show addict.
The Food Network is, essentially, my porn. And when I say porn, I mean that in a family-friendly newspaper kind of way. Please, don't write letters.
While Food Network is on at my house like background music, my favorite food show isn't on that channel. Oh no, it's on Bravo, aka the supreme diva of reality programming (for reference, please see "Project Runaway," "Flipping Out" and the late, great "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy").
For the past three seasons, my reality obsession has been "Top Chef." With the start of the fourth season this week, the series shows no signs of losing its grip on my heart, or should I say stomach.
Thanks to a local chef in season two and one again this season, the series also gives me a great intersection between my personal and professional lives.
I love the show. I get to report on the show. I get to interview people on the show. Best yet, I get to watch the show for work.
Sometimes, that journalism degree really does pay off.
Quick confession time, I am not a good cook. In fact, I'm pretty bad on a good day. So the irony of my love for cooking shows is not lost on me. Though that might also be what feeds my interest.
This is something I could not do, and definitely not something I could do with host Padma Lakshmi and head judge Tom Colicchio eyeballing my every sauté.
Current area "cheftestant" Ryan Scott, a Los Banos High graduate, managed to survive the first episode, but only just.
Chicken piccata, really? Oh, Ryan, somewhere, a dog-eared copy of "The Joy of Cooking" is weeping softly.
Still, after interviewing him, I expect the 28-year-old chef to acquit himself admirably and do the valley proud. Anyone can bounce back from one bad dish. What matters is that he lived to cook another day.
Last season, contestant Mia Gaines-Alt was the eighth chef to leave the 14-contestant field. She has since closed her Oakdale restaurant, Feed the People. But her time on the show and self-sacrificing move never will be forgotten by foodies everywhere.
In my humble (or is that hungry) opinion, what makes "Top Chef" rise above all the reality rabble is the sheer skill involved. This is not unlike "Project Runway," but in that case, it's skill with sheers.
This isn't a show about airhead 20-somethings who drink and hot tub and bed hop. This is a show about professionals testing themselves. And the stuff they come up with on the fly is pretty impressive.
Conversely, when they fail, it's also pretty impressive. Putting liver inside of chocolate? Oh, the humanity.
So as I settle in this season to watch all the culinary craziness, I'm excited to have a hometown favorite to root for again. And, who knows, I might even learn something.
Elsewhere around the Scene:
Get ready for a whole lot of Nothin as Modesto rock-rap outfit Not 4 Nothin releases its first CD Saturday at the Fat Cat Music House & Lounge. The 10-track CD, titled "Something in the Water," will be available at the show. Also performing the B93.1 FM-hosted night will be Arden Park Roots and Unknown Statue. Attendees can enjoy free food samples from Zero's Subs and a free Not 4 Nothin CD sampler. Show runs 6 to 10 p.m. Tickets are $5. Call 524-1400. Check out the band at www.not4nothin.com. ...
Come celebrate the conclusion of the University of California at Merced's Pride Week.
The week will end with a drag show performance featuring Miss Gay 2006-07 Miss Anjali, followed by a Q&A session with the entertainers. Show at 6:30 p.m. today at UC Merced's Lakireddy Auditorium, 5200 N. Lake Road, Merced. No cover. ...
And finally, B93.1 FM fans could be in for a move sometime in the future.
Earlier this month, Clear Channel, the station's parent company, filed paperwork with the FCC for approval of a possible switch of dial numbers and frequencies for Modesto's KOSO B93.1 FM and Susanville's JDX 93.3 FM.
B93.1 would move to 92.9 FM and downgrade its signal, cutting its current reach (from Stockton to Merced) to span Manteca to Delhi. In turn, JDX would become 93.1 FM and upgrade its signal to include Sacramento. JDX currently is a country station and not owned by Clear Channel.
B93.1 FM officials declined to comment on the applications filed, but any move is still in the very early stages.
If and when it happens, several steps would have to be completed, including taking over ownership of JDX and making changes to the transmitters. So, keep your dials as is for now and just stay tuned.