Intrepid reporter Erika Hobart already came through with the news yesterday that three of our local chefs will be packing their bags to compete in the second season of Bravo's Top Chef Masters. Thierry Rautureau from Rover's, Maria Hines of Tilth and Jerry Traunfeld, straight out of the kitchen at Poppy, will all be battling it out against some seriously heavyweight competition this year--like Susur Lee, for example (who looks about ready to shank someone in his photo), Wylie Dufresne (who is similarly armed, but looks much less homicidal) and Marcus Samuelsson.
Yeah, that's Bender he's holding. I still prefer Futurama to The Simpsons
But there's yet another local(ish) name attached to this year's competition. Can you guess who?That's right: Matt Groening, creator of The Simpsons and Futurama, who'll be guest-judging along with Hank Azaria (the voice of Moe Syzlak, among others). Groening is from the Pacific Northwest (Portland), and since he is (at least partly) responsible for the Simpsons episode "Guess Who's Coming to Criticize Dinner"--one of the best and truest things ever written about being a restaurant critic--and "30% Iron Chef"--a great Futurama send-up of celebrity chefs and competitive cooking TV shows--I think that makes him more than qualified to sit in judgment. And certainly a better potential audience than the crowd of rabid Top Chef fans and pissed-off also-rans who sent last season's home town boy, Lachlan Mackinnon Patterson (from Frasca Food and Wine in Boulder, which was local for me back then), home to the mountains defeated.
Top Chef is due to start its run on April 7. No word yet on when Senor Groening (or any of the three local chefs) will be making their appearance.