Editor's note: As many of you know, Bravo debuted a new show about the L.A. food scene recently Since some of us spend our Sundays watching sports instead of reality television (yes, even if it's about food; especially if it's about food), we though we'd ask a writer who writes more about television than about restaurants to cover the series. Read on for her weekly updates.
This week's episode of the realistic portrayal of what it's like to be a (white, attractive) woman (with great hair) in the L.A. food industry focused on a big event: Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival (the 2012 event; this year's event is this week), which Nina described as “an incredible revered event — the culinary event of the year,” and Jessica described as, “the world series of all foodie events.” Unfortunately, she lamented, her restaurant Fuku is the Chicago Cubs of the event, so she asks Brenda for some advice and then holds a meeting with some of her staff, where no one takes notes or listens despite her obvious drive, attention to detail, and business skills, and the chef appears to be too relaxed for having to overcome a decades old Curse of the Billy Goat.
Brenda meets at Avalon Bar with good friend Chris Crary, executive chef at the Viceroy to see what he's working on and potentially to snag him in as a client. She asks him about L.A. Food & Wine and he sighs about the 3000 gnocchi he has to make before he smells her. She asks him about the red carpet that she is organizing. He touches her bra strap. They awkwardly look around and get flushed. He offers her his cherry. The uncomfortable exchanges are reminiscent of a Larry David or Michael Scott scene, whereby the audience just wants it to stop. Except this is (sort of) real life which makes it worse. Chris cuts the tension by asking Brenda about Kat and we now have the makings of a good old-fashioned love triangle.
Meanwhile somewhere far from awkward, Nina meets with her manager who relays the good news the she has a booth at L.A. Food & Wine. (Also, why were we surprised that personal chef's have managers? This is Los Angeles. Everyone and everything needs to be managed.) With the pressure on, Nina gets a kitchen, cured meat and sous chefs and together they plan to cook 2000 servings of prosciutto y meloni, using the best possible ingredients until she realizes she didn't actually taste the best possible ingredients before she began. Turns out the melon sucked. Like, “gritty cardboard” suck. Nina, savvy chef she is, decides to make micro arugula, melon sorbet, and crispy prosciutto instead.
Waylynn prepares to celebrate her one-year anniversary of fōnuts, a momentous occasion for any restaurant. An exciting one-year anniversary perk: Kat interviews Waylynn for a story on Eater LA, since it was Kat who discovered her, put her on the map, and made her the woman she is today. Waylynn is actually a robot that Kat built in her loft in between dates. But just like any robot made for personal gain, they are known to rebel against their creator. Waylynn says that “Kat's style of journalism is a lot like Kat: shallow and mindless and doesn't make you think too hard.” Bwahaha! Luckily, Kat is just Waylynn's “Bravo friend” and Waylynn shares her one-year anniversary dinner with her “real friends,” fōnuts partner, Nancy Truman, and their employee, Michelle, at Tar and Roses in Santa Monica.
Nancy presents Waylynn with a gift: a Tiffany's key chain with the date fōnuts opened engraved on it. Waylynn reads cards out loud and they share a touching and vulnerable moment filled with true emotion and honesty (“Cheers to all of hard work and now let's enjoy and stop crying and eat some god damn fucking food”). It was a heartfelt scene that showed the world that women can cry at a restaurant and not be Katherine Heigl after Gerard Butler stood her up in a terrible movie, or because they're a drunk mess, or after their friend bitched them out.
As the dinner goes on, just like a real friend would, Nancy urges Waylynn to give Tar and Roses chef-owner Andrew Kirschner a shot, despite her strict “no chef” rule. Chef Kirschner has been personally sending out plates of charcuterie, bone marrow, and roasted chicken, flirting with Waylynn and even touching her hair, which was weird but more charming than the bra strap touch we saw earlier.
The main event: L.A. Food & Wine. Nina directs her staff, semi-concerned that she is the only non-restaurateur with a booth, but maintaining her confidence throughout. Jessica corrals her staff, including founder Colin Fukunaga, and urges them to stop drinking and putting panda bear masks on. Brenda runs around directing the red carpet and Kat sits in the VIP lounge interviewing chefs and drinking wine and squealing at people. Later into the night, Chris gives Brenda a back massage and what looks like a vampire bite on her neck, Nina wins approval of boss Eric Greenspan, and Jess has an important one-on-one meeting with a Narnia air conditioning unit.
Waylynn's Eater LA article comes out on the one-year anniversary! Hooray! A time for joy and merriment! Great press and celebration! What better way to celebrate a momentous occasion (not many restaurants even last a year) than a photo and interview on a successful website? Except, as Waylynn and Nancy read the article they are displeased and appalled. Waylynn was misquoted and made-up quoted several times. “That doesn't even sound like you,” said Nancy. “She writes for a living and she can't even get the fucking story straight. That's insane.” and “It's embarrassing.” It is, but really, for who?
On the other side of town, Kat stops by at the Viceroy to talk to chef Chris, who is still talking about his 3000 gnocchi, which seems to be his pick up line for the week. They awkward flirt; she gets flushed because there's always some flushing going on around Chris, but Kat wants to make it clear: she is not trying to date him but she's also not trying to burn a bridge. So, the takeaway for all women is that if you don't flirt and giggle, you are burning a bridge. Got it. Hee hee.
Which brings us to our game of: What came first? Bravo's portrayal of Kat as obnoxious or Kat saying things that portray herself as obnoxious? For example, at L.A. Food & Wine we see shots of the cast members while Kat gets fake eyelashes. They continue to sweat and work while Kat gets neon pink lipstick and plays with her side fishtail braid. Nina sweats and serves, Kat squeals and giggles. Kat probably did much more than that. Is it the editing to make her look shallow or is it the words that come out of her mouth? “I do have a lot of power and sometimes I just forget that,” or “I have to interview a bunch of chefs for the festival and I'm just hoping with all the cocktails I'm going to remember it all,” and “I'm being very friendly and flirty with everyone but for me that's normal.” Does it actually matter? No. They need an antagonist on this show and for now it seems to be Kat, regardless of the process behind it.
The episode ends with Waylynn confronting the antagonist Kat about the article in a very respectable, direct, and calm manner instead of the usual screaming, hair-pulling, throwing things style we see on these types of shows. It seems, compared to last week, this show has gone through a mini-Bravo women's movement. The cast was actually doing things. We saw them working hard at their jobs. The gossip and bitchiness is toned down from previous week (maybe because the cast has minimal interaction with each other) and the mini-feud seems warranted and not made up for television's sake. Let's celebrate this small cable television victory, because with the impending love triangle looming and ratings to keep up, it probably won't last long.
Want more Squid Ink? Follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook.