Life After Top Chef Contains a Healthy Dose of Reality

Wednesday night saw Bravo’s latest dip into the the Top Chef well as Life After Top Chef debuted opposite the Presidential debate. Philadelphia’s Jennifer Carroll is joined by Richard Blais, Spike Mendelsohn and Fabio Viviani as the foursome set out to make it on their own before their TV reality stardom fades. And unlike most reality shows, this first episode keeps it real.

Jennifer Carroll, who had lost her financial backers for her first attempt at a restaurant in Philly, is the just-dumped girl at the wedding standing with all her happily paired-off friends. It’s an awful place to be. That her scallops didn’t arrive for her dish at Aspen’s Food & Wine festival seems almost fitting.

The stress on Richard Blais’ face is almost alarming as he arrives in Aspen. Balancing being a father, a husband, a chef and a celebrity is obviously taking a toll. And it’s only week one. Viviani, on the other hand, seems the most at ease. He shmoozes with every woman in his cooking demonstration. He is single though he seems very involved with his TWO iPhones. Viviani is very comfortable in his heavily cologned skin.

Spike Mendelsohn is the puppet in his family business. He runs around trying to get a dead flat top fixed at his D.C. restaurant, he’s scolded by his mother and sent to every public appearance possible by his sister–he is indeed his sister’s “bitch.” When Mendelsohn suggests Carroll do a spread for Playboy in order to get investors, Blais calls him an asshole. No argument here, but Spike’s been pimped out around the country and Viviani has done a Domino’s ad. For a chef, Playboy might be the classier choice.

The previews for upcoming episodes show the chefs firing machine guns, driving race cars and riding horseback (why do reality shows always put its stars on horses?). So the series may devolve into reality show ridiculousness, but this first episode is definitely worth firing up on the DVR.

And there is some honest-to-goodness news in the episode. Spike Mendelsohn is looking to open one of his concepts in Philadelphia. His Good Stuff Eatery has been rumored since March of 2011.  So Philadelphia, we’ve lost Jen but might be getting Spike? Doesn’t seem like a great trade, but we’ll keep watching.

  • Haddon Henry

    Seems like a fine trade to me. Rather have a Top Chef runner up who went out gracefully and actually has a business than a three time loser (twice on Top Chef and the restaurant in Philly) who is frankly just an embarrassing mess every time the pressure kicks in.

  • Verga

    Not Cool. She is super talented. Was forced to go on Top Chef & had to endure working in a corporate mess called the Ritz for 3 years. Bet you couldn’t even brown the butter for her brown butter sauce

  • Ha

    Henry is def from the main line

  • Eyes

    If Jennifer Carrol was not attractive would she get this much press? She’s just not that talented.

  • Mama

    I don’t often respond to these absurd comments but I will entertain these today. Clearly the people bashing Jen do not know her nor should be talking. She is not only very kind, smart, talented & hardworking, but she is extremely well respected by all of her former co-workers, chefs/cooks who have worked next to her, & by just about anyone who has shared a kitchen with her. Whatever happened to the saying “if you don’t have anything nice to say you shouldn’t say anything at all”??? We lost a kickass female chef to the Concrete Jungle & that is a real shame. She will thrive!

  • John Dory

    She missed striking while the iron was hot, I am sure she would agree to that. Sometimes you need to compromise a bit in the beginning to go far in the long run. There is no reason Isabella, Spike, and Talde can be successful and Jen can’t. I wish her the best, but a small seafooder in NYC is really what she wants? Come home, Jen!