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.