November 23rd, 2009
05:06 PM ET

Meet the new Iron Chef

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He was born in Chicago and built his foodie empire in Philadelphia, but now chef Jose Garces will be an Iron Chef for all of America. Garces was crowned the Food Network’s latest member of the Iron Chef America team on Sunday night’s episode, beating out New York chef Jehangir Mehta, and capping off a season that began with 10 contestants.

“We had a viewing party with about 400 people at one of my restaurants, Distrito, last night,” Garces said. “So the celebrating has been done and overdone. Now it is time to get down to business.”

Garces was up against nine very strong contenders, but he said he ultimately wasn’t surprised to win the title. In the final competition where each chef was given 60 minutes to make a five-course feast that represented America's melting pot. The secret ingredient was ribs and racks of all sorts, including buffalo, pork and beef.

“I went into the competition feeling like I was gonna win. I just had a natural confidence and I know what I can do under those pressure situations,” Garces said.

As an Iron Chef, Garces joins a roster of celebrated kings and queens of the kitchen including, Mario Batali, Cat Cora, Bobby Flay, Masaharu Morimoto and Michael Simon.

Garces seemed to be the front-runner on the show from the start of this fall’s season when he won the first challenge by creating a comfort food dish. Garces, the son of Ecuadorian immigrants crafted an Ecuadorian stew of annatto chicken broth and queso fresco.

The newest addition to the Iron Chef family has a lot of projects in the works. In addition to overseeing three restaurants in Philadelphia, the Mexican Distrito, the Peruvian-Cantonese Chifa and the tiny burger and whiskey bar, Village Whiskey, Garces is opening a prepared- foods café in the City of Brotherly Love called Garces Trading Company. He is also looking at developing a larger restaurant focusing on the farm-to-table concept and organic foods as well as a small beer and brats house.

“We want to make around 12-15 artisanal sausages, put them on a homemade bun and pair them with American local craft brews,” Garces said.

He may be branching out these days, but Garces wants to encourage up-and coming-chefs to try to keep their focus narrow in the beginning in order to really master what they love.

“I would tell a young chef to get as much experience as you can and try to find a specialty and cuisine to focus on. I think it’s good to be well-rounded but what worked for me is that at a certain point in my career I decided Latin food was going to be my thing,” Garces said.

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Filed under: Celebrities • television
November 23rd, 2009
02:21 PM ET

American Music Awards: bandages & bondage wear

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Nobody died and dubbed me the arbiter of all things fashionable, but I can spot a "don't" pretty easily, and last night at the American Music Awards in Los Angeles, there were plenty to go around. In fact, there were so many, like J.Lo, you could have tripped on them. Let's take a "trip" down memory lane.

Janet, "Miss Jackson" if you must, looked like a Crate and Barrel couch that had too much bedazzling.

Speaking of bedazzled, Shakira's shorty black number made Janet's look positively dowdy with all the sparkle and glitz. It was sort of a latex, LED tube dress that fit her like a glove. The hips don't lie.

Rihanna is usually lauded for her ensembles, and while I don't always love the '80s outfits she dons, I can appreciate her ability to pull them off. So what happened last night? Rihanna was covered from neck to ankles in what looked like a white velour "onesie." You know, sort of like little kids pajamas. It was offset by horizontal cutouts that looked like tan stripes, which one person described as a glorified Cinnabon and another termed "Ace bandages." She was wearing a short white shrug that looked like football shoulder pads with spikes jutting forth.

Lady Gaga... you expect a dramatic look from her, it's part of the schtick. But her weirdly proportioned nude leotards, oddly wrapped with the accessory of the night, "Ace bandages," offset by a contraption that looked like a ribcage with Christmas tree lights, and very "Alienesque" headgear were beyond the pale. I kept looking at those straps trying to figure out why they were there and what they were hiding.

November 23rd, 2009
02:18 PM ET

A kiss is just a kiss? Not for Adam Lambert

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You must remember this; a kiss is just a kiss. Unless of course that kiss is between two men… and broadcast worldwide from say, the American Music Awards.

Then a kiss becomes part of the national agenda, as it did when Adam Lambert planted a wet one on the lips of his keyboardist at the AMAs on Sunday night. And even though Lambert’s kiss wasn’t the first time two men have smooched on network television, it promises to take on a life beyond just a kiss. So let’s prepare to brace ourselves for Smooch-gate 2009, as everyone and their mother weighs in on Lambert’s lip lock.
Some folks are already so riled up that they have taken to Twitter asking people to file a formal complaint about Lambert’s performance to the Federal Communications Commission. And others have just begun complaining.
“Just watched Adam Lambert's performance @ AMA's. Appalling,” JoshYates posted to Twitter, in one of hundreds of tweets lambasting the performance, of which there are an equal number applauding it. 
The AMA kiss isn’t the first time that two men have kissed on network television and it certainly won’t be the last. In 2000, the characters on the NBC sitcom “Will & Grace” ambushed Al Roker on the “Today" show to protest the network’s refusal to air a gay male kiss on television. Out of frustration the characters cheekily kissed in front of Roker and the live “Today” audience. Admittedly it was a chaster kiss than you might plant on your grandmother.  Surprisingly teen drama “Dawson’s Creek” was one of the first shows to pick up the mantle from there and show an onscreen male couple in a serious relationship sharing a really passionate kiss in 2000.
The barriers to gay kissing didn’t exactly come tumbling down after that, even on “Will & Grace”. Will Truman’s (played by the straight actor Eric McCormack’s) love life remained G-rated until 2006 when the show took on another network television barrier with Truman kissing his boyfriend James, played by another straight actor Taye Diggs, in what was promoted as the first interracial gay kiss on television.

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Filed under: Adam Lambert • Music
November 23rd, 2009
10:55 AM ET

Aerosmith still searching for a Tyler replacement

If you think you're cut from the cloth of rock gods, there's hope: word on the street is that Aerosmith still has an opening.

“We want to keep Aerosmith going, and we want to keep playing,” lead guitarist Joe Perry said on Sunday.

The legendary rock band began the star search earlier this month after Steven Tyler revealed that he was interested in working on “brand Tyler.” And despite the rumors swirling that the new lead could be Josh Todd from Buckcherry, there isn’t a winner yet.

“We’ve heard a lot of people mention a lot of people, but the bottom line is we have a short list and we’re talking to people,” Perry said.

Tyler also isn't being very hands-on in finding his replacement.

“The last time I talked to Steven was before the show in Sturgis [South Dakota]. We have heard from him the same way you guys have,” he said, which means Tyler's primary method of communication has been news outlets. Disappointing, especially considering that the band's 40th anniversary is coming up in less than a year.

But Aerosmith is still soldiering on, and Perry is encouraging anyone and everyone to send in tapes – literally. “We found the singer in my band on YouTube, so there’s no reason why we couldn’t find someone to sing with Aerosmith,” he said.

Drummer Joey Kramer has been a little more specific about what the remaining Aerosmith members are looking for.

“There’s a difference between a frontman or a performer,” Kramer told Rolling Stone.

“Luckily for us, Steven is both of those and probably the best out there. If he chooses to pursue a solo career for a while, then it would have to be somebody who can do both.”

Filed under: Aerosmith • Music
November 23rd, 2009
10:39 AM ET

'Seinfeld' reunion not quite 'iconic'

Larry David and the cast of 'Seinfeld'
Larry David and the cast of 'Seinfeld'

Sunday night's season finale of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" brought us the long-awaited "Seinfeld" reunion (though it was actually the final part of several episodes throughout the season). And the one thing that can't be denied is that the cast got back into character without missing a beat. There was something magical about watching the same people on the same set reciting some very "Seinfeld"-ian lines.

However, it has to be asked: Would this have worked as an actual "Seinfeld" reunion, and not bits and pieces of one worked into "Curb?" Probably not. The references to iPhones, Blackberries and Bernie Madoff seemed a little forced and very little of the "show-within-a-show" made me laugh out loud. At the same time, it was still better than the "Seinfeld" series finale - which Larry David, the character, and Larry David, the actual person, continue to defend, even against Jerry Seinfeld himself.

Having said that... as an episode of "Curb Your Enthusiasm," the show was great. The season-long plot line of Larry trying to cast his ex-wife to play George's ex-wife, followed up with Jason Alexander actually trying to steal her away from him was genius. Despite his non-"iconic" status, as Jerry described it, it was pretty hilarious seeing Larry try to play George when Jason briefly dropped out. Larry's obsession with trying to catch who left a coffee cup stain on Julia Louis-Dreyfus' table ("Do you respect wood?"), was classic "Curb," and got the biggest laughs out of me.

Whether taken as a "Seinfeld" reunion, or just a very good episode of "Curb," at least it leaves "Seinfeld's" legacy on a higher note than it was when the show actually ended, and gives us a nice glimpse of what would have happened to these characters 11 years later.

What did you think? Did you enjoy the "Seinfeld" reunion itself more than I did? What did you think of this "Curb" season as a whole? Sound off on video, or in the comments below.

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