Wednesday 10pm, Bravo
After the decidedly less cutthroat “Masters” spin-off, original recipe “Top Chef” is back, and tasting more decadent than ever since it’s based in Las Vegas. Let’s hope the 17 contestants can live up to the foodie paradise, especially after the disappointing New York season. (I still can’t believe Hosea won…) So far it looks promising: Bitchface Jen is an Eric Ripert protégé and seems like a ferocious competitor; bearish Kevin seems inventive and consistent; Bryan—the elder of a pair of brothers—could be a threat; and I’m weirdly rooting for piercing-bedecked Jesse, whose lack of training hasn’t stopped her from making some yummy-looking dishes.
“Jacques Pepin: More Fast Food My Way”
Saturday 11:30am, PBS
Jacques Pepin is this adorable little French man who knows all about food—in addition to being a world-renowned cook (he was the one-time personal chef to Charles de Gaulle), he has written for The New York Times and Food & Wine magazine, is a dean at the French Culinary Institute, an author, and host of a bunch of public TV food series. His most recent is this 2008 show, in which he demonstrates how to make all kinds of delicious comfort food in no time at all. We’re talking Spanish tomato bread with Serrano ham, or crisp pear tart, or mini cheesecakes on arugula. See what the impish Frenchman is up to with this repeat, and then make yourself a nice dinner for once.
Monday 4pm, TLC
The other week I was flipping through the channels and came across this show about a Buddy Valastro, a master cake maker and owner of Carlo’s Bakery in Hoboken, New Jersey. The episode in question featured a total bridezilla essentially ruining the gorgeous cake Valastro and his crew created for her—and Valastro forcing his entire staff to make another one for her double-time, which she still didn’t appreciate—plus the crew working together to create a 3D biplane cake for a charity function. The whole thing was fascinating, even if this documentary series is a carbon copy of the Food Network’s “Ace of Cakes.” “Cake Boss” just wrapped its first season, but you can catch up with this mini-marathon. Look for a tiki cake that spits fire, an old-school wedding cake stuffed with live birds, and more.