Check It Out: TV Banter!

Hey everyone. Cool news from the world of the Interwebs. I’m going to be hosting a videocast for Talk Media Networks where I talk about — you guessed it: TV! We’ve only done one show, and it’s all a bit rough around the edges, but that’s sort of the way online shows go. I’m sure it will find its voice and narrow its focus over the next several episodes, but for a “pilot,” I thought it was pretty fun.

Joining me for the first episode (which was recorded live last week on UStream) is my friend Matt Whitfield, the features editor from Yahoo! Entertainment. The two of us discuss every Housewives franchise and then some (and yes, we couch The A-List into the discussion) as well as Survivor, Amazing Race, Top Chef: Just Desserts, Raising Hope, Modern Family, Cougar Town, Community, Gossip Girl and Jersey Shore. Be sure to check it out!

And as for “Banter with Ben and Lisa,” fear not: we’ll be taping a new episode tomorrow!



I’m seriously still loving Top Chef: Just Desserts, and even though we didn’t get an epic meltdown like Seth’s Red Hot fiasco last week, we still had plenty of emotion and plenty of drama. This time around, the gang had to assemble a wedding cake in the miniscule time frame of ninety minutes. Some people managed to put together fine offerings, but others, like poor Malika, failed utterly. The beleaguered pastry chef, who always looks in dire need of a hug, not only failed to add tiers to her cake, but part of her final product simply plopped off the stand like some sort of sugary mudslide. This led to flowing tears; although, to Malika’s credit, she refrained from full-on sobbing and/or uttering some regressive statement about her mommy.

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Ep. 09: Banter with Ben and Lisa

Hey all. Lisa and I are back with another wonderful podcast, and on this episode of Banter with Ben and Lisa, we cover a wild variety of topics, including 30 Rock, Top Chef: Just Desserts, and Modern Family. We also take on a variety of non-TV related subjects, such as bears, whales, my dark theatrical past, and, of course, food blogging. So listen in as we banter along with our friend jash about who knows what.


And remember, you can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes for free! Click here.

TOP CHEF JUST DESSERTS PHOTOCAP: The Red Hots Are For Everyone’s Mommy


Anyone who watched Top Chef: Just Desserts and Survivor last night found themselves knee-deep in perhaps two of the most entertaining hours of reality TV in months and months. Both shows were absolutely hilarious and amazing on Wednesday, with Just Desserts delivering perhaps the strangest mental breakdown in Bravo history. Now listen — I adored Top Chef: DC, and I felt extremely guilty about not having phtoocapped the last third of the season — but that being said, as much as I enjoyed that installment of the franchise, Just Desserts is kind of kicking its ass in the entertainment department. Why? Well, as Gail Simmons noted, this cast is just full-on kooky. And I love them. This, my friends, is what happens when you take a handful of tightly-wound women, a smattering of catty gays, one or two mentally unstable alpha males, and throw them together in a kitchen.

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Gail Simmons Talks To B-Side Blog: “There are very few things in the edible world that I will not eat.”

Last week, I took part in a conference call with Gail Simmons, judge of Top Chef and host of Bravo’s new series, Top Chef: Just Desserts. As you can imagine, this was a total joy because despite what some people may think, I truly adore Ms. Simmons and everything she says. In fact, the call was rather amazing in that it afforded me thirty-five minutes of pure, unadulterated Gail. No surprise that she was articulate, engaging, and totally sweet. I could have stayed on for another hour or two.

Nevertheless, Gail answered questions from various members of the media, informing us on both the upcoming season of Just Desserts as well as some of her own personal foodie likes and dislikes. For instance, when asked about her favorite dessert, Gail noted that she couldn’t quite name one but that she was currently going through a pudding phase. She also made everyone on the call salivate as she described the simple perfection of a great cookie (seriously, I almost hung up and ran off to a bakery).

As far as Just Desserts is concerned, Gail seemed very excited about the show; although, she did admit a certain bias. The personalities of the contestants, she claimed, were totally different than what we’ve seen before: more bookish, fastidious, and kind of crazier. After all, to be a pastry chef requires a certain concentration that a fast-acting, improvising savory chef might not need. And oh yeah, none of these chefs could use recipes, and in the precision-based world of pastry, that’s no easy feat.

Needless to say, I certainly emerged from the call hungry and intrigued.

My three questions with Gail after the jump…

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PADMA TO GAIL: “I Know You Eat A Lot.”

When my friend Dan sent me a spartan email featuring the line “This is all you” followed by a solitary link, I had to admit: I was intrigued. Maybe I should have looked at his email subject, “Bless her heart,” because that would have tipped me off to the amazing tidbit that followed. You see, Dan had sent me a link about Gail Simmons and the nutritional woes she faced while hosting her new show, Top Chef: Just Desserts.. The headline alone had me chuckling:

“Gail Simmons’s All-Butter, All-Sugar Top Chef Diet”

Yes, it was almost as if my Padma/Gail parody dynamic had come to life. Perhaps this was truly life imitating art. To boot:

Simmons — who hosted a book party for the paperback release of Frank Bruni’s Born Round at Dumbo’s Powerhouse Arena on Wednesday — sought advice from the pro, Padma Lakshmi [about tasting all the food]. “Padma always was like, ‘Just pace yourself, Gail. I know you eat a lot, but this is [different].'”

I die. What more can I add to that?

To read the full item, click here.