Eat Drink Love, Episode 1: Meet Five L.A. Food Scenesters, Plus One Dildo in a Pot
Editor's note: As many of you know, Bravo debuted a new show about the L.A. food scene last night. Since some of us spend our Sundays watching sports instead of reality television (yes, even if it's about food; especially if it's about food), we though we'd ask a writer who writes more about television than about restaurants to cover the series. Read on for the first of her weekly updates.
A new Bravo series following a group of loyal friends, who are always looking out for each other's best interests, premiered last night. This one, titled Eat Drink Love, centers around five women in the Los Angeles food world. The cast members, each with different jobs, struggle to succeed in the male-dominated industry, and hopefully not throw drinks in each other's faces by episode four -- or be edited to make it look like they are throwing drinks in each other's faces by episode four.
The show opens at 4 a.m. at the West Hollywood bakery Fōnuts, where owner Waylynn Lucas starts her day. Previously a high-paid pastry chef at the Bazaar, she spent her life savings to open Fōnuts (where the doughnuts are baked and never fried) so her soul will no longer suffer under corporate-chef tyranny. We see plenty of men eating and ordering fōnuts and, based on the footage from this episode, it seems that my mission is clear: I'm going to go be the first woman to ever eat at Fōnuts. I'll let you know how it is.
In between dance parties, Waylynn gets flowers from a secret admirer, which is thrilling, but she then gets a case of orange soda, which is less exciting because she's not a 12-year-old boy.
Meanwhile, Jessica Miller, marketing director and Harry Morton's right hand (lady), attends a rib tasting, which she doesn't like. She visits restaurants (Pink Taco, Viper Room, Fukuburger) to check in and make sure things are running smoothy. When she's not physically there, she spies on her employees through streaming video via the phone app Restaurant Manager Spy ($4.99 at iTunes). If employees are messing around, she goes "from zero to pissed." Not sure in how many seconds.
As for Brenda Urban, she sits in her common office at a desk with a chair, talking on a phone with a cord -- no ribs or fōnuts or spy apps in sight. A publicist at one of the best firms in the city, she has to please her clients who "all have incredible egos." A self-proclaimed child food hoarder and sofa food hider, she meets Tim Goodell, chef-owner at Public Kitchen and Bar in the Roosevelt Hotel, to eat potatoes that she doesn't put in her purse. She tells him that she pitched his restaurant as one of the "sexiest hotel restaurants" in the country to Details magazine, along with the Bradley Cooper Diner at the Best Western in Milwaukee.
Brenda meets Kat Odell, editor of Eater L.A., at Superba Snack Bar in Venice. Brenda says Kat is the "Page 6 of L.A. Dining," and we end up learning a lot about Kat through Brenda, like that she is a "hipster Valley girl–meets–blogger and foodie" and that Brenda rolls her eyes at her a lot when they're together. They have an "it's complicated" relationship, and with a smirk from Brenda we know that they wouldn't actually be friends in real life.
Finally, Nina Clemente, an Italian-born, New York–raised private chef with no formal training, walks through a farmers market gathering food for her dinner that night. She started her business on her own and, after a write-up in Vanity Fair as a "Pretty Young Thing," her catering and personal chef business really took off. Nina prepares a meal at client's house, who seems uninterested in her kick-ass vegan mousse, while an inquisitive and noisy child throws toys around. Nina hopes to open her own restaurant one day, to be taken seriously as a chef, and to not allow toddlers in her kitchen. (I hope she never gets referred to as a "thing" ever again.)
There's a lot of talking about relationships around dinner tables in this episode, just like in a Woody Allen movie. For example, when Brenda, Kat and Jessica are at Plan Check Kitchen + Bar, Brenda opens up to them about her awful divorce and Jessica offers a sympathetic "Ew," just like Diane Keaton did in Annie Hall. When Kat and Brenda have dinner at Public Kitchen and Bar in the Roosevelt Hotel, Kat tells Brenda about all of her dates and fake dates with people in the industry, and how they "roll out the red carpet" for her when she goes to the Bazaar, just like Mariel Hemingway did in Manhattan.
The girls almost finally all meet up (sans Jessica) to eat dinner at La Otra Taqueria Escuela, the restaurant of Waylann admirer and orange soda sender Steve Arroyo.
There has been some criticism that weight and body image is discussed so much in this show and especially at this dinner, which is unwarranted because talking about your weight while you eat is the best way to enjoy your food. (I actually eat dinner while standing on my bathroom scale. When it's dessert time, I bust out the bread pudding and body-fat calculator. Everyone loves my dinner parties.) Steve joins the cast for a bit and smarms up the table, not impressing Waylynn in the process, since she's doing the whole "date a really great, respectful guy" thing that everyone should do all the time.
Kat meets John Terzian, owner of Shorebar, to ask for a scoop, while Nina meets chef Eric Greenspan at the Foundry to ask him for a stage, each request turning out favorably. Nina learns the ropes from chef Greenspan: how much meat should be terrine-d and how much flour should be latke-d. Kat smiles and scoops with John. Jessica lets us know that when a man texts you "hii" instead of "hi," it is nice. Things are really shaping up for both the cast and the viewers.
The ladies finally all come together for Brenda's birthday party at Shorebar (the restaurant of Kat's crush and scoop giver, John). They are joined by Chris Crary, executive chef at the Viceroy, and his friend, chef Adam Gertier, who present Brenda with the gift of sausage. (Figuratively, as the only invited male guests, and literally, as they give her a package of homemade sausages.) Quite frankly, Brenda isn't as excited as someone should be who's receiving homemade sausages -- and especially for a drunk person getting homemade sausages. But maybe she's worried about refrigeration requirements, since the party is just getting started.
The whole evening turns into a bachelorette party complete with a golden Medusa tiara, a game of Truth or Dare, Brenda kissing Sausage Adam, loads of drinks, and the birthday girl opening her present from Jess and Kat: a dildo in a pot. It all seems light and maybe fun until the Truth or Dare game takes a turn for the dramatic. Drunken birthday girl Brenda totally embarrasses Kat in front of John, who has made his way up to the party. As Jessica eloquently puts it, "It was the cock block heard 'round the world," implying, though I suspect unknowingly, that this was Brenda and Kat's Lexington and Concord. This is the beginning of their battle (or fake battle for the purposes of cable entertainment) for the next season.
But just like the American Revolution, we can all learn a lesson from this: If you tell your secrets to someone who isn't really your friend, she will totally embarrass you in front of your crush right after she opens a dildo in a pot.
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