As Bravo TV's Top Chef series packs its knives and goes home tonight after another entertaining season, we're left with the same feeling that hits two hours after a Thanksgiving feast:
Surely, there's room for another helping.
While cooking fans must wait til 10 tonight to see if Richard, Lisa or Stephanie will emerge on top, here's a little appetizer to get in the mood.
Top five reasons to love Top Chef:
5. Frequent food fixes: We're convinced Top Chef is always on TV any given hour of the day. And why not? There's nothing more soothing than watching cooks prepare meals that we might even attempt at home sometime.
4. The guest judges: The acid-tongued Anthony Bourdain and fanciful Ted Allen headline the list of celebrity chefs and elite restaurateurs who taunt contestants with their unimpressed grimaces and disapproving winces.
3. The shopping sprees: The food orgy commences weekly with frantic trips to organic markets, where lobster tails, beef filets and shellfish fly off the shelves. (Give us a half hour and $500 to spend and we'd blow it on beer kegs and pizzas.)
2. The challenges: Feed lunch to a police department. Make a tasty main course for kids at a Fat Camp. Make an entire meal using only junk food. Who dreams this torture up?
1. The judgment: Chef Tom Colicchio and host Padma Lakshmi save their best venom for the judging table, a weekly cross examination that even former KGB agents think is excessively brutal. Only when Padma drops her cool dismissal -- "Please pack your knives and go" -- does the drama end.