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At the judges’ table

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It’s hard to say what pushed last night’s Bravo upfront over the top — perhaps it was the duelling entrees served by the two “Top Chef” finalists. I was in the minority and really dug Richard Blais’ cutlet of black cod served with pork belly, beets and mustard caviar, but the consensus among journos and ad buyers was that the pork shoulder with pepperoni sauce, cabbage and turnips was the winner. (Blais won the competition overall, though it was said to be an off night for him)

Or it might have been the cotton candy trees — wire-and-alligator-clip contraptions holding blossoms of blue-raspberry-flavored candyfloss. Or it could have been the Snickers lollipops.

But that was all just the food. The venue was 82 Mercer, an exposed-brick loft space of 25,000 square feet that Bravo festooned with colored track lighting, televisions showing the network’s programming (occasionally live, as the satellite truck outside beamed shots of Andy Cohen and friends into the cablesphere), and what looked like huge wads of crumpled paper blocking the porticos into the dining area. At net topper Frances Berwick’s signal, the paper doors crumpled neatly upward, and awed diners went in to feast their eyes.

And parts southward, of course.

More on one-upfrontsmanship next week.

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– Sam Thielman