I have two ideas to convey in the post the first is the idea that a reality show in which contests are judged on their cooking skills should not eliminate a contestant based on things other than their cooking skills. The other idea I have is that in a restaurant, as a whole entity not just a kitchen perhaps the chef and his/her cooking is only a piece of the puzzle that needs to come together for a complete experience.
From the beginning I thought Laurine was a middle of the pack kind of cook. I’m happy for her that she made it as far as she did. From listening to her exit interview I can see she is a pleasant sincere individual who most likely isn’t cut out for cut throat reality TV. Chef Colicchio confirms this in his blog where he writes,
“It is noteworthy that while questioning the chefs at the Judges’ Table, we got the very distinct sense from Laurine that, as she herself confirmed at the very end of the episode, she was ready to go home. Cooking for a competition is, indeed, very different than day-to-day cooking at one’s home restaurant, and we have seen people tire of competing at different stages of the competition every season. While we certainly wouldn’t send Laurine home for such an intangible reason, I think her performance in this week’s challenge reflected that she was done with the competition and wanting to go, and we did send her home for the work she did this week. So it all works out: we don’t want to keep someone who doesn’t want to compete.”
All this personal information aside, the job of FOH was made even more difficult in that that person was made responsible for a dish on that night’s menu. Wow, that is a lot to put on one persons plate. Let’s imagine this….you’re a cook and come into work to find the chef in a suit and tie. He explains he is going to run the front of the house for the night. He will host, expedite, and he has a special that needs to be prepped and served to his specifications. Oh and it’s a very busy night with a VIP 8 top at 7pm. Would I expect the night to go smooth? Yeah, smooth like Pamela Andersons chest. You’re asking someone to do three things they aren’t good at. Why can I assume that a chef is not good at those things? Well because if they were then they would do those things and live a less stressful and more financially sound life on the other side of the line.
I think in future Top Chef seasons they should have a quick fire in which there are two winners who have immunity, but are forced to perform the FOH duties. It’s heart breaking so see someone compete as a chef and lose as a host!
On to the second point. While the chef is responsible for the food, and increasingly so the vibe and reputation of a restaurant, there are many other factors that go into a quality dining experience. I don’t think I’m touching on anything unique here. From the host to the bus buy to the sommelier to the prep cook there are a lot of hands that go into even a few diners having a quality experience. You are going to say to me, “yeah, but the show is Top Chef, not Top Restaurant Team,” and I can see that viewpoint. But this is my opportunity to open even a few people’s eyes to the fact that a chef, no matter how great they might be, what medals or awards they’ve won, or how many hours they spend on TV, they too have a great many of people surrounding them that are getting their hands dirty and deserve more of the praise than they will ever get.
If Laurine would have smooched the judges table, checked on the lamb temp. and buttered them up out the door then I guarantee the outcome would be different. Then again if she was a top chef she wouldn’t have allowed herself to leave the kitchen and leave her comfort zone. I guess it all works out in the end.