Monday, July 05, 2010

I'm so over Top Chef

I know there was a time when I had an opinion about every little happening on Top Chef, and then again on Top Chef Masters. But I’m so over it now. A second season of TC Masters came and went. A new season of Top Chef D.C. is three episodes in and I can’t stomach watching a full episode. What changed, me or them?

I will start by saying that I’m a huge fan of Marcus Samuelsson. His cookbook, Aquavit is to this day one of my favorites. He has a unique take on cuisine, a truly global one. I’m very happy for him, his staff and his family that he won Top Chef Masters. On the flip side, I’m slightly glad I didn’t see any of it. Taking someone who has spent a life time mastering a craft and giving them half the time, half the tools, and shoving a camera in their face does them no justice. For a really cool look into great chef’s and their kitchens I’ll just have to keep watching ‘After Hours’ on Hulu.

As for Top Chef D.C. I’m not even going to temp my nerves. Put away the bow-ties, the fake glasses, the bandanas, the piercings, and don’t make an effort to show off your silly tattoos. It’s kooky carnival, these people are more and more looking and acting like they should be running the traveling circus or the county fair. Their food is a mess. The judges have expectations that are most times unreasonable. And once again the ‘challenge’ of Top Chef is to handicap these chefs by way of time, tools and space. It’s old. I guess that always was the gimmick. Think about some other contestant shows, even non-food shows like American Idol. Those contestants get the best stage, lights, equipment that they ever used before, most likely. Even the evil screamer of Ramsey puts a chef in a proper kitchen. What if Iron Chef said bye to kitchen stadium and put Bobby at a hot dog stand?

It looks like I am the one that has changed. Top Chef always had the personalities and the human drama, but I’ve seen enough of it. Every season they will find another 14 people to be on TV, and every season people will watch it. Heck maybe even I’ll stop being so stiff and watch and episode for old times sake. But you won’t find me caring much about it.


Anonymous said...

yeaaaa shhoooooooott.

Michael Walsh said...

baaaaaaaaaah sheeeeeeeeeep.

rideandcook said...

Hey, Michael, I also love watching the chefs have fun in their kitchens on After Hours. I've seen the episodes many times and they never get boring. It's thanks to After Hours that we dined at August and Cochon on a recent visit to New Orleans. Both meals were superb. Wish Daniel would film more episodes. Last season's Top Chef was such a great group of chefs they should retire the show. This DC group is a total snooze.

Scott Sebastian said...

Welcome to the club.

I was reading Colichio's blog that said "maybe you don't have to be a good cook to be a great Chef." I was like, "what did he just say?"

Those dudes and dudettes have a serious lack of skills. They must have spent too much time looking at pretty pictures rather than busting their hump in the kitchen! I mean they couldn't grill or make freaking pie crust! (read that on the same blog)

Michael Walsh said...

Scott, I agree that perhaps the current class of duders lack serious skill, but i say they spent there time at the tatoo parlor and getting pierced instead of looking at pretty pictures.

All in all I blame the shows producers. Like i've said, these chef's are completely taken out of their element and asked to perform extrodinary tasks. If given ample time, notice, and planning i'm sure all the dishes would be alot better.

I've never been asked to cook for thirty people this afternoon with a impromtu menu, and shop at the grocery store.

Rachel said...

There is a really good show on here in the UK once a year called The Great British Menu that I really love because it is none of the BS but all of the cooking. The setup is that each area of the UK gets to send three chefs in to cook a full meal against each other -- each course is done on a separate day -- for 4 episodes: starter, fish course, main course, dessert -- with another well-respected local chef as the judge. After 3 days, they get rid of the bottom scoring chef and the other two cook up the full meal course-by-course for a table of 3 judges who choose the winner. The winner goes on to compete at a national level in a similar style. There are no gimmicks, and this last season had the added bonus of a requirement that each chef source the ingredients as much as possible from his/her local area. And -- gasp!-- they are actually professional and respectful to each other with only the slightly comical kitchen smack-talk. It was truly interesting! (And you will laugh at what the British call a dessert -- I promise you.) I'm sure you can find it on the web. Check it out.

Michael said...

In fairness, I left top chef a few seasons ago - the cheftestants got stupid & the judging got inconsistent.

But in comparison to all the other "reality" shows, Top Chef is more like real life. We in the IT field have a saying "On Time, On Spec, On Budget - Pick two."

If you give me enough resources, I could give Keller a run for his money. But Keller is considered one of the best chef in the world because he can do his magic in a reasonable time frame.

Michael Walsh said...

Interesting thoughts about Keller. Say you stuck him in the kitchen at McDonalds, and you got to run his kitchen. Surely he couldn't pull through?

I was such a fan of Top Chef the first few seasons. What it's become is such a shame.