Reality TV hit rock-bottom when Top Chef won an Emmy for Best Series. I’m not just miffed because TC turned its best guest judge, Anthony Bourdain, into wallpaper this week. Bourdain had nothing to work with. All the nice, but dull, cheftestants prepared good dishes.
I’m not even upset because the chef I was least indifferent to — Tiffany — got sent home over some flaw with her fish sauce they trumped up.
Top Chef never has been about great cooking, but about having the stamina and cunning to overcome the producers’ relentless sadism and sabotage.
Everyone associated with the show proudly claims, “It doesn’t matter what you cooked before. If your dish sucks this week, you’re going home.”
That’s just bullshit because it makes being named “Top Chef” a crap shoot.
The chefs work mostly in unfamiliar kitchens with unreliable refrigeration. How many dishes have been ruined in the fridge? Tiffany was screwed because her mussels froze.
Also, I don’t intend to squander another minute of my life watching anyone tear through Whole Foods. I HATE grocery-shopping. And WHY do they have a time limit?
I’ll tell you. Faux tension, leading to silly mistakes that sink perfectly capable chefs.
This season, pea purée figured in a few episodes. Can you say, “Puke on a plate?” Alex was accused of stealing it from Ed. Tom Colicchio vehemently denied it on his blog, while never explaining where the missing purée went.
Tom, it’s noxious green goop. It doesn’t just vanish.
This season, instead of preparing yet another little pile of weeds and protein sitting in slime, someone made a beautiful mac & cheese with a pork chop on the side — something a “normal” diner might enjoy. It was dismissed as not exotic enough.
Which brings me to Padma, the exotic judge with dubious credentials. I think they only keep her around because she can say, “Pack your knives and go,” and make it sound like, “Take off your clothes and do me.”
And Tom Colicchio, “the rock” of the show, with a similar presence. When he occasionally deigns to register an expression, cheftestants’ chins quiver as they wonder, “What did he MEAN by that look?”
Next week’s finale is in Singapore. Why? To boil noodles? They couldn’t do that in DC? I plan to skip it. I’ve watched every episode this season, yet I don’t care who wins.
The only thing that would salvage future Top Chef competitions for me would be to have the judges assign semi-objective numerical scores on each dish (1-5 so Padma could keep up) in several categories, such as seasoning, doneness, complexity/creativity, presentation. The foodies can work out the details.
Make the scores cumulative, so the chef with the lowest total score each week goes home. That way, good chefs wouldn’t get destroyed in one challenge for things beyond their control (like fridge temperature) and the best would come out on top.
And drop the ridiculous deadlines. Turn off the damn camera and stop making the chefs behave like lab rats trying not to step on electrodes.
But if you can’t give up the “Gotchas!”, move the show to Nickelodeon.