Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Top Chef

I've wanted to write this post for a while but just never got around to it. I am talking about BRAVO-TV's series Top Chef, a show created to fill the void left behind by channel (and my) darling, Project Runway.

BRAVO describes the show this way: The series features fifteen aspiring chefs who compete for their shot at culinary stardom and the chance to earn the prestigious title of "Top Chef." Each episode holds two challenges for the chefs. The first is a quickfire test of their basic abilities and the second is a more involved elimination challenge designed to test the versatility and invention of the chefs as they take on unique culinary trials such as working with unusual and exotic foods or catering for a range of demanding clients. The challenges not only test their skills in the kitchen, but also uncover if they have the customer service, management and teamwork abilities required of a Top Chef. The competing chefs live and breathe the high-pressure lifestyle that comes with being a master chef, and each week someone is asked to "pack up their knives" and go home.

I just don't understand how a show like Top Chef is supposed to translate to television. When the prepared dishes are being judged and I hear that the consumme is too cold, I don't know what that means. Too cold compared to what? An ice cube? A jalapeno pepper? What??? I don't know what the judges are looking for. And besides, Head Judge Tom Colicchio stole my look (not to mention Michael's heart), Host Padma Lakshmi has the personality of a Cheerio (however she's a Mardi Gras parade compared to last year's cadaver Katie Lee Joel), and the guest judges are so vain that someone needs to remind them that they only cook food for a living.

At least with Project Runway, when fashion is judged, its something you can actually see. All of us deal with fabric every day, so we all have a sense of what the judges are talking about. But I've never eaten watermelon with cheese on it, much less thought it was a good idea. Telling me something isn't salty enough or not spicy enough doesn't help me. Watching PR could make me a better designer or perhaps a better dresser, but watching Top Chef won't make me a better cook in the kitchen or a better diner in a restaurant. (Even last night's semi-homoerotic episode of Cliff prison-wrestling Marcel couldn't get me interested.)

I am, however, looking forward to BRAVO's new show, Top Design (ok, creative team, we need to find a new word), because like PR, all you need is sight - which works perfectly for television, right? No mouth required - unless its to stuff popcorn in while watching, which I am sure The BF, Jessica and I will most certainly be doing every Wednesday night at 9.
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