Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Late to the Party - Top Chef

We don't have cable at home... and no, I'm not trying to be that guy... but it means that unless a show is really popular and falls clearly within my areas of interest, it's unlikely I've seen it. Now Top Chef probably qualifies on both accounts there, but for whatever reason I'd never seen an episode. Anna spends significant chunks of the year with TV access, so she's more up on these things than I am... but when we travel somewhere is really the only time I get any television watching time and I mostly spend it with the Food network. This visit to Maine, however, Anna wanted to catch up on the last two episodes of Top Chef that she had missed... so I joined in to see what the fuss was about.

I won't post any spoilers for anybody working a season behind... but I didn't particularly like it, though it wasn't terrible or anything... and I'm sure I'd follow along if I had consistent TV access. It was way too much Reality TV and too little cooking for my taste. It also seemed that even down to five or six chefs, a lot of them weren't really that good... I mean, they're all way better than me, of course... but it seems fairly inconceivable that people competing for this can't make a proper hollandaise and overcook their salmon. That was really the biggest issue for me... I just wasn't wowed by any of them, and that's what I'm expecting when I watch professionals compete... and maybe that's an expectation that's born from watching too much Iron Chef, and thus not exactly fair... but it makes it less interesting for me, since I'm not particularly interested in the interpersonal dynamics that make Reality TV so compelling for most.

At the end of the day, would I be really excited to plop down 30 dollars a plate for any of the creations of the current final four? I can't say that I would. It may be that I saw two episodes that were particularly lacking in creativity (Anna claims this is the case), but I didn't see much evidence that the eventual winner is going to be some amazing chef. Though I suppose that since I've only seen two episodes from one season, I'm going to have to say that the jury is still out... but if I'm going to watch a cooking competition, I'd still prefer Iron Chef, even with it's myriad flaws.

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