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Saturday, April 05, 2008

Top Yawn 

As a food geek, I have been watching Bravo's Top Chef with ... eternal optimism. The entire concept of the show guarantees disappointment, I think, because ultimately the viewer can't taste the food. With Project Runway, you can see the clothes and at least make some kind of judgment on their relative merits; not so on Top Chef.

Iron Chef manages to be more interesting, I find, because it at least focuses the viewer on things that a spectator can judge - technique, presentation, how the food is getting made and the ideas that go in to making it. Top Chef started out doing a good bit of that, but increasingly the focus has been on the canned Reality TV Melodrama of the contestants' fights and whining and pontificating, mostly about topics only tangentially related to food.

It's too bad, and a part of why I dislike the whole chef-as-celebrity thing that has gained so much momentum since Wolfgang Puck (at least). That is that the food ends up getting second place to a cult of personality. And I think that detracts not only from the ability of many proper chefs (the kind who aren't photogenic enough to go on TV, for instance) to make a living, but also from the quality possible from those who do Make It Big On TV. The culinary world should take a caution from the auto industry - Lee Iacocca was brilliant at making cars, until he started being a celebrity too. And then he became a celebrity who also made cars. He retired rich, but do you have any idea how many transmissions my old Caravan went thru??

So yeah. My feelings on Top Chef and other things. Now back to my thesis.

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