Monday, March 2, 2009

The end of Top Chef?

Did last week mark the death knell for Bravo TV's reality show, Top Chef?

I think it's entirely possible.

Don't get me wrong, the show will undoubtedly go on. Over the weekend, Tom Colicchio was holding auditions for next season at Craftsteak. I'm sure that TC has one, perhaps two, seasons left before it is in any danger of being canceled. (And even then I think it's probably still just a danger -- not by any means a certainty.)

However, I suspect that TC's fan base (real fans, like me) will be severely depleted. Top Chef is one of those shows I would stay home on Wednesday nights to watch. I talk about it with friends and air my feelings about on Facebook. Colicchio has even made his way into my dreams, behind a big judge's table, making criticisms about my writing. (I'm not even kidding about that.)

But I'm not sure I'll be back next season. And I'm not the only one.

Last week's season finale was sort of heartbreaking in the triumph of mediocrity over genuine talent. Cumulative achievement meant nothing along side one piddling victory. It was sad.

For the record: I have never met the winner of Top Chef, Hosea Rosenberg. I have never tasted his cooking. He could be a genius, that for some reason nobody recognized throughout the weeks and weeks that he was on the show. However, Stefan Richter was consistently better than Hosea. Stefan won how many quick fire challenges? Ten? Eleven? He saved his team during restaurant wars and won praise on just about everything he did. The man was clearly more talented than Hosea.

True, Stefan was sort of choking near the end of the show. When I'm really honest, it sounds to me that he should have gone home during the "Last Supper" challenge, when he badly overcooked a piece of fish. But consistency should count for something. (As should imagination and talent -- both of which he was far superior to everyone else on.)

I basically stopped taking Hosea seriously as a candidate the week the chefs were cooking for the great Eric Ripert. Hosea said that he could not screw up a fish challenge -- because seafood is his specialty. Nevertheless, he managed to fuck it up and wind up on the chopping block. He managed to slip through the cracks and live to cook another day (my favorite, Jamie, wound up going home) but it's just sad that a contestant on a cooking show can't properly cook his specialty. (That was a challenge, incidentally, that Stefan won.)

"I really hope Hosea wins," my editor told his wife as they were watching on Wednesday. "That way we never have to watch it again."

Everybody I've spoken to -- and I mean everybody -- was rooting against Hosea.

And it wasn't just the fact that he was a decidedly mediocre chef; there was the fact that he acted like a complete cad on the air, cheating on his girlfriend with Leah. (Dude, everybody has moments of weakness... but you're on a reality show! It's gonna, kind of, get back to her.)

I don't know if I can take this show seriously any more. That might be it for me and TC.