Thursday, August 19, 2010

Why I've been radio silent on Top Chef

Regular readers of FSTS will know that almost every year I opine on my favorite reality series, Top Chef...

...and there has been a noted absence of musings this year.

Well, let me explain.

Reason 1: Late last year I gave up my TV, and my viewings of the show have been spotty. (As of last night, I'm pretty much caught up.)

Reason 2: I was skeptical from the get-go about this season because the Washington DC food scene is fairly mediocre. (At least that's what I hear from friends who live there.)

One of the things that last season had going for it was that Las Vegas was a very interesting location, restaurant-wise. The greatest restaurateurs in the world (from Jean Georges Vongerichten to Mario Batali) had opened eateries, all of which are excellent according to trusted foodies I know who have dined there.

It was part of the fun of watching. You want to peek inside great kitchens, meet the great chefs and see great food. Unfortunately, DC really doesn't have that.

Reason 3: This has been a really uninspired group.

Last season was probably the best batch of contestants that Top Chef ever had, and maybe any group of chefs was going to suffer by way of comparison, but what the hell happened? Kelly and Angelo seem like the only ones who are semi-serious chefs. (Maybe Ed, too. But I have grown skeptical upon reading Robert Sietsema's takedown of Plein Sud in the Voice.)

I think if, say, Eli, from last season (who finished fifth!) was in this group there is no question he would be Top Chef.

This has left your humble schlub with almost no one to root for.

I suppose Kelly most fits in with who I usually like (intelligent and quietly creative), but she also looks like she's had a couple of near cataclysmic fuck-ups. (I'm sort of rooting for Amanda ((pictured)) simply on the basis of the fact that she's a mega-babe.)

Reason 4: Last night they got rid of the only reason to watch.

I'm talking, of course, about Alex.

Every season there is at least one villain. One person who's unbearably shmucky, someone utterly talentless, someone who drives everyone else crazy, but who manages to place second worst in every single elimination challenge.

Alex fit that role perfectly!

- He seems to have stolen Ed's pea puree. (Although, I'm hestiant to commit myself to his guilt. If he hadn't stolen it, I think Alex would be a lot more indignant about the accusation. But I'm also sure there was a lot of creative editing on this show. The producers could have just decided it would be a much better story to hide the footage of him actually making the pea puree... and they'd be right.)

- He was an utter shithead to his waitstaff in the kitchen during restaurant wars.

- He had the fecklessness of a Spike or a Robin (other chefs who skated through elimination challenges by the skin of their teeth). I mean, he's a chef in a restaurant and he doesn't know how to butcher a piece of meat, or debone a fish?

The collective hatred of Alex was the one thing that was sort of interesting. Now that's gone. I'm not sure I'll finish the season out.