Thursday, March 24, 2011

Was it overplayed???

When I was younger, I liked to listen to regular music on the regular radio.  Not any of that satellite radio, but the stuff for normal people.  When it was time for Linkin Park's second album to released to the public, the radio stations started to play their music all the time.  What do I mean by 'all the time'?  I would remember that a Linkin Park song would play once every 30 minutes.  The radio stations played the song so many times that I started to hate and dislike the song.  To this day, I hate that band and all of their songs because they were so horribly overplayed.  All of their songs sounded the same as they were all emo songs with random rap pieces inside.

As a foodie and chef I became a fan of the first season of Top Chef.  The show was unlike anything that they had on TV at the time.  There were previous competition shows on but none of them consisted of a reality show and competitions each week.  It was interesting to see these great chefs, all working hard and working for their goal of their own restaurant or their own line and it was interested to see how ill-informed some of them were.  I remember seeing some chefs not knowing what some ingredients were or even how to prepare some. 

The first season was good as it was a true test of the show, but after that, the regular seasons just started to go slowly downhill.  Like anything that is put together, the show tried to get the best of the chefs they could acquire.  Obviously, they tried to get the best they could for this season, so any other seasons that feature any other chefs would have been either not thought of as of then or second choice.  The show also started to become what I hated: it moved away from a cooking show and into a reality show.  The producers knew that keeping contestants who would create or keep drama in the show, would help with the ratings and therefore couldn't be let go.  The first season, was perhaps the first season in which there may have been drama between contestants but it wasn't a pivotal part of the show.

As the season went on, you could clearly tell that it became a show of airings and ratings and not real cooking.  Contestants were not required to cook different things but could slide by on the same thing.  For instance in season 5, the only line that stuck with me is Fabio's "This is top chef, not top scallop."  Almost every challenge, Jamie cooked scallops.  Here is my thing, if I was a judge I would say "we know you can cook scallops, try cooking something else.  If you don't, you will be eliminated."  Hey guys, I don't know how to cook scallops, but I can do sugar free jams really well.  If I was on the show and made a sugar free jam with every dish, wouldn't people get sick of me?  People were sick of her, but the producers wanted her on and so she stuck.

Top Chef Masters was a true cooking competition show and the most fun to watch.  It wasn't because it was all REAL professionals, but it was great because they were not cutthroat.  There was no drama as these were all professionals working for charity.  They had nothing to lose and everything to gain.  These chefs of 'Masters" showed off in the faces of every Top Chef regular contestant, how to do the show properly.  Sometimes these expert contestants were even more experiences than the judges, but they didn't care, they were having fun.  I was doubting my own choice to become a chef until the first Top Chef Masters show came on and I saw and gained respect for so many of these chefs.  These chefs, in their many restaurants, big houses and fancy cutlery were more humble and nice and showed off more cooking than the rest of the show.  It was so worth it.  After that first season, when Rick Bayless won, my wife and I went to Chicago to experience his food at his restaurant and it was amazing.  I loved every minute of it and that started my foodie quest in trying new foods and new flavors.

What about Top Chef season 99? Well, as long as there are chefs who dislike each other, fall in love or are gay, on the  show, it will continue on.  What does the show need?  Well, they have been in the major cities in the US but will avoid anywhere that doesn't exist, like St. Louis for example.  They would sooner to Atlanta, Detroit or even Compton before St. Louis.  It is no surprise that as the show went on, ratings dropped:

There was even a Top Chef Desserts and the show was just bad.  They took their choices for dessert chefs and it was difficult not finding a gay man or a woman in the bunch, I think one guy was straight in the whole set.  I don't have anything against the LGBT community but the show turned into one big drama fest instead of a cooking show.  When I watch a show, especially a show based on a cooking competition, I don't care about your personal life, I want to see how you prepare things.

Over and over, the same formula for drama without focus on technique came up and the same mistakes were shown and by half of the season of Desserts, I stopped watching.  The only show I watched since then was the second season of Top Chef Masters.

So, that is my opinion.  If they did a new Top Chef, that focused on real cooking and had real chefs and restaurant owners as judges; not Padma, but Emeril, Bayless, Moonen or even Mr. Beard, himself.  They should get contestants who are capable of cooking with any protein and do it well, not just seafood or even scallops.  They need chefs who can do desserts.  They need no drama, just cooking.

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