Top Chef!!!

OK at this very moment I’m in the midst of an epic 5 day training for community health workers and I need to vent my frustration by writing about the current idiot box show of choice: Top Chef!

From the people who brought you “Project Runway”, it’s…the exact same concept except with food! Which I personally find *infinitely* more interesting than fashion.

Rather than musing about reality TV or singing this show’s praises, which I could do at length, I want to address an evil spectre that lurks in the shadows of Top Chef. Consider the very real possibility that a lesser chef can get very far in the competition simply by not screwing up! A chef could make mediocre food, hardly ever win a challenge, yet avoid elimination until the last stages of the season just because some brighter star screws up once!

OR if said bright star meets the ire of the producers in some way! If you are nerdy (silly, bored, obsessive…) enough to actually type the words “Top Chef” into Wikipedia and read through the article that appears, you will see this sentence: “According to the credits, some elimination decisions (eg. Cliff Crooks’ disqualification in Season 2) are made in consultation with the show’s producers.”


The elimination of Dale in last night’s Top Chef was justified, surely. He was executive chef in this season’s version of the infamous Restaurant Wars episode. Choosing to be ExChef of your team is always a risky move because of the added responsibility if your team performs poorly. Indeed Dale botched the executive function by delivering a poorly organized, absurdly decorated restaurant in the overdone genre of Asian Fusion. Plus the dude’s a dick and the food was no good!

But Lisa, who was also responsible for some of the shitty food, has performed poorly and appeared on the chopping block multiple times in the last several episodes — each time saved only by the even more severe blunders of other chefs! Dale, for all of his personal faults, won quite a few challenges in the past. In my estimation, this past performance should count for something. Lisa should have been chucked out while Dale remained in.

My conspiracy theory: The producers are trying their best to have this season’s winner be a woman, as the Top Chefs in all previous years happened to have been men. This year both Antonia and Stephanie are extraordinarily tough contenders who have won many challenges in the past! But there is no way that Lisa should still be on there. Ridiculous.

Queer Eye‘s Ted Allen, a regular judge on the show, responds with aplomb to fan’s comments about the Dale/Lisa controversy over on Bravo’s Top Chef website. Beware! You have to be a real Top Chef junkie to start sifting through the stuff posted over there. Which I am. So I wonder: am I just more hospitable to a show that involves food, or have there been significant advances in the way they stage, produce and edit this brand of “reality TV”?


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