Top Chef: The Cadillac of Reality Shows

February 2, 2012

Okay, these days, based on monthly payment cost and status, I guess I mean an SUV hybrid.  Or something.

Reality shows have a formula.  Get a bunch of competitive people together.  Isolate them, give them tasks and stand clear for fireworks which will make good, cheesy television.  “Top Chef” does get competitive people together, but humliation and ratcheting up personal beefs are not the number one reason they are there, thankfully, or they would have lost me long ago.  The (mostly young) male and female chefs are supposed to cook really good food under time constraints for picky people.  Kind of like being a parent, come to think of it.  Is that why I love the show?

Tom Colicchio, Perennial Top Chef Judge and Co Host

This season has the contestants cooking their guts out in various parts of  Texas.  In the summer.  Since I grew up there I can assure you the sweat you see on the contestants as they cook is not exaggerated. Prior seasons, in New Orleans, Vegas, Chicago and New York, to name a few, have focused on the cutting edge blend between high end and higher end.  The creators seem to have figured out that these days, chefs going into business (since the winner gets backing and publicity to launch their own restaurant) will do well to offer comfort food.  Texas has plenty of that, with barbecue, Mexican influence,  coastal seafood, oh who am I kidding?

I watch it for the personalities.  Who is going to crack?  Flame out?  Steal recipes?

Somehow, this season is especially loaded with Asian chefs and women who are lasting to the end.  Prior seasons have featured a lot more tattooed chefs and kind of punk chefs.  The class of 2012 is calmer, younger and, maybe due to the economy, very anxious to please.

We shall see how tonight goes with the Final Five.   Once it is Final Four, they are whisked to a fabulous location with even more culinary torture to endure.  For a very good cause.  Their future.