Top Chef: Point, Counter-Point, Counter-Counter-Point
Bret Thorn started it:
[T]he fans it cultivates are bad for the restaurant world, shifting the focus from food to personalities and drawing a lot of annoying, tittering idiots into my line of vision.
Frank Bruni weighs in:
I think Bret’s being just a tad too grumpy... And while some of this is out-and-out preening, best met with a vigorous rolling of the eyes, some of it is undeniably instructive. Some of this lifts the discussion of food to a fairly high level — a level many viewers probably hadn’t approached before...
The show is yet another promise to young cooks that they can use, and should see, the role of chef as a road to celebrity. It gets them thinking more about mass-media glory — about big, quick fame — than about disciplined professionalism, dedication, sacrifice.
Grub Street got a conference call with Tom Colicchio and Padma Lakshmi and got some responses. Padma first:
Of course it’s very lucrative to one’s career to have a platform on TV, but they’re on national TV and they are followed by seven or eight cameras in that kitchen. So if they’re sloppy or lazy, the camera sees it. If the food isn’t good, they’re eliminated.
And then Colicchio:
Our industry has changed a lot because of TV and media, and you know, it strikes me as very silly when you get chefs who talk about "back in the day" and "old-school this," "old-school that." My feeling is, if you weren’t working in kitchens before 1986, stop talking about "back in the day." … This is getting ridiculous. It’s very easy to badmouth the show if you’re a professional chef because some people look at this as a shortcut to fame … I don’t think it’s a shortcut.