Thursday, December 10, 2009

Top Chef: Top Farce

Let me preface this by clarifying I have no problem, in principle, with Michael Voltaggio winning Top Chef.  He's a talented and charismatic chef -- albeit terribly insecure -- who thoroughly impressed me all season with his smart and sexy creations.  But my favorite was  clearly Kevin, whose simple food with complex flavors is pretty much my culinary ideal.  And I take issue with Kev's treatment during the finale, starting with the way he was unceremoniously booted from the room before they announced the winner, something I don't recall being done in years past.


Even more fundamentally, I was frustrated by how the producers screwed the Kevin by giving him Preeti and Ash, two of the less competent cheftestants, as sous chefs.  Ash apparently acquitted himself well, but compare him with the Voltaggio brothers' sous chefs, Eli and Jen, both of whom were in the final five.  Even the brothers' second sous chefs were superior to Kevin's.  Brian had Ashley, who struck me as competent despite her failures. And Michael had Jesse, who was lost on her own, but seemed to thrive under his micromanagement.  Preeti, by contrast, was an epic failure -- notice how she was absent from nearly all shots of Kevin.

I know some will say this was all random chance.  But that simply begs the question, which is the fairness of leaving such a decisive factor to chance.  I'm sure the producers were gambling that someone -- preferably Michael -- would be forced to work with Robin.  The problem is that Kevin paid the price for their stupid bet, which was totally unfair.  So, memo to the producers: in future finales, please give cheftestants at least some ability to choose their sous chefs.  Or if you don't, make sure the pool of candidates is even.  It's just not fair to shoot a talented chef like Kevin in his best foot before he has a chance to put it forward.