Friday, January 7, 2011

Failure to Produce

It must be pretty sweet to be nationally known celebrity judge on Top Chef. Think about Tom, Gail and Padma before Top Chef. Not really widely known outside their little spheres of influence. Now? For the most part they are celebrated and adored. With celebrity comes special treatment and attention. Assistants to make sure your tea is hot or your bottled water is cold. That your clothes are perfectly ironed and your hair is expertly styled. It's also got to be fun to work on the production crew that creates the show. You say make it happen and it happens. You say let's have a Quickfire with no utensils and and suddenly a bunch of chefs are grating cheese on a wire shelf rack and cutting a quail with a pepper mill no matter how stupid it may seem (and it was extremely stupid). But there comes a point where those folks are going to have to look in a mirror and realize they screwed up. Because let me tell you that was the most badly produced cooking challenge ever. Apparently, according to Gail Simmon's blog, it was worse than what was aired. What you didn't see was too few translators for the day of production which meant disaster when there large blocks of time without food and the on site production crew insisting hungry diners stay at their tables, failing to communicate the magic of TV and the necessity of actually having diners in the dining room. Even worse is that, without food, the diners had to watch the one special table get lots of food. The Special People. Apparently the Special People got a little uncomfortable at all the angry hungry people surrounding them who can neither eat nor leave and as angry people do world wide, started expressing their anger in loud hungry voices. Now in an interesting turnabout, the Special People seem upset that the chefs caused them embarrassment and discomfort. So much so that Chef Tom, he of the Executive Producer title, is sent down in the underground kitchen to harangue the chefs into speeding up. Here's a quote from Tom's own blog: "I simply cannot fathom the absolute lack of coordination, of planning, and of the ability to simply put out the food. When assessing the challenges, I always ask myself, “If I were down there, what would I do?” In this case, where 200 people were seated at once and the food needed to keep passing them on carts, I liken the challenge to when my cooks and I do stand-up parties with large groups. I don’t like to do passed food; I prefer the guests to have food from my restaurant. So I just do small plates with smaller versions of what the guests would have received had they been dining in the restaurant that evening. One regular dinner portion might make as many as eight smaller ones. My cooks and I put our heads down and just keep plating, plating, plating. When I showed up in the kitchen the afternoon of the dim sum challenge, however, the chefs seemed to be milling about, waiting… for something… with no plan for just pumping out plates of food. It was a disaster in the dining room, and a terrible experience for us judges." To which I say Boo Hoo Poor You because brother you are part of the reason this challenge sucked so badly especially since you insist on having that Executive Producer title next to your name. You simply can't fathom it because you still don't get this isn't a real life challenge and any expectation to treat it as such is ridiculous. It's a reality show challenge. We're not talking about your crew from your restaurant cooking the food they cook all the time. We're talking about people competing for cash and prizes. There's no one who was in that kitchen who could make anyone else move faster or plate more efficiently. How thick do you have to be to not understand this simple concept? I absolutely hate when he pulls that reasoning out of his ass. Let's face it, the production team didn't think out the challenge well enough ahead of time, they didn't scout out the location thoroughly enough especially with the logistical problems the location presented, they didn't have enough translators on hand, they totally underestimated the ability of the chefs to produce that many portions in that much time in that kitchen. They stupidly gave immunity for the challenge, they insisted on having two chefs push a freaking cart up in the dining room. That last requirement burns like no other because this is a FREAKING COOKING CHALLENGE!!!!!!!!!!!!!! There is no earthly reason why any chef has to be a server in this situation (and frankly I would have like to know what would have happened if they all refused). NONE. But Tom can't let it go without one last little dig, "So this was not our chefs’ finest moment.". No Tom, it was not Top Chef's finest moment, it was actually the second worst segment in Top Chef's eight seasons. Unless you planned on disrespecting the customers and making your chefs look like idiots. If that was the plan then MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.

FAIL

15 comments:

froggy said...

Totally, absolutely agree.

Aunty Belle said...

ya' know I is OVER TC--over. it. Why do they fail to see we would watch real top chef(s) compete the NORMAL way--give the ingredients, let'em cook.

Somebody needs to put this show out of its misery.

P.S.

sorry youse sick over the holidays an' missed the trip home. Hope youse on the mend.

Big Shamu said...

Thanks Aunty, hope you had a good New Year's Eve and had plenty of Black Eyed Peas for Luck. Yes it was one set of miserable holidays. Aside from some lingering nasal issues, I think we're all done with that cold.

MakingSpace said...

Given all you've pointed out here, Casey's auffing seems all the more distressing.

Big Shamu said...

She should have taken a page out of Jamie's book and refused to push a cart.


Or cut herself.

MakingSpace said...

Given that she was chopping chicken feet, a self-cutting incident wouldn't have been out of the question...

Big Shamu said...

Lost opportunities. How am I going to work in another posting of that bikini shot now?????

Dani said...

bawahahaha!

Java Junkie said...

Absolutely accurate assessment of a mess of a challenge. This, my dear, is why I love you so.

Buzz Kill said...

Nice rant. I actually liked this challenge right up to where the cheftestants had to run the food. That's where it totally broke down and would have been impossible (even for Tom) to have this challenge not end badly. They should have been filling trays and waiters should have been coming in to take them upstairs or put them on the dumbwaiter. And waiters should have been serving too.

Even if this all happened, I still not so sure Casey doesn't go home. I didn't get the impression she really knew what she was doing with those chicken feet. But at least she would have been responsible for her dish and not a dish-by-committee.

What did you think was the worst segment if it wasn't this one?

Captain Obvious said...

Captain Obvious says:

Captain Obvious has eaten plenty of dim sum over the years, including at Michelin starred dim sum restaurants.

Michelin-starred dim sum or not, chicken feet or duck feet are usually never trimmed.

froggy said...

I have a question for the Captain - are properly prepared duck/chicken feet tasty?

Big Shamu said...

The worst segment ever was the one in Season Two right after the attempt to cut Marcel's hair. All four of those jokers (Sam, Ilan, Elia and Cliff) should have been canned and the three most recent elims (before Cliff) should have been brought back to fill their spots. Chef Tom, the one time I had a modicum of respect for the man, wanted to get rid of them and declare Marcel the winner. The producers overrode him and came up with some bogus bs about the fact that since Cliff actually had violent physical contact with another contestant he would take the brunt of the punishment, leaving the other three to compete as if nothing had happened. The producers made the choice that they did because of money. Too expensive to change course, change plans or actually do the right thing. Worst produced bs ever.

froggy said...

I remember the re-editing of the footage between the first airing and the second - more skullduggery.

Captain Obvious said...

Captain Obvious says:

Oh....properly cooked chicken/duck feet are really damn tasty. There's a reason that they are so popular in dim sum.