The “Aha” Factor
by Chef Back Burner
“Hi, my name is Back Burner and I am a reality show junkie”
I remember when the Real World first came out and a world of teenagers was obsessed with watching these 7 stranger live their lives...on camera. I still recall my initial reaction to Survivor was that the world of Running Man was not far behind, but then I heard there was an old naked guy running around on an island and who could resist.
Almost all the cable networks are getting into it now...NBC, ABC, CBS, CMT, VH1, MTV, A&E, and even Nickelodeon has a show called the World’s Funniest Mom. But the worst of all these “reality TV bandwagon jumpers” is Fox. With shows like The Swan and Temptation Island Fox has single handedly taken the reality out and put in the trash...can I get a “JERRY, JERRY, JERRY!” I will only admit to watching one of their shows, and it’s only because he’s really cute and has that irresistible accent. Hell’s Kitchen has had me from the first “Fat Cow” Gordon Ramsay ever uttered...(I crack myself up).
Can you see my face turning red here in this room of cultured Bravo fans? And I know you’re asking me “Why are you admitting to these skeletons in your closet?” Well, I’ll tell you...
Underneath all that gossip and crude language, crazy behavior and chef coat tearing...and I’m just talking about the host here...Hell’s Kitchen has a core of reasonable expectations for chefs vying for an Executive Chef position in their own or someone else's kitchen. What they would consider their “Quickfire Challenge” is a hodgepodge of squid cleaning, palate testing, dish creating, etc...but every night they have a job to do: run a kitchen well enough to get the food out in an acceptable fashion. They have to work with each other, even if they are competing and don’t like each other...to please a demanding Executive Chef who is also part owner. Seems like a plausible situation to me.
“But TOP CHEF is trying to weed out the chef who are capable of dealing with the unknown?”
I’m with you...but the unknown is situations like “The fish distributor lost it’s entire shipment of salmon...so we won’t have any to offer the customers tonight. What should we do?” It is not “You have $30 to feed an unknown number of athletes at a place that may or may not have cooking utensils let alone heat...oh all we'll tell you is you're making breakfast.” That’s like going to a job interview for a sales position in a clothing store and them telling you to pick an item that you will have to sell to a customer...we’re not telling you what customer...so you grab a cashmere sweater cause you think “Well, everyone can use a sweater.” Then they fly you out to the middle of the Egyptian desert and say “Here if you can sell it to that camel salesman, you can have the job” Not very fair right?
Why not be honest and say that they aren’t looking for an executive chef at all...they are looking for someone capable of being the next TV personality who can cook? There’s nothing wrong with that...Martha Stewart is creative and can cook but can she run a kitchen where her 2 souse chefs hate her guts and she’s running on 6 hours of sleep because the menu for tonight fell apart? I’m not sure. Could Rachel Ray? Not sure either...What I do know is that their food is sellable to a wide range of audiences and they have something that makes people watch.
Maybe what I’m getting at is that I’m not sure what TOP CHEF is trying to sell me...beside Kemore Pro Appliances.
Do they want me to see that these people are amazing chefs who will take the cooking world by storm and open the next big restaurant.... or do they want me to like this person so much that I want to see them on all the morning talk shows cooking up a storm and chatting happily with the host? I guess we’ll see, right? Aha!