Monday, February 11, 2019

"Top Chef" and the Overuse of Terms

So, I usually have little to say about "Top Chef" until we get to Restaurant Wars and therefore, the seasonal examination of team failures.  But they did Restaurant Wars early, which basically meant it was especially prone to failure because the contestants knew each other less well, and also someone made the mistake of thinking they could make ice cream in a busy kitchen that was barely finished.  
But that's okay, they have had tons of team challenges this season, and there's been some expected tossing off of negging statements along the lines of well, that team went for the more party pleasing atmosphere, which I guess, is a choice, and so on. 
Last week's challenge involved a basketball game and two chefs decided to go for chicken and waffles, and one of the chefs grabbed boxed waffle mix* - which when you're all shopping in the same aisles of the same store, I don't know why you felt like there was any anonymity, and they all went off and cooked.  There were fryer issues, so the two sets of chicken and waffles did not end up going head to head with each other.  And when Chef Boxed Waffle had her turn, it had of course made it's way to the judges that someone had used waffle mix.  Now, Sara - Chef Boxed Waffle - is from Kentucky, is apparently a big basketball fan, and had named her dish in a clear nod to the fans witnessing this showdown in the basketball stadium.  I also understand that this is episode ten, they have now all been in this pressure cooker environment for long enough to be a little ragged.  So Sara thought it was totally fair to name her dish in a way guaranteed to get the crowd cheering.  And when asked by the judges if she had used boxed waffle mix, and then one of the other team's chefs started the crowd in on a chant about from scratch, she got her feelings hurt. 
She, in a way that clearly indicated she thought she was the wronged party who was being super nice to even give them a chance to apologize, said, both to the camera, and to the chefs, that she was so hurt, that she didn't think they were playing "like that", and that she couldn't believe she might go home because someone "threw her under the bus".  
Now, for some reason Adrienne seemed to be the focus of a lot of this hurt.  I don't know if that's because Sara felt closer to Adrienne, or Adrienne (Chef From Scratch) was willing to engage (I suspect the chant starter may have just mostly ignored her which is less interesting TV). But as Adrienne ably pointed out, the ingredients you buy are not secret, no one should think there's a cone of silence around a filmed trip to the grocery store.  Did knowing she used the box mix as a starting point affect the judge's decision, who knows?  But let's face it, if they had been the most bomb waffles it would not have mattered.  Also, it was a team challenge, and, after all that drama Sara didn't go home, her teammate did, so I hope she feels bad that she took up all that emotional energy and they all still have to hang out for another day.  
I don't mean to imply you can't have hurt feelings, you can't ever be tired, or sad, because you can.  But it is helpful to remember that sometimes you are not right about who owes you an apology.  So, I hope, whether on or off camera, Sara has now apologized to those she accused of unfairness when by unfairness she meant truth telling.  Yes, there are times when people telling the truth doesn't help anyone.  People being honest about ingredients is not one of them. 

*Here is where I remind you I used another chef getting frozen waffles as a whole metaphor for stereotypes