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Top Chef: New Orleans


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#31 IndyRob

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Posted 18 May 2013 - 04:39 PM

...Which is that, whatever other attributes he may have possessed, or may still possess, a great part of his original "schtick" was to shock. 

If we were talking about Howard Stern, I might agree.  But we're not.  Bourdain's original work ("Schtick", if you must) was Kitchen Confidential.  There's not much shocking in there.  Okay, maybe a certain bride and chef (not him).  Beyond that, the shocking stuff is pretty much about his own drug use, "Don't order fish on Monday", and "We do recycle bread from the bread baskets."  Truly shocking stuff.

 

I happen to believe him when he says that he thought no one would ever read his book.  But, if this was part of a grand plan to go from a journeyman chef to an international star, well, I guess the only thing I can say is that I underestimated him.

 

And which doesn't work any more.

 

Actually, I think it does.  I did enjoy watching him last night on the DVR.


Edited by IndyRob, 18 May 2013 - 04:41 PM.


#32 Tri2Cook

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Posted 18 May 2013 - 04:57 PM

 It brought him a LOT of publicity and notoriety and admiration, which I believe was the intent, and which he exploited.


He found his cash cow and milked it 'til it kicked... exactly what I would do in the same situation.


It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

#33 annabelle

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Posted 18 May 2013 - 04:59 PM

I think Bourdain always wants to be something that he isn't.  He goes to college, a Seven Sisters college, because his family is wealthy.  He drops out and goes to culinary school where he cheats until he gets his degree and then goes to work at an old, landmark restaurant where he is tasked with making the buffet for its wealthy patrons, for whom he fairly drips contempt and does mediocre work.  He limps his way through heroin addiction and alcoholism (he really shouldn't be drinking, with his history).  He cleans up, writes a book.  It takes off because it is "shocking".  He dumps his wife of 20+ years and marries a girl young enough to be his daughter and has a child with her. ( A girl for whom he purchases $1000 shoes, many a pair.  Just sayin'.) Now he's old, gray, "respected" if not respectable and still trying to be a badass.

 

He's always wanted to be James Dean and he's really Arthur Fonzerelli.

 

So, I'm with Jaymes on this one.


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#34 IndyRob

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Posted 18 May 2013 - 05:43 PM

I think Bourdain always wants to be something that he isn't. 

 

Rich?  Check. Influential?  Check. A doting father? Check.  Relatively clean? Check.  In demand?  Check.  Respected by his peers?  Check.  Fast friend to people who would generally be perceived to be his superior (e.g. Ripert)? Check.  Writing for Treme? Check.  Doing the Lucky Peach or Mind of a Chef with Chang?  Check.  Judge on Top Chef? Check?  World traveler? Check.  Book maven? Check.

 

If he wants to be something he isn't, I'd say he's making a hell of a job of trying to figure it out.  A damn sight better than most of us.


Edited by IndyRob, 18 May 2013 - 05:44 PM.


#35 gfweb

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Posted 18 May 2013 - 05:46 PM

He still entertains me when he isn't in pompous mode.

#36 annabelle

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Posted 18 May 2013 - 06:42 PM

He's a narcissist and they can be entertaining when they aren't being repetitive and annoying.



#37 Jaymes

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Posted 18 May 2013 - 07:42 PM

 It brought him a LOT of publicity and notoriety and admiration, which I believe was the intent, and which he exploited.


He found his cash cow and milked it 'til it kicked... exactly what I would do in the same situation.

 

Me, too.  After all, how many working chefs are there?  And out of that number, how many have achieved his fame and celebrity? Not many.  So the schtick worked for him. 

 

All I'm saying is that, especially after watching him on "The Taste," and in a few of his other recent efforts, I get the feeling that he's trying pretty hard to come up with a new schtick since being "brave and irreverent and raw and real" is no longer the attention-getter that it once was.



#38 Jaymes

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Posted 19 May 2013 - 12:40 PM

New Orleans? Again?  I knew it.  It's as if there are no other major port cities with a rich food history in the South.

 

I feel cheated.

 

Let's face it, New Orleans is one of the very most-famous "food towns" in the US.  It's inevitable that they would eventually choose it as a location for the whole show, not just a finale.  And New Orleans can use the good publicity.  If I were a tax-paying business owner there, or even worked at a tax-paying business there, I'd consider efforts to lure Top Chef to my city to be very well worth it.

 

Perhaps after we get this behind us, the producers will look a little more deeply into the south.  I'd love to see Charleston featured.


Edited by Jaymes, 19 May 2013 - 12:44 PM.


#39 Jaymes

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Posted 19 May 2013 - 01:03 PM

Just want to add that another reason for considering Charleston (or Savannah) would be, in addition to the obvious Low Country cuisine, a foray into the food and culture of the Gullah community.  Fascinating:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gullah


Edited by Jaymes, 19 May 2013 - 01:11 PM.


#40 huiray

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Posted 19 May 2013 - 01:13 PM

Just want to add that another reason for considering Charleston would be, in addition to the obvious Low Country cuisine, a foray into the food and culture of the Gullah community:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gullah

 

Indeed.  I think we discussed how nice it would be in the previous TC thread on Season 10 if the next one would be in Savannah or Charleston, with all that low-country and Gullah cuisine.  Besides, there would have been lots of photo-ops too.  Maybe even a link-in to how low-country/Gullah cuisine tied in with the food of the West Indies and places such as that place where the finale of TC season 8 occurred. (The Bahamas)



#41 prasantrin

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Posted 19 May 2013 - 01:21 PM

I think most people who watch Top Chef don't give a crap about learning about Gullah or Low Country cuisine. They watch it for the drama and for what they perceive to be "cutting edge" or "top notch" cooking. Much of the cooking on Top Chef is neither, but most of those who watch the show wouldn't know the difference. It sure as heck is fancier than Olive Garden or Chili's stuff, that's for sure.

 

So of course the show will be set in places that are different enough to be "exotic", yet familiar enough not to turn off most of the general audience. Think of the general audience as the types who travel to far-off exotic countries like Mexico, Dominican Republic, or Cuba yet stay in all-inclusive resorts. Or those who travel to Asia or Europe on group tours that follow pre-determined itineraries that include all meals.



#42 Jaymes

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Posted 19 May 2013 - 01:34 PM

I think most people who watch Top Chef don't give a crap about learning about Gullah or Low Country cuisine. They watch it for the drama and for what they perceive to be "cutting edge" or "top notch" cooking. Much of the cooking on Top Chef is neither, but most of those who watch the show wouldn't know the difference. It sure as heck is fancier than Olive Garden or Chili's stuff, that's for sure.

 

So of course the show will be set in places that are different enough to be "exotic", yet familiar enough not to turn off most of the general audience. Think of the general audience as the types who travel to far-off exotic countries like Mexico, Dominican Republic, or Cuba yet stay in all-inclusive resorts. Or those who travel to Asia or Europe on group tours that follow pre-determined itineraries that include all meals.

 

Seriously?  Honestly, I don't think the "drama" is high enough to drag the drama crowd away from the Real Housewives or whatever or whomever of wherever...  Lord knows there are more than enough drama shows that I wouldn't think Top Chef would be a threat to any of them.

 

I do think it appeals primarily to people interested in food, cooking, cuisine, travel.  And the fact that there are a great many copycats out there (speaking of AB) tells me that the food competition and the locales are the main draw.  It's been my personal experience, anyway, with my friends and family, that as the babyboomers age and retire, the kind of leisure interests and hobbies that have always appealed to a more affluent crowd with more time on their hands are becoming more and more popular.


Edited by Jaymes, 19 May 2013 - 01:48 PM.


#43 annabelle

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Posted 19 May 2013 - 01:36 PM

Prasantrin, Savannah has all that and more.  It is one of the only cities in the old South that wasn't torched and burned to the ground by General Sherman during the Civil War.  Because of this, there are many, many antebellum mansions.  It is a beautiful city with a lively tourist trade.  There is voodoo, too, if people want "edge-y" without all the drunks in NOLA.  If you've seen the movie "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil", it recounts an infamous murder that took place in Savannah years back and was shot in the city and the actual homes.  There is a prosperous shrimping trade and the city is much cleaner than NOLA with lovely river views, wide boulevards, trolleys, landmark restaurants, bed and breakfasts and a large number of minority owned  businesses.

 

We can listen to all the chefs belly-ache about how weird everyone talks.  This will happen no matter where they film in the South since, as Bravo demonstrates each season:  New York is Mecca and the rest of the country is an afterthought.


Edited by annabelle, 19 May 2013 - 01:38 PM.


#44 Twyst

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Posted 19 May 2013 - 03:29 PM

New Orleans? Again?  I knew it.  It's as if there are no other major port cities with a rich food history in the South.

 

I feel cheated.

 

 

  We'll have to watch the obligatory drunken revelers, watch the chef's make gumbo that the judges will all gripe about, shuck oysters and probably make King Cake, make a trip to Antoine's where they must act reverent, and of course, Emeril will be a judge.   It's just cliché to me.  So, yes I feel cheated when other cities like Charleston or Savannah get overlooked time and time again. 

 

 

Prasantrin, Savannah has all that and more.

 

 There is voodoo, too, if people want "edge-y" without all the drunks in NOLA.

 

 There is a prosperous shrimping trade and the city is much cleaner than NOLA 

We get it, you don't care for New Orleans and think it's a dirty city full of drunks, but it doesn't change the fact that tourism in NOLA is a $6 billion per year industry, and most of it is because of the food and beverage scene.   It was inevitable that New Orleans was going to get a season of top chef before other cites in the south that don't generate the same numers.  If you asked a lot of people to name the 5 best food cities in the country, most of them are going to name New Orleans as one of them.   No other southern city can make that claim.


Edited by Twyst, 19 May 2013 - 04:06 PM.


#45 annabelle

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Posted 19 May 2013 - 04:05 PM

That's fine, Twyst.  I don't like it there, obviously, but that doesn't mean you can't think it's the bee's knees.



#46 IndyRob

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Posted 19 May 2013 - 04:17 PM

All I'm saying is that, especially after watching him on "The Taste," and in a few of his other recent efforts, I get the feeling that he's trying pretty hard to come up with a new schtick since being "brave and irreverent and raw and real" is no longer the attention-getter that it once was.

 

http://www.thebraise...pisode-ratings/

 

But yes, my dufus rating for him goes way up on The Taste.  But they even gave that a second season.  Hopefully, they'll learn something from the final shows of the first season and do a tournament style where each chef works one-on-one with a contestant each week.  When it came down to this at the end of the first season, it actually started to work (too late, I thought, but perhaps not.)

 

Anyway, Savannah would be really cool too.  If there is a problem I have with this whole controversy, it's that Bravo isn't choosing the location solely on entertainment value and/or deservedness.  Charlotte would be great too.

 

Presumably, if Akron, OH felt they would be a good location, they could get it with enough money.  And if anyone in Akron feels that they deserve it on their own merits, having to pay wouldn't serve as an endorsement of that fact.



#47 Jaymes

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Posted 19 May 2013 - 04:44 PM

All I'm saying is that, especially after watching him on "The Taste," and in a few of his other recent efforts, I get the feeling that he's trying pretty hard to come up with a new schtick since being "brave and irreverent and raw and real" is no longer the attention-getter that it once was.

 

http://www.thebraise...pisode-ratings/

 

So, okay, I stand corrected.  It seems that  "swearing, boobs, and prolapsed buttholes" are still as much crowd-pleasers as ever.

 

Dear Tony, still as uplifting to the human discourse as ever.



#48 IndyRob

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Posted 19 May 2013 - 05:26 PM

So, okay, I stand corrected.  It seems that  "swearing, boobs, and prolapsed buttholes" are still as much crowd-pleasers as ever.

 

Dear Tony, still as uplifting to the human discourse as ever.

"If swearing, boobs, and prolapsed buttholes are, as a Fox News contributor put it yesterday,..."

 

I haven't noticed much of any of them (most distressingly, the boobs).  But the Fox News crew contributor is on the case I guess.


Edited by IndyRob, 19 May 2013 - 05:37 PM.


#49 prasantrin

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Posted 19 May 2013 - 06:09 PM


I think most people who watch Top Chef don't give a crap about learning about Gullah or Low Country cuisine. They watch it for the drama and for what they perceive to be "cutting edge" or "top notch" cooking. Much of the cooking on Top Chef is neither, but most of those who watch the show wouldn't know the difference. It sure as heck is fancier than Olive Garden or Chili's stuff, that's for sure.

 

So of course the show will be set in places that are different enough to be "exotic", yet familiar enough not to turn off most of the general audience. Think of the general audience as the types who travel to far-off exotic countries like Mexico, Dominican Republic, or Cuba yet stay in all-inclusive resorts. Or those who travel to Asia or Europe on group tours that follow pre-determined itineraries that include all meals.

 

Seriously?  Honestly, I don't think the "drama" is high enough to drag the drama crowd away from the Real Housewives or whatever or whomever of wherever...  Lord knows there are more than enough drama shows that I wouldn't think Top Chef would be a threat to any of them.

 

I do think it appeals primarily to people interested in food, cooking, cuisine, travel.  And the fact that there are a great many copycats out there (speaking of AB) tells me that the food competition and the locales are the main draw.  It's been my personal experience, anyway, with my friends and family, that as the babyboomers age and retire, the kind of leisure interests and hobbies that have always appealed to a more affluent crowd with more time on their hands are becoming more and more popular.

 

Yes, seriously.

 

The type of drama in Top Chef is different from the type of drama in [fill in Bravo reality show here], but it's drama nonetheless. Who's going to tank? Who's going to get the win who shouldn't? Who should have gotten voted off who didn't? Or shouldn't have who did? Who's a dick/bitch/psycho/incompetent/star? People still get wrapped up in that stuff--look at the discussion that has taken place on eG regarding Top Chef for examples.

 

People who go to all-inclusive resorts are also interested in food, cooking, and travel.

 

I won't argue that those who watch Top Chef or Food Network are or aren't more affluent than those who might watch (for example) Duck Dynasty, but there are many types and sources of affluence. In my experience, people I know who watch these shows are those who are relatively new to food, travel, etc. They did not necessarily grow up being exposed to different kinds of food or even being exposed to different countries (I mentioned travelling to Angkor Wat to one of my Top Chef-watching, Food Network-loving "affluent" co-workers and he said, "Where's that?" He's about 10 years older than I, and makes almost 3 times as much, and he does travel--Europe, Mexico, Caribbean cruises ...). Again, this is based on my experience, my frame of reference. I live in a city that's probably very different in socio-economic make up than where you live, so this would, of course, colour my experiences and my opinions.

 

@annabelle--I don't doubt Savannah has all that and more, but Savannah has not yet reached the trendiness that NO has. Amongst the general audience that probably watches Top Chef, even Austin is more well-known than Savannah because of barbecue and food trucks (both of which have probably received attention on the Food Network). What kind of food-related publicity has Savannah received that would entice people to want to go there? NO has received loads of food-related publicity (as others have mentioned), so people are probably more familiar with the food available there, even the more "unusual" items. Therefore, it seems it would be a more natural choice over Savannah. I would guess of cities in the south, Memphis or Nashville might be in line for a show if neither has already hosted one.

 

(FWIW, Savannah is on my list of cities in the US I most want to visit--I'm speaking of the general public, not personally).

 

re: Tony Bourdain (staying on topic), he's providing what people want so he can still make a living. He's kind of like the Starbucks of food-celebrities. Don't fault the product. Fault the society that demands/encourages the product.


Edited by prasantrin, 19 May 2013 - 06:09 PM.


#50 Twyst

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Posted 19 May 2013 - 06:22 PM

 even Austin is more well-known because of barbecue and food trucks\

We also have Uchi/ko which is getting a ton of national attention now :P



#51 annabelle

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Posted 19 May 2013 - 06:27 PM

Rona, I think you are contradicting your own original post about the viewership of the Top Chef franchise not being interested in the food.  I happen to agree that post and with your point that many people watch the show for the hijinks, not the cooking (persons reading this blog excluded, of course.)

 

Austin, Atlanta, NOLA, and Los Angeles all tend to skew younger in demographic age.  Obviously, NOLA has name recognition through its tragic accidents and natural disasters of the last decade.  The fact that it is a party destination for Spring Break and Mardi Gras and that the city itself is in parts quite charming, haunted and very, very old, both in its cultural melting pot and its style of cooking does make it a natural destination city for Top Chef and an obvious one.

 

It could very well be that the cities of Savannah and Charleston have been approached by Bravo and turned them down as not being something they thought their cities needed.  It could also be a matter of creative control over final production.  Savannah and Charleston have a well-crafted identity as being genteel and Old Southern Charm personified.  I'd need a better ear on how Bravo chooses its host cities or if it is just a bidding war to be able to give a better answer.

 

Re:  Bourdain:  still trying to be a hipster at nearly 60.



#52 prasantrin

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Posted 19 May 2013 - 06:29 PM

I was thinking of cities in the US that might be chosen to host Top Chef. The list I came up with was:

 

Seattle

Portland

San Francisco

Los Angeles

Chicago

Memphis

Nashville

New Orleans

Austin

somewhere in Florida

New York

Cleveland

Washington, DC

maybe Boston

 

Then I looked up cities that have hosted Top Chef and crossed those off my list. The only one I missed was Las Vegas (which brought an "Of course! I can't believe I missed that one!" head smack).

 

After this season, I bet Cleveland or Portland.



#53 prasantrin

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Posted 19 May 2013 - 06:31 PM

Rona, I think you are contradicting your own original post about the viewership of the Top Chef franchise not being interested in the food.

 

Where did I say that? I said "They watch it for the drama and for what they perceive to be "cutting edge" or "top notch" cooking."



#54 Twyst

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Posted 19 May 2013 - 06:37 PM

 Obviously, NOLA has name recognition through its tragic accidents and natural disasters of the last decade. 

 

Yeah, before Katrina and the BP oil spill nobody had even heard of New Orleans or cajun/creole food.

After this season, I bet Cleveland or Portland.

My money is on Portland! (although I wouldnt be shocked to see them go back to SF and do some Napa with it either since SF was season 1)


Edited by Twyst, 19 May 2013 - 06:39 PM.


#55 annabelle

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Posted 19 May 2013 - 06:42 PM

Rona, I think you are contradicting your own original post about the viewership of the Top Chef franchise not being interested in the food.

 

Where did I say that? I said "They watch it for the drama and for what they perceive to be "cutting edge" or "top notch" cooking."

 

 

I'm sorry.  I was going by memory. 



#56 annabelle

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Posted 19 May 2013 - 06:49 PM


 


 Obviously, NOLA has name recognition through its tragic accidents and natural disasters of the last decade. 

 
Yeah, before Katrina and the BP oil spill nobody had even heard of New Orleans or cajun/creole food.

>After this season, I bet Cleveland or Portland.

My money is on Portland! (although I wouldnt be shocked to see them go back to SF and do some Napa with it either since SF was season 1)
 
 
 
Twyst, that isn't what I  meant and if you read the rest of my post you'd be honest and acknowledge that instead of trying to crack wise.  You can stop being angry because I don't like your town and was explaining that it does have some good things to it.  They won't bring me there, so don't leave the light on for me.
 
I wouldn't be surprised if Top Chef filmed in Portland.  Portland, ME would be much more interesting, but I can't see that happening any more than I can see Top Chef filming in any other part of the country that isn't a major media market.

Edited by annabelle, 19 May 2013 - 06:49 PM.


#57 Twyst

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Posted 19 May 2013 - 06:56 PM

  You can stop being angry because I don't like your town and was explaining that it does have some good things to it.  They won't bring me there, so don't leave the light on for me.

Actually I live in Austin, but Im sure you probably hate it here too.   


Edited by Twyst, 19 May 2013 - 07:01 PM.


#58 annabelle

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Posted 19 May 2013 - 07:04 PM

No, my little brother and his family live there and have for about 22 years.  I don't hate New Orleans, either.  In fact, I never think about NO at all unless it's in a book I'm reading.



#59 prasantrin

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Posted 20 May 2013 - 05:48 AM

 

Rona, I think you are contradicting your own original post about the viewership of the Top Chef franchise not being interested in the food.

 

Where did I say that? I said "They watch it for the drama and for what they perceive to be "cutting edge" or "top notch" cooking."

 

 

I'm sorry.  I was going by memory. 

 

s'okay.

 

I'd like to add the following cities to my list:

 

Minneapolis

Albuquerque / Santa Fe

maybe Phoenix (I don't know it as a food-oriented city, but I hear a lot of things about it as a tourist city. Well, Canadian tourists, anyway)

 

Of the above, I think only Albuquerque / Santa Fe has real potential based on my criteria (plenty of exposure on Food Network, different enough to be exotic, yet familiar enough not to freak people out)



#60 prasantrin

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Posted 20 May 2013 - 06:03 AM

 even Austin is more well-known because of barbecue and food trucks\

We also have Uchi/ko which is getting a ton of national attention now :P

 

:laugh:

 

Surprisingly, I had heard of Uchi/ko before Paul Qui appeared on Top Chef and I've never even been to Austin. It was on my list of places to eat (if I ever made it to Austin). In fact, Paul Qui and Uchi/ko were the only reasons I watched that season of the show (haven't watched any since, nor had I watched any more than one or two of the earlier seasons).

 

Which makes me wonder if the general audience of Top Chef gets their food/travel/culture/dining information primarily from Food Network and its ilk.

 

I've been thinking about conversations between my co-workers who profess to be "foodies" and who watch Top Chef. They day after a Top Chef episode, their conversations usually go like this:

 

1: I can't believe x got kicked off.

 

2: I know. But if you think about it, x didn't follow the spirit of the challenge, and y did, so of course x would get kicked off.

 

1: Yeah, but y is such a jerk. Y won't last much longer, anyway.

 

No mention of cooking at all--not off the techniques, not of the likely taste of the food, nothing.

 

Again, these are people who provide my frame of reference. ymmv.