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Top Chef Season 4


KristiB50
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He's focusing on the cooking and letting that speak for itself-rather than some of the other guys who seem to think a liberal use of the "F" word somehow enhances their cooking.

Perhaps he was hoping to season his dish by "peppering" his language with obscenities (ha ha ha...) Or perhaps he just secretly idolizes Gordon Ramsay.

Yes, apparently Rocco is another student of the "F'ing Gordon Ramsay Top Chef Contestant School of Vocalization."

''F this, F that, F, F, F," is a phrase I've heard used liberally on Rocco's former disaster of a show "The Restaurant."

I've been watching reruns of "The restaurant" on this new channel offering-"Fox Reality." Isn't that a clue to you as to how wonderful these reruns will be? Oh wait, isn't that the same network, Fox, that runs Gordon's abominable show "Hell's Kitchen" where "F'you" is the soup d'jour? Gordon-Rocco, Rocco-Gordon, F, F, F.

It got me thinking that maybe the liberal use of said word is what propelled Rocco to become a judge on Top Chef.

Likewise, the popularity of the word in Gordon's vocabulary apparently encouraged him to name his new show "Ramsay's "F" word." Oh--forgot. Gordon wanted me to tell you that "F" means Food. Thank you Gordon. And Rocco.

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And just to be clear-Richard is my favorite to win Top Chef and he isn't the one using profanity to make his case-he's doing it with the food and I hope he gets stronger each week. I think he will.

My criticism of foul language is directed at Andrew, Dale and Spike. I see no place for it in a professional kitchen.

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I agree. It's excessive and distracting. I have a hard time believing they aren't doing it to get a reaction or to look like bad asses. I'd like to hear about their food themes and ideas without having to pick out the relevant words in their clips.

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And just to be clear-Richard is my favorite to win Top Chef and he isn't the one using profanity to make his case-he's doing it with the food and I hope he gets stronger each week.  I think he will.

My criticism of foul language is directed at Andrew, Dale and Spike.  I see no place for it in a professional kitchen.

I agree. It's excessive and distracting. I have a hard time believing they aren't doing it to get a reaction or to look like bad asses. I'd like to hear about their food themes and ideas without having to pick out the relevant words in their clips.

I think in some cases liberal usage of obscenities can serve as stress relief for cooks who are used to working apart from the customers. I have a theory that cooks, whose profession hasn't been traditionally viewed as one to aspire to, relish being in that atmosphere of let's get 'er done, bang 'em out kind of rebel blue collar-ness (as exemplified by Anthony Bourdain's exaltations in his several books). It's only recently that the regular restaurant kitchen has become subject to America's gaze in the slew of reality shows on Food Network, Bravo, Fox, etc.

That being said, it is probable that some TV chefs have been encouraged or chose to swear on camera to seem more authentic, to fit the kitchen experience viewers want to peek into. However I'm of the opinion that those who participate on Top Chef don't put that much thought into their "performances" in the kitchen. Also, if the appeal of Top Chef is the reaction of real life cooks to intentionally stressful situations, why would the viewer wish the cooks to "act" for the camera by censoring themselves? There is always the issue of editing as well. I'm sure that Bravo has hours of tame, kid-friendly video they could have chosen, but I believe they chose to include the contestants' swearing to convey the sense of authenticity, stress, and challenge they milk out of the contrived situations.

So disapprove of whom you will, but I don't necessarily see the streams of obscenity as the cooks' failing. And yes, many "professional" kitchens swear a huge amount. Just not the open ones. Or those with chef counters or tables.

**edited for grammatical reasons :wacko: **

Edited by Underfoot (log)
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I agree with your points and I am certainly not naive in not realizing that there is a fair amount of swearing thrown around some restaurant kitchens. Yes, chefs work in an incredibly stressful environment each night and so it's no surprise that a "sh**" may come out now and then. But I would hope that profanity is not accepted as normal kitchen speak.

Call me old-fashioned, but I know a number of chefs who don't feel that accepting the "F" word as a part of the normal kitchen language is appropriate--whether the kitchen is open or at the back of the house out of earshot of the customers.

Yes, no doubt that the foul language, whether intentional on the part of the Top Chef contestant or not, certainly plays into the drama of the show. The art of building drama on a reality show is the hammer in the producer's toolkit. Whether it's the bleeping of a profane word, a show of anger between contestants, or a 2-second edit showing a gaze of disbelief on the face of a judge on Top Chef, it adds to the sense of anticipation for what is coming that is one of the key factors in building viewership week to week.

Do I buy into that? Sure. Is it why I watch Top Chef? Not really. I'm trying to be true to myself and focus on the things that I want to see in a Top Chef-the food and cooking each week and my standards of what a "Top Chef" should be-without all the swearing.

One of my favorite food "reality" shows is "The Heat" with Chef Mark McEwan from Toronto. I believe the show was originally run on Food Network Canada. I've been watching it recently on Fine Living Network.

The show follows a day in the life of Chef Mark McEwan and his staff members at his Bymark and North 44 restaurants in Toronto. I've seen about 8 shows and I've never once heard a profane word bleeped out or seen any rage displayed by the chefs. Does the show accurately depict the stress of a professional kitchen? Yes, and they do it without the profanity and added-effects I find aggravating on Top Chef. Now maybe Chef McEwan and the producer's sent down a directive to the staff to not swear while they were on-camera but I doubt it. What I have been seeing is what I think is an accurate portrayal of Chef McEwan's kitchen and I admire him and his staff for that.

I wonder if Le Cirque endorsed Andrew's swearing in their kitchen before he auditioned for Top Chef? Maybe so and maybe I'm in the minority here, but I can't imagine a top restaurant standing for that.

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I agree with your points and I am certainly not naive in not realizing that there is a fair amount of swearing thrown around some restaurant kitchens.  Yes, chefs work in an incredibly stressful environment each night and so it's no surprise that a "sh**" may come out now and then. But I would hope that profanity is not accepted as normal kitchen speak.

Call me old-fashioned, but I know a number of chefs who don't feel that accepting the "F" word as a part of the normal kitchen language is appropriate--whether the kitchen is open or at the back of the house out of earshot of the customers. 

Yes, no doubt that the foul language, whether intentional on the part of the Top Chef contestant or not, certainly plays into the drama of the show.  The art of building drama on a reality show is the hammer in the producer's toolkit. Whether it's the bleeping of a profane word, a show of anger between contestants, or a 2-second edit showing a gaze of disbelief on the face of a judge on Top Chef, it adds to the sense of anticipation for what is coming that is one of the key factors in building viewership week to week. 

Do I buy into that?  Sure.  Is it why I watch Top Chef?  Not really.  I'm trying to be true to myself and focus on the things that I want to see in a Top Chef-the food and cooking each week and my standards of what a "Top Chef" should be-without all the swearing.

One of my favorite food "reality" shows is "The Heat" with Chef Mark McEwan from Toronto.  I believe the show was originally run on Food Network Canada.  I've been watching it recently on Fine Living Network. 

The show follows a day in the life of Chef Mark McEwan and his staff members at his Bymark and North 44 restaurants in Toronto.  I've seen about 8 shows and I've never once heard a profane word bleeped out or seen any rage displayed by the chefs. Does the show accurately depict the stress of a professional kitchen?  Yes, and they do it without the profanity and added-effects I find aggravating on Top Chef.  Now maybe Chef McEwan and the producer's sent down a directive to the staff to not swear while they were on-camera but I doubt it.  What I have been seeing is what I think is an accurate portrayal of Chef McEwan's kitchen and I admire him and his staff for that.

I wonder if Le Cirque endorsed Andrew's swearing in their kitchen before he auditioned for Top Chef?  Maybe so and maybe I'm in the minority here, but I can't imagine a top restaurant standing for that.

Maybe Canadian chefs are less prone to swearing than American ones :laugh:

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Maybe Canadian chefs are less prone to swearing than American ones  :laugh:

Could be, but I would say that Chef McEwan and his staff in Toronto do show a lot of class and professionalism sans the F'ing word. I see you hail from Vancouver? Wonderful restaurants in your city.

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What I've seen of the French Laundry and Keller's other establishments, not a lot of swearing (or speaking, for that matter) goes on. Of course, I've only seen shots of these kitchens on television, and not in person, so who knows what happens when the camera is off. But I think I'd rather run a kitchen the way Keller does, with zen-like mastery, than the way Ramsay does like a drill sargent *cough*.

So no, I don't really think dropping more f bombs than absolutely necessary makes one a better chef. In fact, perhaps the opposite is true. Just a theory. :hmmm:

edit: caugh to cough :hmmm:

Edited by Jane Die (log)
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The guy didn't say he didn't know how to make mayo. The other chef with the jar was being sarcastic in telling him the ingredients. It's a snarkfest.

Do any of you really believe that a professional chef doesn't know how to make mayo?

Actually I think Andrews close-to exact words were, "mayo is oil and egg yolks, I didn't know that, so he gave me a recipe" are you serious? this guy is supposed to be a sous at Le Cirque by the way..Amazing, AND he wins the next challenge. I have never worked in any restaurant that hasn't had some form of house aioli in the food.

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Actually I think Andrews close-to exact words were, "mayo is oil and egg yolks, I didn't know that, so he gave me a recipe" are you serious? this guy is supposed to be a sous at Le Cirque by the way..Amazing, AND he wins the next challenge. I have never worked in any restaurant that hasn't had some form of house aioli in the food.

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Actually I think Andrews close-to exact words were, "mayo is oil and egg yolks, I didn't know that, so he gave me a recipe" are you serious? this guy is supposed to be a sous at Le Cirque by the way..Amazing, AND he wins the next challenge. I have never worked in any restaurant that hasn't had some form of house aioli in the food.

THAT had me more stunned than Andrew's f cluster bombs. HUH? Not knowing how to make mayo/aioli?!!! I see Andrew walking the plank pretty soon, despite last week's win. He is way too wound, aggressive and narcissistic, and is a ridiculously bad trash talker, even for a New Yorker. He better be able to deliver the goods to back up the trash he's been talking. Oy.

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While I don't like Andrew because he communicates on the level of a 15 year-old thug, the mayo thing was 100% sarcasm.  He wanted pre-made mayo and when he found out there wasn't any the other chef offered the recipe unsolicited.

I was going to disagree with you here, but I went back and watched it again and while his exact words were "So I'm going to go ahead and make my own mayonnaise because he gave me the recipe for it which is oil and eggs and I, I didn't know that" I agree that upon closer examination he was probably (hopefully!) being sarcastic. Richard had volunteered the ingredients unasked, it seems mostly as a criticism of Andrew's apparent inability to read the provided supply list. Andrew seemed to be responding to that, and it's hard to tell exactly due to the editing, the clip up on YouTube comes across as sarcastic, on second viewing.

Chris Hennes
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chennes@egullet.org

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Maybe Canadian chefs are less prone to swearing than American ones  :laugh:

Could be, but I would say that Chef McEwan and his staff in Toronto do show a lot of class and professionalism sans the F'ing word. I see you hail from Vancouver? Wonderful restaurants in your city.

Joking aside, I've never witnessed the kind of Ramsey-esque profanity that you are describing in any restaurant I've eaten in, either here in Vancouver or elsewhere. It hardly seems the sort of behaviour that would promote a world-class dining experience, especially in a smaller venue where it would be hard to hide it from the patrons.

PS We don't get Top Chef till later on Food Network so I suppose I am risking spoilers by following this thread, but I'm still looking forward to watching it.

PPS We are indeed blessed with many and varied good restos here, but what I am coming to realize is that the secret ingredient is value: our prices are still so low compared to other cities such as San Francisco.

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Joking aside, I've never witnessed the kind of Ramsey-esque profanity that you are describing in any restaurant I've eaten in, either here in Vancouver or elsewhere. It hardly seems the sort of behaviour that would promote a world-class dining experience, especially in a smaller venue where it would be hard to hide it from the patrons.

Of course you would not experience it as a patron. I watched Ramsay fire a member of his wait staff on opening night (Boiling Point) for drinking water from a bottle while standing where the patrons could see him do it. How far worse would the F-bomb be? Go work in a kitchen, it's F this, F that, F everything and get that effin plate to the line. Harsh language is common in any blue coller job. You as the customer shall never bear witness to it though. I would guess in a situastion where you are dining at a chef's table in the kitchen the staff would keep their language in check.

Veni Vidi Vino - I came, I saw, I drank.
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Maybe Canadian chefs are less prone to swearing than American ones  :laugh:

Could be, but I would say that Chef McEwan and his staff in Toronto do show a lot of class and professionalism sans the F'ing word. I see you hail from Vancouver? Wonderful restaurants in your city.

Joking aside, I've never witnessed the kind of Ramsey-esque profanity that you are describing in any restaurant I've eaten in, either here in Vancouver or elsewhere. It hardly seems the sort of behaviour that would promote a world-class dining experience, especially in a smaller venue where it would be hard to hide it from the patrons.

PS We don't get Top Chef till later on Food Network so I suppose I am risking spoilers by following this thread, but I'm still looking forward to watching it.

PPS We are indeed blessed with many and varied good restos here, but what I am coming to realize is that the secret ingredient is value: our prices are still so low compared to other cities such as San Francisco.

You don't hear the profanity in the dining room, but you sure as !@#$%^&*() hear it in the kitchen. When I worked as a line cook in New York in college, hand gestures were popular, too, along the lines of "I got your veal parm right here" with the appropriate gesture, which I will leave to your imagination.

"Leave the gun. Take the cannoli."

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While I realize that profanity is accepted as the norm in some kitchens, I just can't see that as being appropriate or professional.

Certainly I'd be the outcase judge if I sat next to Tom, Padma and Bourdain if this topic came up. The food and the flavors would of course be at the top of my judging criteria. But if I happened to walk into the kitchen with Tom during one of the challenges and I saw and heard one of the chefs swearing up a blue streak, they'd drop down to the bottom of my judges card. If they all shared the F word and their food was awful, I'd have a hard time finding a winner wouldn't I?

I can hope that as we go along we'll see some adventurous cuisine put forward. I think we will, but I also think I'll have to accept and put up with the bleeps, the snarky attitudes and the sniping. Such is the intrigue of Top Chef.

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While I realize that profanity is accepted as the norm in some kitchens, I just can't see that as being appropriate or professional. 

Certainly I'd be the outcase judge if I sat next to Tom, Padma and Bourdain if this topic came up.  The food and the flavors would of course be at the top of my judging criteria.  But if I happened to walk into the kitchen with Tom during one of the challenges and I saw and heard one of the chefs swearing up a blue streak, they'd drop down to the bottom of my judges card.  If they all shared the F word and their food was awful, I'd have a hard time finding a winner wouldn't I? 

I can hope that as we go along we'll see some adventurous cuisine put forward.  I think we will, but I also think I'll have to accept and put up with the bleeps, the snarky attitudes and the sniping.  Such is the intrigue of Top Chef.

But aren't bleeps, snarky attitudes and sniping, like the obligatory guy with the kewpie doll haircut, the main attraction of Top Chef? It's not like this is a show about cooking - it's just another Real Housewives/Rock of Love/Dancing With the Stars "reality" crapfest set in a kitchen.

"Leave the gun. Take the cannoli."

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While I realize that profanity is accepted as the norm in some kitchens, I just can't see that as being appropriate or professional. 

Certainly I'd be the outcase judge if I sat next to Tom, Padma and Bourdain if this topic came up.  The food and the flavors would of course be at the top of my judging criteria.  But if I happened to walk into the kitchen with Tom during one of the challenges and I saw and heard one of the chefs swearing up a blue streak, they'd drop down to the bottom of my judges card.  If they all shared the F word and their food was awful, I'd have a hard time finding a winner wouldn't I? 

I can hope that as we go along we'll see some adventurous cuisine put forward.  I think we will, but I also think I'll have to accept and put up with the bleeps, the snarky attitudes and the sniping.  Such is the intrigue of Top Chef.

But aren't bleeps, snarky attitudes and sniping, like the obligatory guy with the kewpie doll haircut, the main attraction of Top Chef? It's not like this is a show about cooking - it's just another Real Housewives/Rock of Love/Dancing With the Stars "reality" crapfest set in a kitchen.

No, Hells's kitchen is a reality crapfest. These guys are all picked from the bleeding edge with formidable backgrounds in the industry. We respect these people's talents. We watch the show to see what they create and how it's judged. The reality format, product placement and cheesy scenarios are endured to get to the meat of the show. Otherwise we would be stuck watching pastry chefs carry eight foot tall cakes through an obstacle course to get it on the presentation table in time, while their partner chainsaws an iceblock into a porpoise.

Veni Vidi Vino - I came, I saw, I drank.
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I hope, hope, hope Andrew was being sarcastic, but I watched it again and I'm still not sure.

Well, I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt, anyway. I simply don't want to believe that a chef in his position honestly does not know what is in a mayonnaise. I think it is at least plausible that his comment was sarcastic, therefore that is what I choose to believe :smile: .

On the swearing topic, it's sort of an interesting discussion about life in a professional kitchen. I wonder if there is a thread over in the eGullet restaurant life forum?

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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On the swearing topic, it's sort of an interesting discussion about life in a professional kitchen. I wonder if there is a thread over in the eGullet restaurant life forum?

This is probably about the dumbest observation in the history of dumb observations about restaurants, but I have no shame. I suspect the level of machismo associated with swearing in kitchens is a lot my groups of friends. Among my male friends there are a group of people who see swearing as every day language and use it without thought. As people enter and exit their sphere of influence I watch them go from uncomfortable to a sort of, "I can be even more colorful than you," attitude. They begin to swear more and more and then it becomes almost second nature. I've heard people (ahem, me) go from barely swearing to sounding like a demented sailor in that group.

The level of swearing is probably different from kitchen to kitchen, just like the level of interaction. Some kitchens are probably dead quiet, the chefs working as a well-oiled machine, and others have more banter. I am curious about the level of food coming out of those kitchens and how the conversation plays into it, but that may be a red herring as quality goes.

That said, I do have a feeling that Andrew is swearing for effect. Whether he thinks that makes him look like more of a threat, is a brilliant career ploy to get him more on-camera time, or is just something he thinks he is supposed to do, I don't know. He comes off much more natural when he is not swearing, as far as I am concerned.

I hope to high holy blazes that someone interviews him when he goes and asks him about the mayonnaise. I am very curious. Is it possible he does not know how to make it? I guess it might be. Stranger things have happened.

Bellinis anyone?

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While I realize that profanity is accepted as the norm in some kitchens, I just can't see that as being appropriate or professional. 

Certainly I'd be the outcase judge if I sat next to Tom, Padma and Bourdain if this topic came up.  The food and the flavors would of course be at the top of my judging criteria.  But if I happened to walk into the kitchen with Tom during one of the challenges and I saw and heard one of the chefs swearing up a blue streak, they'd drop down to the bottom of my judges card.  If they all shared the F word and their food was awful, I'd have a hard time finding a winner wouldn't I? 

I can hope that as we go along we'll see some adventurous cuisine put forward.  I think we will, but I also think I'll have to accept and put up with the bleeps, the snarky attitudes and the sniping.  Such is the intrigue of Top Chef.

But aren't bleeps, snarky attitudes and sniping, like the obligatory guy with the kewpie doll haircut, the main attraction of Top Chef? It's not like this is a show about cooking - it's just another Real Housewives/Rock of Love/Dancing With the Stars "reality" crapfest set in a kitchen.

But you see, that is where I veer off the common road and take a turn to the left-I don't see the costume jewelry as the main attraction of Top Chef. I guess that puts me in the minority demographic.

I do see Top Chef as a show about the food and the cooking. While I find the "What the F is mayonnaise made of....." moments silly enough to generate a chuckle, that's not why I tune in. I watch because I am interested in seeing some talented young chefs and the dishes they create--which in turn keeps me in touch with trends in today's restaurant kitchens. So my level of interest is probably quite different than most people, yet they are the interests that fit my personal tastes. I suppose that is an analogy we could apply to the different tastes of restaurant customers-something on the menu for everyone.

My favorite moments from past episodes of Top Chef have all come from the food-Marcel's dish of "Hamachi Poke with Pineapple Poi" from the second season and Hung's "Duck with Truffle Scented Broth & Mushroom Ragout" from last year are a couple of examples. Marcel's Wizard of Oz Munchkin haircut wasn't the reason why I was rooting for him to win-it was his food. (As we all know, I didn't win that office pool--Marcel was booted off the set in favor of Ilan being named the Top Chef. Where is Ilan by the way?).

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I couldn't find an eG forums thread on the swearing topic, so I started one over here, since we seem to have moved beyond the "Top Chef" topic into the more general topic of swearing in professional kitchens.

On a completely separate topic, I am pretty excited to see Rick Bayless as a guest judge on this week's show. I am hoping that at least one chef will push into the realm of Mexican cuisine as a consequence. I love Bayless' books and recipes, but I've never seen any of his TV shows (he did have one didn't he?).

Chris Hennes
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chennes@egullet.org

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Bayless has had a couple cooking shows, on PBS. I think the most recent one was him and his daughter hopping back and forth between Mexico and Chicago.

I'm another one that thought Nikki should have gone. She got the harshest comments and pile on in judgment; they went comparatively light on who they did toss.

But of course, they did have the telltale editing of Valerie and my new TC crush Stephanie at the start of the show professing their mutual friendship, so it was curtains for Valerie I guess.

But why didn't the rest of the team throw Nikki even more under the bus for making the decision to serve the mushrooms anyway? The way the show was edited, they didn't serve them initially and then Nikki appeared to make the spur of the moment decision to serve them just to the judges. No matter how badly Dale or whoever it was botched it with the pecorino (and not tasting afterwards) they still knew enough not to serve them.

And, yeah, I was all set to praise that team for FINALLY learning the cardinal TC lesson of not serving something if they aren't 100% behind it. Then Nikki backtracked.

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