A week or so ago I got a call form a fella looking to raise money for a charity, one that I support and believe in. “Let’s do a cooking competition.”
Chaps my ass, I”ll tell ya. “All in good fun”, I’m told. Bullshit.
Do we ask sculptors to have a fucking sculpt off, do we ask painters to have a paint off, did any one say, Hey, Bob Marley, lets have a sing off against John Lennon. The thought of it is offensive, “Voltaire was a great writer, but man he could have worked quicker.” WTF? What kind of chefs does that create in the long run? Folks that are not considerate and deliberate, folks that are not informed by a dialogue with their guests?
By the way who judges that? I heard a couple of years ago they had some actress judging one of these things. I love movies, but they are not asking me to judge the Oscars.
The Top Chef generation has been a two edged sword, some folks that have flocked to the light and done ANYTHING to be famous are, and rich to boot-ain’t nothing wrong with that. But there is another side, what we gain in the short term may not help us in the long run, the way to build excellence in only by doing the work.
Ask yourself if great chefs do competitions? Does Daniel? Does Ripert? What about TK? Not to my knowledge.
Years ago I worked for a women who ran a restaurant. She was beautiful, funny, charming, sexy, tough as nails, strict, savvy and generally brilliant-she lead the team to extraordinary heights. She could squish you with a glance, or elevate you with a little wink. I once made here a sample dish for the menu, she tried it and she came to talk to me across the pass, quietly, she whispered, “Stewart you have made me dishes that have brought me to my knees, changed how I look at restaurants, and you have made me this, it’s as if someone vomited in my mouth.” Honestly having grown up in an all male business, I was pretty sexist until I worked for her. She profoundly altered my perspective, and consequently my future.
Once, her PR guy was in the kitchen chatting with the chef, she came in and started screaming, something she very rarely did, and if she did, there were no rules as to who may be on the receiving end. “Why the fuck are we in x magazine? For a week it’s, this well done, with that on the side, what business do you think I am in?”
The competition thing offends me, my kitchen is wide open, you wanna see what I do, be my guest. Please be my guest, I would love to cook for you, I really mean that, just don’t ask me to be your performing clown.