Monday, April 18, 2011
If we shadows have offended...
I've gotten emails from people who think I should take my foot off the gas or stop doing the Top Chef recaps. Poor Hugh also seems salty. Fair enough.
@hughacheson Eddie Huang: loving your review there champ! love, the guy with one eyebrow http://nyti.ms/aa3ZCe
I can understand that people would be pissed. But, if you go on Top Chef, Iron Chef, Dog and Pony Fill My Restaurant on Monday Night with this Appearance Chef, you're no longer a chef in that capacity. In your kitchen: chef. On TV: reality star. In the bedroom: Based God. Got it? Good.
I respect what these chefs and writers do. The things I say do not and should not reflect on their work in kitchen or in print (for the writers). I never ate at Tabla but I heard great things. I've hung out with Currence and I absolutely love the guy. I haven't worked with many other chefs, but he is the best I've seen. Does it mean he has immunity on the recaps? No. I'm on my job, Jon. I will still laugh when you continually apologize for the South. The South is fine, you are great, and Kelis loves Vietnamese Meatballs. To be perfectly honest, the only reason I thought about not doing Top Chef Recaps or even stopping after week 2 was because I respect Currence, but even if it seems like I'm just randomly ripping chefs in the recaps. There is a purpose.
When I started blogging, I had a goal. Show people what it was like in the most real sense to open, run, and cook in a restaurant. Over time, we've established Cam'ron's proper place in the hip hop hierarchy, addressed Asian identity, and taken a shit on numerous things that were before untouchable. As Hell Rell said... This is what I do.
I hate Top Chef. Before this season, I only watched one episode when Ssur Lee made Marge Simpson. I used to love Iron Chef Japan because it was quirky, strange, and introduced new ingredients/techniques/etc that I'd never seen. It wasn't like I'd go eat at their restaurants in Japan because I saw them on the show. There was a real Enter the Dragon quality to it. International battles, clash of civilizations, french v. japanese, to dub or not to dub, that is the question. Yes, people got press but it was before Food TV blew up. There was still something genuine about it. It was calculated for a Japanese audience but to an American kid who was dumb high in his college dorm room, it was real. Additionally, it was cool to have the tables turned i.e. consuming something on tv from another culture. We don't do it enough and we're very isolated. The rest of the world knows about us but we don't know about them. Anytime there's a hit like Office, Skins, or Iron Chef, we have to repackage it. American Ego out of control.
Now a days, food shows have handprints all over them. Chefs are savvy, they have Publicists and PR people. You're being sold a package. Which is fine... the world turns. I still watch some food TV, but once you cross realms you can't have the same expectations you would in a restaurant. I hate yelpers and I think they ruin a perfectly fine industry. Going into someone's restaurant is like going into someone's house, respect it. But, TV is different. Now you're coming into my house.
Most of these chefs have no business on TV cause they're not interesting, they're not entertaining, and let's be real you can't eat the god damn food. If we could eat the food, well, now you have a purpose. Just cause you're a good chef doesn't mean you should be on TV. You should have some ability above the average Joe to communicate a perspective, idea, or voice. Most of these cheftestants simply don't have it and that's why I make fun of them. Give the air time to someone who has a fucking story to tell. I would love to see Tyler Kord as the heir apparent to Alton Brown making strange things with bologna and broccoli in a lab. Scarcity is an issue and the fact that these competition shows take up an inordinate amount of air time is wack. Fighting for Air. Yes, between Hell Rell songs, I read books. The reason why they are prevalent is because they're easy to reproduce and it's a guaranteed hit watching people run around like chickens with their heads cut off.
I watch Bizarre Foods, No Reservations, and sometimes Diner's Drive-ins and Dives, that's it. I like the first two shows because it's educational, there's a real cultural element beyond what's on a plate I can't eat, and there's a real voice to the show. Both those guys are real. Diner's Drive-ins and Dives, I will frequently watch on mute just to see what people on the ground are doing. That's the type of food that I make so it's nice to see what The People are cookin' up. When I watch Top Chef, I can't relate. Yet, Tony goes to El Bulli and I'm down but only cause it was Tony bringing us there. The audience trusts him and he earned that trust by keeping it real for almost 3 decades. I want to one day have that credibility in whatever it is that I do. You may think I'm a punk or a fat ass, but you can't call me dishonest. Ok, so Sifton did once and he was right, but I have since apologized for introducing the world to Cheeto Fried Chicken.
My goal has always been to keep it real. And yes, keeping it real frequently goes wrong...
I was on Ultimate Recipe Showdown and you couldn't pay me to watch a bunch of hacks fumble over things as simple as mac 'n cheese or crostinis. The comedy club owners I worked with at the time recommended I take the opportunity and make a joke of it. If you watch my appearance, it's a mockery. I start drinking on the show and take a shit half way through while the timer is going. Since then, I've turned down opportunities to appear or audition for chef competition shows. I say this because I want it to be clear that I've had the same stance from day one. These shows are a joke and should be treated as such. Full disclosure, I have a book/show agent, but I do all my press, speak for myself, and always will. If the show gets green lit, you'll see, there is a mind and a purpose to it. If it didn't, what's the point?
If it's the "industry" or "fraternity" you care about, well, I think I'm actually helping. Check twitter out. There are numerous people who say things like "never watch top chef, but will now cause of @mreddiehuang recaps". I'm engaging a different audience in the conversation. It's not just stay at home moms or 40-something restaurant scenesters who think the black eyed peas are great that now follow food. Most of us reading Eater are college-age, mid-to-late 20s types who are irreverent. I get made fun of by Seyo all the time and write back, but the dude is hilarious even if he is a no talent ass clown. There's a interesting community that reads Eater and it's dope. This is the future. If you want your industry to grow beyond the circle jerk that it is, "you need more people" and then you'll need a jester. What would the industry be if we weren't able to laugh at it? Sports had Bill Simmons and Tony Kornheiser. Cable News has Jon Stewart and Colbert. I'm not saying I'm anywhere close to those dudes cause I admire them, but I'm trying. Would you rather watch a bunch of chefs pat each other on the ass?Or better yet, more Sandra Lee or Gwyneth Paltrow cookbooks? Do yall see what's happening to the industry? People see there's money to be made. Every network wants food content but if we don't say anything, they're going to fill stations with more bullshit. I want my shit butter soft, don't step on it. #JustSayNotoBakingSoda #DesperateHouseCooks #Shootmenow
Here is a quote from Ruth Reichl: "[He] is so good looking, you’d think he had to be an idiot. But he’s so smart and has a heart of gold ... He’s totally for real." She says Stone even insisted on cooking for the crew after the show wrapped, which is something we can't really imagine his predecessor Kelly Choi doing. - grubstreet
Every one knows Ruth Reichl is the shit and did great work. Nothing that happens on Top Chef would discount that. But how am I supposed to take these chefs and the show seriously when you're co-signing Curtis Stone? And why should I refrain from telling a good joke? You signed up for this. Athletes, actors, and now celebrity chefs, they all have to deal. If you want legit commentary on food, read NYT, Village Voice, and Jonathan Gold. If you want to really know the chefs, go to the restaurants. But if you just want to be entertained, watch top chef, read my recaps and trim your unibrow before you go on tv next time. No one said being a celebrity chef was gonna be cheap, pay the toll and manscape.