“I learned how to cook at my grandmother’s house who took us in after Mom and Pop died in the car wreck when the telephone pole fell on the car that first smashed them, then electrocuted them. Grandma went to the community college to learn English so she could raise me and my 14 sisters and one brother who wore dresses a lot but could make the fluffiest soufflé. And if I win today’s competition I’m going to take the $300,000 prize and buy her the stove she’s always wanted assuming I can still find a 1965 Amana and let her teach my children all that she taught me. Even the autistic ones.”
We’ve been watching a lot of cooking competition shows lately. But not the cupcake people. We hate the cupcake people. What they do to cupcakes you shouldn’t be allowed to put on TV. Anyway, we’ve been watching a lot of cooking competitions and swearing off as many as we watch. Why? Because the competitions are becoming less of a challenge among those who can cook as they are now a contest of who has the bigger sob story.
We’ve always liked the Food Network show Chopped. The premise of real chefs being dealt real but unusual ingredients fascinates us. Most of these people are real working chefs and know exactly what to do when given chicken feet, dragon fruit, clove candy, and 20 minutes to make a scrumptious appetizer. But now it’s not good enough to see 4 chefs, then 3, then 2 turn the bizarre into the palatable. Now we have to ask what will you do with the money if you win. Who would have ever thought that cooks had so many physically challenged children? Or how many have an elderly parent yearning to see the homeland one last time? Or how many are supporting their nieces and nephews? We know what we’d say if someone asked us how we would spend a prize. It’s found money. We’ll blow it all on us.
Gordon Ramsey has to be the king of shock cooking. We’ve come to if not love, appreciate Hell’s Kitchen because he’s not going to hold anything back. If you’re not cooking, you’re not contributing. Leave now. The little snippet interviews with the contestants are the best part of that show. It gives each contestant a little face time with the camera and by extension, the viewer. We hear how this person is a dolt, that person can’t boil water. Petty gripes and foul mouths. But then after the service they go to their sleeping areas and talk to the pictures or their kids, and parents, and partners and how much they love them, and love (sniff) being here, and really (sniff, sniff) want this (boo hoo).
Another of our favorite cooking contests also has Gordon at the forefront. Master Chef. This competition among home cooks has us wondering if the professionals on Hell’s Kitchen shouldn’t stop by the studio next door and get some pointers on, well, on cooking. These non-professionals are very good at their limited challenges and usually work without complaining. But even here we have the boo-hoo crowd sneaking in and has us wondering how far a blind cook can go in a kitchen competition with real knives, hot stoves, and open flames.
Not long ago we were watching one of the previous winners of Food Network Star whose show came on right after another previous winner. And at that we were stuck. Both of the former winners with real shows who have now been on for what seems like years and have books and CDs and probably hats and T-shirts were winners when food was the competition and they left making a good promo up to the PR department. This year’s finalists seem (emphasis on seem) to know their difference between a whisk and a dutch oven. Could it be that after all the tears a cooking competition might actually be decided on cooking? It could happen.
Now, that’s what we think. Really. How ‘bout you?