Caution SPOILERS up ahead!!
So last night marked the crowning of the 10th Top Chef. Although I would have been happy with any of the top 3 winning, this season has almost been overcast by all the controversy, bias and potential rigging. I’m a big fan of Top Chef, I’ve been watching the show since its first season in 2006 and have watched every season since; except for one (passed on season 3, I found season 2 to be a disappointment).
I do feel like this show goes in circles for me. I was about 14 years old when the first season of Top Chef aired, and I was hooked. In all honestly this is probably around the time when I first started becoming interested, and subsequently obsessed, with food.I found season 2 to be a let down, although a reality show there seemed to be a greater focus on drama as opposed to the food (don’t get me wrong season 1 had all kinds of drama). I mean do we all remember when Elia Aboumrad shaved her head pictured to to the left, or the distasteful moment where Cliff Crooks almost forcibly shaved fellow contestant Marcel Vigneron’s puffy locks as the rest of the cheftestants just watched?
That season left such a bad taste in my mouth that I couldn’t bring myself to watch the 3rd. I watched the 4th and 5th season out of boredom, curiosity and habit. However all was redeemed with season 6, *sigh*, oh season 6. Undoubtably my favourite, where the focus really seemed to be on the food. Unfortunately, in my eyes, the show seems to be on a downward again. Enough with my recap of seasons past, lets get to last nights finale!
I’ve had my suspicions of rigging throughout Season 10 of Top Chef. And I know what you’re probably thinking, this is a reality show…of course its rigged! Which may in fact be true however it seemed to be SO obvious this season that even a toddler could see it!
Now don’t get me wrong I am a big fan of Kristen Kish (Season 10 WINNER!) and was glad to see her win the big prize, however it all seemed a bit too planned. Kristen was clearly both a fan and a judge favourite throughout the show, however everybody loves an underdog story and I without a doubt feel that her elimination during Restaurant Wars (image below) was pre-planned for added drama.
Because there was such a strong backlash from the fanbase against both Padma and Tom, I don’t know if it was just the editing but Padma seemed to be gunning for Kristen to go home, it does slightly taint Kristen’s Last Chance Kitchen win. Particularly during her battle with Lizzie Binder. Tom was praising Lizzie’s dish up and down, going for a second and third bite and calling it a perfect dish. Kristen’s on the other hand was called chewy and too much of a mouth-full, yet somehow Kristen scored the win? Now I for one felt a bias from Tom as CJ Jacobsen kept winning challenge after challenge. And don’t even get me started on how poor Kuniko Yagi, didn’t get a fighting chance on either the show or on Last Chance Kitchen…she had to battle 2 chefs, how is that fair!?!?!
But back to the finale.
I HATED the format of the finale. It felt like an even cheesier version of Iron Chef but without the camera work or the play by play that make that show. If you’re going to blatantly copy another show’s format, you would think they would use the best aspects of the show. What I love about the finale of seasons past was the progression of the meal, giving chefs ample time just to cook great food for a reasonable number of guests without all the theatrics. Really, cooking for 300 people in 3 hours in a live stadium was someone’s idea of a good finale? I did like seeing all the past winners of Top Chef in the audience, however I would have much preferred a more intimate finale in a regular dining room setting with the 5 head judges, the 9 previous winners and (as is typical to Top Chef) the owner of the location/vineyard/restaurant. Leave the theatrics to Iron Chef or use them in a quickfire or an elimination challenge. Not the finale.
I like watching the chefs get judged on their overall meal progression and how each dish goes along with the past course. It has a greater sentiment and as a viewer it truly feels like you’re witnessing a raw version of each chef on a plate. Somehow all of that was lost in this finale, which felt distant, cheesy and rushed. Why didn’t we get to see each chef during their menu planning? Why didn’t we get to see them purchase their ingredients, or like Iron Chef were they pre-provided? Why didn’t we get to see how the sous chefs were picked? I have a hard time believing Brooke would let Kristen have the last 3 eliminated contestants on her team in favour of chefs who were eliminated very early on.
I’ve read various comments on last nights finale, and many people seem to think that the actual judging of the finale was rigged. While it may have been, I didn’t find it to be that obtrusive. Brooke did serve burnt pig ears…and chicken wings. This is exactly what I was talking about with a lack of meal progression. Going from scallops to chicken wings to red snapper?? Not exactly a co-hesive menu. However by the end of round 3 it was clear that Kristen would be the winner, there just wasn’t enough time for a 5th round! It took away any suspense from the already emotionless finale. I do think that Kristen is an incredibly talented chef and I have no doubts that she could have won on her own merit. However with all the producer and outside influence this season has definitely been tainted.