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TC #4 -- what's with all the swearing?

I'm no prude. I was a chef and I know the kind of language that goes on in the kitchen.

But that is the back of the house. All this cursing on TV -- and therefore in the public eye -- is *incredibly* unprofessional. Can you imagine a chef going out to the dining room and cursing up a storm? Or a chef at a book signing? Or a chef speaking to some school kids?

I will not let my younger kid watch the show anymore, and I'm not far behind. I've been working for years to get them to *think* when they speak; to learn to express themselves so that they are fully capable of communicating cleanly. Profanity has its place, but not on Top Chef.

And Bravo is worse -- maybe some of the cheftestants are incapable of expressing themselves without swearing, but there is no law that says Bravo has to air it. I'd wager the cheftestants would clean up their language dramatically if they knew it wouldn't get on the air. Unfortunately, I wouldn't be surprised if Bravo is encouraging it.

What a shame.

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  1. I didn't notice the continuous swearing/cursing. Personally speaking, there are MANY shows on cable that obsessively curse and are extremely worse compared to Top Chef.

    Plus, it seems a bit more refined than most reality - and sitcoms - that are on cable nowadays. I have just watched TC twice tonight, and do not see where you are coming from. All extremely vulgar language is bleeped out (which is almost nonexistant, go watch MTV for a dose of vulgarity) and is still a good source of entertainment and culinary skills.

    6 Replies
    1. re: cocktailqueen77

      In the intro alone you have Andrew or Spike saying, “Oh did I get f#$%ed!” Then the very next clip is a Mark blowing up the blender saying, “F@#$ me!” I am not saying that those words would not have slipped out of my mouth in the same situation, but Bravo could have edited it out instead of showcasing it. Throughout the rest of the show they show most of the male chefs continue to drop the F bomb in the one on one interviews. You would not expect to have a reality show with a bunch of sailors without expecting a lot of editing. They should just leave some of it out.

      1. re: cocktailqueen77

        I expect it from MTV, and my son doesn't watch. it. I know he will someday, learning to curse and swear like me when I'm alone driving in my car.

        I'm not happy with the language on many of the other shows, and the language on on one or more of those others doesn't justify it on this one. The bleeping is irrelevant; everyone that knows these words knows what they're saying.

        Here's another perspective: imagine the judges talking this way. It's not as if they never do, it's that it's unprofessional in public. A celebrity chef that spoke that way in public would quickly lose fans and likely endorsements. (Well, maybe Bourdain wouldn't...)

        An unseen kitchen is the back of the house, and I expect and I engaged in profanity. Fryolater burns, cuts, dense coworkers, etc., etc. When you get in the weeds it's a perfectly appropriate time.

        But now think of open kitchens -- I would be amazed if workers weren't told to watch their language. Being on TV is about as "front" of the house as you can get. And a third: The challenges where the cheftestants are in the public eye -- the fancy buffets, street food, etc. -- would the judges tolerate foul language in those settings?

        Let 'em swear at home. Yes, they may in the midst of battle, but Bravo doesn't have to air it. And when being interviewed keep it thoughtful and clean.

        TC has never been an expose of the behind the scenes look at an active kitchen. Even the "create a restaurant" challenges, while closer, are little like real life. (AB's latest where he goes back on the line is a great look at a real working kitchen.)

        Let's have a show where professionnals know how to act in public.

        Rant over, for now.

        1. re: cocktailqueen77

          Wow - I can't see how you *didn't* notice it. In the opening preview scenes, throughout one cheftestant's one-on-ones with the camera (Andrew, I believe). It was constant. It's almost like they swapped out the product placement comments with F-bombs.

          1. re: LindaWhit

            I think I'm a bit desensitized to it because I didn't realize there was excessive cursing. Guess I'm used to a lot of shows (whether it's reality, sit-coms, stand-up, cartoons) having cursing. Cursing used to be considered a big deal when I was growing up (boy, do I sound old). However, as it seems very commonplace now I just tune it out.

            In my opinion, some of the contestants look like posers. They curse excessively because it thinks it makes them look bad-ass when they're really insecure people who were probably branded as geeks at one point in their lives. Person that really comes to my mind is Judge Michael of Michael's Genuine (how ironic) from Season 3.

            1. re: Miss Needle

              In my opinion, some of the contestants look like posers. They curse excessively because it thinks it makes them look bad-ass when they're really insecure people

              Agree on this. Will be interesting to see if the producers told them to watch it on the amount of cursing, or if it continues throughout the season. I did see (as someone else mentioned in this thread) that several people had posted about it on Tom's blog. Will be interesting to see if he responds to it as well next week.

              1. re: LindaWhit

                I haven't read the posts about the cursing, but as the majority of the season has already been taped, I think they may make some revisions to the editing.

        2. I noticed that there was one idiot in particular who swore all the time. It did get a little tiresome listening to all the 'beeps'.

          11 Replies
          1. re: Withnail42

            That's the cocky loudmouth from Le Cirque, of all places. Not one to censor anyone, but yeah, I grew tired of that one-note "f-in'" everything. Not the sign of articulation or particular social grace.

            1. re: Scortch

              I don't think Andrew was at Le Cirque -- at least, it's not showing up on his bio. But Manuel/Memo did some time there (as well as at Babbo), and we didn't see that much of him in this first epi.

              1. re: momjamin

                I could be wrong, but I thought that it popped up on his on-screen ID tagline that Le Cirque was where he worked. I could have been wrong.

                If so, apologies to Le Cirque!

                1. re: Scortch

                  I noticed a lot of "big name" places in the taglines - but not that one off hand. Public was one, Buddakhan (sp?) another, I think.

                  1. re: MMRuth

                    Just Googled "Andrew" "Le Cirque" and "Top Chef"


                    Thank god! I thought I was in for early senility!

                    1. re: Scortch

                      Glad you are not (hmm but am I?), and thanks for getting the info.

                      1. re: Scortch

                        Thanks for checking. I might expect more from him now that I know he's well-employed and not just an arrogant street/potty mouth ;-)

                        1. re: momjamin

                          Don't get too attached to him, if he keeps cooking like he did in the premiere (and blaming everyone else for his problems), he won't be around long.

                          1. re: Buckethead

                            My husband and I, both just 30 and definitely not prudes, refer to him as Trash Mouth. His swearing is unnecessary and makes him come off like a scumbag.

                            1. re: invinotheresverde

                              I think he wants to be seen as a scumbag, but he's really just a poser. He's so fake with that phoney hip-hop speak. Yeughhhh. I hope he burns his risotto cake or whatever BS he makes this week and gets the ax.

              2. re: Withnail42

                Agree completely. To me, it's a sign of limited intelligence. In addition to the proliferation of f-bombs was the continuous, annoying use of "street" or hip-hop terms. He's not a teenager, trying to fit in with the cool kids, is he? So why does he talk that way? Are we supposed to be impressed with his street cred? Blech.

              3. I was thinking the same thing! I think swearing has it's place, but is was excessive during some of the individual interviews. I was actually put off by it. And they were all F-bombs. Do they not know any other curses?

                1. i think that fn is intentionally showing one particular contestant with a diarrhea mouth (foul & running constantly), and his other manic, ocd habits-- basically to bait & set up the viewer:

                  "look, we've got a real tweaker this time! doesn't he drive you nuts? a loudmouth, unprofessional spazz! bet you can't wait until he loses-- bet he's really going to flip out then, can't miss that, can we? gotta watch the whole season now, just because this guy drives us all flippin' *crazy*!"

                  ack. it's working.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: soupkitten

                    I agree, soupkitchen. It will, however, have the opposite effect with me. I won't let my son watch it so there will be fewer opportunities for me to do so. I find the swearing boring yet distracting in a jarring way, and it lowers my opinion of them and the network.

                    I'm sure I'll try to catch an episode or two, but if they don't clean up their act there are plenty of other choices on TV. Or maybe I could experiment with my own food creations!

                  2. If you read the comments posted to Tom C's first blog entry you'll see a LOT of people are calling them out on the foul language...so maybe they'll do something about it (although it also seems likely is that most of the episodes are already in the can, so to speak)

                    Tom's Blog:

                    1. lol... I noticed that too.

                      My sister in-law works in a very decent restaurant and she cusses up a storm.
                      Sometimes I wonder if they do that to be part of the "cool" crowd or to look "cool", but don't really have much to say or articulate their thoughts.

                      1. i noticed it but i am not surprised by it. i am sure the bravo folks see it as edgy television that draws the demographic they are pitching to advertisers. it doesn't bother me, though. people swear all the time (guilty) and many do it at inappropriate times or places.

                        1. I work in a public area, and would never swear at work for this reason. In fact, if a customer swears, it is immediate grounds for refusing to serve said customer, no matter the situation (course, if you swear first, you'll be out of a job). I also think that it might make some of my co-workers uncomfortable.

                          That said, I swear all the time.

                          As for those people who have mentioned that "dropping f-bombs" signifies lower IQ, perhaps you can suggest an adjective that could be substituted for the "f-bomb." I find the "f-bomb" to illustrate the vehemence of situation at hand better than any other word. Some may say that the situation does not often demand said vehemence, but I would argue that some people are more high strung than others. I think that people who use the f-word (that I'm a little grieved that I can't even spell out) are not less intelligent, rather, more emotional. These people are also likely make mountains out of molehills, thus warranting the vehemnece of their declarations.

                          I think that Andrew on Top Chef must be one of these people, and maybe Spike, too.

                          16 Replies
                          1. re: miss_bennet

                            Yeah...I, too, bristle at the hoary adage that people who swear are "less intelligent." Just because it bothers *you* doesn't make it any less viable as speech. As with any language conceit, swearing can be overused, misused, misunderstood, and devalued.

                            I don't think that the one cheftestant is an idiot because he swears, I think he's an idiot because he postures, backstabs, (is a professional and)doesn't know how to make mayo, bores me with passe' "street-isms," and most-egregiously swears ineffectively.

                            1. re: aelph

                              i don't care whether he's smart or not and i am by no means a prude and swear plenty but i agree it was completely excessive and would keep me from letting my kids even see promos - they're too young to be up but sometimes they're around for promos and that's just not cool. it's like there's nothing safe anymore.

                              1. re: aelph


                                The general notion isn't so much that swearing makes you an idiot, but that an over-reliance on swearing as a way of articulating even the smallest concept becomes tiresome and yes, does indicate a lack of thought with regards what you are saying. It's the same with cliches and mixed metaphors only with the prude factor thrown in. No, it's not a benchmark of intelligence, but it definitely show lack of social propriety. I cuss like a sailor. But I know when to ditch it to make a positive impression. Like it or not, you ARE judged by your speech.

                                1. re: Scortch

                                  Absolutely. In Boston I managed a small natural foods restaurant (Sanae) with an open kitchen. Everyone, including the dishwasher, was in the public eye. Part of how I judged the apporpriateness of a prospective employee was on their language. Accents, etc., were irrelevant. But inappropriate language is, well, inappropriate. Somehow *everyone* that worked there was capable of expressing themselves without profanity.

                                  When the customers were gone and the place was closed, swearing was fine. But you know what? We rarely did it anyway.

                              2. re: miss_bennet

                                OK, my personal prejudice was showing, with the inference that people who rely on f-bombs are less intelligent. How about "less creative"? Or "immature"?

                                As one poster on another board stated: "Andrew seems to suffer from some sort of hipster Tourette's".

                                The inability to control one's mouth or temper is one indicator of a lack of self-control. Being self-aware is something we all (hopefully) learn as we mature. I dunno. It's like people who hurl outrageous insults or behave like jackasses and then excuse themselves with "What can I say? I'm _____"!

                                And I must confess that I, too, can swear like a dockworker when provoked, but I know when to shut it off and I know that spewing it at a person holding a camera is just plain stupid.

                                1. re: juliasqueezer

                                  I also disagree with the inference that it shows a lack of maturity. But that's because I never use the word, as, by definition, it makes no sense.

                                  That said, did you ever think that they were encouraged to let loose? People laugh at Gordon Ramsay's antics; why should TC be different?

                                  And as for the solo "interviews," I think that they are just ranting most of the time on those. It's just a way of airing their frustrations. I really think I'd be happier at work if there was a room I could go into, yell and scream into a camera about my own and others' stupidity, then move on with my day (and maybe confront someone about their stupidity once I'd finished yelling so my anger would be gone). And I think that it's better to do it alone so that there's no fear of intimidating or insulting someone, or poisoning the work environment.

                                  1. re: miss_bennet

                                    Obviously it's my own hangup and I need to learn to laugh at people who can't control themselves verbally. Even if it offends me and does not entertain me to hear someone drop the f-bomb 20 times in one minute. Does this person think they're shocking us? It's only shocking if you're 8.

                                    And if they appear to lack intelligence or maturity, that's my take, and my take alone. Maybe lack of self-control is a better term. I'm sure you'll hate that one, too. No problem.

                                    1. re: juliasqueezer

                                      I wouldn't have been shocked at 8, since my parents swore all the time and it was no big deal. Not everybody is offended by the F-word. I kind of couldn't care less, myself.

                                      1. re: New_2_718

                                        Sorry, I wasn't clear. I meant it's only shocking if the one spewing the f-bombs is an 8 year old.

                                        But I concede... I'm just a cranky old thing. If I was younger (and presumably hipper) I wouldn't notice the reliance on f-bombs as sort of place-fillers. Instead of "um" or "ah" pauses, we get the f-word in all its formations. Maybe I need to stop reading Miss Manners.

                                  2. re: juliasqueezer

                                    <OK, my personal prejudice was showing, with the inference that people who rely on f-bombs are less intelligent. How about "less creative"? Or "immature"?>

                                    How about people who rely on f-bombs have limited vocabularies? I also find it unappealing and unnecessary in the public eye, for sure....

                                    1. re: ChefJune

                                      Yet another misconception. Yes, it is true that some people with limited vocabularies rely on the "f-bomb" more than they ought, but correlation does not equal causality. Some people with expansive vocabularies often drop the "f-bomb," too.

                                      And I must say, even in my moderate (but by no means expansive) vocabulary, I cannot think of a suitable substitution for the word in question.

                                      1. re: miss_bennet

                                        Maybe we're trying too hard to figure this one out.

                                        It very well may not be reflective of a lack of intelligence or limited vocabulary or lack of maturity.

                                        I change my vote to Eminem Wannabe.

                                        If it's an intentional grab for camera time, it would explain why a 30 year old man behaves all yo yo yo.
                                        Or he's Mike Boogie.

                                        1. re: juliasqueezer

                                          LOL julia! Hadn't thought of the chance he could be a Mike Boogie-alike. Oy. 30yo men should just grow out of that phase!

                                          1. re: juliasqueezer

                                            Eminem Wannabe indeed. That makes perfect sense.

                                          2. re: miss_bennet

                                            Ah, yes, there may not be a suitable substitute for the word in question (though often, in context, indeed, there is). What made Andrew's use of the word, for me, so tiresome was its frequency and lack of necessity. There might not be a suitable substitute, but would the sentence have communicated the same basic substance with out it? In Andrew's case, yeah, it often would have. It seemed so carelessly sprinkled in without any thought. Just the fact that it has garnered so much attention here (and elsewhere) says something to that effect. This isn't Scorcese or Tarantino dialogue we have here, it's playground puffery -- trying to sound hip or edgy to impress or seem outsider.

                                            I respect and will always argue for anyone to convey anything in any manner of speech they choose. However, I equally reserve the right to judge them by their speech and statements as much as one would by their actions.

                                            1. re: Scortch

                                              I took the commuter train to the Mall of America recently and at the back of the car sat a group of young men who used the F word for every part of speech and to emphasize every noun and verb. Later that day I decided to try my hand, so I tackled a couple well known bits of verse. The Lord's Prayer is pretty funny but I think some folks would plotz so I'll not reprint it. I did however translate Yankee Doodle into Effen and here's the result:

                                              Yankee effen Doodle effen went to effen town
                                              Effen-riding on an effen pony
                                              Effen stuck an effen feather effen in his effen hat
                                              And effen called it effen macaroni

                                              It's kind of a fun game. But I'd never use it in the real world.

                                    2. Maybe they are trying to get some of the viewers who like Gordon Ramsay's Hell's Kitchen.

                                      1. Sorry, I don't really get it. I worked in restaurant kitchens for many years and everybody swore. No, we didn't yell ""f*ck" into the dining room, but it WAS part of the culture, like drinking and smoking. I think it's good that TC contestants have some rough edges. I mean, come on! This isn't "Top Florist."

                                        19 Replies
                                        1. re: New_2_718

                                          Of course it's part of the culture. In the back of the house. TV is about as front of the house as you can get. Whether it's "Top Florist" or not is irrelevant, and I'll bet they can can swear as much as the next person.

                                          I don't care how rough their edges are. They can be as rough in the back as they like. But, again, profanity in the front of the house is unprofessional. If they're going to be evaluated on their ability to be a Top Chef, it should include their public persona to the degree that a Head Chef interacts with the public.

                                          Do you think the judges would tolerate profanity when the cheftestants present in public venues? Oh wait -- the answer is yes, they would. They *choose* to air it on TV.

                                          1. re: Richard 16

                                            But really, it's not "front of house". It's artificially constructed "reality" TV. Comparing to an actual restaurant doesn't make sense to me.

                                            1. re: New_2_718

                                              But obviously they can control it as I didn't hear one effenheimer from any cheftestant during judging. I don't remember if TB dropped one or not as I've become inured to his swearing.

                                              1. re: MplsM ary

                                                Indeed -- Andrew ran on and on in his description of his dish, but it was profanity-free.

                                          2. re: New_2_718

                                            You clearly haven't spent much time with any florists.

                                            1. re: Withnail42

                                              lmao-- yup. imagine, for example, having to de-thorn two thousand roses by hand on valentine's day. i've worked in hospitality my whole life and can cuss with the best of them (not when i'm in earshot of customers in foh). some florists i've served have the most colorful command of language-- enough to make me blush! :) i also would never enter a head-to-head drinking contest with a florist.

                                              1. re: soupkitten

                                                okay, I take back what I said about florists.

                                                1. re: New_2_718

                                                  it's okay, i think everyone knows what you meant-- it actually illustrates your point that florists generally have great presence when they are in front of customers and the public, and many chefs do as well-- they can "turn it off" and "turn it on" when they pass through those swinging doors. the fact that a few of these cheftestants don't "turn it off" in front of a camera speaks to their experience with that. i'm very critical of any chef who can't perform a cuss-filled dressing-down worthy of a marine drill seargent on a member of staff-- and then cooly greet customers a minute later. it's not the cussing that bugs me, it's when these people are choosing to do it.

                                                  1. re: soupkitten

                                                    yes, but again, this isn't a restaurant we're talking about. It's reality TV (and it's so not real.) Who knows how they behave at work?

                                                    1. re: New_2_718

                                                      From what I know about Le Cirque, where Andrew purportedly works I am fairly certain that he does not speak like that while within ear-shot of the owner or chef.

                                                      But do agree it's 'reality tv' and he was more or less posing for the camera. But his little wanna be act wore very thin very fast.

                                                      1. re: Withnail42

                                                        All the cursing (Andrew in particular) reminds me of peacocks spreading their tails before a fight. While this is much less appealing I think it serves a similar purpose - trying to make himself seem tougher and scarier (although in person an angry peacock is very scary feathers or no - seriously)

                                                      2. re: New_2_718

                                                        It's not real, but when the show is over, they *do* have jobs in the real world. Like it or not, there are some people who might not choose to go to the restaurant a cheftestant works at because of the cussing. Will that ultimately mean anything to the restaurant's bottom line? Probably not. However, the perception is out there forever.

                                                        And more to the point, if BravoTV had three successful seasons w/o the swearing, why would they want their cheftestants to "turn it on" now? I want to believe they wouldn't ask them to do so, and either it is Andrew the "way he is" or he's posturing for the camera. During the challenges? Yes, I can go with that. But doing it on the one-on-one directly to the camera? To me, it seems like he's "showing off". And as Withnail42 said below - it got tiring *very* fast.

                                                        1. re: LindaWhit

                                                          I admit there is one guy who I already want to kill and I think he may the the main culprit...he also uses a lot of appropriated ghetto-speak which drives me nuts. But it's not the swearing that bothers me.

                                                          1. re: LindaWhit

                                                            "And more to the point, if BravoTV had three successful seasons w/o the swearing, why would they want their cheftestants to "turn it on" now?"

                                                            Whoa, now. There may have been more profanity in this first episode (and from a single contestant) than in memory over the previous seasons, but there has been *plenty* of swearing. In fact, during season 2, there was a period where they seemed to be purposfully bleeping out the wrong parts of certain words, essentially leaving the profanity intact. I think it's the guy's personality - added to the fact that, at least after the first season, the Magical Elves (the production co. behind Top Chef) has always edited the show to amp things up in any way they could.

                                                            1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                              Perhaps my wording should have said "...three successful seasons without quite so much swearing..."

                                                              I'm not saying there hasn't been any swearing - Season 2 there was a good bit of it, but nowhere near the verbal onslaught as we were treated to in the first episode of TC4. During TC3, I don't recall quite so much swearing for swearing's sake...and that's what Andrew seems to be doing. Specifically doing it on purpose.

                                                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                Like I said, seems to be his shtick, and you can bet the producers are playing it up, too...

                                                                Obviously, took no time at all to put off a whole lot of people.

                                                2. re: New_2_718

                                                  lol - i completely agree :D

                                                  every kitchen ive ever seen had enough blue language that they could have turned a cursing missive into a veritable poetry slam. i loved it. but then again i curse like a sailor, as do 99.9% of my friends...

                                                  1. re: winedubar

                                                    It's not an overall question of swearing, it's the appropriateness of where and when. The judges don't swear on camera (or it's edited out) the contestants (hopefully) don't swear at fancy buffets, carts, etc. A chef out front in public doesn't swear near the customers. A chef at a book signing doesn't.

                                                    When in front of a camera it certainly is unprofessional for a head chef -- someone whose duties often include appearing in public, and there are few venues more public than TV -- to be using profanity. If the chef can't contrrol their language then they shouldn't aspire be to a head chef, which is what TC is supposed to be about, and especially to own a restaurant. Either that or hire a spokesperson.

                                                    And it is abyssmal that Bravo *encourages* this by airing it. I can't control what Bravo *chooses* to air, but I can control what my kid watches.

                                                  2. re: New_2_718

                                                    This isn't "Top Florist."

                                                    Ha!! You should totally write a treatment for that so if Bravo does make that show you'd get credit!!!

                                                  3. There is a lot of swearing this season. Some friends and I were predicting this season might be more about the drama than the food, sadly.

                                                    1. I don't mind the swearing...think about where some of these people came from. Not to mention think about what they just went though. Some are more emotional then others and I would be very disapointed if Bravo were to censor that or try to tone it down.

                                                      Bravo is not for kids btw. Granted, it's no showtime, but why would you let your kid watch a chanel that also has shows like 'Make me a Supermodel' and 'Housewives of Orange County'

                                                      1. The swearing during the actual cooking or challenges does not bother me and is more understandable as the contestants are probably running on adrenaline. But the over use of swearing during the solo interviews is ridiculous and shows a complete lack of class. I mean, yes on rare occasion nothing but the f bomb will convey the shock/despair/anguish one feels. But multiple times in one interview? In EVERY interview? C'mon.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. Just finished watching Episode 2 and there seemed to be far fewer bleeps. Except at judges table...but I won't spoil it for anyone who hasn't watched yet!

                                                          1. I have to say after Ep2 that I like Andrew more. He seems to be on an emotional rollercoaster though. Last week he wasn't doing very well in the challenges and he was dropping F-bombs all over the place, this week he did do well and he seemed so giddy that he could jump out of his skin.

                                                            6 Replies
                                                            1. re: Buckethead

                                                              He did seem a bit more endearing, didn't he?

                                                              1. re: Miss Needle

                                                                see I totally didn't buy that he "forgot" you couldn't use balsamic. seemed like he was trying to put one over.

                                                                1. re: AMFM

                                                                  I thought it was weird and annoying that he didn't seem to pay any price for breaking the rules. Perhaps he was disqualified from winning the QF?

                                                                  1. re: Buckethead

                                                                    He was disqualified from the quickfire challenge.

                                                                  2. re: AMFM

                                                                    Why would anyone knowingly do something that would get them disqualified? If he was trying to fool the judges, why would he have mentioned balsamic when describing the dish?

                                                                    1. re: AMFM

                                                                      I really do think he forgot. For many chefs, balsamic is like salt and pepper. It's not like he added something more esoteric like ras el hanout. And he was disqualified from winning the QF.