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Chef vs City -- A new low in programming?

  • c

I have to admit I only caught snipets last night (we were watching something else and my husband would switch over to FN at commercial breaks), but what I saw out of context made me scratch my head.

The candy store relay, the pickles and chiles, the street vendor schtick.

Good grief!

Perhaps they offered Sanchez and Cosentino money they couldn't refuse...

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  1. Well I haven't watched it yet, but I did record it. Your comment reminds me of Ernie Kovacs' quote "Television is called a medium -- when it's well-done, it's rare!"

    Mr. Sanchez seems so serious on 'Chopped' [which is another silly show, but not totally unwatchable]. It might be fun to see him with his hair down.

    Still, food should be fun. We'll see if this show has any legs. I can always tune in Big Daddy and count the sticks of butter or trips to the deep-fryer.

    1 Reply
    1. re: syberyenta

      Love that Ernie Kovacs quote. It has been a while since I thought about him. Thanks. :)

    2. It was awful. I watched it in bed last night and by the last ten minutes of the show I told my husband to shut it off. It was not even entertaining. The way they hacked the white fish was a sin. The wasted expensive food made me sick. It was probably the stupidest show Food network has produced.

      3 Replies
      1. re: macadamianut

        I watched this last night too and had similar thoughts. They were slicing that salmon into thin strips but they kept touching it and smoothing it out so they could read through it so surely it couldn't be sold/consumed.

        1. re: macadamianut

          >>It was probably the stupidest show Food network has produced.<<

          Don't say things like that, those people will just take that quote as a challenge.

          1. re: Phaedrus

            Very true FN has a unique ability to sink to new lows.

        2. Also, I think that the FN cheated by somehow letting the girls catch up. The guys won all five challenges, including the pickle one before the girls even got there, and yet the guys only won by a nose. Pretty lame show.

          1. I have just one word for the entire show..pointless. Waste of talent and food.

            1. Didn't watch it, but I saw an FN commercial today for something that Definitely puts FN in "Jumped the Shark" territory: their upcoming show, "What Would Brian Boitano Make?" (as in cook).

              I swear, that's the show title for a new FN daytime series, and the promo included what appeared to be selected audience members holding up mock Olympic judging scores.

              1. The inspiration was obviously "The Amazing Race" but honestly this was boring even for me, an avid reality TV watcher (my secret shame).

                1. I want my time back. 5 minute watching, 10 minutes puking, and 5 minutes gargling.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Phaedrus

                    Wow...what a horrible show. I read all the comments here and figured everyone was being a little harsh. Then I watched the show...well...about 10 minutes, then I started fast forwarding and watching to see if anything jumped out...then I went to double speed, then I just jumped to the end and deleted it. Why would two talented chefs waste their time on something like this?

                  2. I agree with what everyone else has posted so far. The show had no redeeming qualities. I was hoping to find maybe a little education about the "city" and it's food offerings along with some info on the competing chefs. Nope...nada...bupkis! It was a FN love-fest. No, a FN puke-fest. I hated the format and felt everyone got short changed; especially the viewer. What a waste.

                    Chris and Aaron are better than this.

                    1. Especially striking is the contrast between Sanchez's "judge/executioner" persona on Chopped (all the judges on that show come across persnickety- shaking their heads at the cooking methods employed to cook a duck breast in less than 30 minutes, when there is really no good way to do that and they know it) contrasted with him running around a candy store with a boy-scout backpack on jamming candy into his mouth. Are the junior members of the FN cast like Sanchez and Robinson under pressure to agree to contracts that severely undercut their foodie cred? Did they have the chance to decline? I wonder...

                      1. A really bad show. Really bad.

                        1 Reply
                        1. ha! i can't wait to see it. is it possibly so bad it's good? or just plain bad. i'm surprised to hear them being so wasteful considering chris' whole using the whole animal schtick.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: potatoe

                            No, I don't think there's any possibility that it is so bad it is good. Basically it was watching 2 chefs chase two other people around the city doing "Amazing Race" like tasks that all revolved around food. No cooking, just stupid racing around on a scavenger hunt. I cancelled my TIVO season pass immediately, and I usually give things a few chances. I don't think we'll find any redeeming quality here.

                          2. I skipped the first episode because the two guests were D-list Food Network hosts, I figured that would be a bad introduction.

                            The rest of the episodes the guests are chefs.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                              Yes, but is the format the same? I agree that the two people on the first episode were pretty lame, but the show itself was unwatchable. If it's the same scavenger hunt type thing then there's not much interest for me...

                            2. This show has seriously crossed a line. A major disrespect to food and people who enjoy it. On the Food Network. They treat food like garbage-destroy it, waste it, spit it, and play with it during a time when our food supply is becoming understood as something to take very seriously. For example, they plow through desert-farmed apples to make a dirty press of nonconsumable apple cider. The amount of unsustainable water that went into those apples is alarming to begin with. And then they had the equivalent of a big food fight with them. Issuing a personal fatwa on whoever gave this the go-ahead.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: SaltyRaisins

                                I am SO with you on this, SaltyRaisins. This kind of thing is too painful to watch.

                              2. What a waste of an hour of air time, even for the Food Network. Especially considering how much in time and resources were put into producing this junk. Here's the FN in a nutshell: they give a cooking show to "stay-at-home Mom" Melissa d'Arabian, then take two accomplished professional like Sanchez and Cosentino and have them doing stupid chef tricks. Does the FN brass think that watching a cooking show with actual chefs would be over its audience's head? I guess so, because pretty much all the cooking shows on FN feature glorified amateurs or food "personalities," while the pros are relegated to gimmicky contest shows. Between "Chef vs. City" and all those cake shows, FN's prime time programming becomes more and more of a black hole.

                                1. Let me see if I can remember all of the challenges the 4 flailed through last night.

                                  Chisel out channels in ice blocks in an ice bar, blend a few drinks and pour them down the channels into ice glasses. Fairly uneventful until Aaron couldn't take the biting cold and put the gloves on, to Cosentino's consternation and with an obvious end result.

                                  The apple orchard. Aaron leaves his rubber mallet at the ice bar, so he and Chris are handicapped in smashing and pressing the apples. Rather pathetic watching 2 accomplished chefs doing something like this.

                                  I think the next one was the 100 item buffet, which is where the challenging team fell behind. This one was particularly difficult to watch.

                                  Then the FN guys leave their backpacks in the kitchen while they do the room service chaallenge, so that, oh gee, they can't use the locked service elevator. If everyone supposedly had a key to it, why didn't the other team, who did have their backpacks, not use their own key? Instead, they all moan and groan themselves (except for Cosentino, who just booked it) down 16 flights of stairs Oh, the drama and pathos!

                                  I may be missing one, but then there's the burger taste challenge. Once they got to the pork & shrimp burger, I had to wonder why neither taster asked their team member right off what proteins there were. There had been some of that with other ingredients. Chris asked it of Aaron only after flubbing at least twice. Then he's told there's pork & shrimp. At that point, too late.

                                  A one word take on this show after 2 episodes? Lame.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: cmvan

                                    I give you credit for watching that much. I saw the ice block episode and couldn't watch anymore. A truly new low for FN, but don't think that's the lowest they can go.

                                  2. first time viewer, last time viewer!

                                    i saw snippets of the boston episode last night.

                                    why in the world would anyone think these shows would be interesting? they hack up the food, and do stupid tasks. gack!!!!

                                    honestly, this show makes sandra lee look enlightened.

                                    1. I think perhaps that one of my objections to this show is how food is made to become the "enemy". Requiring contestants to shove a food category down their gullets until they want to puke (case in point - the Boston episode chocolate dessert challenge) is happening at least once in every episode. And the dessert challenge was followed up by an interesting challenge of breaking down a wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano, but then making each contestant eat a small wheel of (I can't remember the name) extremely stinky, pungent cheese afterward. All four got green around the gills (although Chris Cosentino seemed to fare better). I wouldn't be surprised if there are scenes of purging that ended up on the cutting room floor, pardon the expression.

                                      This is not a show that glorifies and celebrates food. If they (FN) think it is, they'd better think again.

                                      1. It's pretty stupid even as those shows go... and it has NOTHING to do with cooking!

                                        1. Have to add another "Hated it!", just in case they are counting. I HATE the idea of forcing yourself to eat, and of all the food wasted. In the Las Vegas buffet, I a least wanted to see what the items where!

                                          1. In the Boston episode I liked the clambake and Reggiano splitting.

                                            The Boston cream pie challenge seemed kind of bogus since it wasn't at all a traditional version and the home team's results were dreadful.

                                            The competitive-eating-style challenges are gross. I couldn't believe they made them eat all those chocolate pastries and then an hour or so later half an overripe strong cheese.

                                            1. Saw the Boston episode last night and this abomination gets my vote for the worst show ever on FN. Talk about a train wreck! The only tolerable segment was watching them split the Reggiano wheel and then they ruined that by forcing them to eat some ghastly cheese. Really, that was like something out of Man vs. Food or some other gross out show. I thought the way they destroyed that beautiful dessert buffet was disgraceful and the sloppy mess they made of the Boston Cream Pie was just as bad. The whole mess showed little respect for food or the profession of chef. Whoever is responsible for this horrible program should be forced to live on nothing but fast food for the next year. I will NEVER watch it again.

                                              1. Each program is worse than the last.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: MsLyn

                                                  I disagree, I thought the SF and New Orleans programs were better than the previous ones.

                                                  I can see why people hate it, but I find it entertaining.

                                                  1. re: MsLyn

                                                    And that's saying something! MsLyn, the first show I saw was so boring and pointless I had to turn it off waaay before it was over. (but I know I like some other shows that many people can't stand, so I guess it's all whatever makes your boat float!)

                                                  2. Well, that wasn't very good at all, was it?

                                                    Terrible, simply terrible.


                                                    I think we got us a Soviet ballet here.

                                                    1. This show is truly dreadful. I watched the LA episode, because I wanted to see the sequence at Chili My Soul (which closed shortly after the episode aired due to the death of its owner). Basically, it was a complete WTF? Drive from Hollywood to the Santa Monica mountains to stomp grapes. (Why? even if there are a few LA wineries, that is such an inconsequential part of LA's food scene, it's a waste. There are wineries in New York, but you wouldn't consider that representative of the food scene.) Then drive to a chocolatier in Brentwood (about halfway back to Hollywood) and guess the truffle fillings. That's cool, but not particularly LA. Plenty of cities have gourmet chocolates. After that, drive to Encino (well north) and eat four bowls of super-spicy chili -- a challenge that is so miserable it does not make the food appetizing or allow the competitors any chance to understand what makes the restaurant special. Then basically go back to Hollywood and deal with durian -- whooo, it's soooooo stinky and horrible. Finally, go to the beach -- to a terrible Mexican restaurant -- to make and sell bad tacos.

                                                      What I want to know is what that shows about the LA food scene? There are so many things that would be far more representative. If you want a challenge involving tacos, get them out in a taco truck. We have some of the best street food in the world. Tacos. Bacon-wrapped hot dogs. All of the new food trucks. I liked that they highlighted Thai Town, but why focus on how disgusting Durian is? Why not have them try to decipher Jitlada's Southern Thai menu (that could have been coupled with a super-spicy food challenge)?

                                                      3 Replies
                                                      1. re: Jwsel

                                                        I just don't get why the FN thinks anyone wants to watch people eat large amounts of unpleasant food while trying not to throw it back up. It's gross. Why are they wasting two talented chefs? Why are the chefs agreeing to do this? Even The Amazing Race stopped having eating challenges. It is just unpleasant to watch. There must be a better way to use the race format with challenges that involve cooking skills. I'd watch that...

                                                        1. re: sibeats

                                                          Cooking skills or neat events that show off the city. I actually don't mind the race idea as a way of exploring the city and was thinking more of a few for LA.

                                                          For instance, if they wanted to do the "eat really spicy chili," a better test could have been done at Chili My Soul. One of the selling points of the restaurant was that it ranked its chilis on a scale of 1-10+ based on its spiciness. It also had a selection of about 15 toppings from which you could choose 3. So they could have explained that and then told the contestants that they could choose which chili they wanted to eat, plus any three toppings. However, the team that ate the combined spiciest chili within a set time limit (based on the numbering system) would get a head start toward the next challenge. A smart competitor would have taken the Inferno or Demon, but added chocolate chips and sour cream (two possible toppings) to decrease the bite of the 10+ chilis. That would have shown off some food knowledge, would have profiled the restaurant in a flattering way, and would have avoided the unpleasantness of trying to eat four bowls (basically, a quart of chili).

                                                          Another cool test for LA would have been to take advantage of the new trend in twittering taco trucks. Why not give the competitors a challenge to locate the Kogi truck or the Banh Mi truck wherever it might be in the city at that time by finding its location on twitter? Then they could help take orders from the 100 people in line or help cook.

                                                          On the completely opposite side of the spectrum, why not do something involving the entertainment industry. They could do something involving craft services on a film shoot or have to cook on the line in a restaurant filled with celebrities.

                                                          In other words, there is potential for the format. But what they are doing does nothing to exploit it.

                                                          1. re: Jwsel

                                                            <In other words, there is potential for the format. But what they are doing does nothing to exploit it.>

                                                            I agree completely. Maybe now that the first season is finished they will make some positive changes for season 2. We can only hope!

                                                      2. Hate it. I REALLY wanted them to visit and cook with chefs in their cities. ...a cook-off or something. Not this dumb relay stuff. Hate it. Love the chefs..hate the concept. Okay..I'm done now.

                                                        1. the show is goofy and therein lies its charm.

                                                          chris cosentino comes across as smart, multi-talented and a good sport. that's probably not enough for a lot of folk but it's good enough for me.

                                                          i'm a big fan of incanto and what cosentino has done there. the show has not diminished my idea of the guy, quite the contrary.

                                                          maybe deb and i will bump into him there in october.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: steve h.

                                                            I don't like the show, but am also a big fan of Chris Cosentino. He comes off really well on TV. He is witty, funny, intelligent and charming. I only watch this show because of him. FN, are you listening? He needs his own show.

                                                          2. I had once watched Chef Sanches on some kind of a competion show and I was really surprised at what a whiner he is. It seemed he complained about everything going wrong before that I thought the guy was ok but since then, no way.

                                                            1. I have to admit that I watched the first episode and thought, well, it's okay for what it's supposed to be, nothing more, nothing less, and I thought the public complaints about it were just more FN bashing.

                                                              But I caught portions of later episodes, and--what's the opposite of, "It grew on me"?

                                                              I'm pretty relaxed about a lot of things, but for whatever reason I find watching people stuff surreal amounts of unappealing food (or appealing, for that matter) into their mouths at unbridled speed to be not only absolutely disgusting and physically discomfiting, but I also don't like thinking of all the people in the world who go to bed at night, hungry and malnourished, while FN broadcasts this behavior as "entertainment".

                                                              I think the chefs and, usually, the challengers do have talent, and I wish FN could find another way to have the participants show off the specialities of our various cities and regions. I don't think this program does either our indigenous cuisines or these food professionals justice. I don't seem to dislike some of FN's programming as much as some other people do, but this show? Yes, I think its critics are spot on, and it's not something I'd tune in to watch anymore. JMO.

                                                              1. I have endless respect for Cosentino and his Championing of Offal and the whole nose to tail thing. Endless respect. Sanchez was brilliant years ago in "my country, my Kitchen". However for this "Chef vs. City" abortion, I want to kick both of them in the nuts.

                                                                What happened? Did Soccer Moms and NASCAR dads find Sandra too complicated and hard to follow?