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what's your opinion of shows like Top Chef?

sweetpotato Dec 17, 2009 04:01 PM

I'm a foodie who enjoys reality shows, so Top Chef (Chopped, etc) is a no-brainer for me.
I'll watch. I wonder what seasoned cooks think of shows like that, is true talent showcased?
Are the recipes television-worthy?

  1. Cherylptw Dec 17, 2009 04:12 PM

    I like competition shows like Top Chef, Chopped & Iron Chef; I don't like shows that showcase "professional" cake decorators, ice carvers, etc. because I find them boring and I'd rather watch an "amateur" cook thrown into a challenge of say, given an ingredient and having to make something out of it

    Some of the recipes are very good as most in competitions know how to cook...

    1. aces551 Dec 19, 2009 06:25 PM

      I'm completely addicted to Top Chef. Including the Masters edition.

      I also enjoy, in no particular order:
      Man V. Food on Travel Channel
      Chopped on Food Network
      Chef Academy on Bravo
      Iron Chef America on Food Network
      Food Network Challenge on.... yes, Food Network
      Anthony Bourdain No Reservations on Travel Channel
      Next Food Network Star (airs only once per year)
      Triple D (diners, drive-ins, dives) on Food Network
      Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares on Fox

      When I'm home, I usually just leave The Food Network on all day, just to keep me company while I am cleaning, cooking, on the computer, whatever.

      Now, on another note, I hate a few cooking shows as well. Namely "Unwrapped" and "Good Eats". I really like Alton Brown, but Good Eats just gets way too technical and detailed for me to enjoy.

      6 Replies
      1. re: aces551
        scubadoo97 Dec 19, 2009 07:53 PM

        I watch most of the shows. Like Good Eats for the technical stuff and can do without the clown shtick. I wish on TC that we see more on the food prep and less of the edited drama. My goal is to maybe walk away from these shows with one little pearl of knowlege in a technique or a dish. To learn something I didn't already know. The gems are hard to find.

        1. re: scubadoo97
          aces551 Dec 19, 2009 08:20 PM

          I know what you mean.

          Today, Giada's show was on, and she said to make sure you get a "nice sear" on the lambchops, but to leave them rare inside, and don't burn them.

          So I'm thinking to myself, I THINK I know what a "nice sear" is, and I THINK I know what "rare" lambchops look like inside, but why don't you show us exactly what you mean? Don't assume everybody knows what a "nice sear" is.

          She should have had 3 already seared lambchops on a platter to show viewers. The one on the left, not seared enough (and why, such as the oil wasn't hot enough), the one in the middle is perfect ("this is the perfect shade of brown you are aming for"), and the one on the right is over seared (aka burnt). Show us! We need to see these things.

          This is just one example of what I think you mean about pearls of knowledge. It's just something that happened today, so that's why it came immediately to mind as an example. They try to cram too much stuff into one show. Why not just cook one item, perfectly, explaining and showing as you go? We don't need to see every chef on every cooking show whip up an entire 4 course meal in just 30 minutes.

          What I usually do when I hear certain buzz words on cooking shows that spark my curiosity, (such as I have no idea what a particular food product they are cooking with is, what does "sous vide" really mean, etc.), is I go Google the heck out of it for research and advice.

          1. re: aces551
            k
            KTinNYC Dec 20, 2009 07:18 AM

            "So I'm thinking to myself, I THINK I know what a "nice sear" is, and I THINK I know what "rare" lambchops look like inside, but why don't you show us exactly what you mean? Don't assume everybody knows what a "nice sear" is."

            The cooking shows are dumbed down enough already. There are already too many shows that assume we know nothing. I'd rather watch a show that assumes we know the basics, like what searing is, and teaches me things I don't know. If every show starts at step 1 then the shows will only be for beginners and there will be nothing for the rest of us home cooks.

            1. re: KTinNYC
              aces551 Dec 20, 2009 04:30 PM

              Good point KTinNYC - most people watching cooking shows probably do know how to do a proper sear, etc.

              I myself have never been taught anything about cooking; I'm completely self-taught.
              My mother and grandmother don't really cook, never have. Therefore, I tend to not be an "intuative" cook, but more of a recipe follower the first time I make something.

              I especially struggle with meats, since I was raised a vegetarian for part of my childhood so never got to watch anyone preparing meats.
              It would be helpful to me to see someone do a proper sear or whatever so I know exactly what they mean - especially since I am a very visual person.

              But I agree, after I knew how to do it, I would not want every cooking show to walk me thru it again and again.

              Happy cooking!

            2. re: aces551
              ChefJune Dec 21, 2009 08:44 AM

              <She should have had 3 already seared lambchops on a platter to show viewers. The one on the left, not seared enough (and why, such as the oil wasn't hot enough), the one in the middle is perfect ("this is the perfect shade of brown you are aming for"), and the one on the right is over seared (aka burnt). Show us! We need to see these things.>

              In the early days of the Food Network, they would have done that. But these days, even the "real" cooking shows are primarily about "shows," rather than about the cooking. I think the word they coined for is is "edutainment," or something dumb like that.

              What you are hoping for is more like a cooking class. That's not going to happen on TVFN.

              Just curious... someone in this thread referred to "Unwrapped" as a "cooking show." I've never seen anyone do any cooking on that show. Not that I watch it with any regularity...

              I enjoy Top Chef, but not any other of the regularly scheduled competition shows. However, I don't think it's a true gauge of any of the chefs' talent at anything other than thinking on their feet. In 95% of restaurants, they don't turn out a complete meal doing all the shopping and prep in three hours. They have staff, and their dishes are more "evolutionary" than what we ever see on Top Chef.

              1. re: ChefJune
                f
                ferret Dec 21, 2009 09:17 AM

                "However, I don't think it's a true gauge of any of the chefs' talent at anything other than thinking on their feet."

                Well, that's really what any skills test is about. Given unlimited time (or even a generous amount) many contestants can likely produce good output, but real talent emerges under less-than-ideal conditions.

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