Pack Up Your Knives

Friday, February 15, 2013 - 10:00am

Reality shows have been around since the nineties starting with MTV's "Real World." They grabbed hold of the country and the world. Then came reality competition shows, mixing the rawness of reality tv with a contest or a game ... and cooking reality tv shows, like Top Chef, Iron Chef, Chopped, Hell's Kitchen, and MasterChef, to name a few.

All of the reality cooking shows have a prize of some kind, some involving a dream job, money, or just bragging rights. However, when you watch Top Chef on Bravo, it is more about the food than the fights that the contestants get into before, during, and after the cooking.

Top Chef is wrapping up its tenth season, in the bustling foodie city of Seattle, Washington. Returning judges Tom Colicchio, Gail Simmons, and Padma Lakshmi, are joined by Emeril Lagasse, Hugh Acheson, and legendary Wolfgang Puck as they put the 'cheftestants' through their culinary paces.

The northwestern United States is ripe with delicious produce and fresh fish and seafood, perfect for a cooking show. Often the Quickfires and Elimination Challenges take advantage of locally found food and products. It helps show the versatility --or lack thereof-- of the chefs by using products they may not be familiar with. If the cheftestant can't make the dish work, then they may be told to pack up their knives and go at the end of the episode.

What draws you in when you watch Top Chef is the creativity of the chefs as they bring dishes together, sometimes in seemingly adverse conditions like cooking on the beach, in strange kitchens, or a cuisine that they are entirely unfamiliar. You see them plan and prepare, and when something doesn't work, instead of giving up, they try plan B or sometimes, plan C.

One of the most popular episodes of Top Chef for both the contestants and viewers is "Restaurant Wars". This is where the contestants are split into two groups to come up with a restaurant from conception to launch. The team that is most successful wins the challenge and lives to cook another day.

The judge’s comments can be cutting, and sometimes tempers flare. However, they have the palates and knowledge of the industry to fairly critique the food that is put in front of them. Would anyone be brave enough to call out Wolfgang Puck and tell him he is wrong?
Check out this year’s contestants as they fight to win $125,000 and bragging rights as the winner of Top Chef 10: Seattle.  

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