As a former chef and life long cook, I have watched as the media takes and presents the art of cooking and being a chef as a game of competition, a sport and the chefs as ruthless, swearing and vulgar tools in the presentation of what some seem to think is entertainment. The media has taken an art form and a noble profession and rendered it to a pit bull dog fight show.
I can tell you one thing, I would never eat the food prepared by any of these chefs. As a practicing “Holistic cook”, the food they prepare, in my opinion and by virtue of holistic cooking would be considered as poisoned and negative food. This is food that has been prepared in such an atmosphere that it has become infused with the negativity and vulgarity that these chefs emit.
Once upon a time
Once upon a time the cooking and chef shows on television were about the food, the preparation and the art of cooking and preparing food that could be served with pride. These once upon a time shows, dealt with a respect for food and cooking, they presented an art form, and the chefs were proud about what they were doing and presenting. Some of the chefs broke into song as they prepared their artful dishes, all the while entertaining the audience with fabulous recipes and the way to prepare them. One can of course still find these beautiful and respectful shows on television on the specialty channels while the new found cooking war shows are brazenly presented on prime time and the common channels.
Yes once upon a time it was about the art and pleasure of cooking, one didn’t have to fear having a pot of food thrown at you, your dish ruthlessly criticized because in the rush to prepare it you missed something that the host chef deemed to be of near life threatening proportion and requirement. Once upon a time and in special places on the television channel selection these near fairy tale cooking shows still exist.
Dawn of chef wars
Now it seems that the art of cooking has been turned into a gladiatorial event where the supposed experts belittle and browbeat the competing chefs. These shows are a presentation of abuse and disrespect, not only to the art of cooking but also to the chefs and the food itself.
Shows such as these do no justice to the art of cooking; they certainly do not forward the art in any way imaginable. In an attempt by the media to shock and awe the audiences, they turn the art of cooking and preparing food into a race against time in an atmosphere of criticism, abuse, and vulgarity.
It is not uncommon to see food and utensils being thrown around, cut throat activity between the chefs competing, the host and judge chef or chefs verbally criticizing using vulgarity as a tool to belittle the competing chef, and a whole slew of other atrocious behaviour and activities.
It spreads into talk shows
The sadder fact is that this form of ‘entertainment’ is spreading. It seems that the Marilyn Denis show is now holding a New Chef competition, where the subject chefs compete to be the new ‘expert’ on her show. While so far the Marilyn Denis show has remained fairly non abusive, it certainly in my opinion is not going about trying to find a food and cooking expert, nor is it representing the traits that an expert should have. If the premise is to find a new cooking expert, I certainly don’t see it in the manner in which they are going about it. If the whole aim is simply to put some chefs under pressure and look foolish then they are doing a good job. Good luck with that. So far it has not been a test of their cooking or food expertise as it has been how well they can play a game of twist and turns and slop together something that the judges can pick apart. Caught up in the hype like other media sensationalism, the aim of this show makes a mockery of the whole art of cooking and the art and professionalism of being a Chef.
Step one of being a Chef is to be well prepared before even going into the kitchen. What chef shows up for work and is given a surprise box full of who knows what products and told ok now cooks something that children would eat? To top it off, the box contains food that, in my opinion few if any kid would eat even if buried under a mound of candy and chocolate. What the heck does this have to do with being an expert chef, it’s a circus act where the poor chef want-to-be have to perform. The sadder thing is that once a winner is declared, who is going to take them as a food or cooking expert after seeing all their failures, embarrassments, etc, all of which the design of the competition is set up to highlight.
Being a food and cooking expert
Being a food and cooking expert is not about having surprises thrown at you, its not about having inadequate time allotments assigned to your food preparation it has nothing to do with these types of “Challenge” shows. Being a chef is a lot of work, a lot of preparation and planning before you even step into the kitchen, having all your food supplies and utensils ready and available when you need them, (no surprises, surprises mean you’re a poor chef) you are prepared and you know exactly what you are going to do. I would love to see the “expert” judges given the same “unprepared”, “unrehearsed” task as the contestant chefs are given and see how well they do.
I am sorry to say that the chef who wins this game, will not have had a chance to present anywhere through out the game that they are expert at being a food and cooking expert chef, a good cook maybe, a game player yes, but an expert no. An expert chef is prepared from start to finish, surprises are few and far between. In order to represent and be presented as an expert, these shows should test the expertise, and thier art. The art of cooking and being a chef is just that, an art, not a childs game. If you want to find your expert Marilyn Denis, perhaps having them show the complete preparation it takes and how they go about it and present it would be a better show. An example might be to have them conduct themselves something like what Chef Michael Smith does in the full preparation for his show, “Chef at Home” where you get to see his complete expertise, rather than trying to emulate the Chef Ramsey approach. Well at least no one has died from their exposure on the Marilyn Denis show.