For many years, chef competition programs like Bravo TV's 'Top
Chef' and the Food Network's 'Chopped' have been highly popular
with food lovers. Some food media experts credit this show and
others like it for reinvigorating interest in home cooking. But a
few people don't think that the program is doing cooking any
favors. Culinary icons Alice Waters and Jacques Pépin recently
critized some of these shows at a Television Critics
Association press tour stop.
The chefs feels that the shows promote the worst of the U.S.
"fast food culture". Says Pépin, "It's a disservice very often
because this is not what's cooking is all about. That kind of
confrontation that you have there is not really how you learn to
cook. Or how you understand food." Waters agrees, saying that
cooking is "never about competition. It's about the
pleasure of dealing with real food."
Waters admits, however, that the country is in the midst of a
food revolution, and the public is ready to "start learning how to
cook." One could argue that part of this readiness is due to the
popularity of cooking shows like Top Chef and Chopped. But on the
flip side, some studies show that people who watch reality cooking
programs actually cook less, and are less healthy.
What's your take on these competition shows? Do they encourage
interest in cooking, make us hungry and therefore eat too much, or
a little of both?
Update: Pepin clarified his remarks in a Facebook post to Tom
"A couple of articles that came out recently that were not quite
accurate. Below is the note I wrote to Tom
Colicchio and I trust this settles the matter.
I was at a PBS convention in Pasadena over the weekend and was
quoted as criticizing the reality food shows and they mentioned Top
Chef. I criticized shows where the chef insults and yells at the
cooks and the cooks are fighting between themselves as not being
conducive to learning and good cooking and I still stand by that.
That certainly did not include Top Chef. I have been privileged to
be part of it several times, I enjoyed it and I have great respect
for you as a chef. I am writing a clarification on my Facebook
Hope all is well with you and your family. See you soon.