Thursday, May 25, 2006

And the winner is....

Wow! Talk about a kick in the teeth! I watched the finale tonight of Bravo TV’s Top Chef competition. It’s a kind of foodie reality show where chefs/contestants are assigned challenges to make certain kinds of dishes within given guidelines. It’s actually been pretty interesting seeing how each chef deals with the challenge, and with each other. Each week one chef is named Top Chef of the week and one is asked (well, TOLD) to “pack your knives and go.” Last weeks pre-finale pitted Dave, the highly emotional gay chef who spent the early years of his career in the tech sector, against Tiffani, the lesbian chef with an attitude that does her no good at all, and Harold, the Clark Kent of chefdom. (No, sexual orientation has nothing to do with how well one can prepare a dish, but it seemed important to the chefs to share it with us, and so I share it with you.)

Last week I thought for sure Dave the Underdog was going to pull it off and reach the finals with Harold. But unfortunately Dave’s staccato, helter skelter cooking style caused him to miss one rule of last week’s challenge, to prepare three dishes to serve to the judges. Dave only prepared two dishes and, as good as they were, he lost because of the missing dish.

That left us with Tiffani vs. Harold for tonight’s finale. The Yin and Yang of cooking. The alpha and omega of attitude. And the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde of personality. Like most reality show/moneymakers, viewers were encouraged to text a vote for their favorite chef, at whatever the going rate for text messaging is, and despite the fact that smellivision has not yet been perfected and no samples of the cooking were delivered to the viewers at home. So viewers were actually voting for their favorite ‘character.’

The kick in the teeth was the viewers vote tally. There were four judges who made the actual choice, but before they did they consulted with the four sous chefs, previous contestants brought back to help on the final challenge. All four of those contestants thought Harold was the hands down winner. (When Tiffani learned this, she told Harold it was "tough to hear" and that her back had fallen onto his knife, like it was Harold's fault nobody liked her.) The judges apparently felt the same, so Harold was announced as the Top Chef. Tiffani was stunned. Despite numerous admonitions about her high falutin’ attitude and the manner in which she treated her fellow contestants, and the diners she cooked for, she thought she had it in the bag. You could see it on her face. She has perfected the “I KNOW I’m better than you” smirk and tossed one Harold’s way before he was named the winner. But wait until Tiffani gets home and sees the show. I hope somebody TiVoed it for her. I have never seen anything like it. Except maybe back in freshman year of high school when everybody voted for the fun guy, the class clown, for student council instead of the serious student who would actually go to the meetings and make a difference.

Are you ready for this? Tiffani, if you’re reading this I hope you’re sitting down. And I hope you’re far away from me. Don’t shoot the messenger.

The final tally:

Harold 97%

Tiffani 03%

Landslide doesn't even begin to describe this outcome. Unless the landslide is caused by a tsunami which was caused by an earthquake. But even that doesn't describe it well.

Talk about public humiliation! Talk about having the wind knocked out of your sails, your balloon burst, and thunderstorms on your parade! What could be worse than total annihilation on national television? If they ever give out an award for this kind of thing, she’s gonna win hands down. Usually at least something good comes out of this kind of competition and exposure, but I can’t imagine anything positive for Tiffani from this experience. I mean, I didn’t like the way she treated the others, her attitude about how the challenges were so beneath her she was going to follow her own crooked path, and her disdain for some of the diners, but even I feel some sympathy for her. Not a lot, but some. Maybe Dr. Phil is a fan of Top Chef and will have a special show just for Tiffani. But I think it would have to be a mini-series. The girl needs a lot of work!

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