Top Chef, a Bravo TV, reality program pits aspiring chefs against each other in a month long competition where they are asked to, on their feet, create great food week after week after week.
The team that brought us top chef, decided to do a spin on the show, where they would bring in great chef’s and ask them to compete in the same format.
In many ways, the creators of Top Chef, looked at gladiator matches of yesteryear, and realized that we all want to watch the greatest go head to head. We all want to see Hector fight Achilles in front of the walls of troy. And yet the reality is that in our modern world, that never happens. hector would be a general, and so would achilles, and they would never be allowed to risk their lives in man-to-man combat.
Top Chef Masters creates that delicious competitive battle, where the stakes are infinitely lower, but still real. These are after all, great chefs, who want to do great cooking.
In one episode, they take the chef’s and have them compete in a speed competition where they have to prep food. For all of them, the last time they prepped food was at least decade ago, and for Roy Yamaguchi it may have been more than two decades ago.
What’s amazing to watch is how these great, great, great Chef’s are forced to do something as elementary as create a great dish on the fly, and to see them struggle. Not because they can’t create a great dish, but because the last time they did it on their own was years ago. Watching Jonathan Waxman, a man whose efforts years ago helped create the foodie culture that produced top chef, struggle with how to use a pressure cooker was delightful because it reminded me of how all leaders rely on some kind of support staff.
It’s an interesting statement about life in general. As we promote people to positions of leadership, their ability to do the simple basic tasks, under time pressure, begins to evaporate. So Rick Moonen, can’t finish a quick fire, but then turns it around and creates a masterpiece, because he is still a great, great chef.
It is very rare that you see great men compete mano-a-mano in their chosen profession. Top Chef Masters is a great bit of television.