On the Merits of Ostentatious Cooking Competitions

Photo: Helen Rosner

A couple of industry types (one a blogger, the other a chef) are pondering food TV today. First, Raymond Blanc, the acclaimed chef who hosted the BBC’s The Restaurant (a.k.a. Last Restaurant Standing), has come out against what he says is the “sensationalism” of current-day food programs (he had a chance to host Hell’s Kitchen but declined). “I did a lot of shows in the 1980s,” he told the Independent, “but I chose to stop because TV started sensationalising food.” Meanwhile, Josh Ozersky is perhaps more sympathetic to hype in a Time essay. He ponders whether the Bocuse d’Or (a “monstrosity” that is “basically just a bigger, more elaborate version of [Top Chef]”) is worth all the pageantry and decides: It’s “the gastronomic version of the Apollo program. There’s no real reason to do it, the difficulties are nearly insoluble, and the cost in time and money is prohibitive. But to plant the flag on the alien surface of European haute cuisine! To beat the Frenchies at their own game! The chef that pulls that off will be a hero to his peers, and will make his career overnight.”

What the Bocuse d’Or Says About Culinary Culture [Time]
Top chef Raymond Blanc slams ‘TV sensationalism’ [Independent UK]