I must admit that I felt a thrill of schadenfreude when I saw a preview of “Top Chef: All-Stars” showing the chefs cracking under the strain of a particularly difficult challenge–making dim sum at a restaurant in New York’s Chinatown.
In the end, however, I took little pleasure in watching how thoroughly the chefs failed at this task.
It was as if none of the chefs had ever heard of the concept of dim sum or Asian cuisine. They seemed outraged when they couldn’t find someone who spoke English at the Chinese market. Many of them looked completely baffled when they entered the kitchen of the Chinese restaurant and saw the steamer baskets and woks. They couldn’t make their food fast enough, and for the most part, the dishes they did prepare were bland and boring.
Dale and Angelo, who specialize in Asian food (Dale works at Buddakan!), provided zero help or leadership in the kitchen.
Nobody cared about the crowd of hungry people waiting for food. They just cared about cooking for the judges and winning the challenge.
I understand that Top Chef is a competition, but there is no excuse for souless cooking and not feeding people. That is a shame for any cook at any level–and a disgrace for a group of professionals vying for the title of “Top Chef.”