Top Chef v. Desperate Housewife

Two weeks ago, after Mark Bittman’s Bitten column, TV Cooking v. Real Cooking, shone a bright light on the “charade” that is today’s modern cooking shows, the New York Times strikes again. Where Mr. Bittman attacked today’s popular cooking shows as “baffling and intimidating,” writer Jodi Rudoren in the Times’ Home Work column (On This Cooking Challenge, Reality Bites) proposes a new reality show to at least partially remedy those problems.

In what she describes as “Top Chef: Home Cooks”:

“…contestants would not work in the Kenmore Kitchen — or whatever Bravo’s latest brazen product-placement deal prescribes — but rotate among stations where the oven might be miscalibrated, or one of the burners (but you wouldn’t know which one) was perennially slow, or there was precious little counter space. Instead of the stocked Top Chef pantry, they would peruse refrigerators and cabinets with the same crusty condiment bottles and stale spice racks that were in their homes on the day they were picked (again, rotating for fairness). And none of those sexy square plates or triptychs; family-style service would be on the platters passed down over generations, some perhaps chipped.

Contenders would not be expected to butcher a side of lamb (as the pros did in season 4, episode 12), but to pick protein from the plastic-wrapped pre-cuts in Pathmark, which might just be harder. Forget the basic-skills races of dicing onions and cleaving chickens (season 3, episode 10); home cooks would compete over who could get the most into the dishwasher and, by eye, select the perfect-sized container for each lump of leftovers.”

While this show, which someone at Bravo claims is under development, might not earn the highest ratings, I am guessing audience members that have ever really cooked for a family would immediately recognize part of themselves in each episode.

Sound like reality to you? 


Further Reading:


2 responses to “Top Chef v. Desperate Housewife

  1. Yeah, reality, but it goes on every day in my kitchen. I don’t find it particularly entertaining!

  2. Hmmm…I like the idea in theory, but I would go for illustrating how normal home cooks can get far better protein than plastic-wrapped precuts (buy meat farm-direct) and crusty jars of condiments (ditch most of ’em and make what you need, when you need it, with basics like oil, vinegar, eggs, mustard, tomato paste, and seasonings). That’s reality to me!

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