I’m a big fan of Top Chef but I’ve noticed a disturbing trend in the dishes produced by the cooks on the show. It seems like every episode someone is presenting a ceviche or a plate with a scallop on it. I just don’t get it.
Admittedly, I’ve never tasted ceviche, but the concept of raw fish cooked in citrus juice doesn’t really appeal to me. Supposedly it’s a complex and delicate preparation but to me it’s a cop-out dish that gets way more play than deserved. Ceviche is a trendy Peruvian cuisine that snobby foodies have embraced just to be worldly and different. On a show like Top Chef, making a ceviche looks like a slick move; You prove you know what’s happening in the fine dining scene and you’re able to finish the competitions and plate what looks like an impressive meal. But really, all you’re doing is prepping fish and squeezing some juice on it. Ceviche is fucked out. Leave it to the real Latin chefs.
The other epidemic is the scallop. I love scallops. They’re rich and tender (if cooked right) and very sustainable. But again, it seems like every episode, someone is whipping up a scallop dish. Again, nothing wrong with scallops but I get the vibe that the scallop is a protein that looks fancy, but is insanely easy to cook and makes you look like a better cook than you actually are. Make sure the scallop is patted dry, season with salt and pepper then quick sear it on both sides. It’s called Top Chef, not Top Scallop. Seafood is great, but the chefs have been very narrow minded when selecting their crustaceans at Whole Foods.
I’m sure head judge Tom Colicchio would agree that great food and flavors always beat fancy flair and trends. Cooking should be about making food that just tastes great. If you’re a tatted, pretentious asshole who loves foams and molecular gastronomy and weak portions, FINE—as long as what you serve tastes great.
Anthony Bourdain often says that he suffers from a fine dining hangover. Top Chef has been successful in bringing high-class food to a large audience and the appeal is far greater than watching hacky cooks jump through hoops and dumb shit down over on the Food Network. But with increased shameless sponsorship and more wacky challenges, I fear that Top Chef is heading toward a shark jumping moment.
Oh, and the chefs have no personality this season. Carla for life.