Top Chef has opened season 10 in Seattle, Washington. For those who have seen Top Chef before, little has changed from seasons past. But I guess if you have a format that works in television, you stick with it. It is a question of how much longer the show can go on before it becomes stale.
This season so far, they’ve attempted to shake things up by introducing a test they had last year. Celebrity chefs picked the contestants and sent a few of them home before they even got to don a chef jacket. Some of them shone and others just failed in their challenges. Eighteen contestants emerged from this test. In Episode 2, three more veterans were added bringing up the grand total of contestants to 21.
That’s a lot of contestants to compete in a show like this. It is not hard to see that there will be more double eliminations than usual this season. It will be difficult to showcase any of the personalities until well after the eliminations. It is simply too many people. They clearly added quantity in an effort to keep the show fresh.
The show’s original format remains the same. The quick fire challenge is designed to test contestants’ quick thinking ability and, so far, their team compatibility. As expected, some combinations worked while others failed miserably. Then they move on to the elimination round.
Episode 2 featured the twist of three veteran contestants. The most notable was Stefan. Fans might remember his big personality as the one expected to win his season. Both the quick fire and the elimination challenge featured seafood. The major crime for elimination was overcooking the salmon which was a main feature of all the dishes. My disappointment so far this season is a lack of variety. Cook something besides fish every episode. Yes, they are tackling Thanksgiving in the next episode but then the chefs will go right back to cooking fish. Get them out of their comfort zone and ban fish unless it is a “catch it yourself” type of deal.
I would also like to see more options for common ingredients to make it far more appealing to the household chef. These types of recipes should be easy to make and not require off the wall ingredients only found at a specialty or regional shop.
Unless the show manages to reconnect with the home chef, it is just another season of cooking snobbish dishes that very few palates can actually identify with. It is starting to rely on celebrities rather than solid competition and audience connection to maintain its ratings. It is unlikely that I will watch in the future unless they can reestablish that connection.