Thursday, May 29, 2008

Bourdain: I’m Not Blogging for Bravo Because of Product Placement, and Dale Talde’s Dish Was the Worst I’ve Had on “Top Chef”

Well, that explains it, possums.

As you may remember from last season, Anthony Bourdain's Top Chef blog on Bravo's website was far and away the most entertaining--who could forget his picking a fight with poor, little freeze-dried Rocco DiSpirito?--and Bravo recognized it. It was nominated for a Webby, and Bravo encouraged readers to vote for it.

So it was rather surprising when the blog did not return this season. And now, courtesy of Bourdain himself on his Travel Channel blog, there seems to be an explanation:

A final note to conspiracy theorists. There is no pressure from the producers to either keep particular contestants--or send others home. In all my appearances on Top Chef, I've never seen it, never felt it. I pity any producer who'd dare suggest to Tom Colicchio that he send someone home who did not deserve it--or spare the poorest candidate for reasons of greater drama. In fact, it's his moral gravitas that makes Top Chef worth watching, in spite of all the heavy-handed product placement and occasional silly challenges.

As for me? I could give a rat's a** who the producers or Bravo want to win or not win . What I've traditionally used the Glad Family of Bags for would probably not make a good commercial. When I read the surprising announcement that Michelob, a beer I don't drink and don't much like, was going to be "sponsoring" my Bravo blog, I advised them that I felt compelled to disappoint them.


Ah, so that was it. Michelob, eh?

As you can probably guess, this came in the context of the controversial decision on last week's episode to oust gayfaced, crotch-grabbing, locker-punching, weepy, gangsta wannabe and walking Napoleon complex Dale Tale. But Bourdain explains all:

So what did happen? How come the more talented Dale, with a far more distinguished record of wins than his teammates, was the one to pack his knives....and...go? Lisa, it appeared, had two seriously screwed up dishes. Dale only had one!

True enough. But oh, what a one.

Dale's "Butterscotch Scallops were supremely bad. Jaw droppingly bad. So bad that there was a long, awkward moment at the table when all the judges just sat there, silent, stunned with disbelief that anyone--especially Dale--could serve something so...disgusting. It's the only time on Top Chef that I literally could not take another bite.

...

Lisa's laksa was screwed up. Unpleasantly smoky. But I could eat it. Her "sticky rice" dessert was awful. But not dig a hole in the ground-stick my head in--pour in Clorox bad. Like those scallops. They were distinguished by their sheer degree of awfulness, sucking everything around them down with.

Judging on Top Chef -- as has been pointed out repeatedly (most recently and succinctly by my learned colleague, Ted Allen) is on a "What Have You Cooked For Me Lately" basis. We are not supposed to care what has been achieved previously. In fact, guest judges don't even know. The shows air long after filming. So Jose Andres, for instance, can in no way be expected to know--or care--if Dale won previous challenges, deserved to win them, loves puppies and long walks on the beach--or tortures hamsters in his spare time. After deliberation, the judges were unanimous in their feeling that it was Dale who--this week--f**ked up worst.

Well, we're convinced, possums. What say you?

13 comments:

Buzz Kill said...

I think Bourdain needs to talk to Padma about this. At judges table in the Steak House episode last night, when they were choosing between Lisa and Spike, Padma brought up the fact that Lisa finished in the bottom 5 times and Spike finished in the botttom 7 times.

The jury will disreguard that last statement - not. The judging has been extremely inconsistant this season. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad to see Spike go. He was way over his head - as is Lisa.

Andrew and Dale should have been in the final 5 and I think the outcome may have been very different. I'm just saying...

EB said...

I have to say that I really respect Bourdain's decision not to be Michelob's beer bitch! The show has been shilling products in such an obnoxious manner that it's good to know that not everyone can be bought. I mean Padma can... with OJ... but hey.

Anonymous said...

He's right about the silly challenges. I want to see creative chefs invent great dishes, not be caterers or lunchbox stuffers, or teammates, etc. The show had better fix that for the next season or it's gonna lose a lot of viewers....

The Troll said...

Very interesting. I've actually enjoyed the last 3 episodes. Need Top Chef experts to answer a question at my blog today. Confuzzled about the rules.

Mary said...

I love Bourfain! Those butterscotch scallops must have been REALlY bad. Glad to see he has some integrity. The product placement is getting out of hand for me, especially last night. The GLAD everywhere was driving me nuts. I agree with Buzz Kill though about the judging. The judging is very inconsistent. Padma brings it up all the time. I got an idea, let Chef Tom and Bourdain be the hosts! Oh, Bourdain can't be brought.

potty mouth princess said...

If Dale's scallops topped CJ's broccolini, deemed "The worst dish EVAH on Top Chef" they must have been really awful.

I'm still not convinced, given the guest judge hears about past challenges, as buzzkill mentioned. Greasy McBitchface and Asshat bring the ratings. Dale's dish was the worst of the other (also boring) three. So there, no more Dale vs. Greasy storyline, which producers feel can be transferred towards each other or maybe Antonia.

hughman said...

on "No Reservations". Bourdain has eaten a lot of gross shit. his comments about this dish are disturbing. it must have been really puke worthy. dale got his come upance.

hughman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
CharmingDinnerGuest said...

Are we supposed to believe that Bourdain has ethics and standards? His studied self-portrayal of deliberate cynicism seems to refute an adherence to principles.

As for taste, I've seen him eat live bird fetuses.

Anonymous said...

On No Reservations Bourdain only shills for Heineken. He does have principles to uphold.

Diana said...

I've never read "Kitchen Confidential" (it's on my "to do" list, I swear), but I seem to remember EW commenting on its, ahem, spicier passages. I'd like a shot at re-enacting most of those with Chef Bourdain.

He's one of those men that lack physical beauty (point of fact, he kinda reminds me of Count Chocula), but who have some other quality that make them irresistable, like a fiery personality or a sharp wit. *sigh*

Trish in Nor Cal said...

I've always loved Bourdain. He doesn't mince words or sugarcoat his opinion (interesting how cooking terms work so well to describe someone's ability to write from the heart), and his comment about snack-size Glad bags had me on the floor. Oh, take me back to the days of the $10 ounce! And we didn't even have resealable baggies. But I digress...

Re Scallopgate, I posted on another site:

Tom has taken the time to both read the blogs and respond by email...that speaks volumes to me about his integrity. I think he's determined to let people know what happened even if TPTB appear determined to ignore all of the questions and apparently just hope everyone will eventually forget about the whole thing.

I have to say that I admire Tom for making sure that the public knows where the fault lies, even though he may have done so against orders from higher up. Respect for his peers and honesty are admirable qualities, and he demonstrated those when he told Amuse Biatch to go ahead and publish his email. It's very possible that he'll get some fall-out for sending that email. I never bought into any of the theories that Tom or other judges were influenced by TPTB during the judging process, and I'm even more certain now that he is his own man, and that his opinions and voting decisions are completely independent of any coercion by outside forces.

eric3000 said...

Although he doth protest too much, I'm completely convinced.

Oh, and Michelob is horrible.