After oh-so-dramatic ups and downs, Kristin Kish anointed Top Chef
I really don’t care for the unreal (or surreal?) realm of reality telvision, but I tend to make an exception when a Colorado chef is a cooking show contestant. Then, my “state-riotism” kicks in and I start watching. With three Colorado chefs on season 10 of “Top Chef,” I became regular viewer. The locals were eliminated one by one, but I kept watching the program — but not the “Last Chance Kitchen” online spinoff.
By the beginning of the final episode telecast yesterday, the initial field of 21 “cheftestants” had been whittled down to two — and by the end of the program, just one remained to be crowned Top Chef. In the meantime, I had watched interesting moments of cooking and plating, plus soap opera-style interviews with the contenders (fierce and determined, or disappointed and resigned — much like the “Kiss and Cry” bench in every figure skating competition), processions of plated dishes being brought out to judges and audiences as small as those who could fit around the dining table in the Alaska governor’s mansion (Episode 15, I think) or as large as the studio audience in the finale, Episode 17.
Thinking back, I feel that the judges make their decisions using flexible and arbitrary parameters. Sometimes cheftestants are praised for being creative and thinking/cooking outside the box and sometimes they are eliminated for having strayed from what they know and do well — and what the judges suddenly say they “expected.” This was particularly evident in Finale Part I (Episode 16), in which Sheldon Simeon, a kid from Hilo who worked his way up, way up from dishwasher to one of Hawaii’s leading kitchenmeisters, was eliminated for going beyond his expected style of cooking. Only Emeril Lagasse, a kid from Fall River, Massachusetts, who himself started working in a Portuguese bakery as a teenager, identified with and praised Sheldon’s remarkable climb.
The finale pitted two talented women, Kristen Kish and Brooke Williamson. Kristin went on to win the title of “Top Chef.” She had been eliminated earlier triumped over other cheftestants people in the “Last Chance Kitchen” series and faced Brooke in the finale, an episode playing off the “Iron Chef” format that involved cooking in front of the show’s judges, past winners (includinr Boulder’s Hosea Rosenberg, Season 5 winner) and others. Co-host Tom Colicchio was underwhelmed with this gimmick, tweeting: “I hear you out there you didn’t like the format well neither did I and I doubt we will do that again.”