What should Top Chef 3 look like?

February 2, 2007


I think many of us agree that this second season was a bust for the most part. The quality of the food and creativity of the chefs were overshadowed all season by petty behavior, questionable ethics and melodrama. With that said, I’m fairly confident Bravo will bring us a third incarnation as I believe producers are already preparing to hold auditions for a new season.

Part of me was frustrated because the show wasn’t about the food, it was about the fake drama. I think producers believe that the show is more interesting than it is because of it. They are wrong.

I would love for them to revamp the show and correct this problem. They should really make it a competition about the food. I would love for them to remove some of the forced situations such as the beach cooking, and make it a cooking competition. I understand that conflict brews personalities, but this season was ridiculous. Instead,  truly find the best unknown chefs regardless of how much tension they might create, and focus on giving these guys good equipment and good ingredients. (A number of contestants have said the kitchen was not up to commercial standards and was stocked like a home kitchen. So all that Kenmore Pro line stuff is getting not so great reviews by the people they hired to push it.)

Let Top Chef be about who is really the best. Make it more like American Idol, even as much as that is forced and packaged. In the end, our focus as viewers shouldn’t have been on the ridiculous ludicrous behavior but on who was really the best cook. I would think if nothing else, it would make Top Chef as a show a more valuable asset.

Ilan is going to have good name recognition, but at what cost? I’m sure I’m not headed to his place soon. I think the show as-is would be more discouraging to talented chefs as they see it as a chance to have their personal lives butchered rather than a chance to further their careers. Also, you have to wonder if the big named chefs will want to associate with the show if they are being lumped into this morass of mischief.

I’d love to hear what you all think about this idea. Or even better, what would the show look like if you were producing Top Chef 3?


  1. I agree so much about the forced situations being a negative. Top Chef should let us see the personalities for sure, but not at the cost of the real star: the food! Bravo’s hit reality show Project Runway works well because the show really take the designs seriously. Sure there are personality clashes and interesting challenges, but the challenges always leave room for contestant creativity to triumph. And they had (hopefully still have) the nanny-like Tim Gunn to add a layer of professional scrutiny as well as nurturing. Maybe Top Chef needs a Tim Gunn?

  2. I would like to see less blatant product placement. I don’t think advertisers realize how it really turns viewers off to a product to be bludgeoned with it, having the opposite effect of what was intended. I don’t mind that the show has sponsors, but lingering on the brand names at every possible opportunity and designing challenges around the products is way too fake-y.

    I would like the challenges to be more interesting and less contrived. Some of my favorite challenges were the ones I could relate to — eating a meal in a restaurant, catering a party. I liked the theme menus, too, because that’s something I like to do for fun. I also liked it when the challenge actually related to the guest chef, such as the sushi challenge. What I didn’t like were the vending machine challenge, the street challenge, the beach challenge and their ilk.

    Finally, I would like to see fewer contestants and I would like to know what each contestant is making and what, if anything, makes that dish different or unique, such as an unusual combination of ingredients or a different technique. In other words, I would like to — gasp — try to learn something from watching them create their dishes.

  3. I’ve watched the show since the get go, and I agree for whatever reason last season was much better.

    My wife doesn’t watcht he show but I think put her finger on the real problem with a show like this when I asked here why she didn’t watch it. She said, “it’s food, I can’t smell or taste it, so how do I really know who is doing a btter job?” With American Idol you can hear, who is good or bad, with Project Runway you can see it. But with a food competition, you are really left totally to the whim of the judges, and whatever imagination you can conjur when you see what they put into something.

    I don’t know how they fix it to be honest.

  4. You have to wonder if a show like this would ever attract the best and brightest. It would be tough to fix a show like this because there are so many shows out there with the same outline: competition where one gets voted off every week, winner take all. They would really have to think of something new.

  5. I thought season 2 was a blast. People were more interesting than in season 1, food may not have been quite as good but who really knows? I wasn’t there to taste it. Bring back Padma, she was much better than the season one pretty face.

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