Is There Life After Retirement?

Posts Tagged ‘Reality TV

Over the years, I’ve tried to watch various Reality TV shows and although I stayed with Project Runway and Dancing With the Stars for multiple seasons, the genre just doesn’t hold my interest for long. That is, except for one program: Bravo TV’s Top Chef.

From the very first season until the year I dumped cable TV, I watched every episode. It’s dramatic on its own, so there was thankfully a little less of the producer-created interpersonal drama that seems to be a part of reality TV. Plus, I logged a number of years in the Food & Beverage industry – albeit front of the house – so I connected. And ok, yeah, I have a crush on Tom Colicchio but whatever.

I’ve missed it lately, so earlier this week I decided to purchase the most recent season 18, which was created during the pandemic. Having the luxury of that “retirement status,” I binge-watched the first 13 episodes in a week. Although there’s a good news/bad news element to the experience, I have loved it thus far.

But before I explain that, I must digress and explain two things: 1) Other than the Halloween Wars season that included my friend and UHMC colleague Teresa Shurilla, no, I don’t watch other cooking competitions shows. No, not even Iron Chef. I think TC has a good blend of professional cooking/personal story for me. 2) Coincidentally, I’ve randomly crossed paths with a number of Top Chef contestants, winners and judges. Sheldon Simeon is one of my Sous Chef son’s mentors and the husband of my friend, Janice. And Lee Ann Wong now heads the restaurant at the Pioneer Inn, where my dear former Rotary Club of Lahaina Sunset meets. Okay, there’s other stuff, but back to my story …

Good news: There was more bonding and camaraderie among this season’s contestants that I’ve ever seen. I’m sure this is largely due to the devastating effect COVID restrictions have had on the culinary world. But also, I think it was the professional status, personal character and cultural diversity of these chefs. Even the one guy that they grumbled about a bit was basically a good guy. I loved, LOVED the intensity with which they competed, yet somehow worked together with genuine affection and teamwork. If I was still doing management training classes, I’d SO make them watch this.

Bad news: from about episode nine forward, I didn’t want ANYONE to go home. I swear … each week I (and the remaining contestants) cried big tears for the departing chef. Crazy, yeah?

Now earlier I said I binge-watched the first 13 episodes, but there is still one more to watch. The Finale – normally between the last two contestants – is among the final three. See? Even the judges couldn’t break up the Final Three! At this point, I have not watched the finale, and am considering not ever watching it. In the tradition of ignoring reality (Old Yeller lives, Butch & Sundance makes it) I might just stop now and pretend that Shoto, Dawn and Gabe all win.

Cop out? Or “ignorance is bliss? Tough call. But Top Chef, keep it coming. I missed ya.



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