If you can’t take the heat…

August 15th, 2007 by Adrian

…stay outta da kitchen!

I’ve got a bunch of “foodie” friends, so I’m at least peripherally aware of the reality TV show Hell’s Kitchen.  It’s like The Apprentice, but for cooks.  Some hot-shot head chef (with an ego all puffed up like a fresh-baked souffle) bullies, insults, and throws temper tantrums at the aspiring chef constestants.  I haven’t watched the show, but don’t really have a bone to pick with it either.  At least someone’s skill in preparing dishes seems to say more about their chances of success as a head-chef than, say, selling lemonade in a miniskirt can tell you about a future corporate veep.

But what caught my eye the other day was a promo for a spin-off series called “Kitchen Nightmares.”  The setup is essentially the same, except that instead of bitching out eager aspirants, the same guy apparently heads to established restaurants and gives an equally over-the-top dressing down to the actual chefs working the kitchen there.  The 30-second promo highlighted a near-fistfight, an in-your-face tantrum, and lots of tossing around of pots and pans.  So let’s see… on the plus side, these restaurants get some national attention under the “no such thing as bad press” mantra.  And on the down side, that coverage consists of their being trashed & humiliated by a prima-donna.

I guess it all started with Simon Cowell on American Idol, at least as far as the US market is concerned.  But I’m a little disappointed in how much folks apparently love to tune in and watch people get verbally ripped apart.  There’s really no other reason to watch “Kitchen Nightmares.”  There’s no dark horse to root for in an ever-winnowing pack of contestants.  There’s no smug asshole who you can’t wait to see get booted out.  The only asshole is the star who’s running the show.

Maybe I’m going out on a limb, but I bet this guy isn’t such a total prick in real life.  This is all about ratings, and apparently Fox thinks more yelling == more ratings.  The sad thing is, they’re probably right.  Boo on us.

Posted in "Pop" culture

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