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Friday, February 6, 2009

The British invasion of 'Top Chef'

I've always been a little jealous of British journalists. For some reason, they get away with over-the-top florid writing that no journalist in the U.S. could possibly get away with - a mix of cheesy and often clichéd metaphor, offhanded meanness and stickily sweet earnestness.

New "Top Chef" judge Toby Young certainly embodies the first two of those characteristics - the amazing thing is that he actually talks that way as well. I guess I should have expected that from listening to a certain amount of British radio, but when this guy opens his mouth, the results are often astounding. For instance, on pesto: "That pesto was the big bad wolf that blew that pig's house down."

What can't I write like that? How awesomely awful!

Unfortunately, for us and for Toby, it doesn't seem to translate that well to American TV. Perhaps we've come to expect too much from "Top Chef" - too much seriousness, too much reverence. I hear that Simon Cowell gets away with being an oh-so-British dick (not really an "Idol" fan, so I wouldn't know), so how come Toby Young falls so flat?

Of course, I'm not the only one who has noticed the discord (is it just me, or  does Tom look as though he wants to throttle Toby half the time?). Over at endlesssimmer.com they have a Toby Young Insult Tracker.

Gawker, which I'm finding to be the best place to obsess and gossip about "Top Chef", also has some choice words about Mr. Young.

Well, at least he's interesting. After coming back from vacation, I sat and watched the last four episodes on my DVR, and the fact that Hosea and Leah's nasty romance is the most interesting thing that's happened is a disgrace. I hope next season they find a way to make the food, rather than the horny contestants and the bitchy judge, the place where the excitement lies.

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