Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Top Chef France

Well, after two miserable weeks of technological suffering, I'm back.  I survived my internet/telephone/TV disappearing randomly for about a week and a computer disaster.  We still don't know why and Free doesn't know what they did wrong (because I'm sure it was their fault), but at least it came back.  Then, right as I got internet again, my computer decided to give me a near heart attack and stop working.  Lionel just managed to get it to work again yesterday after a week spent freaking out about how I was going to pay for a new computer and get back all my saved files/photos/music.  But all is well for the moment, though I have to back everything up in case my computer dies again.  Lionel is sure it will happen and he thinks it is the hard drive which means I won't necessarily have to but a new computer, but still, it sucks!

Anyway, I've been wanting to post about Top Chef France for awhile now.  I really enjoy Top Chef in the US and it has had a lot of success in 6 seasons.  And I was very excited to see a poster in the metro announcing Top Chef France.  I was looking forward to some quality television.  However, I am quite disappointed.

I really thought it would be the same as in the US, but in French with French chefs.  Boy was I wrong.  In France it is completely different, very slow, and very often quite boring to watch.  How did the French manage to destroy a show that already had so much success.  They had the perfect model to follow, and instead they changed it, "Frenchified" it and destroyed it!

In France they don't have the Quickfire Challenges at the beginning.  Instead they do a group challenge that doesn't function the same as the Quickfire but in the end has the same result - a winner who gets an advantage.  Then, instead of the Elimination Challenge they split the group into two groups and each group competes in a different challenge.  They then decide who from each challenge should continue and who needs to go onto a Last Chance Challenge where they cook whatever they want using the ingredients they find and the person who cooks the worst dish goes home.  This whole thing takes about 3 hours (with almost no commercial breaks, of course) rather than the 1 hours time slot for Top Chef in the US.  As a result, the show in France is much slower and less interesting to watch.

I don't think it is very fair that they don't always do the same challenges.  It seems like it could be advantageous for some and really hurt others.  Also they aren't all being judged on the same rules and same competition, yet the losers of each challenge still all risk being sent home.  I definitely prefer the American way where they all compete at the same thing and therefore it is more equal from the beginning.

I also find it very strange that the chef judges never change and they come out and help and give advice from time to time.  The show also concentrates too much on the judges in my opinion.  And when they don't complete their plates or forget something or just don't have enough time, the judges still taste their food, which I have never seen happen in the US.  Another difference is that the judges watch the entire thing so while it is good that they know exactly what happened and whose fault it is, we also don't get the fun of a battle at the judges' table to try and find out what happened and why.

I also find it strange that they never draw knives to determine groups.  The judges decide and I feel like this also leaves room for prejudice.  With the drawing of knives it is always fair and objective.

But probably the thing that irritates me the most is that when I watch Top Chef in the US I always want to eat afterwards.  It leaves me very hungry and I either have to plan to be having a meal during the show or prepare a small snack so I don't go crazy while watching.  But here in France I haven't yet seen an episode that has really made my mouth water.  I don't know why...maybe its the different techniques or the different ingredients, but it just doesn't have the same effect as Top Chef America.  Especially the episode where they cooked les abats (scary animal body parts basically).

All in all, in my opinion the French tried and failed to do Top Chef.  I'll still watch it this season because I want to know who wins, but I don't think I'll ever watch it again.  Instead I'll continue streaming Top Chef America on my computer (until it completely dies at least!).


  1. "I definitely prefer the American way where they all compete at the same thing and therefore it is more equal from the beginning."

    Lol how many different things can that sentence apply to?

  2. The French show is loooooong, and I never make it to the end, always following asleep on the couch at least 30 min before it ends. Having said that, I like it. I have not watched the US one except maybe once, so I can't really compare. However, my friend Janet and I had a long talk about it today as she is a fan of the US show and made a lot of the comparisons you made, too.

    It is different. The thing I like about the French one, though, is the way that the judging chefs treat the ones in competition. They are so... French about it all, lol. I have to say I am learning a lot about the culture from watching everyone interact! I will just never make it to the end of an epi, though, ha. *snore*

    Fingers crossed your tech stuff gets all better!! Oh I hate it when things like that happen... Good luck with it all.

  3. I don't know this programme either in the US or France, when's it on and what channel?

    I've been busy watching House Guest in the Sun this week on ITV, do you have it in the US?

    ps. Hope you get your PC problems sorted, make sure you do that backup!

  4. Ugh I'm with you all on this one. Did you see the last episode? Mais merde, ils en mettaient des TONNES! OMG it's my dad on TV? Yeah. Uh huh. WHAT OF IT?

    Siiiighhh... what a shame.

  5. I don't think you have understood that food is treated like a religion in France. How do expect them to present a decent cooking show in 1 hour (even less with the commercial breaks!). Sounds like you are too used to the American way of life!

  6. Hi Michele! I just came across your blog and I am a new American in Paris. Top Chef US is my FAVORITE show, the only show I really watched there and I'm excited that there will be a Top Chef Desserts...but I cannot watch it on the Bravo site from my computer here. Where do you stream it from? Thank you!!

  7. hey nicole, glad you found my blog! I love Top Chef too and I stream it mostly from www.sidereel.com and sometimes from www.yidio.com. Good luck and I hope you enjoy watching Top Chef from Paris!

  8. Oh doh ! I was excited too when I realized French people had done a Top Chef, but the way you describe it sounds a lot like masterchef, which in my humble opinion, is a load of %*#@ !

    3 hours !!!!! Who wants to sit in front of the TV for that long ?

    I feel your pain ... and worst of it I'm a bit ashamed that being half french they didn't manage to just do the same thing as the US version and that's it.

  9. I live in Luxembourg and have been watching the French version for the past few seasons and I love it - don't find it in the least bit boring - on the contrary! I've only watched the American version last few months and really like that one too. Very entertaining but what I do NOT like is the incredible arrogance and cockiness of some of the candidates. I find it shocking. They really need a reality check. some of the French candidates tend to get a bit cocky too but not to the extent of the American candidates. I'm used to the European/French way of doing things - more slowly, better thought-out sometimes. Faster is not always better. I also think the quality of the dishes produced in the French show are sometimes better and more refined than the American version. That being said, both shows have their merits and both have very talented cooks competing.
    Last but not least, gotta love those judges. lol

  10. Meh, I think it's just patriotism talking. Be that as it may, there will always be a gap in techniques and level. The French just cook and bake foods better, let's admit it. French dishes and American ones are so much different, you can't go and expect the same things from Top Chef USA. I mean come on, iconic desserts ? Apple pie on one hand and Mille-feuille on the other, they're so different and baking time, I guess, is a longer. And visually, everything from Top Chef France is literally art.