Chefs Vs, City

Really, Food Network? Really?

So last year, Food Network ran The Next Iron Chef. It was a great show, with some great chefs, and not only did it give us Michael Symon on Iron Chef America, but a number of the other contestants seem to have impressed the same executives who thought Sandra Lee should definitely make a Kwanzaa cake. Since then, Aaron Sanchez has been judging on Chopped, and Chris Cosentino has been showing up here and there.

And then they gave the two of them their own show, Chefs Vs. City, in which they go from town to town challenging local chefs. I thought maybe it was going to be like Throwdown, only even more contrived. And then I watched it.

Again, I say. Really, Food Network? Really?

Chefs Vs. City is like a small-scale Amazing Race, only stupid. Stupider. Over the course of the hour, I watched the two-man team of Sanchez and Cosentino race against a pair of chefs from SeaBlue, as they followed clues, drove around Vegas, and performed wacky stunts that included: pouring drinks through ice channels, crushing apples, eating 100 amuse bouches, delivering room service, and building burgers based on blindfolded tasting.

And why are they doing this? I don't know. I mean, there is a stated goal, repeated ad nauseum by everyone involved - the chefs are competing for civic pride, while Cosentino and Sanchez are trying to uphold the honor of the Food Network. This is clearly bullshit, because one, Food Network has no honor, and two, even if it did, there's no way Sanchez and Cosentino, the newest additions to the network, have been around long enough to care about that honor.

In and of itself, the contrivance wouldn't be enough for me to hate Chefs Vs. City, although fuck knows it doesn't help. No, my avid dislike of the show is based on three things:

The stupidity of the challenges.

This is the big one. You've got four presumably accomplished chefs, and exactly one and a quarter of the five challenges tie into culinary skill at all. The burger challenge required identifying flavors, and the room service challenge required a small amount of knowledge of proper plating technique. The rest was running, carving ice, running, pressing apples, running with wheelbarrows, eating until you're sick, running with carts, following maps, and running. Did I mention there was running? Because there was running. On Monday, I saw Chris Cosentino cooking for Anthony Bourdain for ten minutes, and it was a thousand times more edifying than watching him run through Las Vegas for a fucking hour.

The assholery of the contestants.

Reality TV brings out the worst in humanity. There's nothing the slightest bit entertaining about watching a Vegas chef berate his 150-pound female assistant for her inability to wolf down five pounds of hors d'oeuvres as fast as he can. That's just unappetizing in every possible way. The FN chefs aren't as bad, on account of them getting, you know, paid to do it and all, but they still go on and on about how they didn't come here to lose, and they really want to win. Just once, I'd like to see someone come on these shows with a desire to lose SO INTENSE that they are forced to bring their C game. It's always tiresome, and since Chefs Vs. City is an hour long show, by the end, I was ready to strangle a puppy.

The Wrap-Up.

In the last 60 seconds, after everyone crossed the finish line, they had those voiceovers. You know the ones I mean. The ones where the contestants praise each other. The ones where they talk about what a great time they had. And the worst, when Aaron Sanchez talked about how he really felt more connected with the Las Vegas food scene. Really, Sanchez? When did that happen? When you were running through the tunnels between two hotels? When you were trying not to vomit up your share of 100 small bites? Please. The producers clearly want to spin this show as something vaguely educational and informative, and it's just another bullshit ripoff reality show. They ripped off Mythbusters with Food Detectives, they ripped off Dirty Jobs with Will Work For Food, and now they've got their own half-assed Amazing Race.

Well, fuck that. Good thing I've got a pile of Good Eats reruns to work through.


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running with sheelbarrows
Aroon Sanchez 


Hey, you're lucky it got posted at all with the server problems all morning.

Chefs vs. City

The problem with the show is that it doesn't showcase the city or its cuisine in any way I would necessarily find appealing. I mean, this is the equivalent of holding a Rice-a-Roni eating contest when they visit San Francisco - it's got nothing to do with the city or its cuisine, or the ability of the challenging chefs to, oh, I don't know ... COOK.
Running a close second in the Bad Idea department: the Best of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. Not only does it have Guy Fieri, it's Guy Fieri reminding us what a cool guy he is. It's like those horrid episodes where the screenwriters ran out of ideas, so they have a dramatic lead get in a serious accident and spend the episode doing flashbacks. The only thing missing from BoDDD is the car accident.

I saw....

As soon as I saw this show listed I thought "That's it, they're actively trying to kill Bryan Lambert with bad food television".

Thanks for taking one for the team

I was curious what that show was going to be like, but not enough to pay attention to when it aired. Thanks for saving me the trouble.
Yeah, a throwdown-style contest with local everything (chefs, ingredients, specialty, etc.) would be cool.

What she said

Yes, thank you for helping me decide whether or not to hit "delete", because I taped it and would have watched this mess were it not for your timely warning.

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