The second season of Top Chef Canada finished last night. My regular readers (both of you, LOL) will remember that some time ago I posted about my pleasure at finding an honest game, as it were. I was, and am, sick and tired of America’s Next Top Model, where Tyra Banks and her gang of sycophants seem to make decisions about who wins based on who sucks up the most effectively, or who has the cutest backstory, or — I don’t know what, but almost anything except who is going to be an effective and employable model. And I thought that the ejection of an unpleasant and unprofessional contestant from Top Chef Canada signaled that the producers of this show intended to do the right thing and allow the judges to judge based on the food that was served to them, and without taking inconsequential intangibles into account.
Boy, was *I* wrong.
Indeed, for a long while, up until the last episode, I still thought I was right. That’s because the penultimate programme in the season reduced the contestants from four to three with the elimination of a very strong contender for all the marbles — a gentleman named David Crystian from Toronto, who had demonstrated an exceptional skillset and an interesting imagination. So the final three were Trevor Bird from Vancouver, Jonathan Korecki from Ottawa, and Carl Heinrich from Sooke, B.C.
The finale, 90 minutes long, began with what was to me an extremely unpleasant surprise. The remaining three candidates were greeted by the three immediately previous unsuccessful contestants — who were told that they were going to compete for a place in the finale. Which they promptly did. David beat out Xavier Lacaze and Trista Sheen and re-entered the competition.
What’s wrong with that? Well, it’s just — bullshit. David was an interesting competitor, but he screwed up and was eliminated. My suspicion is that the producers got together and said, roughly, “We have to have someone from Toronto in the finale or else we lose a bunch of our audience. Plus, he’s telegenic and we can give him the ‘underdog battling his way back through adversity’ edit.” As someone who lives in Vancouver, I can tell you there are about 25 million Canadians who are sick and tired of the attitude that if someone from Toronto isn’t involved, then it isn’t really important to Canadians. What this demonstrated to me was that they weren’t interested in having a test of skill, they were interested in who would best support the product placement machinations.
After David’s return, they finished the competition by having the final four candidates compete. I was expecting Trevor to win, but he placed second to Carl. But, you know, I had lost interest at that point and barely bothered to stay awake long enough to see who won. It was all nonsensical — whoever the producers decided would be the “best” winner was the winner and that was it. The judges were just glove puppets and would have given the prize to a cannibal if they’d been told to, as far as I’m concerned. So, Carl won. Yay. He promptly moved to Toronto and opened a restaurant and began drinking the bathwater of all the people who got him to that point.
The real winners here were a company called Caesarstone, which advertised heavily on the program and gave away a couple of custom countertop installations to contestants, Milestone’s Restaurant, which featured a couple of the contestants’ dishes on its menu, and the paper towel company whose products were prominently featured in as many shots as possible (I think they were supplying the $100,000 prize). Two of the quickfire challenges featured Tostitos and Kraft Dinner. There were also frequent tie-ins with other Food Network programming hosts like Michael Smith, who deserves better, lots of “famous” Canadian restaurateurs (memo to Vikram Vij — lose 50 pounds and hire a clothing stylist if you want to stop looking like a Bollywood tranny hooker), a couple of third-rate Canadian actors like Alan Thicke, and the entire province of Prince Edward Island. In fact, there was so much product placement in these episodes I was a little surprised not to have badges on the chef’s uniforms, like Nascar drivers.
I will merely add that if you want me to believe that the people involved are connoisseurs of fine food, you might want to leave out the Tostitos and Kraft Dinner.
And I won’t be bothering with Season 3, thanks. If I want to see whores, there are a couple of local corners that would give me more exercise to walk to, and they don’t dilute their entertainment offerings by pretending that they’re not selling things.