Anthony Bourdain

Anthony Bourdain comments on this week's challenge, Jennifer's elimination, and Elia's public comments about Tom Colicchio.

on Dec 8, 20100

Omar Little, street philosopher, almost-superhero, stick-up man extraordinaire -- the most memorable character on the best dramatic series in the history of television, The Wire, articulated the Code of the Streets perfectly. While gleefully sticking up a drug dealer, he takes time to explain the brutal logic of what's happening.

"It's all in The Game, yo! It's all in The Game!"

What Mr. Little means, presumably, is that in the day to day ebb and flow of his victim's chosen profession (in this case, slinging dope on Baltimore street corners), one must anticipate
the occasional unpleasantness. Like Mr. Little shoving a large caliber weapon in your face and taking all your money and product. Nobody is more aware of the rules than Omar himself. He lives his life knowing full well that in all likelihood, he too will fall. And that when it comes it will be fast, unexpected, probably from behind -- and decidedly "unfair."

Yet in a harsh, insecure world of constantly shifting loyalties and great danger, Omar has chosen to live by certain hard and fast rules. He doesn't curse or use bad language. He doesn't hurt, kill, or otherwise victimize anyone not "in the game" like him. He never explains, complains, snitches, blames, finger points, or whines. When his own end comes on the floor of a convenience store, shot from behind by a small boy, one is certain that had he a few seconds left of consciousness, he would not be griping about how "wrong" or "unfair" or undeserved it all was. 

Compare and contrast to the first two weeks' eliminations on Top Chef All-Stars.

My heart went out to our gastro-gladiators this week. Highly trained, experienced professionals, all of them looking for an opportunity to cook their asses off, do their best, give us their best game, hoping, hoping for nothing less than a clean shot at redemption, perhaps a challenge in their comfort zone, a few good swings at the proverbial plate.

It was not to be.

145 comments
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grammom1039
grammom1039

you have words with them-and their future's lokkin' dim (sum) but these things- some hearts can rise above

Lvit2Bieber
Lvit2Bieber

No TC this week??? Thank God we have the fabulous blogs of Anthony Bourdain to entertain us until next week. I bow to the King of honest snarkiness and pray they make you a judge on the regular Top Chef!!

angieg
angieg

It's a tv show, and a good one at that. There is plenty of pathetic drivel on television to gripe about rather than trash a show that happens to be, at the very least, better than decent. Much better than that in my opinion, but I realize that's subjective. Yes, it's gotten overly commercialized, and that's frustrating. Every time a chef wins and says, "Thanks Dial!" It's cheesy, and I kind of want to throw up in my mouth a little. But that doesn't take away from the core concept of the show or Bourdain's credibility.

kent kirschner
kent kirschner

You know what Omar would have said to you Tony, before he shot you with one of his sawed offs? Sell out moth*&%$er!!!!!

Isn't your contract with Travel Channel? Don't you spend most of your time and earn your street cred based on your constant derision against the type of crap that is aired on Top Chef? This show has long since lost its luster, never had any really. It is just another 'rubber neck' example of all that is wrong with television and popular culture today. We have been forced to celebrate and revel in the victimization and humiliation of humans that are not us. And we used to love you because you saw this degradation of humanity and were shameless in deriding it despite your proximity to the whole cesspool.

Let's go friends. You're all smart people, I am sure of it. Stop pandering. Stop smearing dung on the wall and calling it art. Use your brains and celebrate the human spirit instead of squashing it. It starts with you and us, your audience.

CV
CV

No thanks, I like the judges just as they are, especially with the addition of Bourdain as a semi-regular this season.

Rebecca D.
Rebecca D.

Good question, I would love to see an answer submitted!

rawr
rawr

Thanks a lot for spoiling THE WIRE, Bourdain!

Jeaninemc67
Jeaninemc67

While watching Museum episode, I saw something that makes me like Tiffani F much better than I used to. Cooking for the kids, she remarked in an interview how she learned from season one not to discount the palette of kids, remembering that at Judges' Table in one of the challenges from the original season, she defended her dish by stating how unsophisticated a kid's taste is. She came off as rather smug during that episode, and she remarked how that was not one of her proudest moments. It was refreshing to see the change and growth in her, not only as a chef but as a person, and nice to see how she learned something about herself by having the opportunity to view herself as others saw her. This is a unique opportunity, as most of us aren't on a tv reality show, and I was so pleased that she chose to learn and grow from it.

Kudos to Tiffani F! May others follow your shining example

AA
AA

Cooking commentary + The Wire = brilliant blog!! Btw Snoop's last line was actually "How my hair look Mike?"

soup rocks
soup rocks

Pleh Jamie is good at soup. When she wins on her own it is for soup. When she is in the bottom on her own it is for soup. I love soup but her arrogance is comletely unfounded.

She would hands down win Top Chef:Soup though.

Karen T
Karen T

From henceforth now and forever more, it really doesn't matter what you say. Anybody who knows/respects The Wire like that can do NO WRONG in my book!

Shannon Mac
Shannon Mac

Only Mr Bourdain can incorporate the greatest show of all time, The Wire, into an analysis of spoiled chefs.

Lets face it, Elia and Jen both cried foul because they both believe they are superior to the other contestants because of their lineage. (Being a Robuchon and Ripert disciples respectively)

Dalton216
Dalton216

Weekend brunch shifts are small scales of Hell on Earth, front or back of the house. I myself suffer from Post-Traumatic Brunch Syndrome from too many years of over easy coming out medium and being envious of the asshole who gets to drink their hangover away w/ spicy bloody mary's w extra olives....

Not to mention the mental stability of the staff that morning. The inmates are running the asylum..... mutiny is about ship, and the caption has lost his mind as well!

Ponymike
Ponymike

Wholeheartedly agree, but i doubt anyone cares about it that much.

anotherJerseyBoy
anotherJerseyBoy

love the blog... it's like reading a transcript from "no reservations"...

i wouldn't expect a lot of Top Chef fans to be fans of The Wire... but I appreciate the connection. The Wire was truly one of the best shows on TV...

if you were a judge this week things may have unravelled differently. katie lee was nice eye candy, but didn't seem to have a big impact on the judge's table.

and drunk Tony makes for more entertaining television... :)

Jules in Atlanta
Jules in Atlanta

Wow. The references to "The Wire" are spot on. The first time Jen was on TC, she came out of the gate doing really well, and it was painful to watch her seemingly fall apart towards the end. This time, her behavior was beyond rude, and inexplicable, and i for one was not sorry to see her go. I do not think she was sent home for any reason other than her food.

Jaime took the opportunity to sort of give herself immunity, and that surprised me. What she did was cowardly, and I thought she had more gumption.

Isha D
Isha D

So Fabio's behavior was commended and Jens behavior was dismissed as arrogance.......!

valeen
valeen

Frickin hilarious and well-written as usual, Tony!

LAxrae
LAxrae

Frankly F***ing Funny! :D Thanks for F***ing sharing. F*** that comment about using the F***ing F word. Your F***ing brilliant description about F***ing brunch had me laughing my F***ing ass off.

Topchefer
Topchefer

I guess the only one who is allowed to say f*****g anything on this site is Anthony Bourdain. Mr. Bourdain, it cheapens your witty writing to constantly use the f word. It was very unnecessary and also in your Christmas special, it just makes you come across as juvenile to use it so often. Think about it.

Mrs. Miller
Mrs. Miller

EXACTLY!!! That is exactly what I was thinking.

marciterp
marciterp

I've been a Top Chef fan from the first season forward, though I never have been a big Anthony Bourdain fan... until now! I thoroughly enjoyed your blog and agreed with your assessment of the chefs' behavior. Though winning is the object, one must accept that losing may be a consequence of the risk. A little grace would have been nice. I am looking forward to reading your future blog entries.

BJ Breaux
BJ Breaux

Love your Blog! I was a major fan of "The Wire," and I'm still in withdrawal. Your writing style is so true to you. I agree with your stand on Jenn and Elia...Stay hard in all ways! I think it is applicable to quote Ice T - Don't Hate The Playa, Hate The Game -

MarianneH
MarianneH

You have the best blog. Your humor, your frankness, your insight--it makes for the best read to digest the show. Thumbs up!

Feednotfatten
Feednotfatten

Gee, I hope all the cheftestants exit as poorly as Elia and Jenn. Makes me feel good about myself.

Barbara in NY
Barbara in NY

Great writing, Mr. Bourdain. A wonderfully-entertaining and insightful blog. You put a lot of care and effort into it, perhaps more care and effort than some of the cheftestants put into their meal preparations.

I have a big question. What's with the comments about salt at judges' table. I can see criticizing a chef for over-salting his sauce. But why ever remark that a chef under salted a dish? Isn't that a personal decision for each diner to make? One can always add salt if one wishes, but it's damned hard to remove salt that a cook had added.

Spazzzz
Spazzzz

Come on, these people are highly competitive and human. You catch them when they're tired and ticked and they're going to challenge you back. This whole set up seems so parental--like going to the principal's office--but now guess what they're adults--they don't have to take it, they can speak their mind! We LIKE the give and take--the exchanges--we are all human--we like to see people be human. Jen is not the President of the United States or an Ambassador!!! The judges should be able to take some pushing back and some challenging, toughen up judges and don't make your decisions personal!! The best conversations in life can be with people you disagree with!

Graygrrrl
Graygrrrl

Once again, my go to author of food and travel porn gets it right! Have these contestants forgotten they are on TV? That it's a competition show? That others in their field are watching, potential clients? Be gracious and you might still end up on top. Instead, All-Stars is turning into 'Taming of the Shrew' with cegos far larger than they need to be. A bit of an ego is good, calling the judges (and accomplished chefs and journalists) names is not the way to go. That is unless you are Mr. Bourdain and have made a brilliant career out of telling it like it is. Of course, Bourdain always backs up his claims for hatred and mistrust. He doens't just call you a ---ing demon without some merit.

I cannot wait for the rest of this season!

Torch Lake Prep
Torch Lake Prep

Love ya Tony and so glad you're @ judges table!! I'm a Jen fan & so I'm so bummed she's gone, I guess now I'll be rooting for Angelo :)

Panger
Panger

And Tony, I just DVR'ed "Citizen Kane." No spoilers on this "Rosebud" thing, okay?

OliveAnne
OliveAnne

It is hard watching a chef that you know and love get sent home. We have already bonded with these chefs - it is not the same ball game. I am not sure I would want to be a judge this season. You have an advantage - you didn't spend the entire season with any of the chefs. I am so please that you told Fabian that you were sorry. It takes a big man to do that. OliveAnne FloridaFan

cloudychef
cloudychef

With TC being so "great" how many restaurants does he now lend his name to? 5, 6, 7? Last time I checked Escoffier and Roger Verge each had 1 - OK, times change, but lets get real. How can you have integrity every night if you pretend to cook at 5, 6, 7 restaurants and judge a reality show? Please. Jen went out bad, but if you have a tired old panel of people who the last time they cooked it was corn flakes and milk? Please give me a break and shake up the format - the audience and contestants deserve a better set of judges. Find relevant people who actually work near the hot fire at least one night a week - not this pretend and wear fancy clothes set. Peace.

Lori00
Lori00

God I love you.............

sorryiam
sorryiam

Wow. Well said on all accounts. Do I sound surprised? That's because I am. I am looking forward to your future blogs.

Walts Wife
Walts Wife

I've never seen "The Wire", but I loved this blog!

Cirque
Cirque

Anthony Boudain, your blog is a breath of fresh blog air. I love the fact that you are calling out shenanigans. Thank you for your Jonas derision. Top Chef as pallid as it has become, does not need to inject the Jonas brothers or anything of that ilk into the show.

Thank you for fessing up and showing some real contrition regarding Fabio's justified calling out on cruelty. I disagree with you on Jen standing up for herslef. She's not my favorite. I appreciated how she kept things moving in the military kitchen and was strong at the beginning of her season but I didn't peg her for the winner of her season.

I respect your commentary even if I disagree. Its smart and not pandering.

Cirque
Cirque

Thank you for pointing out the continued BS judging on Top Chef. I still watch it. However, the last nail in the coffin was the Voltaggio Manipulation. That season was so contrived and producer-concocted that it just sucked the life right out of me. It was the apex of an increasingly poor juding trend. Jamie should have gone home. Not because she was hurt but because she didn't cook anything at all.

I'm glad Fabio and Jen stood up for themselves. Fabio was more on point than Jen. He was saying judge me but don't belittle me. Jen was calling horse puckey on the double standard judging that was happening on her dish. Her dish looked lousy and probably tasted lousy but it was cooked. There is nothing appealing about raw eggs to me no matter what.

Thunder
Thunder

I have followed you for a while now, Tony (I feel we are on a first name basis). I am so pleased to see you on TC. I was, in blog slang, LMAO while reading your blog. Thank you for your honest insights.

W.D.
W.D.

"Her behavior at Judges' Table and after Elimination was petulant, visibly contemptuous, unprofessional, and frankly -- appalling."

Mr. Pot, meet Mr. Kettle.

Katwoman
Katwoman

Bravo Bourdain for the entertaining blog!Just finished Kitchen Confidential and now my 17 year old son who is an aspiring chef is loving it too.TC was starting to get boring but having you on board makes me love the show all over again.Keep the blogs coming -can't wait to read your next one:)Thanks Mr. Bourdain .

Cabbage Princess
Cabbage Princess

Two things:

1. Glad you're on for the entire season!

2. Love you and your honesty.

Keep up the good judging! Cheers!

CS
CS

Thanks for a great blog- Something is very off when a chef says she ins't cooking for the 150 people she will never see again-OMG, can a chef get any further from the reason for cooking good food-A don't give a s**t attitude--

BTW--She"cooked" boiled bacon & eggs-A joke in & of itself-

privatechef
privatechef

jen should of left with jamie to the hospital, and held her hand... then they both would of been safe, since leaving a competition seems to be okay. hey guys, when you feel your dish is failing, say you are sick or cut your finger, and you get to stay and watch somebody else pack their knives....easy way to cheat!

privatechef
privatechef

1. yeah, well the eggs were raw, and sometimes it's okay.....but NOT when you serve frittata !! Bad execution....go hone!

2. jumping ship for a little cut on the finger.....NOT a chef! if you walk out the door and you leave a competition, i would think you would disqualified.??

3. Over salted heavy spicy sauce and you tell me it is not edible???...... NOT on my salmon!!

4. bland eggs.....bring me some salt....NOT someone's head!! i prefer under salt...too many chefs over salt in the kitchen, since tobacco has killed their taste ...

3 bigger reasons the 4th should of stayed!

Wilma de Soto
Wilma de Soto

"Many a tear has to fall, but it's all in the game."

Great song, great Omar reference, great blog! Thanks for the straight-up talk, no chaser synopsis.