Life After Top Chef

TV review by
Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
Life After Top Chef TV Poster Image
Ex-contestants carry on in saucy, absorbing reality series.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

Not only do the chefs work very hard in the kitchen onscreen, they care for family members such as young children or aging parents, which may give young viewers the (correct) notion that even successful and famous people operate within a network of family and friends and need support from loved ones.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The Life After Top Chef chefs are creative and successful, demonstrating the material rewards of hard work. However, they can be a little insulting with one another, gossiping rudely in their private interviews, and may be snippy, bossy, and high-handed to kitchen staff.

Violence
Sex

Fabio Viviani considers himself something of a ladies' man and there's some talk about "ladies love Fabio" with camera shots of women seemingly gazing at him wistfully. However, Fabio states that he is thoughtful to women and "never goes over the line," which makes him "a good ladies' man" he says firmly.

Language

Lots of bleeped "f--k" and "s--t," plus some rough language such as "you're such an ass" or an exasperated "Jesus Christ!"

Consumerism

Life After Top Chef is the continuation of the Top Chef franchise. Many episodes feature around real-life culinary events such as Aspen's Food & Wine Classic, with logos and shots of these events shown frequently onscreen.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Alcohol is featured as an ingredient in many dishes; the chefs also frequently drink onscreen, such as when kitchen workers toast each other with shots of brown liquor after an intense night. No one acts drunk, but many scenes take place in bars.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Life After Top Chef is about as saucy as its origin show, with plenty of tense kitchen moments and bleeped "f--k" and "s--t" as well as plenty of other rough language, such as "You're such an ass." There is also some sexual humor, and chefs also drink frequently; meeting each other in bars after work or clinking shot glasses of brown liquid in the kitchen. But for the most part, the chefs' lives are realistically presented, with kitchen drama and mild family hassles.

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What's the story?

LIFE AFTER TOP CHEF answers the question that's flitted across the minds of many viewers of competition series: What's the point of winning? Do the designers of Project Runway or the chefs of Top Chef go on to better things after the cameras are turned off? Or do they retreat back to the same old life with nothing changed? This series from Top Chef's creators follows four former contestants: Richard Blais, Fabio Viviani, Jennifer Carroll, and Spike Mendelsohn, as they attempt to open restaurants or take care of the ones they've already got, try to balance work with family life and take hard knocks in and out of the kitchen.

Is it any good?

Genius showrunners Magical Elves have done it again: Life After Top Chef is both smart and absorbing. It's also a rather clever new twist on reality shows. Will Life After Survivor or After Big Brother follow? Reality show viewers can't help but wonder if drama-filled competitions matter at all, and Life After Top Chef illustrates that they do. Sorta. Some of the chefs featured seem to have experienced greater success after being on TV. Fabio Viviani, for example, holds well-attended cooking classes at his Los Angeles restaurant, where a roomful of people laugh at his Top Chef quips. Jennifer Carroll, on the other hand, seems stuck in a down cycle, unable to raise money to open her dreamed-of restaurant.

Viewers get to see the chefs on the show as real people. They bark out orders in the kitchen and drape sauces over meat, then they come home to grumpy wives and teary kids, or sick moms who need help. Life After Top Chef is a lot less glamorous than Top Chef, with its celebrities and picturesque mystery locations. But it's more realistic reality, and the human-sized dramas are no less interesting than the competition. Kids who watch may wind up not wanting to be a chef -- it's a lot harder than it looks on Top Chef! But they will gain an appreciation of those who strive mightily to advance their careers.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about whether a show following former reality show contestants is interesting or not. Did appearing on Top Chef change these chefs' lives? For better, or for worse? How do you think other reality show contestants do after their shows end?

  • Why is Jennifer Carroll typically so much more dressed up than her male counterparts? Does she dress herself? Why in promotional images of the show are the male contestants in chef's or casual pants, while Carroll wears a short skirt? Why would it be impractical to wear a skirt, particularly a short one, in the kitchen?

  • Does watching Life After Top Chef make you want to be a chef? Do their lives look glamorous? Interesting? Easy?

TV details

For kids who love reality shows

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