A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this reality series is a reflection of the real hierarchical power struggles in the restaurant industry. Produced by the same folks who put together the highly successful Project Runway, this show focuses on the nasty behavior between competitors instead of the cooking process itself. Critiques from judges are harsh, which may be hard for kid viewers to understand.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In TOP CHEF, aspiring cooks compete for the title of king/queen of the kitchen. The competitors face two challenges each week, in which they're judged by famous chefs and other notable foodies. First they must prepare a meal using a specific -- and often unusual -- ingredient under tight time constraints. The winner of this challenge is safe from elimination from the second challenge, which is to prepare another meal for a group of demanding clients. The last chef standing will receive, of course, the title of Top Chef, along with lucrative prizes they can use to jump-start their culinary career.
Is it any good?
Kids like to cook, but this show skimps on the process, focusing on personalities instead. The whiny, confrontational, self-absorbed contestants' language and behavior aren't age-appropriate for younger viewers, and they never show what it takes to work cooperatively as a team.
Also, some challenges aren't for young eyes. For example, one season had an episode that was all about preparing sexy, erotic food for a fetish ball. And another challenge revolved around cooking monkfish for a group of 10-year-olds; many of the competing chefs threw up their noses at the idea of preparing food for kids. Whose team won? The mom of three.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the challenges of working in a creative field under tight time pressures. What skills are required to make this situation successful? Also, how do you balance your individual creative talent while working cooperatively as part of a team? For kids interested in cooking, the featured meals may spur discussions about exotic foods or the process of preparing and cooking them.