She Said: Life After Top Chef
I make it no secret that I’m a huge Top Chef fan! I have tried many other food shows and I haven’t found one that I enjoy as much as I enjoy Top Chef. I truly believe that Top Chef has inspired and challenged me in the way I eat and cook. I haven’t been able to travel the world, yet the shows have introduced me to things that I might not have known about otherwise. It may sound cheesy to say that, but it’s true. It’s fun and I’ve learned a lot- isn’t that the best a TV show can ask for?
Now that there have been so many seasons of Top Chef and so many celeb and semi-celeb chefs to emerge from the franchise Bravo has launched Life After Top Chef. I’m always curious what has happened to our favorite chefs. The show has a pretty basic concept. It’s about what life is like after Top Chef. The picked 4 of the most interesting former contestants to follow and the results are pretty entertaining. It does lack the intensity and interest of the main show, but it’s nice to catch up with what these chefs are doing.
Jennifer Carroll was a definite favorite of mine from Season 6 (Las Vegas). She’s definitely not a shrinking violet in the kitchen, but she’s not a rude bossy boots either. I love that! I love the idea that you can be a strong woman without being ugly. Yes, she totally melted down during All-Stars, but everyone makes mistakes. I really hope that she can get her restaurant off the ground! Concrete Blonde sounds like a great concept. It’s also really sweet to watch her helping to care for her mother.
Fabio Viviani is one my favorite chefs from Top Chef! He’s really good at making food look attractive and easy no matter what he prepares. I would love to get to see him in a cooking demo! He’s definitely working too hard and I hope he takes care of himself! He’s definitely charming and (usually) so happy to be wherever he is that he’s a lot of fun to watch.
Richard Blais. I used to like him. That was before he beat out Mike Isabella to win All- Stars. I also really don’t care for his food. I rarely see him prepare anything that I would want to try. To me, he’s someone who loves technique and wit so much the food suffers. He’ll repeat himself ad nauseum if he finds something that works. Remember, banana scallops? I really don’t like watching his sections because to me they are the least interesting and most stressful. I hope that he can find the balance between family and work. I can’t imagine how hard it is to open a restaurant. He’s got a great eye for detail; sometimes it’s almost too much. I hope he can create the restaurant he wants without having a heart attack.
Spike Mendelsohn was my pick to win Season Four (Chicago). I didn’t always like the way he acted, but for the most part I thought he was cool. We met him last summer outside of Good Stuff Eatery and he was really nice. He was just totally chill and we liked him even more after that! Good Stuff is also a really delicious place to eat! I am not that crazy about watching him on the show, though. He’s really playing up the celebrity and somewhat bratty side of himself. I get it that it’s all part of the business to him. But, I don’t like it. He said something sexist and offensive to Jen and I don’t think it’s cute to be rude. Watching him on Life After Top Chef has actually made me like him less and remember how juvenile he can act in the limelight. I hope his steak frites place will be successful and I look forward to eating there. He makes good food; I just like him so much more without all the rude shtick.
It’s a somewhat fun show, although it’s also stressful. I feel bad watching as things are hanging in the balance of success or failure for this group! I have a lot of stress in our personal life because of money and health concerns. Watching people talk about how it’s stressful or difficult makes me think about my worried instead of finding some time to let them go. But, they are for the most part a charming group and we do still see some wonderful dishes prepared. I’ll just be prepared to really stow my personal stress baggage to be able to enjoy the remaining weeks of the show!
He Said: Life After Top Chef
With how much we love Top Chef, Life After Top Chef was a no brainer for us to watch. I love reality shows about professionals, and this show is no exception. It does a great job of showing just how hard it is to make it as a professional chef, even with the boost that a show like Top Chef can provide to your career.
This short series follows the lives of Richard Blais, Fabio Viviani, Spike Mendelsohn, and Jennifer Carroll and how their idiosyncrasies affect their careers.
Richard is still the too-nervous never pleased with himself workaholic that we saw on Top Chef All Stars. He’s at his best when he can be in a restaurant, and with 2 kids his family is straining under the weight of opening a new restaurant, The Spence. The Spence, by the way, is not what you’re expecting from Mr. Liquid Nitrogen Class (or should that be Dr. given his mad scientist approach to food on Top Chef?). The Spence is much less experimental. We’ve seen him attend an event in Aspen, and check on his two burger joints so far, but I can’t help but notice that the balance between work and family is hard for him. Chefs work long hours, and it’s hard to be successful and keep a family together.
Case in point is Fabio. He has two restaurants (and cell phones) is opening another, has his own TV show, and does a lot of events and cooking classes. He drives a Mercedes and always has fancy clothes on, but he’s lonely. Fabio warns Richard that a happy wife is more important than a good restaurant. I see an inner sadness in Fabio. Being Italian, family is very important to him, but he’s made himself too busy to make his first marriage work. Be very careful Blais, or this is your future.
Spike on the other hand has successfully handled the balance of work and family by combining the two. He works with his mother, father and sister. They’re very enmeshed in each other’s lives. It looks as if Spike isn’t even the brain of this organization. Primarily he’s the face. In one of the most revealing moments of this, Spike admits that he has purposely crafted the persona he projects to gain national attention. Spike is shown later though, to be pretty much the mean spirited jokey guy he presents himself as when he is eating with Jen Carroll, and then again with Mike Isabella.
Jen’s career hasn’t gone as well as the other three. She left her job with Eric Rupert too soon, and now her backers have disappeared from her restaurant. We later find out the big problem was the percentage of profit participation that she was asking for to open her first restaurant. Now Jen finds herself without a lot of direction, doing what she can to pay her bills, and we haven’t seen her talk to any more investors yet, just complain about how she needs to find some.
This is a fascinating show that takes us beyond the competition and into the psyche of professionals that are succeeding big and failing big whether it is with their restaurants, or their family.