Friday, August 13, 2010

Is Alex's Appearance on Top Chef Good or Bad for Cafe Was?


They pound it into our scrawny little heads in college communication classes: any publicity is good publicity. But does that extend to the reality competition series format? Cheftestant Alex Reznik sure seems to be testing the theory on this season's "Top Chef." Reznik is the executive chef of Hollywood's much-heralded Cafe Was (examples here and here) and has made it to the final seven cheftestants of the Bravo show's seventh season. This is no small feat -- this season stands as one of the most competitive in the culinary tug-of-knife's history.

But... Alex has not looked good. In fact, he's appeared downright silly at times. This past episode his Restaurant Wars teammates pretty much kicked him out of the kitchen in the name of winning. He also proved unable to either properly butcher meat or debone fish. Serving as his team's restaurant maitre d' he misidentified dishes and exerted an off-putting creepiness as front of house. Sure-footed he's not either... a few episodes back he tripped and went head first into a stove handle bar. This came after he was accused of stealing someone else's pea puree.

So... if Alex lacks major culinary skills, charisma and command of his own body... what does that say about Cafe Was? To be clear, I have never been to Cafe Was, a restaurant known city-wide for its rotating piano at its center. But, I can honestly tell you I've always wanted to try it (hint, hint Cafe Was...), but had forgotten about the space recently. When this season of "TC" commenced I was quickly reminded and I put the restaurant back on my radar. Now with Alex's antics, I'm not so sure.

In his defense, I watch enough reality programming to know how doctored it is. The producers and editors of reality shows are paid to create heroes and villians. Alex's fellow cheftestants may praise him from time to time without us hearing a word of it. Instead the show prefers to air their distaste toward him. Chances are very low Alex actually stole a competitor's pea puree. Kitchens are too small and Bravo has way too many cameras to pull something like that off. Maybe he can even debone fish like Morimoto most of the time. Even if he can't do this prep work, an executive chef (from what I know) does not do the day-to-day butchering and deboning at their restaurants. Those tasks are usually left for his many minions. So who knows the last time Alex actually had to excel at those tasks. Every season cheftestants complain about how hard it is to make dessert because they haven't made dessert since culinary school. The same could be so in this case for Alex.

Then again, he may be the idiot most of the internets strongly attests. However, let's not forget Water Grill's Amanda hasn't fared much better, so maybe it's LA that should be worried...

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this post! I too hadn't eaten at Cafe Was until recently when I went with a friend for a "Top Chef viewing party"... which was really just a few of us sitting in the main room watching Top Chef on a flat screen while Alex hovered and paced around anxiously watching us watch him on tv. Pretty weird. We did get to try (for $4) a dish he had made the week prior on Top Chef. The night I went it was a scallop and gnudi dish that was very tasty. In fact the dishes we tried and that those around us tried all looked and/or tasted really good. You make a good point though about who is really doing what in the kitchen. I am 99% sure since he spent most of his time watching himself on screen that he didn't cook my meal.

    I forgot Amanda was an LA local too... Definitely doesn't look good for LA chefs. This is a contest and everyone has the chance to screw up and go home one week even if they are a great chef (Kenny) so it will be very interesting to see who goes home next time and who eventually gets to be THE top chef.

    Looking forward to reading about Black and White cookies!!!! I really miss them! (former NYer). :)