March Makeovers: Are there ways for ‘Top Chef’ season 14 to up its game?

Top Chef

We should start this particular edition of our March Makeovers series with a super-clear message: “Top Chef” is a show that really does a whole lot right. It’s one of the most polished reality shows on TV in terms of its format, its contestants, its judges, and also its locations. It is not always easy to depict a culinary competition on TV since so much of it is subjective and we’re not tasting the food, but this show does really pull it off!

With that being said, we  do like to think that there is always room for improvement with many shows, and hopefully this is something we can dissect a little bit further in order to figure out how to build the perfect season 14 recipe.

What’s going wrong – To us, the biggest thing is that there are some particular challenges that don’t feel altogether inspired, or don’t quite translate to viewers at home. Take, for example, any challenge that forced the chefs to try to replicate a specific menu. The majority of viewers have not ate at some high-end restaurant that is noteworthy to some of the chefs, and it’s therefore hard to get that same sort of personal attachment.

Also, there are some issues here when it comes to the show’s endgame, namely the best two seasons where we’ve cut down from four chefs to two. Why do this, when you can put three people in the finale and create more competition? Or, why not just structure things in a way where there are two individual eliminations during the first part of the finale? This sharp cut really penalizes someone when another two chefs may have just had the best outing of their lives.

Also, do we really need celebrity judges? We prefer people who really know their stuff about food that seeing people who come in with their own predetermined palette and no real experience in the food industry.

How to improve the show – If we were a producer, we’d really emphasize competitions in particular that allow the chefs to show a certain element of artistic creativity more so than just something that requires them to make food that is more in their comfort zone. Visuals appeal heavily to viewers, while “cook a dish using these specific ingredients” can end up feeling a little bit like “Chopped.” We still go back to the “Snow White and the Huntsman” inspired challenge as one of our personal favorites over the course of the show’s run.

Also, we do think that the show needs more ways to make the Quickfire part of the episode matter beyond just immunity or a cash prize. They don’t all need to be sudden-death, but maybe take a page here from “Ink Master” or “MasterChef” (it’s not often we tell “Top Chef” to look at other concepts) and have the winner of their challenges consistently either aid or punish other contestants. It doesn’t have to be anything too dramatic, but it helps to make the first part of the episode more relevant when you get to the end as opposed to something we just forget about.

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