Hell's Kitchen may be a phenomenon for FOX, but there are some people who aren't so hot on the cooking competition show. In fact, one well-known chef is actually speaking out against the program. Jacques Pepin has a definite opinion of the show that does not include any praise for the way his beloved profession is shown. Here's what he had to say.
The cruel rivalry and conflict depicted in Hell's Kitchen may be good for ratings, but it is unjust to dedicated cooks and unfair to the trade. In my opinion, nothing good enough to eat can be concocted under such conditions.
Wow. Yeah, Jacques Pepin is pretty unhappy about the way Hell's Kitchen portrays chefs and professional kitchen staff. Pepin wrote about his thoughts on the reality competition for The Daily Meal, and revealed that he actually thinks the general mood in the kitchen is something that a large portion of the shows in that category get wrong. And, if you've never heard of Jacques Pepin and you believe the guy has it all wrong, you should know that he's been a chef for almost 60 years, hosted several cooking shows on PBS (including one with Julia Child), written 25 cook books, co-founded the American Institute of Wine and Food, and won many awards for his work as a chef, including a Daytime Emmy for his show with Julia Child and the James Beard Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award. So, you know, maybe listen to the guy when he talks about how a good professional kitchen is run.
In Jacques Pepin's experience as a chef, the "cruel rivalry and conflict" frequently shown on these cooking competitions simply isn't something that you'd see in a professional environment that's being run the way it should. He is right that that type of conflict is exactly what makes good ratings and high drama for a show like this, though. The competitors aren't the only ones who get heated, either. Anyone who's only seen clips of Hell's Kitchen knows that host Gordon Ramsay has been known to turn red in the face as he yells at and belittles the chefs that he believes have screwed up beyond reason. Pepin also had this to say:
In the last few years, there have been a flurry of new TV cooking shows, so-called 'reality' shows, that portray the restaurant kitchen in a chaotic and negative light, and I believe it is a disservice to our trade and to young people who want to go into this business. The worst offenders insult and humiliate their crew, cursing and swearing, with every other word a bleeped expletive. . . . The so-called 'reality' cooking shows are, if anything, totally unreal. A real, well-run professional kitchen has dignity and order.
Man. I love that Jacques Pepin is not holding back. He clearly feels that cooking competition shows like Hell's Kitchen need to be stopped. Of course, his feeling that many of these shows are "totally unreal" is something that most people see as being a general problem in reality TV. So, he's not alone in thinking that reality television shows could use a very specific type of reality check.