Last night proved to be an all-cooking one for me. Not spending time in my kitchen (save for a trip to the fridge for a beer), but spending time in some television ones. First up, BBC's Last Restaurant Standing, a show I like but which doesn't always make sense.
The show is structured around having all the teams open their restaurants one week and then Raymond Blanc deciding which three of the teams performed worst and making them do some sort of challenge the next week to see who will be eliminated. It's a great idea, but Raymond's concerns and reasons for putting a team into the challenge aren't alleviated through the challenge.
Once again yesterday, Blanc told Jeremy and Jane that he was terribly concerned about the concept behind their restaurant, which revolves around a fixed eight-course menu. They offer a la carte items as well (or, they do now, because they didn't at first). Blanc, understandably is more than a little worried that this eight-course fixed menu is more than a diner wants. The entire notion of the restaurant, which is called “Eight in the Country” revolves around the set menu, so that can't really be changed either.
Blanc put Jeremy and Jane into the elimination challenge because he's worried about the branding of the restaurant and this eight-course thing. We won't find out about what the challenge is until next week, but as they all revolve around cooking and impressing a large number of customers I can't imagine that this time around it's going to be to create a PowerPoint presentation about why their restaurant concept is a good one. It probably won't even be about why the concept is good at all, as Blanc doesn't have the same fears about the other two couples in the challenge. And, without the challenge being to prove the restaurant's concept it won't alleviate Blanc's fears about Jeremy and Jane's place. So, why bother?
Of course, “why bother” is the exact same question I had about Dominic last night on Hell's Kitchen. He was the one guy without formal training as a chef, which meant that he could never win the competition. And, sure enough, he was booted last night in the first elimination of the season. Why did the producers bother bringing him on? Why did he bother going on? Surely everyone involved knew he couldn't win? Did Dominic do it because he wanted to be on television? Did the producers do it because they needed at least one person who didn't clearly have formal training as a chef?
Don't get me wrong, I enjoy Hell's Kitchen, heck, read my review of it. It's not brilliant, but it's good fun. I get that it's not all about the cooking, that it's somewhat about the competition and mostly about Ramsay hurling epithets at surprisingly unsuspecting contestants, but shouldn't all the contestants be viable candidates? Or, am I just making too much of it? Probably Dominic was just there for his 15 minutes, and, sadly for him (but not us as he wasn't terribly interesting), they're up.
It was kind of delicious to watch, though.