As a culture, I think we’re hung up on competition. American Idol, Survivor, Chopped, Man vs. Food, Top Chef/Designer/Model…competition is everywhere. Winning has become the object.
I call this The Bravo Effect. Like bubbles in seltzer, it’s interesting in the short term, but ultimately without much substance. Who remembers the top chef from season one, or any of the top models for that matter? Competition has replaced recognition for substance.
The James Beard Awards will be handed down soon. The official website says this: “Covering all aspects of the industry – from chefs and restauranteurs to cookbook authors and food journalists to restaurant designers and architects and more – the Beard Awards are the highest honor for food and beverage professionals working in North America”.
And every spring, they tip the culinary world into a cocked hat.
Despite the fact that Arizona has some exceptional talent, none of the local chefs made the final cut. Does being left out make them lesser chefs? Will making the cut transform those who do into kitchen gods? I don’t think so. In fact, when I think about the number of times I’ve been seriously disappointed, it’s been in a topflight restaurant run by a high-profile, known chef.
And some of the best experiences were in restaurants we locals want to keep to ourselves.
Next time you’re in the mood for a fine dining experience, seek out local chefs like these and their great restaurants. Ignore the competition and awards, sit back and recognize the true talent on the plate. Forget for just a moment The Bravo Effect, and watch what happens.
Beard pic courtesy of http://www.nndb.com
Kent McDonald is a Certified Personal Chef, living and working in Phoenix, AZ. (c) All Rights Reserved, 2009