What I Didn't Like About the The Final Table
Last week, I was contracted to help produce an event in Cleveland. It was a lot of work in a really short amount of time, but I loved it. I’ve found that I love projects where I can throw my all into them until I’m extremely exhausted and then they end. Is that nuts?
Anyway, my break each day was watching an episode or two of the Final Table on Netflix. In a week’s time I was done with the series and the project. For the most part, I thought that the series was good. There was an extraordinary amount of talented chefs that were featured and no matter how I felt about the rest of the show (coming below) this factor kept me committed and pleased.
However, there were many things that I didn’t like about the show:
The production. It was sooooo over the top. When the first episode came on, I was really confused about what this was going to be about. Something about the the map design and overall futuristic set just made me groan. It felt stiff and was entirely too much for me. When I think of global cooking, I think of bright, colorful, communal, warmth, engaging…etc. This looked like global cooking the Star Trek version. Hated it. My feelings didn’t wane by the end of the show.
The premise. Not only was the caliber of talent on the contestant side solid, but the lineup of the culinary masters in each country was out of this world (no pun intended). What I didn’t understand was how could winning this competition get you on their level. I thought the whole thing was insulting. A TV show can’t decide who is at the top of their field. And I say that even noting that the contestants were amazing in their own right. It just seemed like the most random prize ever. “You win this competition and you get to join this elite group of chefs.” Huh? How does that work?
The Jamaican chef went home so early. Is there anything else I need to say about this? In fairness, I wouldn’t feel this way if I wasn’t Jamaican.
The team pairings. I thought it was odd that some of the chefs on teams knew each other, but others didn’t. It would have been better if they kept this consistent. I felt that the chefs that knew each other had an unfair advantage. They had built in chemistry (and a better storyline).
The eliminations. When the bottom three teams cook for the master chef of the region one team is finally eliminated. That was fine. It’s how they announced the elimination that I took umbrage with. First, the chef would stay seated to announce the winner. Then they would do this weird thing where they walked behind the chair to announce the group that would be eliminated. Eight of them did it the exact same way which made it feel stiff and contrived. For a second, Chef Carlo Cracco looked like he would break protocol and then he didn’t. Chef Yoshihiro Narissawa did it like a boss.
American ambassadors. I thought it was really odd that the ambassadors for the country were three white men. What kind of message is that? (I’ll dismiss the fact that the final four chefs in the competition were white men.)
Jamaica wasn’t one of the featured countries. Again, the reason for my displeasure here is obvious.
Again, all in all the show was good. For season two, I’d love for the producers to read this and make some tweaks. The most important one being what the award is.