Casey’s Rant

By this point, you’re probably sick of reading people’s reactions to last night’s “Top Chef” Finale–“Poor Carla!” “Ugh, Hosea!” etc.–but have you seen Casey’s rant? I just found it, via Eater (it’s on a site called Side Dish) and Casey lets it rip.

“Carla was not prepared,” begins the rant, “and in over her head. The show did not talk about how the first course (crab) took her half of the friggin’ cooking time that day, I was left to work the rest of HER dishes.”

[Click here to read the rest.]

Now, Casey, I understand your frustration. You went on a reality show and didn’t like the way they portrayed you as the great saboteur of Carla’s Top Chef title. And you’re probably frustrated that Carla fans around the country are hating on you and blaming you for her loss.

But, Casey, the savvy viewer already detected that Carla’s loss was her own doing: that if she were more confident, more in control, she would’ve owned her dishes, she would’ve thought through all her choices. Her decision–and yes, it was obviously her decision–to use a technique she’d never used before (sous vide, for those who didn’t see it) was an ultimate act of self-sabotage. Very few of us thought Carla was robbed; most of us understood that Carla’s bad choices led to her own demise.

Yet, Carla was a master–and a definitive champion–in the one area that maybe matters more than winning $100,000: P.R. She branded herself as a lovable, genuine, truly soulful cook that the judges (including cranky Tom) and most of America couldn’t help but fall in love with. In doing so she ensured that whatever restaurant she opens, whatever book she writes, there will be loyal fans waiting to patronize her. Do you realize how huge that is? Do you realize how many chefs agonize to achieve this very thing? You might be a technical dynamo (look at Hung, look at Marcel) but if you don’t get P.R., you’ll die out there on the vine. And that’s why, Casey, your rant was such a bad idea.

P.R. is a subtle art. Even over-the-top personalities like Paula Dean’s and Emeril’s are finely crafted, carefully tooled to be successful. And with the exception of Anthony Bourdain (who gets away with it because he’s smart and clever), very few people make it in the food world riding a wave of negativity. You could’ve gone the graceful route, Casey, and said, “I was frustrated because Carla seemed a bit frazzled by the final challenge,” but instead you lobbed mean grenades. And now, just like in those cartoons, you’ll come to realize you’re not holding the pin, but the grenade itself. Lucky for you, not that many people will care enough to see the explosion.

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