Top ChefHere we are once again staring at the tubes and wondering if Tom Colicchio will finally explode in utter frustration. As Season 4 of Top Chef swooped in this evening, I came away with a similar feeling that I’ve had regarding Project Runway, and it’s this sentiment: Again?

Well, not here. The last time I blogged about Top Chef (Season 1), I picked through contestants and dishes and railed on about details that ultimately didn’t matter. There is something to say, certainly, about what Top Chef displays about the culinary world in general – and it can be summed up in, at most, two or three paragraphs. The contestants don’t really matter at the beginning – they’re just heads and faces looking for fame. The climate – the entirety of what cooking aspects are being explored – is what’s important.

Top Chef serves as a double-edged sword. It promotes and destroys cooking. It exemplifies and buries creativity. Top Chef serves, indeed, to homogenize the culinary arts to the simplest of terribly rendered food by making an attempt to showcase what should be true talent and unmatched creativity.

This is how we get a life-long chef (apparently restaurant-reared since the age of 11) that does not know what a dish of chicken piccata is, seemingly.

I have to question where the indie chefs are. Where are the pirates (and, um, having a faux hawk or a potty mouth does not a pirate make)? The artists? Where are the cooks that have the gifts in their fingertips and in their senses that circumvented the culinary education system? Where are the chefs who have the good sense of knowing why classically prepared dishes are, well, classic. It’s cool to say that you’re all about the newest Asian fusion, but, ultimately, it makes you look like a dated douchebag.

Yeah, I’m a home cook, but, Christ, I’m at least trying to learn the fundamentals of the food I love to eat and why they are so fundamental. It seems like most chefs on Top Chef think that classic means boring. So, consequently, they think they have to destroy what is proven good time and again to satisfy their own egos in trying to create something so confoundedly ridiculous that they end up looking like an ass.

And, lastly, Padma Lakshmi is still one of the hottest women on the planet. Period.