I asked Alexa to show me some cooking shows and this was near the top of her list. The premise sounded good. A group of ex-convicts get a chance to start new careers in the restaurant business. Jamie Oliver did something similar in 2002, for at risk youths, when he opened Fifteen. I thought this would be great. I was wrong.
My problem with this show may have been my expectations. I was expecting to see people being taught a new craft and being treated with respect, instead I got a poor mans Hells Kitchen, complete with all the yelling and swearing. The new chefs are given almost no training before the restaurant opens and are berated for poor performance. They are taken to a farm where they watch a chicken get slaughtered. Now I agree that most of us are too detached from where our food comes from and it is important to remember a living creature died so that we could eat it’s delicious flesh but, the whole scene was obviously contrived just to create drama. I know several professional chefs and not a single one of them ever had to kill anything but lobsters in culinary school.
Too often I watched scenes that were obviously set up by the producers just to trigger peoples emotions. Why couldn’t they set up a mini cooking school for these people? A pro chef boot-camp kind of thing? You start off with the basics, food prep, knife skills, food safety, basic sauces, then show them how to elevate the dishes for a high end kitchen. At the same time you give back story on the people in the restaurant. Show where they’ve come from and where they are trying to go. It would be a show that’s both informative and emotional. Instead the focus is all on the owners and fake drama.
Maybe I’m being unfair, I did only watch one episode, maybe it gets better, but what I did see gave me no incentive to stick around for more. The Toronto restaurant closed after only a year, and the Vancouver version was only ever temporary. It was all about a show and never about helping ex-cons start a new life.