GrahamI can't speak for Gordon or Joe, I can just say that I dealt with each contestant as I would people that I deal with in my own kitchen. They might be amateurs, but they're still putting themselves up into something that's super serious and has a lot riding on the line as being the first MasterChef from the U.S. with something that again is globally recognized as a brand and a TV show. I wouldn't say that I would be any nicer or meaner on a different show.
JoeI would say that for me we were asked to come and to judge a contest and at the end of the day yes, there's a TV show around it, yes, it's the quest for first MasterChef, but a lot of it came down to just kind of getting down to business. We went from tens of thousands, to thousands, to hundreds, to ninety, fifty, and there's a lot of food to be eaten, a lot of decisions to be made. And it was all kind of about getting down to business and the real task at hand, both trying to figure out who is America's first MasterChef.
And that just kind of dictated, at times it became a little bit like work for me. Whose got talent, whose got passion, what can we put on the plate, what sells, what's worth our time, and what's not? When I realized that there was so much to do, it kind of became a little bit like all about business and maybe that would dictate that we were professional. In my perspective, I was professional. We brought them into a professional situation where I was kind of treating them like I treat line cooks and managers and people who work for me. We expected high performance, we expected quality, and they either delivered it or they didn't.
For people who are watching Top Chef right now, what would be your pitch to have them watch your show instead?
JoeWell of course that me and Graham and our friend Gordon are hosting it is the main reason they should watch. A much, much better looking group of guys anyway. No, I would say that it's bigger, badder, realer, more nationwide. It's prime time, its network, it's the real deal, it's American … It's a big production, it's hugely entertaining. It is produced with an incredible amount of resource, attention and it is a global phenomenon in many countries before it's even reached here and it's the best of its kind. So why watch anything less?
GrahamI would tell people that while we do have a great foodie culture in the country as far as restaurants and the like, when you think about it, how many people really do relate to liquid nitrogen and cryovac machines and that kind of stuff; as opposed to somebody cooking catfish tacos from Mississippi or somebody doing some kind of bullion based inspired by seafood in New England. This is stuff that people cook at home and at the end of the day everybody eats.
JoeI agree with Graham, it's more real for the average viewer across the country. They can relate to it. Maybe they could be a contestant next year. To be Top Chef Masters, you have to own restaurants. It's like it's out of the realm of most people, so it just becomes entertainment. This is reality and it's a reality that you could participate in if you wanted to.
This question is actually for Graham. What's your reaction of being compared to Paula Abdul?
GrahamI used to be a huge Paula Abdul fan back in the late '80s, so I think it's great, but not musically. But I guess I think that that's fine. People are going to make whatever comparisons they want and I think at the end of the day I don't go into judging anybody or any competition or contestant with that in mind, like I've got to be the Paula, I've got to be overly nice or overly this. I think that that's just for the most part who I am.
I think I'm a pretty nice guy. I want people to succeed. I try to inspire and be creative and whatever else it is. So I'm fine with anybody wanting to compare me to anyone and everyone. At the end of the day I live with myself and I'm cool with that.