This is a test. Ladies and gentlemen, mark your calendars. On this date in Season 9, we have ourselves a Top Chef villain. Let’s be honest, there have not been many over the years. Marcel is probably the biggest one. Isabella and Angelo are villains to some. Spike produces strong feelings. Chicago Dale as well. Don’t forget Season 1’s “I’m not your bitch, bitch.”
But really, Top Chef ain’t exactly brimming with villains over its run. I think part of it is because the chefs often work with each other to get the plates out of the kitchen. Also, each and every one of them are professionals. If you’re an ass on television, it very possibly could hurt your livelihood.
That brings us to Darth Heather. She started to turn to the Dark Side last week, and this week made a giant headlong leap into evil. Ok, that’s a bit over the top, but let’s face it, she wasn’t all that likeable this week. Was much of it edited to make her look bad? Sure, that’s possible, but it is hard to mask some of the anger and aggression that eminated from her during the cooking and the aftermath. Now, some may call her names, I won’t. Some may question whether or not the visceral reaction to her verbal assault on Beverly would have been treated differently if it was Edward yelling at Paul. Maybe. There may be some gender role issues involved, for right or wrong. My question is whether or not size matters on this – Heather is much larger than Beverly. Heck, I’ve had pets larger than Beverly. That dynamic often magnifies situations like this and makes it appear to be a bullying kind of moment.
The way I see it – Heather is really good at what she does. She is working in a business where men dominate. And as we have seen on this show, and others like it, very aggressive and bossy men dominate. It is kill or be killed. She probably calls it “telling like it is,” most folks call it “being a pain in the ass,” I call it “force of habit.” It is not right, and I hope when Heather watches this back she sees how she comes across. I know I would not like seeing myself verbally beat up on someone like that. Regardless, in the eyes of most viewers. She is now the season’s villain.
What happened to set it off took place last week. Heather’s dissatisfaction with Beverly’s slow pace in prepping the 400 shrimp was still irking her. I stand by my thoughts that Beverly was well within her rights to prep the dish she was responsible for – because this is an individual competition. If that shrimp dish was bad, Bev would have gone home. Heather should have been worried about one dish – her own.
But Heather was still caught up on this. And, of course, as chance would have it, they got paired up together as a team for the Elimination Challenge. D’oh! Even worse, it was a double elimination challenge – if your team lost, you were both out. The ramifications of this were huge – you could get sent home if your partner messed up. Unfair? Sure, but entirely interesting to watch. Now, all of Heather’s anger over Beverly’s previous performance are now mixing with anxiety about elimination. All of these ingredients led to a stew that was not very appetizing – it was actually unpleasant to watch her go off on Beverly. It was so unpleasant that other chefs jumped to her aid – Vampira and Grayson each defended Bev, with Heather even lashing out at Grayson. Hey now, watch it. Although I am pretty sure Grayson doesn’t need me defending her – she seems perfectly capable of doing so herself.
As it turned out, the animosity between the two put them at the bottom. It was interesting to watch – if perhaps manipulated by the editing – as Heather dominated every discussion. Bev was being too Asian for her rustic sensibilities. Bev wasn’t “talking like a chef” because she asked too many questions and asked for opinions. To Heather, this was passive – to me, it is just a different style. Bev is like a consensus builder instead of a despot. There’s nothing wrong with that – that’s not a confidence thing, that’s someone willing and encouraging of input.
The best part was when the judges started asking them questions at Judges Table. Bev started to answer and Heather butted in and interupted her. Their relationship in a nutshell.