Hot off the turgid foodie presses comes the moral story of Chef Robert Irvine, a muscle-bound Brit who seems to have embellished his resume with such attractive but fictional accomplishments as designing a wedding cake for Prince Charles, accepting a knighthood (wouldn't you think they'd keep records of things like that?), and carrying Prince William to classes at University on his massive, ox-like back. Okay, maybe I'm making up that last one.
When the Food Network was taken in by all this, they gave Mr. Irvine his own show called "Dinner: Impossible" (the riotous Bourdain calls it "Dinner: Inconvenient"). The point of the show was to challenge Irvine and his two assistants by having them cater a big meal with limited ingredients.
In other words, it was yet another set-up for disaster, like Iron Chef and Throwdown and so many others: what will happen when the chef fails, as it seems he must?
It might be more interesting to involve Bourdain in one of these shows, because you know his eventual breakdown scene would be more fun than a season of wife-switching. But the actual players of these games--frequently Bobby Flay, whose red hair masks one of the most placid temperaments ever discovered in a chef; Masuhara Morimoto, who would rather fall on his own chef's knife than show any emotion except polite interest, and Mario Batali, as cool as cucumber gelato--rarely lose either the competition or their composure.
Chef Irvine was like that. He might run around and look comically angry, but mostly he did just fine, including proper awe and respect at A. working in a kitchen constructed entirely of ice; B. catering the second inaugural of Pennsylvania Governor Ed "Fast Eddie" Rendell, or C. creating an eighteenth-century dinner for the town elders of Colonial Williamsburg. (I'm just a fool for Colonial Williamsburg).
I can't remember anything particularly yummy about his food, but the local color and the energy of the chef made for a pleasant half-hour or so.
Irvine was also a useful part of the Food TV "family" they keep trying to foist off on us. (You know--beautiful-but-rivalrous Giada and Rachel, corny and horny Aunt Paula, classy Aunt Ina, favorite nephew Guy Fieri, who I really can't stand, and I'm-the-only-normal-one-around-here cousin Alton. Call him Uncle Bob, the relative most likely to lift Aunt Paula over his head and carry her out to the backyard as a show of strength.
So he lied. He's a television personality, not a school bus driver. Exactly what does he have to be?
Yes, it is a good idea for foodie celebrities to be upfront about their actual qualifications, but after you know that Alton has studied video production, food preparation and public speaking, what more do you need srom him--two stages with the Troisgros brothers and a Food Safety Certificate? That wouldn't make him a better Alton. For that matter, does Ed Levine need some kind of documentation to prove that he's the Dean of New York Eats? And why are you reading this blog? I'm going to be a licensed social worker and I am legally allowed to drive in the State of New York, but that doesn't have anything to do with food knowledge, does it?
I say, leave Chef Robert alone. He shouldn't have lied. But he certainly has the PERSONALITY to be on TELEVISION, and what else does he need?