My Dirty Little Secret

So,  how many of you have a dirty little secret? You know, maybe you have a barely-controlled shopping addiction, held in check exclusively by the limit on your credit card. Maybe it’s your inability to not get chocolate on your way out of the grocery store, or you watch “American Idol” he same way some people go to church.

Maybe you still listen to Vanilla Ice. . .

Either way, we all have dirty little secrets. Few of us are willing to admit what they are, but some of us are more (or less) embarrassed by them than others. Mine is Top Chef.

I am hooked on that show like a kid on sugar, like a bully on lunch money, like a crackhead on, well, crack. I have a Top Chef  cookbook. I (secretly) want a Top Chef apron (and a reason to wear it). I desperately want to stay awake on Wednesday nights to watch it, even though it comes on at 10, which, for a teacher who gets up at 4:45, is about the same as midnight.

Only slightly less interesting is Top Chef Masters, where established chefs go through the same torture that contestants, or “chef-testants” as they’re called on the show, go through.

Therein lies my problem.

The most recent winner of Top Chef Masters, Chris Cosentino of Incanto restaurant in San Francisco, is a “meat-guy.” He has a tattoo of a pig, in it’s butcher parts, on his arm. He won with a first course of “beef-heart tar-tare and foie gras.” He called it a love letter to his wife. His Twitter handle is @OffalChris.

I rooted for him.

His final dish was a number of things that I am super conflicted about, but all of which I cannot stand, and I rooted for him.

I feel like I’m a bad vegan.

The number of animals that had to doe solely for the pleasure of food critics’ palates in this one episode is offensive, to say nothing of the number over the whole season. Why aren’t I furious?

Why aren’t I offended?

Why aren’t I writing to Bravo to get them to stop the cruelty?

Why aren’t I changing the channel?

Why am I looking forward to Top Chef Seattle, where I imagine the ocean will be over-fished, animals will be slaughtered, and cruelty will win?

See, my dirty little secret is that I love the competition between people who cook things that I would never even consider in ways that I’ve only heard of, for people who have forgotten more about food that I’ll ever know. I’m jealous of them, all of them, and I want to be a chef.

Not just a cook (I already am one, as the Blonde doesn’t cook), and not just a good cook (I’m one of those too. Just ask the Blonde). But a chef. I want people’s eyes to roll back in their heads when they eat my food, and I want to see people’s emotions take control over their frontal lobes when my flavors first hit their palates.

I want to be a Top Chef.

I just want to not have to harm any animals to do it. Is that so much to ask? I made seitan sausages for my and the Blonde’s anniversary. They were good. If we had fennel or celery seeds they would have been awesome.

I make pasta sauce. I make hummus. I make pretty much everything that we want to eat. Be patient, I’ll make vegan mozzarella too. I can cook. I just want to be better, and I see the techniques on thsi show as a way of improving, but I also see the waste.

I see the chefs make 12 dishes, and then only serve 4. I know they have to make one for the photographer, but what about the other seven? What happens to them? I see chefs spend hundreds of dollars on food, usually at Whole Foods, most of it on meat, and I wonder, “Are they buying free-range? Are they buying grass-fed? Is it all factory-farmed meat and eggs?”

These are the people making our food when we go out to eat, and they are spending thousands of dollars on destroying something that I support.

So what do I do? I know that if I feel “forced” to stop watching Top Chef that there’s a 50% chance that I’ll react violently in the opposite direction out of spite, and do something drastic, like eat a cheeseburger with mayonnaise on it. (Thankfully, just typing this made me nauseated.)

In all honesty, is watching this show an indictment of my own beliefs? Does it make me a hypocrite, or just a sucker? Help!

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~ by VegansHusband on September 30, 2012.

8 Responses to “My Dirty Little Secret”

  1. Dude, don’t be so hard on yourself, while I don’t have cable, I couldn’t stop watching the food network last time I was on vacation. It’s fascinating, endlessly so to see how people create things. Yeah, I was a bit revolted by all the meat, but it just gave me more amazing ideas about how to improve my own cooking. Turn your passion into something good. Go to vegan culinary school for crying out loud. You’d be stellar!

    Oh and my dirty secret is definitely the chocolate one. Can’t leave the store without it…

    • Don’t tell the blonde, but I’m considering taking a few classes at a culinary school, just to figure out what I’m doing when I cook, you know?

      I also am reading up on a cooking textbook that a student left in my room many years ago. I’ll try to get some cool pics from that up at some point.

      BTW, chocolate is the blonde’s DLS too.

      • DO IT! I’ve only started working on food presentation recently since I figured I gotta make vegan food LOOK GOOD so people will want to make it and realize how tasty and easy it is.

  2. I love the cooking channel. I was watching Top Chef but missed the last season due to a crazy schedule. Like you, I would love to be a chef and I think that is why I enjoy the cooking shows. I like the technique. I love the new combinations of foods that I never would have thought of. And the presentation or plating is like true art to me. Yes, I have the guilt about the animals that are killed and I have to look away often. But I also continue to believe that one day a vegan will make it to Top Chef. After all, vegan chef Chloe Coscarelli won Food Network’s Cupcake Wars last year.

  3. Wow, I think so many of the same things when I watch the myriad of cooking shows I follow. I love, love, love Chopped and Iron Chef and both those shows have featured some decidedly gross ingredients. I’ve even thought about writing FN to suggest they do an all-vegan episode of Chopped.
    You can’t think that just because you watch those shows and enjoy them that it somehow lessens the positive impact you make by being vegan. I had to get over that fact a long time ago when I realized that short of going to live in a cave, I would never be able to avoid seeing waste and dead animals cooked for entertainment. I do get inspiration by watching all kinds of cooking shows. It’s how I came up with the key lime habanero cheesecake I presented at the Virtual Vegan Potluck last year. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be a better vegan chef and you take tips where you can get them. You’re not a hypocrite if it doesn’t compromise your actions.

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