The "Top Chef" franchise is huge: there are cookbooks, Quickfire wines, cookware, and all kinds of other media tie-ins. And then, of course, there are the spin-off series: "Top Chef: Just Desserts," "Top Chef Masters," and a whole host of "Top Chef" shows licensed out to foreign countries. But according to Wikipedia, we should brace ourselves for yet another "Top Chef" series, tentatively titled "Top Chef Junior."
Here a synopsis: "'Top Chef Junior' is a tentatively-titled upcoming American reality competition show that will air on the cable television network Bravo. It is expected that teenage chefs will compete against each other in weekly challenges...The show is produced by Magical Elves Productions, the same company that created and produces 'Top Chef.' Bravo has ordered eight episodes; currently no air date has been set."
But with Bravo airing some version of "Top Chef" for most of the year, will "Top Chef" fans even want to see another installment in the "Top Chef" series? Particularly one that stars teenagers?
On the one hand, "Top Chef Masters" often fails to get our hearts racing because the stakes are so low: The chefs on "Masters" are already well-established and are playing for charity. It makes for better dishes, but for less excitement. Seeing teens try to prove themselves would certainly be more interesting than watching established chefs who are borderline celebrities.
On the other hand, teens may not have enough experience to handle the stresses of competition. Their inexperience may mean that the producers are limited in terms of how complex and innovative their challenges might be.
Also, what constitutes a teen in the minds of the producers? There's a very big difference in a "Top Chef" show that follows 13-year-old chefs versus 18- or 19-year-old chefs who might already have some professional kitchen experience or even some form of culinary schooling under their belts. How exactly do these kids get picked to be on the show?
Another problem we foresee in a teenage "Top Chef" series is a reliance on interpersonal drama. While we enjoy a good kitchen conflict among adult chefs, the potential for the show to rely on cattiness, sexual tension, or obnoxious tomfoolery seems awfully high.
"Top Chef" has been about pushing the boundaries of the culinary arts for years, and it seems that unless "Top Chef Junior" has some truly exceptional talent, this spin-off will seem like a huge step backward. And really, could there be a more terrible name for the show than "Top Chef Junior"?