For its eighth season, Top Chef objective changes almost everything. Even Philippe Etchebest decided to twist his look with a mustache! Rest assured, this is not the greatest novelty that the culinary competition has to offer from this Monday, September 5 at 6:40 p.m. on M6. The academy opened last year is already closing its doors, making way for the ephemeral restaurant. From now on, anonymous customers and personalities will be able to taste the dishes offered by the candidates.
Among the guests are David Douillet, Jérémy Frérot, Diane Leyre, Tibo Inshape and Juju Fitcats, but also large families, dancers from the Moulin Rouge, bikers and firefighters. “We are in a kitchen that is both a vector of excellence but we also wanted proximity, an accessible kitchen close to our daily lives”, justifies Guillaume Charles, general manager of programs at M6. At the end of the competition, the price remains unchanged: the winner will join the blue brigade of Top chef next year.
Pierre Chomet to the rescue
Outside a new filming location (chosen to allow Philippe Etchebest to shoot the show during the day and to be in the kitchen of his restaurant in the evening), the guests give their opinion and even hold decision-making power. . “They are not there to be extras”, warns the chef. During the first test, anonymous people and celebrities choose the plate they liked the least. Automatically, the person who concocted it will be sent to the elimination session.
Even if he does not have the right to direct them, a new kid will be there to collect their impressions. This is Pierre Chomet, emblematic face of the twelfth season of Top chef, reached the quarter-finals. “When I left, a lot of people came to see me telling me that I was doing well on TV, it stayed in the back of my mind”, he testifies. So when the channel asks him if he wants to accompany Philippe Etchebest, without even knowing what show it was, the chef accepts right away. After casting and viewing the images internally, he joined the adventure.
New mechanics for a “better reading” of the public
“Until now, I was alone, I had to meet the families, talk with them, relates Philippe Etchebest. The arrival of Pierre relieves me in the daily shooting and allows me to concentrate more on the culinary part and the training of young people”. Because there too, there is change with a considerable reduction in the number of participants (we go from 108 candidates last season to 60 this year) and a new mechanic. Each week, six competitors compete and one of them is eliminated each day. On Friday, the two finalists try to get their ticket to the national final.
What pleases Philippe Etchebest is entering the competition “from the start” by first involving the candidates in pairs, then seeing their abilities when they cook alone. What changes for viewers is that they will be able to become attached to the cast much more quickly. “Before, I saw all the candidates but perhaps the viewers could forget the first who came on the show, recognizes the juror of Top chef. There, we see them, we identify them and it is easier to follow them. This allows a better reading on the part of the viewers”. The chef, therefore, also coaches them more diligently.
A high level of requirement for more results
This cast, precisely, does it have the level to integrate Top chef ? The question does not even arise for Philippe Etchebest. “I received three-star chefs who were blown away by what was presented,” he promises. The candidates are conditioned, I push them to go further and I myself am surprised at where they can go. The room for improvement is obvious”. And if none of them bluff you from the first episodes, it is also the case of the chef. “Perhaps my demands are too high from the start, but that’s why we have results,” he says.
The bar is set high and things cannot be otherwise. The mentor swears it, he would not have “supported” that a person integrates the contest because it is telegenic. “What interests me is the culinary, I have no time to waste with people who have nothing to do in the program,” he asserts. And it is with the same outspokenness that the restaurateur will put pressure on the cooks to test and stress them. Such a situation will destabilize more than one candidate, and will soften more than one viewer.