|Viet Pham serving up goat meat at Forage's 3-year anniversary.|
"Extreme Chef" watchers: Am I the only one who thinks that Viet Pham is coming across as a bit of a bossy know-it-all?
I've actually met the guy, and he's a lot more personable than how he appears so far on the Food Network series. (Here's an update on Viet Pham's upcoming gig, The Next Food Network Star).
Last weekend he was out barbecuing a couple of goats for the third anniversary celebration of Forage, the restaurant he and Bowman Brown own in downtown Salt Lake City. It was a fun backyard type of afternoon for many Forage friends and customers, who brought potluck dishes to share at the event. (Goat? You may be wondering if this was a throwback to an "Extreme Chef" episode. But it happens that goat is the most widely consumed meat in the world.)
At the party, Viet seemed to be having a good time as he greeted people and cut up pieces of goat meat. (For my original interview with Viet, click here.)
But on the show, he seems more brash. First, last night's episode showed Viet trash-talking with chef Scott Brandolini while making vanilla-scented squid with ratatouille out of Coast Guard MREs (ready-to-eat meals). While Viet sounded good-natured, Brandolini didn't seem happy when Viet warned that he would send him home to Boston.
|Viet Pham of "Extreme Chef" cooks goat at his restaurant, Forage.|
Later he showed his teammate, Tiffany Ward, how to chop veggies quickly, leading her to comment, "Viet is a pretentious chef, a bit of a know-it-all," and "I'm getting so sick of Viet. I envy his knowledge and that makes me kind of hate him."
Other comments during the show:
"Viet is a little bit full of himself," from Susanne Dillingham, the Charlotte chef who lost the one-bite challenge and was sent packing last night.
"Viet bothered me when he tried to manipulate our decision," from Issy Sarto, who had to pair up teams and later, decide which chef would join Susanne in the one-bite challenge.
Meanwhile, some of Viet's comments about the other chefs weren't so positive, either, such as "Tiffany's a wreck."
But Viet's culinary expertise continues to shine, as he handled exotic seafood such as squid and sea urchin as easily as the rest of us make peanut butter sandwiches. His physical toughness is also apparent, as he kept up with windsurfer Tiffany while swimming to find ingredients. He remains calm and collected during moments that would fluster just about anyone. All of this, of course, makes his a threat to the other chefs, so no wonder they're grumbling about him.
In contrast, I felt relieved when Susanne went home, because I feared she was going to drown during the swimming segment.
Viewers certainly don't see everything that goes on 24/7 in a TV reality show. The end product is usually stronger on "show" than "reality." Producers like to show big personalities, and give viewers reasons to cheer for or against someone. I've met past contestants on reality series who claimed that they were unfairly portrayed, with their incidents of bad behavior blown out of proportion and their acts of kindness never shown. On the flip side, we hear stories of contestants who are not as nice as we thought. It's just that their nasty behavior was never aired.
A little drama makes a show more interesting, but it can also wreak havoc. In this last season of "The Biggest Loser," contestants seemed so hateful and unlikeable that by the time they staged a strike and two of them quit the show, viewers had already stopped watching.
It's true that you can't edit quotes INTO a show, if someone doesn't say them. But there are a lot of things that get said, especially in the heat of a challenge. So a lot of picking and choosing goes on in the editing room.
It will be interesting to watch the next episodes to see how Viet's personality evolves.