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02 September 2008 @ 08:55 pm
I am consistently awed by the generosity of competitors  
I sometimes watch Food Network competitions; these are invitation-only, winner-take-all deals. The winner gets $10,000, and no one else gets anything except publicity.

And yet, the competitors are generous with each other.

The first time I saw this was, I don't know, a year ago maybe, when a team made a cake that was too heavy for them to move to the judging table. Just as they were about to resign, the other three teams all moved (rather like a flock of birds -- no sense of any consultation, just everyone did the same thing at the same time) to their kitchen to help with the job.

Today they went one step further. During the competition, one of the pastry chefs passed out. Literally stepped away from her cake, reached for her water bottle, and dropped. For a few minutes, it was controlled chaos: the challenge staff called 911 and started general first aid. The other competitors stopped what they were doing, probably more out of a sense of shock than a sense of fairness, but still. The judges stopped the clock. Everyone waited until the EMTs arrived and took her away on a stretcher (the announcement was made that she was okay, but they wanted to keep her under observation for a while).

The judges asked the assistant what she wanted to do. She looked simultaneously terrified and resolute, and said that she'd do her best to finish the cake on her own. The two guys in the kitchen next to her looked at each other, nodded, and stepped up. "We'll help. We're ahead of our schedule, and we'll help."

Granted, neither of those teams won, but they were both highly praised by Kerry Vincent (who gives every impression of being a major hard-ass as a judge) for their sportsmanship.
Bladerunner: good witchbldrnrpdx on September 3rd, 2008 01:48 am (UTC)
I've seen some of those competitions. I get the idea that the competitions are mostly about the publicity and the excitement of the challenge: "let's see what we can do with this idea and these limitations!", rather than the money/prize. That it's more about fun and imagination and innovation than actual competition. I've even seen the judges make suggestions on how to fix minor (or even to avoid major) problems.
Xiphias Gladiusxiphias on September 3rd, 2008 02:18 am (UTC)
$10,000 is not nothing, but, well, once you're at a certain level, getting a reputation as a decent person is even more valuable.

Especially among a community. There are only so many top chefs in the world, and if you are one of them, at some point, you're going to be working with the people you're competing against.

So it's actually to a person's benefit to act decently to get a reputation as a decent person, in order to be treated as a person who's worth treating decently.

Of course, the easiest way to get a reputation for being decent is to be decent. That's one of the saving graces of humanity, really. . . .
browngirl on September 3rd, 2008 12:19 pm (UTC)
*nod* Yes, this.
TSJAFOtsjafo on September 3rd, 2008 02:39 am (UTC)
I just watched most of that episode (I didn't get to see the end) and was just amazed by the way everyone reacted.
Janet Miles, CAP-OMjanetmiles on September 3rd, 2008 06:49 pm (UTC)
The winners were the team with the stacked square cakes, the couples' names spelled out on one tier, and the incredible array of gum-paste flowers.
Ellen: Chef Ellenindyellen on September 4th, 2008 02:00 am (UTC)
I've seen that one, and several others. I enjoy them thoroughly, for the most part, just for the creativity that is shown. Watch out for the one that is an "extreme" cake challenge; it's judged by Chef Duff from Ace of Cakes - there's one cake HE calls "too" extreme. ;)

And yes, I was highly impressed by the teamwork in that particular episode.
Maggiesillymagpie on September 6th, 2008 03:20 am (UTC)
FoodTV comptetitions--the last bastion of good sportsmanship. Who would've guessed?
Janet Miles, CAP-OMjanetmiles on September 6th, 2008 10:37 pm (UTC)
Not the last, by any means -- did you hear about the college softball tournament this spring?