Alice Waters and Jacques Pepin — two of the most iconic figures in modern gastronomy — are speaking out against the pop culture element of cooking. At a panel for the Television Critics Association press tour, during which they promoted their coming PBS documentary series Chefs Flight, Waters and Pepin decried cooking shows like Top Chef and Chopped as a “disservice” to the industry.
“That’s not what’s cooking is all about,” Pepin, the internationally renowned chef known for his non-competitive cooking shows with Julia Child, told reporters. “That kind of confrontation that you have there is not really how you learn to cook. Or how you understand food.”
Executive producer and director Peter L. Stein lamented that cooking shows replace real skill and artistry with the high-stakes drama of a reality TV show, skewing what a kitchen is really like.
“We’re teaching fast-food values of our country in those competition cooking shows,” said Waters, who is known as the mother of Californian cuisine. “Cooking really is something that can be very meditative. It’s never about competition. It’s about the pleasure of dealing with real food and learning about yourself.”
Chefs Flight will premiere in May on PBS as part of American Masters’ 31st season.