Tonight’s a new episode of Top Chef: New York (oh, I pray to the spirit of Julia Child, please let Leah be booted) and thus another opportunity for judge Toby Young to prove once again that he’s the worst critic on TV, and yes, I’m not forgetting Ben Lyons.
Young arrived at Chef fresh (or rather, stale) from a stint reviewing restaurants for newspapers in his native England (sample bit of prose: “The ultimate test of a meal is whether it produces the same mouth-watering, eye-rolling effect that a donut has on Homer Simpson”–d’oh!), with a short stop at mini-celebrity for writing the book How To Lose Friends and Alienate People. As the weeks go by and Young’s pre-fab critiques now arrive with stand-up-comedy groans attached (“If I had to come up with a name for the dish, I’d call in Pablo Escolar“–thanks folks, be sure to tip your waitress!), we must wonder: Why did Young get this Chef gig? His descriptions of food veer off into lame movie or TV references instead of–well, food. And it’s not as though he’s a brilliant Brit wit–the Chef producers would have done better to import Nicholas De Jongh, the clever theater critic for Young’s former employer, The Evening Standard.
No, Toby Young will not do. He’s mucking up a season of Chef that needs all the liveliness it can get. If I had to come up with a name for his work, it would be (this is my salute to Young’s groaners) Toby Or Not Toby. I pick Not-Toby, please.