"It really would have gone nowhere to sit up there and fight with Josie (Smith-Malave). We would have both just ended up looking really stupid." -Kristen Kish, Top Chef Season 10, Chowder-Boston Magazine interview by Christopher Hughes, January 17, 2013
In January 16th Top Chef episode, I saw something I have rarely if ever seen on television — or in real life. I saw honor on full display.
I think almost everybody watching was blown away with not just respect but shock. Honor is a foreign concept in the era of Narcissism, where the end goal is to always win while appropriating sainthood.
On Top Chef”s infamous Restaurant Wars, top contender, Chef de Cuisine of Boston’s Stir – BL Gruppo, Kristen Kish took full responsibility for the Bouillabaisse dish made ineptly by teammate Josie. Kish was in charge of her French restaurant. She felt she should’ve maintained better control and not been so overly ambitious with the menu. During judging, her losing team stood there, with Josie making excuses and throwing her leader Kish under the bus. Josie made it sound like — by leaving out a few crucial details, like her own bad time management and insubordination — it was all Kish’s fault in a desperate attempt to stay in the game.
Despite the judges practically begging Kish to elaborate on what really happened in the kitchen, this Korean-American beauty refused to lower herself and went down with the ship. This is unheard of. Most people, on TV and in real life, would never stand there and take the bullshit trash talk of an obvious coward the way Kish did with Josie. They’d defend themselves. They’d want to clear the air and maintain the integrity of their character.
Kristen Kish did by taking full responsibility as the team leader, bowing her head, taking her punishment like man, and walking away. She let her actions and the caliber of her work do all the talking.
We could all learn from her. I know I could.
I am the last person with any honor. I was the first person online to trash-talk the Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi and contender Josie. I let my emotions overcome my better sense.
I am so wrapped up in demanding justice, I forget honor every time.
But the fact of the matter is, even if Kish did what we all wished she’d done — let Josie have it — the resulting fight wouldn’t have accomplished anything. Beyond just honor, I think Kish pragmatically considered the cost benefit to telling the judges everything. In a January 17th Boston Magazine “Chowder” interview, Kish told writer Christopher Hughes that defending her honor at the cost of hurt feelings and the headache of a neverending she said/she said fight simply wasn’t worth the trouble. “It really would have gone nowhere to sit up there and fight with Josie (Smith-Malave). We would have both just ended up looking really stupid.”
Even on her Twitter, Kish is asking fans to ease up on the hate spewed against Josie because it’s unkind. Class all the way.
She also felt so shaky and so unsure of her words that she wisely kept silent about the Josie matter. Hey, we’ve all been there.
Whatever the reason, Kristen Kish won the 10th season of Top Chef by not winning (so far).
If you can’t understand that, then go watch Josie talk a good game.