Monday, April 4, 2011

Team Chopped / Team Iron Chef

Last night, my daughter and I watched episodes of Chopped in which famous chefs--heard of Jacques Torres, anyone?-- battle for the title of the All Stars Chopped Grand Champion. Even though the show is like the more famous Iron Chef, I enjoy watching this much more. Why? Because the judges on Chopped are all highly-experienced chefs, unlike the celebrities and actors who perform the judging on the other show.


I have often wondered how the contestants on Iron Chef feel about being judged by people who are not trained in their art. Kinda like Hilary Hahn and Joshua Bell being judged by violin students.

Receiving critiques is hard, no matter who gives it, but I imagine it would be a little easier to hear commentaries from someone who have had much training and experience in the field.

Seems like Chopped provides a better way of judgment, no? I watched Chopped, but I would squirm and lose interest if I had to watch Iron Chef.

But.

In real life, chefs cook for patrons, who, unlike food critiques, may not care about how difficult it is to produce souffles that rise just so, or how much acid is needed to balance a particularly oily fish. They just want to eat good food.

You know exactly how I am going to relate this to writing, don't you? Every published work is judged. Some works are loved by those in the know and some are loved by the masses and some by people from both camps. (I resisted the urge to use parenthesis around the two groups of people, but by golly, I really need you to know that I am aware of how unnuanced I am to put people into two neat groups like that. And isn't this the perfect example of how we want to appeal to those who do the same thing as we do, a certain understanding, or maybe even affirmation?)

As a writer, do you have a preference for which group of people you wish would value your work? Assuming there is a show like Chopped and another like Iron Chef for writers and you can only be a contestant in one or the other, which would you choose?

7 comments:

Janet Johnson said...

Great point! We do have people judge our works who don't necessarily know our craft. But I've found that those critiques are usually less helpful because they say "I thought it was slow" (for example) but have no suggestions to help fix it.

By the way, you won over at my blog! E-mail me your address and I'll send you your prize!

rjljohnson(dot)janet(at)gmail(dot)com

Yat-Yee said...

I did? Thanks! It was a fun contest.

Domey Malasarn said...

Yat-Yee, first of all, I was totally depressed that Anne Burrell didn't win. But, I'll move on.

I have really changed my position on this over the years. For the longest time, I would have always favored the experienced judge. But, in the last couple of years, I lean more towards the common reader or the masses. Often, I think the reader, or inexperienced writer is perhaps the better way of describing this, is still just as discriminating, they just don't have the vocabulary to express themselves. They voice their opinions by putting the book down midway or by not telling their friends about it. When the reader likes something, whatever that something is probably has some value, even if I can't appreciate it.

Also, though, I think even the masses needed to experience a lot of writing to get better at judging. If someone has only read two books in their lifetime, I wouldn't trust their opinion over someone who has read 500 books. The masses who read a lot. They would be the people I would want judging me.

And, this is very rambly. Sorry.

MG Higgins said...

What Domey said. (Yes, riding on the coattails of another commenter is lazy and lame, but I really do agree with him.)

Yat-Yee said...

Domey: I liked so many I couldn't decide who should win. When it came to the final two though, I was totally rooting for Nick.

You've pointed to a group of people whose impression I value: avid readers.

MG: when something you want to express is already being done by someone else, I see no reason to reinvent the wheel! So riding on Domey's coattails is very much a good thing to do!

jbchicoine said...

Of course, I want aproval from both proper writers and generic readers! Since I don't care about being the next big thing, right now I'd prefer the accolades from my peers (since you're making me choose! :))

Laoch of Chicago said...

I think on some level the answer to your question depends upon your motivations.