Plate dropping happy Bruce Lim on AFC's Next Celebrity Chef

My wife is among the big fans of cooking contest shows on TV, and through Asian Food Channel (AFC) available in Indonesian under the Telkomvision network in Indonesia, she has got a good choice of shows. On the other hand, I prefer more adventurous and food review kinds like the Makansutra by K.F. Seetoh, and Taste of Indonesia by Bondan & Gwen Winarno. I myself sometimes watch Australian Junior MasterChef, mostly due to the cheerful atmosphere and attitudes of both the contestants and the judges.

A new cooking show came to AFC however, garnered my attention. It's the "AFC's Next Celebrity Chef", which competes chefs from Asian countries in series of cooking competition. My intention however, lies more upon the interest if any Indonesian chefs participates in the show, and it quickly fades as well with the confusion of the show's true intention: is it a cooking contest or a drama tv show?

While I don't deny that drama attracts, but I think AFC's Next Celebrity Chef has taken it over the top. Episodes after episodes, it got more focused toward how the contestants feels about the jury's treatment, especially with chef Bruce Lim, and less on the cooking itself.

Who is Bruce Lim?

For you who are not familiar with chef Bruce Lim, he's a nice and warm looking guy who already hosts "Tablescapes" on AFC, which introduces the modernized Philippines cuisine and cooking.

On the contrary with his previous image though, on AFC's Next Celebrity Chef, Bruce had transformed into a brassy character which on many occasions does not restrain himself from sending plates of cooking into the ground smashing, as a sign of his disapproval with the contestant's cooking quality -- a show that often left the contestant gawked or frozen in humiliation.

My biggest question is, whether chef Bruce Lim is really one bad ass plate slamming chef in real life? Because if he doesn't, then this is a serious case of over-dramatization and bad role-playing.

While it might be tempting to become Gordon Ramsay, he lives his life living in that character and not just on-stage. With Bruce Lim however, the character is inconsistent hence it's confusing; on one side he shows a hearty and warm character upon hosting Tablescapes, while on Next Celebrity Chef suddenly he's becoming the over-critical plate-slamming-happy brazen jury. Which one is his true face? Because now every times I see Bruce on Tablescapes, I imagined him smashing plates to the ground, and while watching Next Celebrity Chef, I imagined his soft and mellow character on Tablescapes: confusing.

Becoming TV Personality

The key to become a TV personality is first of all, that you get the airtime (duh!). An important thing you have to do afterward, is to maintain at all time the consistency of your character's branding. Just like Gordon Ramsay is the kitchen bad boy, Andrew Zimmern is the happy adventurous food lover, Anthony Bourdain is the classy rebellious food traveller, Jamie Oliver is the smart and casual cooking prodigy, while Nigella Lawson is the Queen of Food Porn, they all have -- working through the years -- constantly shown their unique personality throughout shows they hosts, books written, hence the character sticks.

As with Bruce Lim, what will he become? He's fairly less known, even though having some impressive background and experiences, and he's suddenly in a bad mood too often. Seeing Bruce dumps plate on Next Celebrity Chef does not painting him as an someone interesting, but chaotic and a Ramsay's wannabe instead.

Even with his well known harsh chef-mode temperament, Gordon Ramsay in Hell's Kitchen still reserves himself from doing the expected, and in American MasterChef it's Joe Bastianich who does the food dumping more often than Ramsay.

The "I-must-become-the-bad-boy-personality-because-it-looks-like-fun" attitude however, seems to be prone happening to TV personalities -- or even celebrities -- without conscious awareness of their personal branding, or having one at all. I still remember raising my eyebrows during the first season of Indonesian Idols was aired on TV; almost all of the judges, who usually known as cool and positive people, suddenly turned into this over-critical and harsh Simon Cowell's (bad) imitation. And they don't share roles but all wanting to become Simon. Imagine the chaos it produced?

On the other hand I have also become amazed on most times Steven Tyler gave comments during his role as the American Idol's jury. Is he really actually that smart and warm? During the show, Steven lavishly throwing "so good" and "lovely" to performances he likes -- without hesitation, which is so humble and on the contrary to his perceived image as Aerosmith's front man, which most audience I believe expected a rather wild and bad-ass personality. And I have to raise my hat to all the American Idol judges along with Steven, who does not try to replace Simon role as the American Idol's bad boy.

Back to the show itself

As with the AFC's Next Celebrity Chef, they need to put up something more original and touching; not in the lebay* way of touching, but something that inspires. Brazen Bruce might launch the show's popularity, however it's quickly getting weary and lacked originality.

Instead, how about him doing Tinikling dance when he's happy, and Manu Siva Tau when he's not? (byms)

*over dramatization.