First and foremost, I am a die-hard fan of reality cooking shows, but not reality shows, in general. I find the food element to be both tantalizing to the senses and an invigorating part of the competitive nature of the program. At first, I thought it would be as intriguing, if not more, than some of its fellow programs such as Top Chef, Chopped, and Iron Chef America. However, it simply is not. Although he seems to prepare mouth-watering dishes and seems to be a decent instructor (at least from I can glean from the editing of the show), Chef Novelli simply does not seem to really ever follow through on his threats to actually cut anyone. Essentially, if any of the students fail three cooking tests, they are expelled, which is represented by acquiring red dots by their names on a magnetic board. At this point in the season, most of the students have earned two red dots and the rest one red dot. However, this system simply means nothing because Chef Novelli appears hesitant to follow through on his threat to actually expel anyone. Even after he completely rakes someone over the coals for their dish or it is apparent to even the most untrained eye that the food is sub-par, he allows them to pass the test. So, all bark and no bite?
Now, don't get me wrong. I am very happy that there is not a snarky British judge who gains pleasure from cutting contestants and ripping them to shreds. However, why establish rules and regulations if you, as the owner of the academy, will not enforce them? It is refreshing to see that Chef Novelli actually wants to keep the students there and for them to succeed, but at the end of the day it is a competition and unlike little league soccer, not everyone can be a winner.
Also, I do appreciate that the focus mostly remains on the students experience at the school. The coverage given to their personal lives, alliances, bonds, etc. is kept at a minimum and that is refreshing. After all, the show is called "Chef Academy" not "Who Wants to Be a Chef."