Tom Colicchio is the head judge on Top Chef
Not everyone is thrilled with the first episode of Top Chef: Charleston specifically
the choice of filming the oyster roast Sudden Death Cook-Off at former slave plantation Boone Hall. And those upset about it are letting judge Tom Colicchio know on Twitter.
It appears to have started this morning when Twitter users began to question the celebrity chef. Twitter user @mnitach addressed Colicchio with, "Watching first episode Top Chef now. Disgusted that they are filming at a slave plantation, with no context. C'mon @tomcolicchio, why??"
Colicchio responded, "Sorry we offended you. Places like Auschwitz and Boone plantation are open so we don't forget how heartless people can be."
"Would you have filmed your cooking show at Auschwitz in front of the ovens?" @mnitabach responded. To which Colicchio reminded him that Amazing Race shot at Auschwitz.
That response didn't sit well with @PutinistaJonez who snapped back at Colicchio, "But you don't film lighthearted episodes in the kitchens of Auschwitz, do you? Black pain is trivial to you people. You're monsters."
To which Colicchio responded, "You people, monsters. That's helpful."
For those who missed episode one, the final segment took place at Boone Hall Plantation's Cotton Dock event space (the frequent site of weddings and parties). As the Sudden Death contestants — John Tesar and Gerald Sombright — arrived, driving past a line of original slave cabins (referred to as Slave Street), Sombright, an African American, commented, "It feels very surreal. The place is so beautiful, but this is a place where people where treated less than a human being in and had an experience that we're still trying to get out of now." As the car pulled up to the Cotton Dock, Sombright added, "I like how this town doesn't shy away from its history."
That soundbite of recognition for the atrocity of slavery wasn't enough for many viewers, however.
Another Twitter user, @dulcia25, chimed in, "I'm so confused. #TopChef filmed at a plantation to help viewers understand how heartless people can be?" To which Colicchio responded, "We chose the location because we wanted to show the complete history of Charlesron."
Colicchio continued to defend the show's location choice, responding to another tweet of "I'm so pissed at this and I'm a #TopChef super fan. I wonder why @tomcolicchio is not understanding why this looks so bad SMDH," by saying:
"I understand how bad this looks which is precisely why I brought it up and am willing to discuss it."
When asked if he and producers had discussed how to approach the situation of filming at a former slave plantation, he had this to say. "Absolutely, we could have easily cut out where we were shooting and played as a location near a marsh."
Prior to Top Chef: Charleston
's debut, Colicchio told Post & Courier
's Hanna Raskin that season 14 would try "to grapple with the racial dimensions of the Lowcountry’s culinary heritage." We suspect Twitter debates weren't what he'd originally had in mind, but the discussion is certainly happening now.