You Say Toe-May-Toe…

I just watched the Toby Young/Michelle Bernstein spat on this week’s Top Chef regarding the pronunciation of “paella” and – weird as it is to say this – I totally agree with Toby Young. Unless you’re actually Spanish or in Spain, you should be pronouncing it with hard Ls. Pie-el-la.

But this argument made me realise that after watching four seasons of Top Chef, it’s time something was said:


I mean, you’re chefs, for fuck’s sake. This should be sorted out by now. Every week, someone does a risotto. Every week, my wife and I facepalm at the apparent inability to pronounce this word. I think at this stage we’re actually dealing with willful ignorance instead.

This week, one dickbag chef decided to go one step further, pronouncing saltimbocca as ‘salt-im-boe-ka.’ PRO TIP: you’re wrong.

Update: Likewise, when I’m back home in Ireland, I’d be more likely to be understood if I asked for a “broo-shet-ah”, versus what I’d say in Italy, which is “Broo-sket-tah”.

* Like the ‘paella’ thing, this is the standard ‘international’ pronunciation. If you’re Italian or in Italy, it’s more like “ree-sot-toe”.


9 thoughts on “You Say Toe-May-Toe…

  1. Seamus says:
    Yeah, I completely agree. Another one that bugs me is ERB. It’s HERB! I can’t think of anymore mis-pronunciations offhand but there’s been quite a few in Top Chef. One that did crack me up this week was Suzanne on Hell’s Kitchen who pronounced Halibut as HALIBOW.
  2. Jen says:
    Never heard it any other way than paella “y”sound. Any other way sounds a bit ignarant. It’s a Spanish recipe with a Spanish pronounciation. By the way… I am not hispanic. I’m just a foodie. Occasionaslly I hear it pronounced differently in Britain, but that is not the standard.
    • johnke says:
      @Jen – Toby Young’s point was that, again, unless you’re a Spanish speaker, you don’t say “meh-hee-co”, you say “mecks-ee-co.” But I guess it’s a slightly different point and one I wouldn’t dare argue seriously. I mean, “pie-ey-ya” is a proper pronunciation, and I think it’s just personal preference as to which one you choose. “Riz-oh-toe” is no kind of proper pronunciation of that word.
  3. seamus says:
    Just a stray observation on this week’s episode. If you freeze frame it when they show the checkout til screen in Wholefoods you can see the date is 16th May 2009. I’m gonna pay attention to this in future weeks to see how spaced out the challenges are.
  4. Del says:
    LOL – I’ve always had an extremely angry response to the riz-oh-toe pronunciation. I can kind of forgive the “erb” Vs. “herb” thing, though I don’t know why. You want to know the one that really makes me want to go postal?? Read this word out loud … it’s a nice sweet (candy) or a type of sauce to pour on ice-cream: CARAMEL. Not fucking CAR-MUL!!!! For us Irish, CARMUL is a woman’s name (though spelt differently). GRRRR
  5. Michael says:
    Good god man are you retarded?! I suppose you eat Tor-tiL-ah chips and fah-Gee-tas too? Perhaps you wash it down with some nice Te-QWee-la? Or if you’re a wine fan, Pee-noT or CaberneT? Honest to god, my jaw dropped when Toby Young, moron that he (and you apparently) was when he chided the other judges on their pronunciation. That Tom Colicchio didn’t have the balls to tell him he was an idiot was mind boggling. Oh, wait, sorry, you’d prefer Coli-chee-oh, not Coli-kee-oh. Next time you go to the Olive Garden make sure to order lasa-G-na. I’m sure that will go over really well. PRO TIP: Gain some culture before you can claim to know the “standard.”
  6. Right on, Johnke! Hey Michael, I suppose you say “Par-ee” and “Bear-leen” too? Asshat. PS: I’m Gordon Ramsey, I’ve got 30 Michelin stars, and I’m gonna make some fuckin’ pehsta!

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