Four Burning Questions About 'Top Chef'

I haven't been a 'Top Chef' fan for its entire run, but I've been watching it long enough to notice that a few odd things come up here and there, some involving the cheftestants themselves and others about the show in general. And all of it makes me scratch my head, just a little bit:

Why do so many of the chefs smoke? In a scene from last week's episode, Amanda is being grilled (pun intended) by Angelo and a few of her fellow cheftestants about her cooking methods. What struck me about this scene is that just about everyone in that scene was smoking (probably the house's designated smoking spot).

I know being a chef is a very stressful job, and I get that smoking is a way to deal with that stress. But when your palate is key to doing your job well, you have to wonder why these chefs would purposely handicap themselves by smoking, which has been shown to dull a person's taste buds.

It's like an opera singer screaming until she's hoarse or a hand model working in the garden without gloves. No wonder why some of these chefs think they "nailed" a dish that the judges think is horrible; they're tasting it with a layer of tar on their tongues.

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