tifosi77 wrote:In fact, when any of the current generation of Food Network automatons get skewered in the media, I'm all for it. They all trade on the strength of a brand rather than their food chops. With the exception of Giada De Laurentiis and Ina Garten, they're all a bunch of no-talent hacks.
i think there is a delineation between the food network puppets (the aforementioned fieri-types) and the chefs with personality. I think people like zakarian, conant, & murphy are very intelligent when it comes to cooking and the expression of the how-to's and what not. then you have a couple of in-betweeners that dont really present anything incredibly well, but are decent personalities. aaron sanchez would fit in this category.
There are plenty of people on Food Network today who have great talent, like most of the people you cite there. But they are being made to dumb down their presentation to a least-common-denominator level that's frankly insulting, or they are relegated to making a few snarky comments as judges on ICA
. When I hear about a show pairing Chris Cosentino and Aaron Sanchez..... I don't want that show to be a reality-type competition show/road buddy pic.
blackjack68 wrote:Where would you put Bobby Flay?
Flay can cook, no doubt. I've eaten at Mesa Grill in Vegas and was certainly delicious. Not set-the-world-on-fire delicious, but certainly worth $20 a plate for an entree.
Remember, back in the day when TV Food Network first premiered, the stand-and-stir shows were dominated by chefs, in chef whites, talking authoritatively about food and cooking with a gravitas that no one in jeans and a casual shirt can ever convey. Molto Mario
remains, imo, the single most useful instructional cooking show that has ever been produced*. You got geography lessons, learned why certain geography led to certain types of cuisine, you got history lessons and learned why southern Italian food is more closely related to the cooking of Morocco than it is to Milan, you learned that the recipe for a dish might vary from town to town, and possibly even from house to house within a town. And even if the original hosts didn't present their shows in official chef garb, they at least had some culinary credibility prior
to getting a show. Feniger & Miliken, Rocco Di Spirito, Michael Chiarello, even Padma Lakshmi.... they were all successful chefs/restaurateurs/cookbook authors before they ever stepped in front of a camera. Even Anthony Bourdain got his television start on the old Food Network.
You get none of that added perspective from the current slate of shows, even from the professional chefs (like Anne Burrell). And that perspective is absolutely crucial
to understanding food and cooking on anything other than a surface level. It's a bunch of generic characters who are more accurately described as TV show hosts that happen to know a thing or two about cooking slightly-better-than-average hamburgers or pork chops.
But as the network grew in popularity, they realized that they needed to broaden their reach and appeal to a wider audience of people who were interested in a more utilitarian approach to cooking. Ground zero for this sea change? Rachael Ray. When she outdid Flay, Batali, etc as the most popular personality on the network, that was the end of the road. There was no going back, ever.
* To my knowledge, the only shows that I've seen that have come close to Molto Mario
are Made in Spain
with Jose Andres, In Search of Perfection
with Heston Blumenthal, and Avec Eric
with Eric Ripert. They are a little less detailed in the history of food, but had the advantage of being shot 'on location' with studio-based recipe demonstrations supplementing the travelogues.