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This is who Guy is: a product of all of his influences and passions
August 20, 2014 7:42 PM   Subscribe

Guy Fieri has made culinary TV into a viewer’s hell: "Unless I’m mistaken, you only had to give him one show." A thoughtful response from Allen Salkin, author From Scratch: Inside Food Network: "He isn’t the real problem at Food Network: The real problem is a loss of inventiveness at the company’s core." Leave Guy Fieri alone.

Previously on Metafilter: Guy Fieri's disastrously-reviewed American Kitchen and Bar 1, 2; meetup (liveblog)
posted by We had a deal, Kyle (115 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
It takes a Flavor Town to raise a Chili dawg.
posted by sharksandwich at 7:52 PM on August 20 [42 favorites]


Guy is also shouting for some reason. He is incessantly screaming at us to eat concoctions such as beer-battered meatball sandwiches, wrapped in a pizza and deep-fried in lard.

I dislike Fieri, but come on...the screaming... that last part is hate wrapped in journalistic ire.

And the little “cooking” there is left on the Food Network consists of soul-terrorists such as Sandra Lee bursting with pride because she came up with the ingenious idea of sprinkling some oregano on a can of Dinty Moore Beef Stew and calling it “a quick way to make dinner.” The last bastion of your former self, Ina Garten, might ask, “How bad can that be?” And the answer, Food Network, is: very.

Soul-terrorists? too stong...It's just food. The personal vendetta is tiresome.
posted by Benway at 8:05 PM on August 20 [3 favorites]


It would be OK with me if the Food Network showed Chopped round the clock, punctuated by Marcus Samuelsson smiling and Geoffrey Zakarian looking moderately disgusted.
posted by ChuraChura at 8:06 PM on August 20 [18 favorites]


I hate that these articles on Fieri always seem to take it as a matter of course that Fieri promotes an unhealthy lifestyle. Traveling around, meeting new people, and trying crazy pub food isn't an unhealthy lifestyle. An unhealthy lifestyle is watching TV every night eating the same packaged junk food until you fall asleep.
posted by roll truck roll at 8:09 PM on August 20 [24 favorites]


I don't get the guy's appeal, but the bashing got so ubiquitous and cheap and lazy that I found myself on his side.

Salkin's response is correct. The problem is that the network lost its soul and traded good content for safe, marketable pablum (Chopped excepted). People seem to care about what's in a Twinkie.

Do they even do a stand-up cooking show anymore?
posted by middleclasstool at 8:09 PM on August 20 [3 favorites]


Soul-terrorists? too stong


You have not witnessed the horror of the Kwanzaa cake.
posted by louche mustachio at 8:09 PM on August 20 [31 favorites]


Guy can be annoying, but the focus on competition shows turned me off more than he did. Haven't tuned in to the network in well over a year, and it used to be one of my favorites.
posted by gimli at 8:10 PM on August 20 [6 favorites]


It's all a part of the ever-changing balance of ratings vs. cheapness. Before Food Network most cooking shows were on public television because they didn't cost much. And Food Network was airing the same basic programming in the beginning. Then Emeril became a hit by adding more personality/live band/live audience/etc. for not much more money. Then reality TV came along and they realized you could get much better ratings for about the same money if you cut out the instructional part altogether, keep the personality, and relate it tangentially to food. No one was actually following the recipes anyway. So now they can still make cheap shows that draw in higher ratings than any traditional cooking show ever did and not spend much more than before.

Chopped and Iron Chef and so on cost more, but they're still basically game shows (which have always been cheap to produce) and they help maintain the prestige of high quality cuisine. Despite the fact that the other 60% of the day is just shots of random personalities shoving burgers in their faces.
posted by downtohisturtles at 8:14 PM on August 20 [5 favorites]


Traveling around, meeting new people, and trying crazy pub food isn't an unhealthy lifestyle.

Yeah, Fieri's TV persona is kind of a dink. But there's good stuff underneath those backwards sunglasses.

(You just need to know when to hit your mute button.)
posted by Cyrano at 8:17 PM on August 20


Also, Emeril's non-BAM cooking shows were quite good.

I still get occasionally mad that Molto Mario isn't a thing anymore, though.
posted by Cyrano at 8:21 PM on August 20 [5 favorites]


Food Network has "Good Eats", "30 Minute Meals" and "Chopped."

If Arthur C. Clarke had to beam a signal at the stars to aid aliens in preparing late 20th C. American cuisine under almost any conditions, that would be it.

1) Good Eats. Traditional foodways and sound theoretical backing paired with practical advice. Some of the recipes don't turn out as advertised, but you generally know enough by watching the show to correct what went wrong.

2) 30 Minute Meals. None of them take less than 30 minutes if you try them yourself. But you learn pragmatic shortcuts, how to plan a meal, and sound kitchen prep and organization (The "garbage bowl" - Changed. My. Life.)

3) Chopped. You get to see professionals sweat it out, and it makes you aware of potential mistakes and possibilities. Also, you get to see what it looks like when diners lie badly about how they enjoyed their meal.

The rest of the lineup can go hang. Those three shows validate the network's existence, Anthony Bourdain and his Emeril-hate be damned.*

Guy is basically there to eat things and give thumbs-up to the camera. No-one is confusing this for cullinary education or travelogue, they just want to watch a charming motherfucker eat delicious things in cool places they could totally get into without dressing up. In this scope, it works.

(*Emeril is from one town over from where I am now - born and raised in Fall River, MA. It's amusing to watch his accent, as he overpronounces his "r' sounds on obvious words, but forgets on more subtle ones, and is all pleased he doesn't have a Fall Reev accent no moah - "NeveRRR warsh ya cast-ION pan in soapy wateRRR")
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:28 PM on August 20 [9 favorites]


I forget which Bourdain book has him give a rundown of the various shows on Food Network at the time, but I remember that he praised Mario for doing "God's work." Other shows were drenching everything in a cup of EVOO or a mountain of sugar, Batali was wandering around his kitchen in clogs making salt cod or something.

That being said, my favorite Food Network shows were Good Eats and the original Iron Chef, complete with Canadian dubbing. To this day I almost always call it "yogurto."
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 8:38 PM on August 20 [7 favorites]


Anthony Bourdain and his Emeril-hate be damned

I'm huge Bourdain fanboy. But his "kiss and make up with Emeril" episode of whatever show it was, was well earned (By Emeril. Not that he had to. But the man has earned what he has.)

You kind of need to realize the break between cooking instructional shows and travel shows.

Good point about 30 Minute Meals though. One of those shows where the star's celebrity eventually outpaced people's ability to see it's usefullness.
posted by Cyrano at 8:41 PM on August 20 [1 favorite]


"Soul-terrorists? too stong

You have not witnessed the horror of the Kwanzaa cake."


It's worse than Soul-terrorist if such a thing can be even contemplated.

Kwanzaa cake.

The Horor

The Food Network is to food as MTV is to Music videos, The Learning Channel is to learning and the History channel is to history.
posted by vapidave at 8:42 PM on August 20 [15 favorites]


It's pretty instructive that the Food Network felt the need to create a sister channel, the Cooking Channel for people who want to learn how to cook from TV.

Guy Fieri, is of course, a past winner of Next Food Network Star, a reality competition show that trots out exactly what the powers that be want for the network: a talking head with a marketable personality that will only talk about food in terms of how it relates to their persona/brand (every dish must have a sentimental meaning!) that can then be commercialized. This year's winner - a gourmet cowboy chuckwagon chef (who came off to the folks here at chez julen as a painful caricature overhamming it up in an unending fit of desperate ambition to such an extent that his actual cooking skills were overshadowed) - was embraced by the brass particularly when he acted the two-dimensional cartoon. You could see the dollar signs pop up in their eyes.

They want characters to brand and sell; Alton Brown is valued for being a cranky, occasionally mean-spirited, "food authority" and not for the excellent content of Good Eats. You rarely see him cook on the network any more.
posted by julen at 8:49 PM on August 20 [4 favorites]


The Food Network is to food as MTV is to Music videos, The Learning Channel is to learning and the History channel is to history.

Cable TV Channel Rule of Thumb #1: Your mission statement must have as little as possible to do with the name of the channel.

SMBC explains...

Of course, it all started when they called it Fox"News"...
posted by oneswellfoop at 8:57 PM on August 20 [6 favorites]


There should be a Law (like Godwin) the longer a network exists, the more likely it stops doing what it purports to be.
posted by stbalbach at 9:01 PM on August 20 [11 favorites]


A lot of the comments here are woefully out of date. I'm pretty sure there haven't been new episodes of Good Eats, 30 Minute Meals, or anything with Sandra Lee for years. And already a large portion of shows on the Cooking Channel have nothing to do with cooking.
posted by stopgap at 9:04 PM on August 20 [5 favorites]




I'm pretty sure there haven't been new episodes of Good Eats, 30 Minute Meals, or anything with Sandra Lee for years.

The old episodes are on all day before prime-time. I have sat and watched most of them when visiting the in-laws.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:08 PM on August 20 [2 favorites]


I question the credentials of anybody who writes a snarky op-ed column about "why" the more talented chefs left Food Network in a "mass exodus." There has been zero secrecy about it: several years ago the network's executives decided they were paying too much for brand-name talent. The network had developed a show format they felt worked and was consistent. This format was one-size-fits-all, and it allowed for plugging-in various talents who only needed to be moderately interesting in their own rights. Rather like Circuit City's 2007 layoff, it was cold and dumb but not shady or secretive.

On the other hand, the second link ("Leave Guy Fieri Alone")—and it pains me a little to say this because I hate Salon—is a good article. Nail on the head. Not for defending Guy Fieri. I watched his season of Next Food Network Star and was mystified that he won; I thought he sucked. But in critiquing the network itself, yes, Allen Salkin is dead-on. Especially when it comes to Food Network's stunning repeated failures to vet its stars, which is a smaller point but a pretty stark and head-scratching one.
posted by cribcage at 9:11 PM on August 20 [4 favorites]


There should be a Law (like Godwin) the longer a network exists, the more likely it stops doing what it purports to be. MTV (music videos), History Channel (history), Discovery Channel (education).

It's more like the central limit theorem for cable tv: as a cable tv channel iterates its programming, provided the initial distribution of programming wasn't too badly behaved, the resulting distribution of programming will converge to a particular distribution known colloquially as the "TLC distribution".
posted by Pyry at 9:12 PM on August 20 [11 favorites]


I so wish they would show the original Japanese Iron Chef episodes again. The Cooking Channel showed them for awhile, but no longer does.

I love Chopped, and I really wish they'd bring back Sweet Genius. (kind of like Chopped, but desserts only)
posted by SisterHavana at 9:15 PM on August 20 [3 favorites]


The local PBS station here trots out old episodes of Jacques Pépin's show now and again, I love those. They'd probably schedule the reanimated corpse of Julia Child during pledge week if they could get away with it.
posted by gimonca at 9:25 PM on August 20 [8 favorites]


I've been watching the Food Network since the early years when it was nothing but wall to wall cooking shows, so I understand feeling sentimental and nostalgic for how things used to be. I'll take an episode of David Rosengarten's "Taste" any day of the week over "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives". Fieri is, if nothing else, massively overexposed.

That said, the first article linked here is asinine. As the author himself notes, Guy Fieri rose to prominence after winning "The Next Food Network Star", a reality show competition that aired on the Food Network. In other words, the Food Network, long before Fieri ever became a household name, was already in the process of moving away from instructional based programming and into reality shows, game show competitions and travelogues. Fieri was a symptom, not a cause.

Single-handedly blaming Guy Fieri for the Food Network's move away from instructional cooking shows makes about as much sense as holding Ruben Studdard singularly responsible for the glut of reality programming on network TV.
posted by The Gooch at 9:34 PM on August 20 [7 favorites]



I'm huge Bourdain fanboy. But his "kiss and make up with Emeril" episode of whatever show it was,


can't say I was paying too much attention then (or now), but this kind of thing reminds me of the Blur vs Oasis thing back in the days if BritPop. At least 90% hype. And anyway, The Orb were better than any of them.
posted by philip-random at 9:36 PM on August 20 [1 favorite]


All this talk about cooking shows made me look up old episodes of "Yan Can Cook" videos on Youtube. That guy is the best.
posted by littlesq at 9:40 PM on August 20 [22 favorites]


I still get occasionally mad that Molto Mario isn't a thing anymore, though.

I am still consistently pissed about this.

One of the best days I ever spent was with Elder Monster, a bottle of sherry, and Mario's Molto Italiano cookbook. We cooked a 7 course meal, and talked about things we learned from Mario's show.
posted by MissySedai at 9:41 PM on August 20 [2 favorites]


Just throwing this into the mix in the event anyone is looking for cooking type stuff and an antidote to the food network. Jacques Pepin. I am unabashedly in love with Jacques. I don't know if he's the "best" chef but his ease makes it look like fun. His books are quite entertaining and he makes me salivate whereas other tv cooks make me spit.
posted by vapidave at 9:42 PM on August 20 [8 favorites]


I've actually been enjoying Guy's Grocery Games. Real chefs have to cook delicious meals using grocery store ingredients (although the store is supposedly fake), often on a budget. It's a cure for the grocery shopping doldrums of "I don't know what to make, so I'll just buy crap." Yes you can make a delicious dinner by only using ingredients that start with 'C' on a budget of $6.52. I should stop eating crap.

No, the real blight at the Food Network is Cutthroat Kitchen. I have never seen a more useless show. It might as well be an hour of chefs beating each other with whiffle bats while Alton Brown cackles and yells "dance my pretties!"

To be honest, the true decline of the Food Network began when they lobotomized Alton Brown. Cutthroat Kitchen is a travesty, especially when it's hosted by the same guy who gave us Good Eats.
posted by fremen at 9:43 PM on August 20 [8 favorites]


It's pretty instructive that the Food Network felt the need to create a sister channel, the Cooking Channel for people who want to learn how to cook from TV.

I think MTV was prompted to create MTV2 for similar reasons, so we'll see where the Cooking Channel is in a few years.

Most of the now-random-content cable channels (Discovery, TLC, NatGeo) seem to base most of their new shows on either Alaska, or sex. So now it's a race to see who produces "Sex! In Alaska!" first.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 9:50 PM on August 20 [2 favorites]


Also, I'm curious if that Food Network book has anything on the Sean/Cathy era of "How to Boil Water." That was my favorite.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 9:52 PM on August 20


My use of the phrase "my favorite shows were" is intentional, I might catch a rerun sometimes but now it's just a channel I flip past while looking for new episodes of Going Deep with David Rees, clearly the best show on right now.

Also, Martin Yan's theory about "If Yan can do it, so can you!" falls apart a bit when he's butterflying shrimp with a cleaver the size of a textbook. My knife skills need a bit more development before I try that maneuver... Love that guy, though.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 9:57 PM on August 20 [2 favorites]


Put them together, "Sex! Baked Alaska!" and put them on a crab fishing boat with very short people who are hoarders and have them pawn stuff while they watch Game of Thrones.

I need a nap. And a life.
posted by vapidave at 10:02 PM on August 20 [8 favorites]


Adding pawn and competition elements would maybe yield "The Great Alaskan Pawn Shop Sex-Off."
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 10:09 PM on August 20 [9 favorites]


"1) Good Eats. Traditional foodways and sound theoretical backing paired with practical advice. Some of the recipes don't turn out as advertised, but you generally know enough by watching the show to correct what went wrong."

…you know that Good Eats ended two years ago, right? It's just reruns now.

Really, the defense of Fieri is the meat of this post, and I hope people read that. The first essay is just some moaning in search of a point, but the second is actually pretty thorough and cutting.
posted by klangklangston at 10:15 PM on August 20 [3 favorites]


I've always thought that Alton Brown sold his soul to Food Network as Good Eats started winding down: "Okay, we'll make your damn riding-across-America-on-a-motorbike passion project. But in return you will spend the rest of your career here as a FOOD NETWORK PERSONALITY."

The ship's already long since sailed on "trusting" Food Network Star; it's been extruded reality product for a long time now. But the just-ended season seemed to have its thumb very heavily on the scale for McNab.

Also, I'm curious if that Food Network book has anything on the Sean/Cathy era of "How to Boil Water."

It does. It spends a lot of time covering the early years, when the channel was all cheap sets and trying out anyone with a pulse and a knife; more interesting than the second half of the book which is more about the current execs slowly purging all the old-school talent and managers.

(Also, reading the book, Bobby Flay comes off quite well -- it felt to me like Salkin wanted to dislike him but ended up admiring him for his doggedness and adaptability; Tyler Florence doesn't.)
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 10:27 PM on August 20 [1 favorite]


If Arthur C. Clarke had to beam a signal at the stars to aid aliens in preparing late 20th C. American cuisine under almost any conditions, that would be it.

I'm pretty sure the only thing they need to know how to serve is Man.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:33 PM on August 20 [7 favorites]


No, the real blight at the Food Network is Cutthroat Kitchen.

I agree, but in a larger sense that also includes Chopped, which is a major hit. These shows are terrible—and this is equally why the original Iron Chef, and often Top Chef, are great—because there's a difference between a television program that celebrates food versus a reality program that happens to be using food as a prop while it appeals to base schadenfreude.

Chopped and Cutthroat Kitchen aren't about food. They are about watching people stumble over contrived obstacles. From a production standpoint these shows don't aim to produce anything appetizing. To the contrary, the food results are mostly disgusting, with judges narrating how and why. The promise is that you will show viewers three professional chefs spectacularly failing at their profession. And yes, that's disappointing to see from Alton Brown because Good Eats was precisely the opposite: it was a love letter to food.
posted by cribcage at 10:47 PM on August 20 [6 favorites]


It would be OK with me if the Food Network showed Chopped round the clock, punctuated by Marcus Samuelsson smiling and Geoffrey Zakarian looking moderately disgusted.

And Ted Allen sighing.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 10:53 PM on August 20 [5 favorites]


Oh boy, "Chopped". I'll never understand how some people can mourn the lack of quality cooking shows on Food Network while simultaneously pointing to "Chopped" as one of the few bright spots on the network. The show is fucking ridiculous. "Your ingredients are belgian endive, corn nuts, scallops and a tube of Crest. You have 20 minutes to create an appetizer".

The show bears no resemblance to any sort of cooking that anybody does anywhere. I don't see the point.
posted by The Gooch at 11:12 PM on August 20 [17 favorites]


I dislike Guy as an abstract amalgam of frosted tips, shouting, and lard, but a single appearance on his Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives show saved a local restaurant. Even when their episode re-runs, the phone rings off the hook with people planning a visit.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 3:28 AM on August 21 [3 favorites]


Yeah...Chopped pretty much encapsulates everything that's gone wrong with the network...Celebrity chefs and the game-show-ification of anything having to do with cooking. Ugh. It's gotten to the point where DD&D has perversely become the only watchable thing on the network. At least that show has real cooks cooking real dishes for real diners.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:29 AM on August 21 [1 favorite]


"Your ingredients are belgian endive, corn nuts, scallops and a tube of Crest. You have 20 minutes to create an appetizer".

The show bears no resemblance to any sort of cooking that anybody does anywhere..


I don't know, that seems like a pretty accurate recreation of what happens on the typical weekday night when I look in my pantry for something to cook for dinner.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 3:53 AM on August 21 [10 favorites]


The show bears no resemblance to any sort of cooking that anybody does anywhere. I don't see the point.

The first sentence is the answer to the second one.

People who do creative work usually find real inspiration from limitations on what they're allowed to do. This is basically like a cartoon of that, so you get to enjoy the sheer absurdity of it while watching someone who's mastered their craft try to think their way around a corner.

The other day I watched the "Mind of a Chef" where David Chang makes gnocchi out of instant ramen, and part of my brain was horrified, but mostly I was just in awe that it occurred to him to even try it. Chopped is basically holding a gun to a chef's head and saying "Be that creative. NOW."
posted by middleclasstool at 4:32 AM on August 21 [6 favorites]


It's gotten to the point where DD&D has perversely become the only watchable thing on the network. At least that show has real cooks cooking real dishes for real diners.

I'm not really ashamed to admit that DD&D is my go-to when there's nothing on the DVR and I want to stare at a screen for a few minutes while I eat dinner. Guy is a doof (okay, and also allegedly a bigot), and most of the food looks downright inedible, but it's a show that's actually about food and the relationship people have with it.

In every episode, we get to see the cooks, who are frequently the restaurant owners, making the dishes that their customers--actual people, who make the business possible--tell us they love. It's cotton-candy TV, with very little substance, but it does, in a sense, have a soul.

Food is a lot more than nourishment, obviously, and I think DD&D highlights that in a way that's often respectful and maybe even touching.
posted by uncleozzy at 4:48 AM on August 21


I used to love the Food Network when I was a teen/young adult, especially Emeril. It established my own connection and love of food that I realized had always been there, but somehow had gotten lost when my both folks had full time jobs and the homemade stuff my mom used to make started to appear less and less on our dinner table. It was because of both my grandmother and Emeril that I started to make my first pies on my own, explore more elaborate dishes, read more about the history/culture of food.

I haven't had cable in many years, but when I do get a chance to watch the Food Network now, it feels unrecognizable to me. I mean, I'm glad Good Eats lives on in repeats, but I do miss some of those early shows.
posted by Kitteh at 4:55 AM on August 21 [1 favorite]


Pawn Prawn Porn!
posted by Chitownfats at 5:40 AM on August 21 [3 favorites]


"Your ingredients are belgian endive, corn nuts, scallops and a tube of Crest. You have 20 minutes to create an appetizer".

The show bears no resemblance to any sort of cooking that anybody does anywhere. I don't see the point.


Unless it is raining out and then it is pretty much exactly how I cook.
posted by srboisvert at 5:59 AM on August 21


Guy can be annoying, but the absolute worst Food Network show is The Kitchen, which is basically the experience of inviting Geoffrey Zakarian into your house to get drunk and make an ass of himself.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 6:01 AM on August 21 [6 favorites]


Chitownfats:
Pawn Prawn Porn!
What mods are you using to make Bersi Honey-Hand perform sex acts?
posted by charred husk at 6:02 AM on August 21


I've been a Food/Cooking Channel fan for as long as both have existed, and while it's certainly sad to see the decline of the former, the latter still has some gems that preserve the spirit of the old days. Chief among them is "Aarti Party," which is also hosted by a "Next Food Network Star" winner. Also, Guy's newest show "Guy's Big Bite" is a stand-up cooking show which is really good (I don't mind Fieri's style, tho, I actually find him enjoyable, but YMMV).

A few years ago, Cooking Channel put all of the "Two Fat Ladies" episodes on continuous loop for an hour every Saturday night, and I wish they would go back to that.
posted by jbickers at 6:06 AM on August 21 [2 favorites]


Guy can be annoying, but the absolute worst Food Network show is The Kitchen, which is basically the experience of inviting Geoffrey Zakarian into your house to get drunk and make an ass of himself.

Oh god, "The Kitchen." That's the absolute worst. They clearly saw the success of ABC's excellent show "The Chew" (if you haven't seen this show, seek it out - two Iron Chefs, Batali and Symon, plus Clinton Kelly) and decided to make their own version, but replaced the studio audience with canned applause and some of the fakest, most staged interactions ever. Awful.
posted by jbickers at 6:08 AM on August 21


My first exposure to Guy was through his SNL parody. When I actually saw his show several years later it kinda coloured the whole thing, but made me admire the parody even more.

Likewise, my first exposure to Emril was through the Futurama "spice weasel" parody.

In the latter case, I didn't originally realize it was actually a parody based on a real person until someone told me, because I hadn't heard of Emril.
posted by modernnomad at 6:12 AM on August 21 [2 favorites]


I've got to get this notch-up-knocking on tape!
posted by Existential Dread at 6:39 AM on August 21


Chopped and its ilk are like Saw.

But they're also, and I know this sounds kind of wacky, about power. The whole point is to put the viewer in the seat of judgment, evaluation, and then have them enjoy watching desperate nobodies compete for money in a dismally, gratuitously gritty atmosphere. Lots of viewers would rather have the fleeting experience of sitting in judgment of desperate competitors than learn about new ingredients or dishes or techniques that will just make them feel boring and declassé for not having known about and being unlikely to try them anyway.

The first rule of conventional tv has always been "the viewer is great just the way they are." Chopped and similar shows make the viewers knowledge and appreciation about food irrelevant, because just by watching them as the silent fourth judge you're already smarter and better than the clumsy idiots dropping ramikins of unset panna cotta and then crying in a "confessional" video about how their dead grandpa always used to drop things. And every contestant seems to have one of those, or a baby dying of leukemia or an already-dead parent, whose life or memory impels the contestant both pragmatically (IF I DON'T WIN MY SICK BABY WILL GO HUNGRY) and emotionally (ALL MY DEAD MOTHER EVER WANTED WAS FOR ME TO CRUSH MY COMPETITION, GOD I MISS HER). It's creepy emotional manipulation from top to bottom and has almost nothing to do with food at all.
posted by clockzero at 6:48 AM on August 21 [10 favorites]


You say that like it's a bad thing.
posted by OmieWise at 6:51 AM on August 21 [1 favorite]


I was interesting to read the Fieri article (and I loved the echo of the Brittany Spears YouTube guy) and see his food chops defended. This may speak badly of me, but I associate dudes with Fieri's persona with racist, sexist, homophobic, drunk date rapists. His kind of masculinity is very hard for me to watch for longer than 30 seconds.
posted by OmieWise at 6:55 AM on August 21 [4 favorites]


Chopped has probably had a more positive effect on my cooking than any other food show I've watched. There are so many times when I'm thinking of going to the grocery store, and it's depressing me because I've just spent 8 hrs working and I don't want to do any more, and then I think, "No, it IS possible to make something delicious in 20 mins from the crap I have in my pantry."

Another great show for actually learning how to cook is Ramsey's Cookery Course. The episodes are available on youtube. It's a standup show that's actually about how to cook. He doesn't use tricks to get dinner done in 30 minutes. Eggs take like 8 minutes to cook, there's no trick to it. A stir fry takes about 15 if you include chopping. He shows very basic things like "here's how to tell when the burger is done" or "here's how to choose ripe fruit at the market".
posted by tofu_crouton at 7:34 AM on August 21 [7 favorites]


To be honest, the true decline of the Food Network began when they lobotomized Alton Brown.

One of my friends joked half-seriously that maybe AB got a brain injury when he crashed his motorcycle while filming Feasting on Asphalt. Because sometime after that it's like he stopped doing interesting stuff. Maybe he's just rounding out a contract with Food Network before he does stuff on his own, or is enjoying just cashing his checks and spending time with his family—I assume the dude has bills to pay after all, but man, they are just not doing anything like Good Eats or even Feasting on Asphalt anymore.

When the best shows on a network are reruns, you know you are not exactly doing it right.

I've been told that the Cooking Channel is more like Food Network from 10 years ago, but unfortunately it doesn't rate inclusion on my crap basic-cable package and I'm not going to pay $40/month for it.

Americas Test Kitchen is a reasonable substitute for the food-nerdery aspects of Good Eats, although it's not quite as fun; if GA was Mr Wizard, ATK is a Physics 107 lecture by a bored grad student.
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:40 AM on August 21 [5 favorites]


Guy can be annoying, but the absolute worst Food Network show is The Kitchen, which is basically the experience of inviting Geoffrey Zakarian into your house to get drunk and make an ass of himself.

I watch "The Kitchen" in morbid fascination. It is a show beyond parody. There is no way you can imagine a heightened version that is goofier, phonier, or more over the top than the real thing.
posted by The Gooch at 8:02 AM on August 21 [1 favorite]


You guys are forgetting about the best part of Food Network, which is Sandra Lee reaffirming that the best way to survive complicated recipes is with a a delicious, sweet treat of lemonade, heavy cream, and vodka
posted by Mayor West at 8:16 AM on August 21 [3 favorites]


two Iron Chefs, Batali and Symon

Reasonable people can disagree, but as far as I'm concerned neither of those guys are Iron Chefs any more than William Shatner is any kind of chairman. Roksaburo Michiba and Hiroyuki Sakai are Iron Chefs. Mario Batali is a pleasant man with some television experience.

People who do creative work usually find real inspiration from limitations on what they're allowed to do.

That's true, but it's fundamentally different from what Chopped is about. Iron Chef was about inspiration from limitation. Here, cook three dishes that feature blueberries, go! The limitations that are imposed on Chopped or Cutthroat Kitchen are not about inspiration. They are about crippling the chefs' ability to cook well and then making them cook anyway. It is incredibly rare that they produce anything the viewer would want to eat. The judges' feedback is, appropriately, 80% criticism and 20% silver-lining.

That's not a show about food. It's a show that is about people competing to not quite lose.
posted by cribcage at 8:26 AM on August 21 [3 favorites]


a delicious, sweet treat of lemonade, heavy cream, and vodka

I'm imagining the crew giving her ever more preposterous cocktails to make and drink on-camera, culminating in, "Today I'm going to show you how to turn bleach, ammonia, and triple sec into a cocktail that'll make you gasp with delight!"
posted by uncleozzy at 8:30 AM on August 21 [1 favorite]


New "Goos Eats" would be wonderful, but I love Cutthroat Kitchen. It's silly, but big dumb fun is fine sometimes.
posted by Ambient Echo at 8:59 AM on August 21


Unwrapped is the true genius program of the Food Network. You reach out to food manufacturers, produce what amounts to a commercial for each of them (which I'd be sure that the companies help foot the bill for), shoot some bumpers for each segment in a fake diner, and sell the result to the network.

Smart man, that Marc Summers.
posted by dr_dank at 9:07 AM on August 21 [2 favorites]


Americas Test Kitchen is a reasonable substitute for the food-nerdery aspects of Good Eats, although it's not quite as fun; if GA was Mr Wizard, ATK is a Physics 107 lecture by a bored grad student.

This. This is so spot on.

I wish ATK would go into more details about why they make certain choices/experiments, rather than just what they did.

I miss good eats.
posted by leahwrenn at 9:13 AM on August 21 [3 favorites]


I wish ATK would go into more details about why they make certain choices/experiments, rather than just what they did.

The problem with ATK, and with Cook's Illustrated, is that I can't bring myself to believe that they actually like food.
posted by OmieWise at 9:22 AM on August 21 [2 favorites]


I have one of their cook-books and it's fantastic. They have a little bit on what they tried and why didn't work and talk about why the recipe that they did use is the way it is. Any time I want to make a new dish, it's the first thing I consult. Sometime the information about what they tried get's used to make changes (usually either for easier preparation or to change ingredients that we don't have on hand) and often comes in handy when cooking other recipes.

It's pretty clear from the pre-recipe experimentation bits that they really do like the food they make and with such consistently good results, I don't really care either way.
posted by VTX at 9:35 AM on August 21 [4 favorites]


Yeah all the new food network stuff sucks but Ina Garten is on for an hour at four every weekday and that perfectly times up with my gym bike time.
posted by The Whelk at 9:38 AM on August 21


Because I live in Canada, we have the most unlikely (and weird as hell) host for Chopped Canada.

Also: RIP Top Chef Canada. Everyone played too nice to be interesting. And Marc McEwan was nowhere near as amazing a judge as Tom Colicchio.
posted by Kitteh at 9:43 AM on August 21


Ina Garten is on for an hour at four every weekday and that perfectly times up with my gym bike time.

Jesus Christ an hour of Ina Garten would have to be punching bag time.
posted by uncleozzy at 9:44 AM on August 21 [2 favorites]


So Guy Fieri actually cares about food and has an immersive background in cuisine, eh? Good for him. He also projects the affect of a huge douchebag. (Fun fact: if you type "Guy Fieri is a" into Google, it will actually autocomplete with "huge douchebag".) He may know his stuff, but I don't want him anywhere I can see or hear him.

Guy Fieri should get back in the kitchen and make me a sammich.
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:47 AM on August 21


Jesus Christ an hour of Ina Garten would have to be punching bag time.

What!does!unf!good olive oil! Even oof! Mean?!
posted by The Whelk at 9:50 AM on August 21 [1 favorite]


Jacques Pepin and Julia Child did a show together (Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home) for a couple of seasons. Though really, it was Julia kibbitzing while Jacques did the heavy lifting. Still, great chemistry together and a joy to watch.

I respect America's Test Kitchen, but have a hard time taking them seriously sometimes. "We did some taste tests, and these Doritos were the best corn chip." Go back to talking about your maple syrup farm.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 9:50 AM on August 21 [3 favorites]


On Sunday afternoons, the son and I bond over watching cooking shows on PBS. Most of the stuff we will never make or eat (he's picky, I'm lazy). But we like to watch it regardless of what they make. I don't know why an overhead shot of something simmering in a pot is so soothing, but it is.

Cooking show food exists in some sort of nirvana, where the kitchens are beautiful and always clean and ingredients are always neatly at hand, chopped and arranged in little bowls. You never have to wait for the cooking part, for behold! They have already cooked the same dish beforehand, and now you get to see it complete. Then they plate it for you and arrange it beautifully with little gentle pats.
posted by emjaybee at 9:51 AM on August 21 [2 favorites]


Along with the aforementioned Chopped Canada, the great white north is also fortunate to have You Gotta Eat Here!, which is DD&D but with an eminently likable host.
posted by majuju at 9:52 AM on August 21


America's Test Kitchen is worth it just to watch the thinly veiled loathing between Kimball and the various test cooks.
posted by downtohisturtles at 9:55 AM on August 21 [9 favorites]


I'm sure they have been linked before but: Cooks' Illustrated Letters from Chris Kimball:

Each issue of Cook’s Illustrated begins with a folksy letter with news from down on the old Vermont farm by founder and editor-in-chief Chris Kimball. These charming, old-timey updates remind us all of a slower, simpler way of life, where neighbors stop to swap plowing tips out by the trading post and run when they see Old Henry coming. Who’s Old Henry? Why, what a question, stranger. Old Henry knows who you are. That much is certain. Old Henry knows who you are just fine.
posted by emjaybee at 10:00 AM on August 21 [7 favorites]


which is basically the experience of inviting Geoffrey Zakarian into your house to get drunk and make an ass of himself.

I would do this thing.

RIP Top Chef Canada. Everyone played too nice to be interesting. And Marc McEwan was nowhere near as amazing a judge as Tom Colicchio.

The problem is also, frankly, lack of top-flight chefs. Canada doesn't have the kind of dense urban centres that produce a whole lot of chefs who really have to excel to get known. Carl Heinrich (S2 winner) is a bright exception, though.

Thing is, in Canada, it's really easy to be a big fish in a small pond and then rest, metaphorically mixed, on your laurels. For every world-class chef in this country I can name, I could probably name a dozen from the USA. It's both a relative population thing and a population density thing. Plus, the chefs who are actually good enough to get on the show rarely have businesses that are functioning well enough that they can spend three months away (the full production period, even if you're booted in the first episode) without problems.

TCC was doomed to failure from its inception is what I'm saying. Plus their funding was a fraction of TCUSA, and obviously so; the product placement was incredibly off-putting.

Or maybe to put it another way: in the USA, something like TC is a relatively necessary springboard to becoming noticed, because there is a much more robust culinary ecosystem there producing a lot more very talented people. In Canada, it doesn't really work that way.

Plus, McEwan has been the Godfather of the Canadian culinary world for so long that when he says frog you jump, if you work in the industry. There's nothing much interesting about him or his food and there hasn't been in quite some time; he values technique over innovation. Colicchio, at least, keeps trying new things.

But to the Fieri thing. I have two major problems with him: 1) the dudebro bullshit, just fuck off please; 2) his Terrordome of Food in Times Square. If he actually believed in what he does with DDD, he would have featured actual honest-to-goodness food. Again, it's the problem of creating a brand instead of being someone who can actually cook.

Also, Batali is absolutely an Iron Chef. The man is brilliantly talented.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:07 AM on August 21 [3 favorites]


fffm, as a longtime watcher of TC (and an American), your criticisms are absolutely spot-on. There just isn't as much of a talent pool here as there is back home. And it was sort of dull as paint to see that at least 90% of the chefs were all from Toronto or Vancouver. I mean, I'm aware those are the cities that will produce more chefs to compete--though I would root for the QC chefs every time because I was living there--but it always felt same-y. And yeah, the prizes were never as good as the ones in the States.

I did like Lisa Ray, though. I mean, sure, she's no Padma, but she was super pleasant. McEwan was a chore to like. Taciturn, dull, monochrome.
posted by Kitteh at 10:14 AM on August 21


Also, if you're in Canada and your French is good, Les Chefs! was more of a treat to watch instead of Top Chef Canada. (Food is my language and love, so Les Chefs! totally helped me out when I moved to Quebec. I can speak and understand food.)
posted by Kitteh at 10:16 AM on August 21 [1 favorite]


What happened to the Next Food Network Star season with Fieri on it? I went looking for it a few months ago via the usual shady TV download places and couldn't find it anywhere. I'd love to see how Fieri's character got molded in that season. Or maybe he sprung full-formed, bleached tips and brotastic rhymes spitting out of his mouth?

My respect for Fieri went way up with his response to the hilarious, nasty NYT Pete Wells review. He was respectful, thought, and defending himself while admitting some criticism. Just the right response from the boss.

We watch a lot of Chopped in our house and I love it, particularly the episodes where they have real chefs who know what they're doing. It's honest cooking. But it's still a dumb gameshow. I miss more thoughtful food shows. Stuff like Lidia Bastianich, although she's PBS. Could you imagine the Art of Eating turned into a TV show? It'd be marvelous.

Nowdays my partner likes In The Kitchen, which near as I can tell is basically The View but for cooks instead of demicelebrities. It's kind of insipid and awful but serves as soothing counterprogramming to the over-aggressive Fieri-style stuff that Food Network mostly indulges.
posted by Nelson at 10:17 AM on August 21


Oh also! Here is Guy Fieri cooking a pile of spicy eggs for his good friend, Smash Mouth frontman Steve Harwell.
posted by majuju at 10:18 AM on August 21 [3 favorites]


That's basically how McEwan is in his kitchens, the rare times he bothers going to them anymore. (NB: I haven't worked for him, but know/have worked with many who have).

And unfortunately, the talent pools really only exist in TO, Van, or Mtl. Anywhere else and you have the problem I mentioned: you're a big fish in a small pond (let's say Halifax for the sake of argument), and you simply don't have the time or money to spend three months away from your restaurant on the gamble that you'll walk out with a hundred grand at the end of it.

That being said, I know from experience that having your chef simply be announced as a contestant on TCC makes reservations jump through the roof and phones ring off the hook.

Lidia Bastianich is on TLN in Canada, Saturday afternoons if memory serves. 4-5pm, or 5-6, can't remember.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:20 AM on August 21


America's Test Kitchen is worth it just to watch the thinly veiled loathing between Kimball and the various test cooks.

Glad I'm not the only one who's noticed this.
posted by rensar at 10:24 AM on August 21


Chopped pretty much encapsulates everything that's gone wrong with the network...Celebrity chefs and the game-show-ification of anything having to do with cooking.

You are Wrong. Celebrity chefs and competition together are basically golden age Food Network. This is why so many people who like to cook like chopped. You know, the ones who can actually whip up a meal without a perfect ingredient list or recipe. The downfall of the show is reality shows, cake obsession, and NON celebrity personality chefs who come up in an exploitative framework.

To those who said "Chopped" is schadenfreude and the food is usually disgusting must not pay close attention. They always have to say something bad about everything. That's the crappy reality TV angle. Once it comes down to the top two the judges typically admit everything they made was good to awesome. Both of them.
posted by aydeejones at 11:21 AM on August 21 [2 favorites]


In other words Chopped judges always start out snarky but most of them have actually done the show at this point when it comes down to two contestants they are very even handed about the nature of the contest without fawning all over them in the other fake direction.
posted by aydeejones at 11:23 AM on August 21 [1 favorite]


This is why so many people who like to cook like chopped.

Seriously. I have yet to work with a chef who doesn't love watching Chopped.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:32 AM on August 21 [1 favorite]


I read through all of the comments and the final one saying that Chopped appeals to some sort of innate evil in the viewer...just no. Simply appearing on the show is bragging rights. Even if they ham up that upon losing they are devastated and will be mocked, they go home a Chopped Chef or they're so good it doesn't matter. The judges are not ruthless in my experience, just always judging. They don't turn nice until two contestants remain but that's TV. Not as bad as the celebrity chefs on iron chef who are there apparently just to piss off the talent.

In my world Chopped appeals heavily to practical cooks who speak passionately about technique and yes the competition aspect, as in Iron Chef, was deliberately intended to draw in male viewers. I'm the only male chopped viewer I know, FWIW. The show viscerally appeals to a lot of people who either are versatile in the kitchen or want to be.
posted by aydeejones at 11:34 AM on August 21 [1 favorite]


And I've learned a lot of practical home cookin' stuff from DDD. Like crowding biscuits on purpose and watching them vs. spacing and setting a timer. Duh. Try it if you haven't yet and want awesome fluffiness. Or the fundamental difference between NewMex green Chile and the superior version made in Colorado. Ducks
posted by aydeejones at 11:36 AM on August 21 [1 favorite]


I have had one friend and one acquaintance compete on US Chopped. The former lost, but the latter won (RIP Ria Pell).
posted by Kitteh at 11:46 AM on August 21


Then reality TV came along and they realized you could get much better ratings for about the same money if you cut out the instructional part altogether, keep the personality, and relate it tangentially to food. No one was actually following the recipes anyway.

I guess that makes me an outlier, then. I follow the recipes because it's interesting to learn what ingredients go into a dish, how it's prepared, and why. I also watch How It's Made, but not because I want to take a crack at glassblowing, building a snowmobile, or manufacturing sports equipment.

And the idea that any form of human endeavor can be transformed by television into a competition frankly appalls me. If Bob Ross were alive today and needed a job on TV, he'd probably be hosting a reality show where aspiring artists would clash over who could paint the happiest tree.
posted by Flexagon at 12:38 PM on August 21 [6 favorites]


Frat Chef might be on TV continuously, but then so was Alston Brown,
right before they ended production and he was put out to star-chef pasture.
posted by Fupped Duck at 12:44 PM on August 21


Chopped is not the show it once was, but it's still pretty great to me. I think the wacky ingredients angle is a total macguffin. It's all about watching everyone involved handle a tricky situation.

There's a few episodes in the early seasons where there were a couple of chefs who were clearly talented and cooking their asses off, and it was awesomr tv. Nowadays it's a bit heavy on the maudlin backstories. Not to mention, it's become somewhat self-aware, so when a chef tries a certain technique, it's sometimes obviously in the context of when that technique was tried before on the show.

My sister is convinced that she could win Chopped based entirely on watching it enough to know what works with which judge. (With the exception Alex Guarneschelli, who she's decided is simply "a hater")
posted by billyfleetwood at 12:53 PM on August 21


I think Guarnaschelli is just pickier than most of them. Zakarian seems to mainly regard the show as a joke, so he plays along. Conant can be kind of arsy though. Freitag is pretty much always nice, ditto Samuelsson.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:56 PM on August 21


This seems like the appropriate place to tell this story. My husband was telling me about a coworker's vacation and how excited she was to go to a certain retaurant and meet Jimmy Flan. He kept saying "Jimmy Flan" and I had no idea what he was going on about. Turns out he meant Bobby Flay. Now all celebrity chefs are known as Jimmy Flan in my brain.
posted by Biblio at 1:56 PM on August 21 [9 favorites]


tofu_crouton: “Another great show for actually learning how to cook is Ramsey's Cookery Course”
Given how abrasive Ramsey seems in his restaurant shows, it's quite surprising how good he is at actually showing people how to cook on television. Highly recommended.
leahwrenn: “I wish ATK would go into more details about why they make certain choices/experiments, rather than just what they did.”
I note that the Cook's Illustrated / Cook's Country magazines go into great detail about all the things they tried and why they chose what they did in the final recipe. They're really well worth the subscription price.



I don't have much to add to what everyone has said above except to note that I used to watch the Food Network for hours at a time. I haven't put it on in years now. I think the rot set in about the time they turned their backs on Emeril and Mario. I'm actually looking forward to reading Salkin's book.
posted by ob1quixote at 2:34 PM on August 21


Conant can be kind of arsy though.

Favorite Conant quote: "That is the worst thing I've ever put in my mouth."
posted by rensar at 2:35 PM on August 21 [1 favorite]


And David Rosengarten, ob1quixote!
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:42 PM on August 21 [2 favorites]


My mom is one of a corps of volunteers who pre-test some recipes before they get published in Cook's Illustrated (they recruited subscribers a few years ago), and sometimes the recipes are very good, but oftentimes they are overworked for no real benefit (and sometimes to a detriment). I find this in some of their cookbooks, too. It's always disappointing, when she spends 2+ hours making a new recipe (sometimes with arcane or missing guidance about a technique), and it turns out to be mediocre at best.

Other times they require ingredients someone'd have to drive 2 hours to a metropolis for - even though we have, within 30 miles, multiple well-stocked latino, asian, etc. markets, gourmet specialty stores of various ilks, old fashioned spice purveyors, farmers who produce gourmet items, and the like. They assume their readers/testers all have easy access to whatever they can get - or ask that you use 1/3 tsp from a jar of something that costs $50 for 8 ounces and that you'll probably never use again.
posted by julen at 2:53 PM on August 21


Freitag is pretty much always nice, ditto Samuelsson.

Marcus Samuelsson is Minnesota Nice.
posted by nathan_teske at 3:59 PM on August 21 [1 favorite]


I must admit, julen, that I find myself actually making recipes out of Cook's Country much, much more often than Cook's Illustrated. If I had to qualify the difference, I'd say Illustrated is aspirational, while Country is instructional.

Back to the Food Network, I recall reading somewhere an anecdote about one of the networks on the FN end of the spectrum, if not FN itself. A new person was brought in who had all kind of ideas about how to improve the instructional value of the programs. The senior executive says, "The secret to success is not to make programs for people who like to do x. It's to make programs for people who like to watch television." I wish I could find it, because I think that's exactly what happened at FN. They built their brand with people who liked to cook, but made their fortunes off people who like to watch television.
posted by ob1quixote at 4:32 PM on August 21 [2 favorites]


Food Network : Cooking :: Porn : Sex
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 4:43 PM on August 21


I'll just leave it here that most, perhaps all, episodes of Julia Child's The French Chef are on YouTube.
posted by LastOfHisKind at 6:20 PM on August 21 [2 favorites]


We have a wall of TV screens at work that are the last thing I pass by before I walk into my office. This summer they were tuned to Food Network the entire day. It's incredibly, charmingly soothing to watch someone cooking soul food in a sunny kitchen at 9am on a Tuesday.

Unfortunately now that school's about to start back up, they've moved the TVs back to CNN.

You know what's showing on CNN right now? ISILBeheading/Ebola/Ferguson/Syria, with an occasional side of Possible Killer Icelandic Volcano. I'll fucking take the Food Network, insipid reality stars and all.
posted by librarylis at 6:42 PM on August 21 [2 favorites]


Oh also! Here is Guy Fieri cooking a pile of spicy eggs for his good friend, Smash Mouth frontman Steve Harwell.

That's really weird because I had kind of assumed that Guy Fieri was an unreleased Smash Mouth b-side
posted by clockzero at 8:42 PM on August 21 [9 favorites]


Mitch Clem ‏@mitchclem

Guy Fieri looks the way NOFX sounds.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:13 PM on August 21 [3 favorites]


Americans who love shows about people cooking but hate the competition aspect would do well to try and find episodes of The Great British Bake-Off, a new series of which has just started. You can sometimes grab them on YouTube before they get yanked, and it's a terrific show. There's a competitive aspect, yes, yielding one winner from a group of a dozen or more, but they're just everyday people from around Great Britain, professionals and amateurs alike, an open field of technical expertise. And even though someone's going home at the end of each episode they support each other, sometimes sharing ingredients, sometimes helping out when someone's flan goes awry.

The technical challenges are logical and fun, too: for one the contestants may have to make a Swiss roll from one of the judges' own recipes but certain details, such as proportions for some ingredients or cooking time, have been omitted so they must use their own judgement and knowledge like any baker may have to do. It's so much more satisfying than "Make a five-course meal in two hours using these three ingredients but someone gets the cut every thirty minutes and there are alliances and immunity spatulas or something" and it's the only reality show I've seen where the loser gets hugged by everyone at the end and they mean it. (Turns out some folks seem to have actually gone on the program to make friends. Who knew?)

Find em on YouTube and you can turn off Food Network for a bit. It's nice.
posted by Spatch at 11:57 PM on August 21 [3 favorites]


TGBBO is one of the transatlantic things my SIL and I bond over. Hell, I even watch the repeats when I'm in England.
posted by Kitteh at 5:28 AM on August 22 [1 favorite]


immunity spatulas

dot tumblr dot com
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:24 AM on August 22 [3 favorites]


Cooking with Dog is the best cooking show.
posted by lkc at 5:07 PM on August 22 [1 favorite]


This thread reminds me I need to finish up the final touches to the Guy Fieri cosplay I'll be doing at Dragon Con next weekend.
posted by radwolf76 at 11:40 AM on August 24


billyfleetwood: "With the exception Alex Guarneschelli, who she's decided is simply "a hater""

I can never remember her name, so I have dubber her "Fake Freitag."
posted by Chrysostom at 9:33 PM on August 24


I actually somehow saw one episode of Guy's original cooking show, and was struck by the....guy-ness of it (not "Guy-ness" as in Guy Fieri, but "guy-ness" as in....male personages).

The "premise" for that week's episode - the event that Guy was cooking for - was that a couple of his friends were coming over to hang out. And sure enough a pair of guys did come into the studio at the start of the episode, exchanged a few words with him....and then crossed over to the extreme left of the studio and started watching a football game on a widescreen TV, while Guy cooked. About fifteen minutes into the episode, the two guests then moved to another part of the studio in the background and played foosball. When Guy finished his cooking, they came into the kitchen to join him in eating the blue corn tacos or whatever Guy had made. And that's really all they did - they didn't contribute anything else to the episode aside from being scenery. The camera would just cut to them every few minutes, showing them doing whatever it was they were doing, before cutting to Guy again.

I was fascinated by these two guys in the background, and wondered why they were there. They don't do anything like that on any other kind of cooking show - I've seen a couple of episodes of Giada's show, and when she also had an episode about "I'm making lunch for the girls", her guests in question stayed out of the episode until the last three minutes when you saw them all eating and cracking jokes over the dining room table, but the rest of the episode was All Giada Cooking. Same too with another show I've seen about a woman cooking for her kids' birthday party - save for one moment when she brought her kid in to show that "see, here's a great way your kids can help in the kitchen" and she showed him how to pour something, it was all cooking and the "eating and guests" part was at the very end. But with Guy's show, the way they kept cutting to the guys watching football or playing air hockey felt almost like the producer was feeling like "ooh, we have to do something masculine every so often so people don't get weirded out that this is a cooking show." You know? It was almost like they felt like they had to "bro" it up.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:20 PM on August 28 [1 favorite]


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