Thursday, April 27, 2006

Food Television

Television shows about chefs and food seem to be all the rage these days, and not only on the Food Network. There's Top Chef, on Bravo, a copy of last year's Fox show, Hell's Kitchen, and NBC's Celebrity Cooking Showdown, the Iron Chef wannabe with a twist. And let's not forget the two seasons of Rocco DiSpirito's trainwreck NBC/Bravo show, The Restaurant, that we were treated to in 2003-04. And in the one show that doesn't seem to be a contest, lovely chef Tony Bourdain eats and imbibes his way around the globe on No Reservations on the Travel Channel.

In addition to all their regular semi-food-related programming, the Food Network is also full of competitions. Every Sunday night there is a new batch of competitors vying for cash prizes with their towering sugar sculptures and fancy cakes. And Iron Chef America. And for the last two years, Who Will Be the Next Food Network Star?. Now I say - who cares?

I don't watch food programming for the personalities...I watch it to learn about food. I'm sorry, but my favorite punching bag and yours, Rachael Ray, ain't gonna teach me anything about cooking. She knows little or nothing herself. And Sandra Lee, with her craptastic not-even-semi-homemade garbage? (Never trust a skinny cook.) So why do we need another non-chef showing us how they gussy up a can of baked beans but don't they look damn perky while doing it? These "Food Network Star" people all have assloads of personality, but are they going to show me something I don't know? Something that will make me want to run to the kitchen and concoct a fabulous meal? Granted, the dude who won this year, Guy Fieri, does have a restaurant, and he seems to have some cooking skills, but his show is going to be all about him and his ridiculous bleached 'do and oddly-shaped van Dyck (rhymes with "bike," and I'm referring to his beard.) Yeah, it'll be some x-treme cooking. Uh-huh. :::eyeroll::: At least he'll be in the kitchen, rather than the new style food shows that has a chef (or Rachael Ray) traveling the world and tasting other folks' cooking or eating restaurant food. Apparently Alton Brown is even getting into the act with a new show this summer. Enough! Get your asses into the kitchen and cook for me, dammit!

But I digress.

So why are shows about food so popular these days that they show up on so many networks in prime time? Is it the whole hunger for "reality" television? Or is cooking becoming a sport for a country that is growing increasingly more obese (I ask, as I take a bite of my donut)?

If you figure it out, do let me know.