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Food Network: Has It Gone Downhill?


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#31

frenchtoast

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Posted Nov 14, 2005 @ 3:40 PM

Reading this thread has reminded me how much I used to watch FN and now, well, not so much.

I LOVED David Rosengarten even if I thought he as a bit snobbish at times. It didn't matter, he was well informed, knowledgeable and had a passion about good food. I miss that show to this day.

I also miss the original How to Boil Water, with the novice cook and the expert chef who would only sit on a stool and give vocal directions, though occasionally she did interact. The guy was funny, asked a lot of questions that novice cooks would ask and had horrible knife and mixing skills. It made me feel, as someone who was learning to cook in college that it was doable. And it was funny. I loved that show.

And, I hate to admit this, I learned so much about cooking from the Essence of Emeril when it was this white kitchen. And from Sara Moulton. Emeril, though passionate about food, wasn't an entertainer as much as he was trying to make cooking not seem like a chore. And Sara Moulton, making those small mistakes, made me realize that I, too, could cook.

Now, the only show I can tolerate is Good Eats, and unfortunately, it's on at times that it's hard for me to catch. I do have quite a few TIVOed though, and the Good Eats fan page, with the transcripts, are a godsend. And the reason I love Good Eats? it's someone who's passionate about good food but has a fun time and tries to make accessible and understandable. That's what is needed.

I think FN went from trying to make cooking accessible to the greater public has taken to heart the idea that one has to talk down to the audience that is becoming all too endemic in TV in general. I wish they would run a month of some of their old shows, like anniversary type deal, and see if they couldn't hook more viewers.
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#32

naugastyle

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Posted Nov 14, 2005 @ 3:52 PM

SOME PEOPLE who make up a foolish premise for their "menu," for no reason

Are you talking about the various "party" shows, like how to set up a menu for various gatherings? Yeah, that's a theme I don't need. I definitely prefer either a focus on an ingredient or specific type of food, I don't have that many parties.

I do think there should either be a show focusing on things you can make for yourself or just 2-3 people...rather than recipes that would either give you loads of leftovers or require you to half/third them to suit. I find that often recipes that produce alot of food are also more labor intensive, which is why it's worth it to make more and share it or store it. And I guess I'm saying I want more recipes that make more sense for a single person to cook, time/effort wise.

I thought David Rosengarten was "Galloping Gourmet"...? Someone else? The "Taste" show sounds great, very informative.
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#33

Terrygirl

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Posted Nov 14, 2005 @ 3:56 PM

I love Good Eats, I could do without unwrapped and bobby flay, I find him to be full of himself. I didn't know they cancelled Mario. I really like him, he seems not at all full of himself and his food seems not to complicated. Yes I would like to learn more ethnic cooking but not something difficult.
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#34

kscatlvr2001

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Posted Nov 14, 2005 @ 4:24 PM

I miss having the cooking shows in prime time. Loved having Jamie Oliver on on Wednesday nights.

I remember reading an old article almost two years ago when some higher-up was hired at FN and decided that people coming home from work don't want to watch someone cook on TV. Excuse me?
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#35

leew261

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Posted Nov 14, 2005 @ 4:42 PM

SOME PEOPLE who make up a foolish premise for their "menu," for no reason

Are you talking about the various "party" shows, like how to set up a menu for various gatherings?


No, she's talking about Sandra Lee, who's themed shows range from juvenile to asinine.
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#36

bxn5

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Posted Nov 14, 2005 @ 4:43 PM

doesn't flay seem to always be scowling?
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#37

Mya

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Posted Nov 14, 2005 @ 4:44 PM

Flay always looks very happy on Boy Meets Grill.
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#38

Alohagirl

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Posted Nov 14, 2005 @ 5:01 PM

I wouldn't say FN has gone downhill, but they do tend to repeat too much of the same shows, and have cancelled some shows that I used to really like. I used to also really like Ming Tsai's show and I miss Melting Pot. I think they do need to have more ethnic cooking shows other than Italian. Melting Pot was good because it had many different types of food with different chefs.

Count me in with those that hate Unwrapped, Top 5, and The Secret Life of...
Top 5 especially is the most pointless show ever. Unwrapped worked better as occasional themed specials but as a regular show it gets old real quick. It seems like they repeat a lot of the same segments too. The Secret Life of...I think would work better as a "serious" show about the history of a certain food. Instead because of the host, it just gets annoying.

I hadn't even realized that "The Best of" was no longer on the air. : ( I used to really like that show.
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#39

naugastyle

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Posted Nov 14, 2005 @ 5:03 PM

Oh OK. I have missed the entire Sandra Lee phenomenon. I was really amazed to see that a cooking show had a mini-forum rather than a single thread, but when I started poking around the other food forums I got some hints about its content.
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#40

zfish

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Posted Nov 14, 2005 @ 6:23 PM

nuagastyle, the Galloping Gourmet is Graham Kerr.

I miss the Two Hot Tamales, Sara Moulton, Ming Tsai, Jamie Oliver, and Chef Du Jour. Heck I even miss Ready, Set, Cook after seeing too much RayRay!

Show I still watch are Giada's, Ina's, and Good Eats.

I hate all the cook-offs, Unwrapped, the show that looks at the "history" of a food with the REALLY annoying host, Top Five, and any other show not really about cooking (I'm looking at you, Sandra Lee!).
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#41

tabbygirl521

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Posted Nov 14, 2005 @ 6:33 PM

The Gallery of Regrettable Food guy!

HA! YES!!

Are you talking about the various "party" shows, like how to set up a menu for various gatherings? Yeah

Really I was thinking of Sandra Lee, who comes up with ridiculous contrived reasons to make the crap she makes. It's insulting and usually makes no sense. Half the time the "theme" doesn't even hold up throughout her show.

(Oh, I just noticed that leew amazingly read my mind! HA!)

Edited by tabbygirl521, Nov 14, 2005 @ 6:59 PM.

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#42

bookwirm

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Posted Nov 14, 2005 @ 6:57 PM

I am surprised you say that about RR not appreciating vegetarian meals.


It's not that she doesn't appreciate vegetarian meals. I know about the book, and she does make vegetarian meals/dishes sometimes on her show. I just find her to have kind of an odd attitude about it. She acts as though everybody eats meat at every meal, and to make something without it is completely alien. It's almost as though she feels she has to be comforting-"I know it's scary, but I promise you, you won't miss the meat." Most people eat meatless at least occasionally, even if it's just mac and cheese, and I find her attitude sort of condescending. But at least she acknowledges the possibility that a vegetarian meal can possibly be made and enjoyed.
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#43

JTMacc99

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Posted Nov 14, 2005 @ 8:06 PM

All I would like from the Food Network is to cycle out the personalities much more often. I can watch Little Big Head cook pretty much all of her favorite Italian dishes, and then I'm ready to move on to another person cook Italian for me.

I can't remember where I brought this up before (Emeril? Ray Ray?), but the problem with leaving these people on for too long is that they run out of ideas. It's the same reason I stopped getting Gourmet Magazine. They printed the good recipe for cheesecake in 1973, so now all they can do is come up with new versions of roasted red pepper and black olive cheesecake in 2005.
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#44

nh lass

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Posted Nov 14, 2005 @ 8:10 PM

I'd like to see some bread making shows once in awhile


Ditto that - Jeez, does ANYONE bake bread anymore? Baking with Julia on PBS was a delight. And I'll go along with the shouts for vegetarian cooking - I'm not one, but I don't always eat meat and it would be nice to have some creative options besides pasta.

Bobby Flay had a hispanic chef friend on one time and I've seen him on other shows, I can't remember his name to save my life (someone help me here!), I believe Cuban was his nationality and his specialty, and I could actually be inspired to make some of the things he presented. Oh, he's cute too, that doesn't hurt...

ETA that I just saw a promo for a new show, "Ham on the Street", some putz trying to get people to eat strange food. What a frickin' waste of time, if anyone was wondering what "new direction" they're going in, now we know. It's not pretty.

Edited by nh lass, Nov 14, 2005 @ 8:28 PM.

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#45

Anyone Bueller

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Posted Nov 14, 2005 @ 8:40 PM

Has it gone downhill? I think it's pretty much gone to hell in a handbasket. And it's only going to get worse, since TPTB publicly admit that they want TFN to be an entertainment network, not an instructional one. With that being said, I'll continue to watch Barefoot Contessa, Paula Deen, and Dave Lieberman (who is one hot piece of ass) as long as they are all on.

BTW, does anyone know if Rachael Ray is going to leave TFN once she starts doing her syndicated show for Oprah next fall? I can't imagine that she'll be able to do a daily show, plus all of the shows she does for TFN.
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#46

lilyblue

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Posted Nov 14, 2005 @ 9:09 PM

ETA that I just saw a promo for a new show, "Ham on the Street", some putz trying to get people to eat strange food. What a frickin' waste of time, if anyone was wondering what "new direction" they're going in, now we know. It's not pretty.


This is one of the reasons why I started this thread. What the hell is TFN thinking? I saw the bit about the cheese grating contest. That's 3 minutes of my life I want back.
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#47

Missy173

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Posted Nov 14, 2005 @ 9:59 PM

Oh man, this is the thread I was waiting for. I wanted to start this kind of topic but I figured I would've done it wrong.

I really liked Tyler's Ultimate too, and it had such a great premise. A good food that everyone likes should be explored and re-taught to people.

Which leads me to Paula Dean's show. I like her show a lot because, she makes a lot of classic "American" dishes IMO. And I would love to see more of this. Many people may turn their noses up at casseroles, pot roast, beef stew, etc...But I grew up eating the dishes, and if I can't learn them from my family, then it would be great if Food Network showed me.

FN needs to get their asses back into the kitchen, and stop looking for ways to avoid actually cooking. No, I don't want to know how to have Thanksgiving ready in 15 minutes.


Word!
I agree that Rachel Ray has seen her day come and go. It's time for her to leave the show. It's not that I think that her show is bad, and should be taken off the air, it's just that I think they have explored all that they can with this idea.

Which leads me to agree that we need a rotation of chefs. I like the variety a network like this could offer. With all the half-hours they have in a day, it could be a constant slew of new people and ideas.

No More Italian Indeed! It's the same stuff just recycled with one or two new ingredients. So, I too am hoping for new ethnic shows. But I would like to see shows with recipes more like what I eat in my regular life.

If they do tex-mex, show us how to make real tex-mex. Like good enchiladas, beans, rice, tortilla soup, flautas, tamales, etc...I don't need any new interpretations on food. I just want to learn how to make the food I like. No matter how complicated it could be.

The same goes for Chinese food. It may be a horrible opinion to some, but I want to know how to make pepper steak, (fried rice, egg drop soup, sesame chicken) like my local take-out place does. I wouldn't be eating it in take-out form if I knew how to make it myself. And If I knew the methods and ingredients, then I might be willing to be more experimental with my dishes and alter them. I don't want to see a show with a recipe for Kung pao chicken, but then have it be a "variation" on that.

A show featuring barbecue would be great too. Because even something as simple seeming as barbecue can be completely different depending on where you live. Ex: Texas, Kansas City, Memphis, etc..

I would also love to have some shows about different ethnic cuisines that I have never tried before. I have no idea what Jewish people eat, or people from Spain, England, Turkey, Australia, etc...If they want to do non-instructional shows, at least it could be about something that isn't already in my backyard. (Shows like "chili competitions", or corn competitions, etc).

As for baking shows, I think they should bring back Gale Gand or even just feature her show at a non-weird time. Learning how to do things well isn't the worst thing in the world. Plus, I sincerely could care less about those friggin competitions with candy, chocolate, cake, etc...Just show me how to make a good Boston Cream Pie dangit.

And as much as I like Ina, I only want one food snob on my food network. Itís cool to see Inaís fabulous life in the Hamptons, and watch her cook with the ďbestĒ shit around, but I only need one of her. So please donít bring any more on.

Also we need shows that at least involve wine or alchohol, or can teach us a little about it. There is a whole world of wine out there that some of us are interested in, but donít know anything about. I think I remember there being this great show on food network that talked about nothing but beer, wine, and mixed drinks. I distinctly remember they made this chocolate-cherry martini and it looked so damn good! Of course I was only 13, but damn did I want one of those. But of course now that I am of age, there arenít any shows the explore the world of drinking.

Now I will be the lone dissenter and say I like both Unwrapped and Secret Life but I do agree that it should be in moderation. Maybe in combination with one another, shown only once an evening/day whatever.

Are you talking about the various "party" shows, like how to set up a menu for various gatherings? Yeah, that's a theme I don't need. I definitely prefer either a focus on an ingredient or specific type of food, I don't have that many parties.

Word Again! Who entertains that much? My family "entertains" a couple of times a year. They are called the holidays and they have their own themes, thank you very much. I don't need a new thing to celebrate, and blow my money on.

And finally ....

I also miss the original How to Boil Water, with the novice cook and the expert chef who would only sit on a stool and give vocal directions, though occasionally she did interact. The guy was funny, asked a lot of questions that novice cooks would ask and had horrible knife and mixing skills. It made me feel, as someone who was learning to cook in college that it was doable. And it was funny. I loved that show.


Me too! The host was charming, and funny. It was a calm show and very entertaining. Watching people cook can be entirely entertaining on its own. Why do you think kids like hanging around their mothers/grandmothers feet in the kitchen.

And if you got through that, thanks, and my props to you foodies!
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#48

Angora Deb

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Posted Nov 14, 2005 @ 10:55 PM

How to Boil Water, with the novice cook and the expert chef

"Cathy (Kathy?) 'Culinary Guru' Lowe"! I loved that show; Sean Donnellan was so funny and cute. Unfortunately lately he's been showing up in commercials for some motel chain, and balding and fat to boot. Dommage...

In the "unpopular opinions" department, I'm sick to fucking death! of hearing about Alton Brown. His little skits are puerile and he comes off like a goofy high school science teacher. He'd be well-liked there, but I am not in HS anymore. God, I miss David Rosengarten and the minimalist, VERY educational "Taste" (which, for those who don't remember it, I watched ca. '98). Though sometimes I get his name mixed up with that Vogue dickhead Jeffrey Steingarten who was abusing our Giada recently.

I second the votes for more vegetarian (especially vegan) / Asian / health food and less Italian. Waaaay more health food; we Americans eat abominably (even homemade alfredo is not good for you) and are chronically ill (e.g., diabetes) thanks to our diets. We don't live like the Ingalls or Waltons anymore and no longer need to cram ourselves with calories burned off by chopping wood. (Hear that, Paula?)

(bxn5, you might do well to read the FAQs/rules about capitalization.)
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#49

Nocona

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Posted Nov 14, 2005 @ 10:57 PM

I agree that they need a How to Boil Water type of show for the novice cooks... and maybe ONE quickmeals type of show. There is no show dedicated to real gourmet cuisine anymore... Ina might flirt with it every once in awhile, and okay perhaps Michael Chiarello sometimes... but he's all about EASY entertaining and grey salt, ewww. And Emeril still does Emeril stuff, but the rest is all quick fast easy bullshit. Giada is even about quick and easy italian... well, where do I go when I want to spend all day on a Saturday making an amazing 5 course meal? Mario isn't on anymore! Ming isn't there anymore to talk dirty to me about panko bread crumbs... god I miss that man.

I think I might even miss Food911. Oh, the good old days with Jaime, Ming and skinny Tyler. I watched FN more than I did regular primetime network television. Now? I might flip on In the Kitchen on Saturdays or Sundays if I'm not too hung over I might see some of the good chefs... the only ones that really do anything for me are Dan and Steve and Dave Lieberman's ideas are great, even if the premise of his show is off. I can't really watch Paula anymore, although I love her... I just don't make the kind of stuff she makes, except dessert. I'm a vegetarian and she barely makes a recipe I can do justice to with morning star crumbles or faux chicken.

Where's my vegetarian cooking show?! Where is Aaron Sanchez to bring more FN pretty? So I can have my hot FN dudes and Mexican cuisine too?
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#50

naugastyle

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Posted Nov 14, 2005 @ 11:04 PM

I could only handle a show that taught how to recreate take-out dishes if THAT were the focus, rather than a particular ethnicity. I feel it would be such a waste to get an all-Chinese cooking show and feature dishes like Kung Pao chicken, which is just not the kind of thing Chinese people ever make at home. But a show that EITHER focused on simple home cooking like potstickers or dan dan noodles or ma po tofu OR the high-quality restaurant stuff could be educational and eye-opening. Or like I was originally thinking, have an Asian show with a rotating cast of chefs so that one episode is Chinese, one is Malaysian, one is Japanese, one is Cambodian...etc.

I haven't been watching it, but isn't Anthony Bourdain's show supposed to be about showing us foods from different countries, rather than the chili cook-offs? Or...oops, is that actually on Travel Channel? Well, like I said I haven't seen it. From what I've gathered it's more about him exploring street food and authentic restaurants, and maybe what you're saying Missy173 is that if there were a show that focused on a different country per episode, they might explain the foods through on-the-street filming but also teach us how to make them? That would be a great idea.

Confused about another thing: a few of you are moaning about the loss of Jamie Oliver. But on the FN website both "Naked Chef" and "Oliver's Twist" are still listed as on the air. Are they just cancelled and in repeats?

Edited by naugastyle, Nov 14, 2005 @ 11:07 PM.

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#51

PlayItGeorge

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Posted Nov 14, 2005 @ 11:12 PM

Occasionally, you will see Jamie Oliver on at like 4 AM. And Anthony Bourdain's been removed from FN and is over on the Travel Channel. He looks cuter than ever and it's a great show.

I can see that point about RR having a weird vegetarian food attitude. I fully support the idea of cycling the chefs out more often too. As shitty as it is to have to continually fire people...it would just make for a better channel. Ideally.
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#52

rachaeltb

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Posted Nov 14, 2005 @ 11:23 PM

Occasionally, you will see Jamie Oliver on at like 4 AM.


It drives me nuts that Jamie Oliver is only on at 4. I happened to catch it a couple weeks ago, and I remembered how much I loved The Naked Chef. His food always looked amazing, wasn't too difficult, and he was fun to watch.

I also love and miss Ming Tsai. BRING THEM BACK!

I liked Rachael Ray when she first started and was less cracked out, but there are only so many ways to make burgers. Now she's just annoying, I can hardly stand to watch her anymore.

I still love Michael Chiarello and Giada, but I agree with everyone saying that there are only so many shows you can do about pasta.

I think I might even miss Food911. Oh, the good old days with Jaime, Ming and skinny Tyler. I watched FN more than I did regular primetime network television. Now? I might flip on In the Kitchen on Saturdays or Sundays if I'm not too hung over I might see some of the good chefs.


WORD to everything there.

I definitely want more COOKING shows back on Food Network. That whole stupid advertising plan "We're more than just cooking" makes me want to scream. I watch Food Network to see cooking, not Top 5. (Although I do like some episodes of Unwrapped, I won't lie.) I want various ethnic shows, a vegetarian show (I'm not even a vegetarian, but I'd like to be able to cook for my friends who are) and I'd love a show that does more to pair wine with food. When FN did a Fine Living preview last weekend (I think) there was some show called Pairings. I'm not sure I loved the host, but I liked the idea behind it. I'm so stupid when it comes to wine, I want to learn more.
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#53

bxn5

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Posted Nov 14, 2005 @ 11:32 PM

I'm glad to hear the minority opinion that Alton isn't that great. I gave his show a chance a couple years ago and it seemed really silly and trying to be funny. Without paying attention I guess he got a bigger budget but has the show really improved? Everyone loves the guy and I feel the peer pressure to give him another try.
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#54

nh lass

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Posted Nov 14, 2005 @ 11:35 PM

I haven't been watching it, but isn't Anthony Bourdain's show supposed to be about showing us foods from different countries, rather than the chili cook-offs? Or...oops, is that actually on Travel Channel? Well, like I said I haven't seen it. From what I've gathered it's more about him exploring street food and authentic restaurants


Bourdain ROCKS, and he makes no bones about what he thinks the Food Network has become - he's always making cracks about Bobby Flay and Rachel Ray. He goes to real,out of the way native places, eats the most amazing and disgusting foods, somehow managing not to hurl on camera, which sometimes looks like the biggest challenge. It's more of a travelogue, but the focus is on native cuisine and not cooking. It really belongs on the Travel Channel, he is a brave brave man.....

I'm glad to hear the minority opinion that Alton isn't that great. I gave his show a chance a couple years ago and it seemed really silly and trying to be funny.



I have to say Alton has grown on me - silly yes, but I LEARN SOMETHING, about the stupid little things that flummox me in the kitchen, why things go flat when they're not supposed to, etc. - I do love the science behind it all.

Edited by nh lass, Nov 14, 2005 @ 11:36 PM.

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#55

2chacha

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Posted Nov 15, 2005 @ 1:01 AM

I get the definite sense that FN no longer knows or understands who their audience is. Look at their "food as entertainment" shows. Foodies think these shows are dumb, and non-foodies probably aren't going to skip another show that they regularly watch to find out how a Tootsie Roll is made. So, who exactly is the target audience for a show like Unwrapped or Secret Life Of?

In trying to make the network accessible to everyone, FN is only alienating the viewers they already had, and probably isn't going to pull in hordes of new devotees with shows like Ham On The Street. I can remember being in high school, watching shows like Taste, How To Boil Water... heck, even Emeril. FN is a huge part of why I'm interested in cooking and baking now, and I know I'm far from the only person who feels that way. My mother did a great job with the cooking for the family, but she never really enjoyed it (still doesn't, in fact). FN was what helped me realize that cooking doesn't have to be a chore... I can only imagine what the next generation of home chefs will be like, with people like Sandra Lee and Robin Miller insisting that cooking is HARD, so you should half-ass as much of it as you can.

But then, at the same time, they're starting shows like Good Deal with Dave Lieberman, Sugar Rush... Dave Lieberman makes some dang tasty looking food, and Warren Brown makes cakes I would kill for. (I speak from experience. If you ever have the opportunity to try a cake from his store, cakelove, DO SO.) Plus, they have a lot of existing chefs who quite obviously know what they're doing, and more importantly, obviously love food and cooking. But then they get rid of Sara Moulton... Honestly, I don't know what FN is doing anymore. If it's a network for foodies and home chefs, they need to ditch the crap shows that we're all so irritated by. If they're truly turning into the "Look! Food and shiny distracting objects!" network, just get rid of ALL of the actual chefs so that they can go pick up PBS shows or form their own network.
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#56

naugastyle

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Posted Nov 15, 2005 @ 1:21 AM

Even though Sara Moulton was far from exciting, that's kind of what I liked about her. Her creds were being senior editor of Gourmet (right?), not in being a showy chef or having flashy theme-y restaurants. Really too bad.

Has anyone seen the Rick Sebak "documentaries" on PBS? There was a great one on ice cream, another on sandwiches, probably more. I like these. Low-key but great info...and mouthwatering. I wouldn't mind a few of these shows "about food" rather than "about cooking" as long as they were done well and not DOMINATING.

Hate to jump on the MAJORITY opinion, but I still adore Alton...been watching him since he started (and considering he's one of the few that lasted, I guess he found the right formula for pleasing the network and his fans who actually want to cook). I've never really found him laugh-out-loud funny and totally agree the skits are corny...but that's what I love...they're so freakishly dorky I can't stop watching. It's such a bizarre show. So I definitely pay attention when he's talking about chemical reactions in food, because there are dudes in costumes dancing! And the actual recipes are tasty, educational and focused. I can easily see how he can be over-the-top to some, though!
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#57

seltzer4

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Posted Nov 15, 2005 @ 3:44 AM

What happened to that one show?

It was basically an ethnic cooking show...they would switch between jewish food, soul food, and italian food.

I forgot what it was, but i liked it
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#58

ellyd

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Posted Nov 15, 2005 @ 4:39 AM

I think that was "Melting Pot". I liked that one too.

Edited by ellyd, Nov 15, 2005 @ 4:39 AM.

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#59

FormerOlympian

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Posted Nov 15, 2005 @ 8:03 AM

I wish Food Network would air repeats of "Two Fat Ladies." It's my favorite cooking show of all time. I only wish I could have known Jennifer Paterson before she passed away. She had a joy de vivre we would all do well to emulate.
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#60

kimmako

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Posted Nov 15, 2005 @ 8:35 AM

If the FN wants to do non-cooking shows, then how about a TV version of 'Hidden Kitchens'? This is a series on NPR on how cooking has affected people's lives and it's brillant. There was one about a woman who cooked in her home for all the civil rights activists. She wasn't just the cook, she was also an activist. But it brought together cooking and history, both private and public.

I want to see cooking. At all levels and all cuisines. I think a show featuring a real kid cooking for other kids would rock. I would like to see a show about wine and spirits too - there's one I see on PBS with Karen something. I like the food contests when they are real contests.

I don't care for the Top Five... Secret Life of ... or whatever.
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