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The Decline and Fall of American Food TV


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The NY Sun compares the Fox version of Kitchen Nightmares to the Beeb's version and doesn't like what he sees. He's not too enamoured with the Food Network either. Although I'm used to the various screeds by Bourdain and those of us who post here, it's not common to see it written in print.
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Is the BBC program really any better than the one on Fox? I've only watched a few minutes of either. Ramsay just makes me cringe.

 

As for the Food Network, yeah it's gone way downhill. I see he gets in a dig at the Ace of Cakes ("inedible cake shaped like an armadillo"). That's one of the few FoodTV shows I find to be mildly entertaining. No one is going to learn how to bake watching that show - it simply isn't the point. And I'm sure that if you scrape off all that fondant glop you'll eventually unearth a cake that's at least nominally edible. Nobody talks about how the cakes taste.

 

Serious (or at least semi-serious) cooking shows are still airing on American television:

 

on PBS *

 

Lidia Bastianich

 

Mark Bittman's Best Recipes

 

Ming Tsai

 

Gourmet's Diary of a Foodie

 

José Andrés Made in Spain

 

* Some of these are only carried on the digital sub-channels of my local affiliates, not the main broadcast.

 

on Discovery Home

 

Marcus Samuelsson's Inner Chef

 

Kylie Kwong's Simply Magic

 

on MOJO-HD

Daniel Boulud's After Hours

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As for the Food Network, yeah it's gone way downhill. I see he gets in a dig at the Ace of Cakes ("inedible cake shaped like an armadillo"). That's one of the few FoodTV shows I find to be mildly entertaining. No one is going to learn how to bake watching that show - it simply isn't the point. And I'm sure that if you scrape off all that fondant glop you'll eventually unearth a cake that's at least nominally edible. Nobody talks about how the cakes taste.

 

Serious (or at least semi-serious) cooking shows are still airing on American television:

 

on PBS *

 

Lidia Bastianich

 

After seeing this a few times, it dawned on me that actual designs aren't all that edgy, attractive or even good. It's all about engineering. But the staff have all the pomo trappings of people who should be doing better work. Or at least more interesting work. But it is entertaining to see how they get from point a to point b.

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Is the BBC program really any better than the one on Fox? I've only watched a few minutes of either. Ramsay just makes me cringe.

 

 

Gordon Ramsay has been taken over the coals recently by the Bergen Record's Bill Pitcher. Bill wandered in on a photo shoot while GR was pontificating and customer food was cooling.

 

But something was different the moment we walked in the door. The place was brighter, because of industrial lights bouncing thousands of watts off the white ceiling tiles. The pictures on the wall were all different. There were a bunch of frumpily dressed people hanging around in the aisles. Oh, and there was a camera and a boom mic pointed at us.

 

Gordon Ramsay was back in town. "Kitchen Nightmares" was destined for a sequel. And we had serendipitously dropped ourselves in the middle of it.

 

RAMSEY IN THE SPOTLIGHT

 

The next two hours were surreal as we watched Campania go under the lights again while trying to enjoy lunch. Ramsay came and went, spending about 90 minutes in the restaurant after doing a set-up shot in the rain outside that lasted about 10 minutes. Whenever he spoke, the room hushed.

 

He started in the entryway, visiting with chef-owner Joseph Cerniglia's mother, then bounced right into the kitchen. He ultimately ended up seated at the next table, where waitress Josette patiently waited off-camera to deliver a plate of meatballs. (In the episode that aired in November, Ramsay claimed to help turn Campania around by sharing a meatball recipe; it was actually Cerniglia's.)

 

 

Turn around, and RUN out

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Is the BBC program really any better than the one on Fox? I've only watched a few minutes of either. Ramsay just makes me cringe.

I've watched the British on on youtube. It might be marginally better. The American one follows a real cookie-cutter format that pisses you off when you realize it about the third episode you watch.

 

Thanks for mentioning the Marcus Samuelsson show. I wonder if we get that here.

 

Everything Lydia Bastianich makes is something I'd want to eat, it seems.

 

Rick Bayless' weird, halting speech pattern makes me insane.

 

Ming Tsai is entertaining and makes some good food. Someone told me he is "a notorious pussy hound," which cracks me up.

 

PBS has been re-airing a ton of Baking With Julia and the Julia/Master Chefs episodes. I've been taping those for the past couple of months.

 

Diary of a Foodie is pretty good but could use a lot of improvement.

 

 

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Rick Bayless' weird, halting speech pattern makes me insane.

 

I've gotten over the odd sing-song speech, but lately he's started featuring his teen-aged daughter in his shows. (Jacques Pépin did this as well.) I'm sure she's a very bright girl, but she really doesn't belong in the show. :huh:

 

 

PBS has been re-airing a ton of Baking With Julia and the Julia/Master Chefs episodes. I've been taping those for the past couple of months.

 

Yeah, I didn't mention the "vintage" re-runs. I love the Master Chef series. My station has also been re-running some older Jacques Pépin shows.

 

I also forgot about Mary Ann What's-her-face. (Ciao Italia). Another sing-song speech pattern.

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My friend Bryan and I used to crack ourselves up while watching Jacques and Claudia. Using an outrageous French accent: "Doesn't anyone want to take Claudia off our hands? Her mother is so worried she will never get married. Yes, she is quite tootheee and not so bright, but she is a nice girl." We were so mean.

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Everything Lydia Bastianich makes is something I'd want to eat, it seems.

She's a bloody Croatian! How can she know anything about Italian cooking? :P

 

 

Rick Bayless' weird, halting speech pattern makes me insane.

Oh, me too, no argument there. But he has given me a healthy respect for Mexican food that I've never gotten from any Mexican restaurant I've been to.

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I love Mary Ann Esposito. She lives in New Hampshire--is that the type of accent she has? Her voice doesn't bother me like Rick Bayless' voice. Oh, and that nasty, wispy facial hair of his. I completely agree about the broadening-of-horizons when it comes to Mexican cuisine, however. If they dubbed his voice, they'd have something!

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