In the few weeks since Paula Deen revealed she has been living with a diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes for the past few years, it seems everyone has an opinion. Some people have been supportive; other people (I’m looking at you, Anthony Bourdain) not so much. But regardless of how you feel about the situation, it’s evident that the Deen family brand will certainly be evolving. Paula herself has moved beyond selling cake mix with her likeness, and is now endorsing diabetes medication. And now the latest cooking show in the family’s repertoire involves one of Paula’s sons presenting lighter versions of some of her classic meals.
Somehow I managed to miss the fact that Anthony Bourdain has a new TV show. How could this be? He’s basically the patron saint of snarky food enthusiasts, so you can imagine how deeply I am emotionally invested here. Luckily I have friends (Dugan) who are also snarky food enthusiasts and were similarly shocked that I had not seen said new show. Before everyone panics, you should know that it has all been rectified and the world can continue on, at least until November because this is 2012 and it’ll all be over soon anyway. Continue reading
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Ah, food. For years (thousands, really) we as a species were only content to eat it. What barren, miserable, lonely years those were. Now, as we lurch forward gracefully into the dawn of a new millennium Continue reading
As you may know, chef Paula Deen, the woman famous for her southern/deep-fried/buttery/100% delicious recipes, has type 2 diabetes. Hold the phone! Everyone, scramble! How dare she fall victim to the inevitable consequence of her eating habits!
The media frenzy over Deen’s diagnosis underscores a very silly thing we do in this country. For some inexplicable reason, we hold television personalities accountable for our own poor decisions. So Paula Deen pushes fatty, cholesterol-filled, sugar covered, potato chip encrusted, doughnut encircled, heart-attack-in-a-recipe recipes. So she has bazillions of fans hanging on her every word. So what? Does that make it her responsibility to include caveats about healthy eating alongside everything she does?
Ah, Friday. A time when all things seem new and possible. Unless you’re me, in which case you live in Portland so it’s raining and you have to get up at five-thirty in the morning and immediately interact with six-year-olds, which is a fate I would wish upon very few people. But though my socks might be dampened, my spirit is not–plus, it was quite the week for television. Continue reading
It’s no wonder TV executives may look to British TV when looking for the next big U.S. television hit: Major hits such as “The Office”, “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” and “American Idol” were all adapted from British TV shows.
Let’s take a look at other American programs that you may have been unaware originated across the pond from our tea and crimpets-loving friends.
Hell’s Kitchen, FOX
FOX’s “Hell’s Kitchen” is based on a British show of the same name. In fact, both the American and British versions feature Gordon Ramsay. While Mr. Ramsay has stayed with the American program for multiple seasons, he was featured only in the first season of the British show, to be replaced in later seasons by Gary Rhodes and Marco Pierre White (We know – who? Well, this isn’t a foodie blog…can’t blame us).
I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!, ABC
We don’t know anyone who watched this, but apparently someone out there did, as this show played on ABC for two seasons! The second season featured Sanjaya of “American Idol”, Spencer Pratt and his wife/plastic surgery victim, Heidi Montag, of “The Hills”, and one of the Baldwins. This would have been the perfect excuse to set up a real-life “Hunger Games” situation. There have been 12 seasons of this show across the pond, with the most recent season’s winner being Dougie Poynter, of the English pop rock band McFly.
If you’re up for it, check out the original “Skins” on Netflix Instant. You’ll find a show that’s a lot slower than our American teen soaps, but has enough twist and turns and character depth to keep you coming back. The “season trailers”, like the one below, are super attention-grabbing and even, well…I think that would be considered artistic.
The program was adapted for American television by MTV last year, and upon its release was denounced by groups such as the Parents Television Council as “teen pornography”. Not quite sure what they were watching, because the American “Skins” was far from pornography – in fact, most viewers probably went looking for pornography instead…at least the plot lines would have been more interesting.
Being Human, Syfy
“Being Human” was adapted for American audiences last year, and has been a modest hit for Syfy network, despite being criticized for becoming “American-ized” by some critics. The show is about a werewolf, a vampire and a ghost living together in Boston and, you know, doing the regular things that 20-somethings do – working, bar-hopping. Think of it like “Melrose Place”, adapted for our “Twilight” sensibilities. TEAM EDWARD!
There is a bizarre and unsettling paradox out there in the TV world. There are people who watch hours upon hours of Food Network programming, but don’t know how to boil an egg. Maybe you’re one of them. I know I am. I’m admitting this shameful fact to the world, but it’s true – it’s my dirty little secret.
Why would I spend hours watching cooking television when I hate to cook? Am I envious of professional chefs? Am I hungry, but lazy? Well, no, not exactly. Cooking program and the love of cooking don’t really match up as you might think. In fact, cooking shows aren’t targeted at a cooking audience at all.
To discover the source of this seeming TV viewer paradox, it’s best to look back at the old cooking shows, like Emeril Live. The whole point of that series was to teach people at home how to make amazing dishes. Back then, that’s what the bulk of cooking shows were all about. The prevalence of those teaching shows embedded that theme into the minds of TV audiences. Nowadays, whenever we think of Food Network, we think of Rachel Ray, Emeril, and Giada DeLaurentiis.
But that’s the wrong way to think of Food Network. Sure, Rachel Ray and her ilk are still around, but now Food Network is more about reality television, contests, or just putting a camera in a restaurant’s kitchen and seeing what kind of drama arises.
I love Cake Boss, but do you think I’ve got any clue how to bake a delicious cake? You can forget it. If the instructions aren’t on the back of the box, I might as well be trying to perform surgery. And what about Iron Chef? Do I know how to make truffle-infused pasta? Ha!
You see, the whole focus of the Food Network has shifted away from teaching people how to cook and gravitated more towards pure entertainment. Sure, they’re cooking during all of the action, but the actual cooking process is kind of secondary. To put it into perspective, Food Network cares about teaching you how to cook about as much as the show COPS teaches you how to be an officer of the law.
In actuality, part of the Food Network’s success lies in our biology. To put it simply, humans love food. Actually, all animals love food. It’s part of our biological programming. We like to eat food, smell food, look at food, collect food, and just generally be in the presence of food. It makes us happy because, well, food is kind of necessary for survival.
So, the Food Network appeals to viewers by providing us with entertainment while appealing to our stomachs. It’s actually pretty similar to putting sex on TV. Food Network is also appealing to a base, primal instinct. From a biological standpoint, a dramatic, cut-throat competition on the Food Network is pretty much functionally identical to America’s Next Top Model. Just replace the sex appeal with food appeal, and you’ve got yourself a hit show.
So, are you a hungry Food Network watcher? Don’t be ashamed if you are. It’s not as odd as you might think. Be comforted by the fact that there are thousands of Food Network fans out there who are just as clueless as you are when trying to navigate a kitchen.
I mean, could you figure out how to cook a pork chop out of that clip? All I learned is that cooks like to whine.
After a grueling competition between the top celebrity chefs on the Food Network, New York chef Geoffrey Zakarian achieved victory and earned the title of the Next Iron Chef. However, if these ten fictional TV chefs were in the competition, then any one of them would have given Zakarian a run for his money.
10. Scotty Wandell – “Brothers and Sisters”
Scotty was willing to endure financial hardships to pursue his dream of opening a restaurant. That determination, which allowed Scotty to achieve his dream, would be an asset in Kitchen Stadium.