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Blurred Limes: Who’s cooking now?

February 18, 2015

While flipping through the drag of late morning TV, I stopped on the Cooking Channel.  I should have been writing, but I wasn’t.  Food shows are generally inoffensive.  I might even learn something.

What I learned is that Haylie Duff has a show called Real Girl’s Kitchen.  I’m not going to rip on her because the show seemed fine and the Duff girl was a decent enough host.  No signature freaky hair style or annoying catchphrase.  Rather, an entertainer driving the show with enthusiasm for the subject and a natural-seeming personality.  Just another person that likes foodstuffs.  I can dig that.

I also learned that Tiffani Thiessen (I guess she dropped the Amber, which makes me sad) also has a show on that network – Dinner at Tiffani’s.  I shouldn’t succumb so easily, but I can’t resist peeking in when it airs.  The thirty-second preview was enough to intrigue.

Let’s not forget when we were wondering what Brian Boitano would make.  Everyone is getting in on the act.  They are entertainers, after all.  Finding someone who can cook or do food entertainment at a high level is hard.  The entertainer in question doesn’t necessarily have to come from the kitchen, as long as they show well on TV.

If I have to choose between watching Valerie Malone having a dinner party and watching the list of rejects from The Next Food Nextwork Star (or just Food Network Star, as they call it now, because they are going to jam every one of them down our throats) fumble through an explanation of toasting bread, I’ll take the dinner party.

The typical failures are obvious here.  The Powers That Be are trying to craft a show from a list of required elements rather than let something develop organically.  They have cobbled that list of elements from successful shows, most of which evolved organically.  Curious, that.

Not to mention that you can’t allow the Food Network “Stars” to show me how incompetent they are and then expect me to tune in and listen to what they have to say once the network crowns the Least Loser.  Those thoroughly average “stars” are levels below Iron Chef, somewhere on the level of Paper Chef.  Top Chefs, they certainly are not.

If you have to be schtick, you TV losers can take a look at Bitchin’ Kitchen.  Her entertainment is schtick on purpose and her kitchen is actually cool, not Guy Fieri’s cacophonous garage-chic craphole.  Chefs like Martin Yan, the Two Fat Ladies, and Justin Wilson don’t feel forced the way some of the new schticks do.  The quiet, informative chefs like Jacques Pepin and Steven Raichlen just don’t grab people like watching Worst Cooks in America.  Hans Moleman’s film, Man Getting Hit by Football doesn’t receive so much acclaim for nothing.

I would take more Bobby Flay if I didn’t think Food Network is holding the real Flay in a lab somewhere while Flay clones generated from painfully-extracted tissue samples roam America’s kitchens.  Maybe I should just watch old Grillin’ and Chillin’ episodes.  That Jack McDavid can really stoke some coals.

Sadly, a glance at the most popular shows indicates that I’m not in the majority.  It’s not that I never watch junk.  I certainly do.  This stuff isn’t even junk.  It’s just an empty box.  Some entertainment may have settled during production.  Here’s your TV full of hot air.

I’m probably just cranky because I’m hungry.

What’s the point of all this rambling bullshit?  There’s nothing on TV and it’s too cold to go outside and play.

On a side note, I watched the movie Chef yesterday.  It was a nice, feel-goody sort of movie with a wonderful cast.  The story capitalizes on our obsession with food, the cult of chef personalities, and on the food truck revolution that might have stalled out already.  Damn, that’s a mouthful befitting a movie about a chef.

Plus Twitter.  Am I trending yet?

Watching left me with a strong desire for a great Cuban sandwich.  I’m going to make a run over to 90 Miles later and get something.

The movie was really a better expression of my point.  The clash between the artist and the business.  You can be the artist or you can color inside the lines and keep your job.  One is risky and one is network television drained of verve but apparently with just enough pieces of flair to satisfy the folks in the big offices.

In the end, these are not the only two options.  Sometimes the long road prepares you better for your destination.

Just don’t forget the cornstarch.

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