Raymond Sokolov, writing in the March issue of Smart Money, came up with a rather surprising top pick of host after a day of watching the Food Network. Back to that later…He certainly knows his food, but he wrote about the Food Network the same way a person just landing from outer space would have.
He expressed surprise at the telegenic nature of its hosts. Obviously, Sokolov is being completely disingenuous, but how about a real dissection of the problems with the Food Network from somebody who could really contribute to the discussion? It’s a shame he didn’t bother. I think the Food Network’s main problem at the moment is their unwillingness to hire food professionals who can cook the way we foodies demand, while they concentrate too heavily on the entertainment value and attractiveness that their network requires. They certainly err on the side of choosing the latter.
Sokolov noted that “authentic presentations of great food and skilled cooking” are not getting the ratings of their less ambitious culinary presentations. Ok, let’s delve into that a bit more, Ray.
THEN he says, “It makes me sad to see Ina Garten's feeble knife skills exhibited to millions, while dozens of far more talented people who know how to chop and slice brilliantly don't make it on the air.”
WELL!!! It makes ME sad that Ray can’t appreciate (because he hasn’t viewed enough episodes and definitely has never cooked from them) the warmth and simple great taste that she imbues into every single thing that she cooks. (Mostly.)
The test is in the tasting. The test is also in creating recipes that, moments after you see them on television, you want to run to the kitchen and make! And the MANY Barefoot Contessa dishes that have passed muster in my kitchen are testament to the fact the FN got at least something right, when they put her on the air. (He should rather have been criticizing them for yanking her off the air on Saturday afternoons.) So, Ray, don’t you be dissing my girl!
So after his spurious remarks about Ina, just who did Raymond Sokolov cite as his favorite Food Network star? Alton Brown came in second. I know he has plenty of fans, but he has more of a special interest show than a “cooking” show.
His number one choice is…Rachael Ray, BECAUSE (get this) she teaches America how to cook with “fresh” ingredients. It IS true that her kitchen isn’t ruled by packets and potions, BUT her “cuisine” is defined by meat, more meat and more meat after that; dishes that are heavy on cheese to take the place of more delicate flavors; and a reliance on the same several recipes – meat balls, meat sauce, pasta sauce, “sammies” with meat; plus a refusal to tackle anything as complicated as “baking” or even toasting bread. Her “figure friendly” or healthy recipes usually consist of something like whole wheat pasta with a nasty cauliflower “sauce”.
I feel as if those of us that have logged hour after hour with the channel have a right to complain (indeed, even a duty!), but a casual observer who blasts my favs can go back to his restaurant reviews.