Monday, March 17, 2014

Where Have I Been And WHAT Has Happened To The Food Network?

Oh guys, I’m here, I really am, but clearly I haven’t been putting blogging at the top of my to-do list. And if you’ve been watching the Food Network lately, it’s not too hard to understand why. But there are a couple other things that have been going on to explain my absence, which, I fully admit, are probably pretty boring to anyone not living within my four walls.

First, I’m doing a relatively small renovation which has turned into a really big time sucker. And I’M not even the one knocking down the walls. My town puts many roadblocks in the way of doing things to one’s house and it’s taken a lot of nitpicky action to get things going AND we don’t even start the actual work for a couple of weeks. But, as anybody knows who’s ever done work to his or her house, lots of things, actually EVERYTHING has to be chosen and ordered in advance.

The second thing that’s taken my attention away from blogging (I really buried the lead here) is that my daughter is getting married…in the fall…in California. YAY!!!!!!!

There are a lot of details to work out since it’s an out of town wedding for many of us. The best part of the whole thing, though, is that my daughter is the least Bridezilla of any bride in the universe. She’s concerned about her family and her guests and we haven’t disagreed about anything! (Well, she DID nix the doves…) And a wonderful side effect is that we talk or IM or text many times daily and, frankly, I don’t really care what it’s about. It’s just nice to be in such close communication. I’ve asked her if after the wedding, we can still talk as much and while the answer has not been that reassuring, I’ll take what I can get for now.

But back to my first point… In the last few years, there’s been a lot less of interest to watch on the Food Network and, thus, to write about. Ina and Giada have been banished to Sunday mornings and The Kitchen, which should really be called The Chew 2, has taken a prime Saturday morning spot. And, of course, now competitions rule. I love this article, which talks about how junky the Food Network is getting...literally.

Allen Salkin, author of From Scratch: Inside the Food Network, is quoted. He “sees the junk-food cooking as a sign of decline for a channel that once minted celebrity chefs and acted as something of a middle-brow vanguard for raising America’s culinary knowledge. Now, he says, executives are just ‘regurgitating old show ideas and presenting new ways to make ourselves fatter and sicker.’ ”

Somehow when I watched Paula (remember her?) cooking unbelievably unhealthful food, I looked at it as pure entertainment and not something I would actually replicate in the kitchen. (And you always got the feeling that Paula was in on the joke.) Now, they’re serious!

Plus if the Food Network could clone Bobby Flay, they would. They’ve stretched him from straight cooking shows to competing in cooking competitions, to judging, to mentoring, to mentoring WHILE judging AND competing and every variation therein. Soon they will be happy just to put his name in the title of the show…or maybe the credits. I happen to love Bobby, so seeing him everywhere isn’t the problem. I’m just sorry they don’t think his cooking is good enough to carry an entire show, but apparently just showing his face is good enough to carry an entire network.

There IS one cooking show that I’m very excited about. I’ll tell you about it next time…and soon.


Anonymous said...

Hi Sue,

Sorry about your renovation woes. It's never easy, is it? But at least you have the wedding to distract you -- wonderful news.

Totally true about The Kitchen. Awful. Their handy tips are the equivalent of telling a 4-year-old not to eat paste. I've been watching a lot more HGTV instead at the gym.

But I think I can guess, maybe, which show you might like -- the one on Sat with the woman who moved back to the midwest? Can't remember the name but I see Lidia is one of the producers and it's a pretty good show overall.

Sue said...

Tom, that paste comment is SOOO funny...and true.

AND I am totally addicted to HGTV, especially Househunters. (I have even tweeted with a couple of different Househunters... I know, weird!) Luckily, my brain is mush, so I like the reruns too. I can never remember which house they picked. Ross, the famous intern, is going to be (or has been?) featured on one episode in Palm Springs. And he loves the show so much that he said he made a point of having his house completely decorated by the time they came back 3 weeks later.

You'll have to wait (not long) to read whose cooking show I LOVE.

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

I never wanted to watch House Hunters in the past because I would just seethe with rage at the people who could buy these nice houses and afford to be picky about them while I stayed stuffed in a four-room condo apartment. But our financial situation will likely have an uptick next year and we are finally going to start looking for a real house. We even looked at one last night (with a lovely new kitchen). We're not going to buy until next year, but we're doing our research. Maybe I can start watching that show again without breaking down into hysterical sobs.

We did a lot of renovations on our apartment by just paying a guy in cash under the table. No worries about getting caught by the board. He is the super's brother-in-law.

I have completely given up on the Food Network. Even the Cooking Channel doesn't seem to have much in the way of cooking shows I want to watch anymore. FN used to be my default TV station. Now I pass right over it when channel surfing.

Glad the wedding planning is going well! She must be counting the days.

Anonymous said...

Hi again, Sue,

I was thinking about your comments about Bobby Flay and how he's now the face of practically every FN show. Last year in the NYT interview he and Giada did they said they'd never be on TV if they had to go through the Next Food Network Star process. A couple of years ago I met someone who worked for Bobby, he told me that Bobby had years of media training and acting lessons before becoming the persona we see on TV. If FN hadn't needed a bunch of shows to fill its schedule early on, we might not be seeing him on TV at all. But these days he's everywhere -- FN let him take the time to develop instead of having to spring fully-formed onto the network. In Giada's early shows she was pretty good at the cooking part but her food intros were terribly stiff and stilted -- and today she's all over the place on FN too.

It looks like Anne Burrell is the next one destined for FN ubiquity. (While I used to like her I can't watch her anymore. After Ted Allen outed her she claimed she had always been out, which was total BS. On her cooking show you never once heard her mention her partner or living situation, while Giada, Ina, Bobby, Rachael, Ellie, that annoying $10 dinners woman, and practically every other host mentions his or her spouse/partner/children, etc. every single episode. And her new cookbook is insufferable, the intro reads as if she discovered or started every cooking technique or trend known to man.)

Sue said...

That’s great news! Congratulations! And you shouldn’t get mad at House Hunters. It’s completely fake, so they're probably making it up that they can afford the houses in the first place.

I never liked the Cooking Channel. It seems to be the dumping ground for old (really old) cooking shows and other cooking personalities that the Food Network doesn't quite want to let go of.

Hi Tom,
That’s interesting about Bobby. No one gets a chance anymore to hone his or her skills or take some time to develop as a public figure. It’s all or nothing, now or never.

I liked Anne in the beginning and her cooking. She was kind of original and her take on specific dishes was often really instructive. I’ve never watched anything else she’s done. Why would ANYONE watch people who are bad cooks? It makes no sense to me. About the outing part, I think it’s sad that she lived an inauthentic life for so long and then acted as if she hadn’t felt the need to do that. Cooking is a pretty creative field and there were plenty of trailblazers before her, so I wonder about that whole situation. Having said that, no one is required to bring her personal life into the kitchen (on television), but it does make that person a heck of a lot more appealing to be seen as a whole individual with a life OUTSIDE of the kitchen.

Anonymous said...

I agree that no one is required to bring his or her personal life onto a TV cooking show -- but the host of nearly every one of the FN shows I've seen does it. I can think of only a couple -- Dave Lieberman and maybe one either -- where you didn't know about the host's life. Even Sandra Lee used to occasionally mention a husband back in the old days (of course now she's not talking about her current living situation). The Hardy Boys were kind of coy but you could definitely pick up that they were a couple -- and outside the show they've been extremely visible along with their kids. And with Cat Cora we've not only learned about her living situation, but exactly how each of the children came into being (way TMI but there you go...)

So it seems that it's practically a requirement to pimp your family on FN, which is why I'm amazed that Anne got away without saying anything.

Sue said...

That IS true, about hosts pimping their families. What would Ina be without Jeffrey? Giada without Jade? Pioneer Woman without her cowboy...or cattle?

Emily said...

I feel bad I haven't been by lately. It's not just you, either. I literally haven't commented or read blogs in months. I think I've lost my some of my blogging motivation.

Anyway, I don't blame you for being away. I'm excited for your daughter's wedding (a complete stranger!) so I can't imagine how you feel! I hope your house renovation goes well.

I haven't been watching Food Network at all. I have lost all motivation with that, too. I miss Paula Deen. Occasionally I will watch Giada or Ina if they're on.

Maureen Kaye said...

We really miss your show. That being said, who do we have to sleep with at the Food Network to Get the Pioneer Woman moved, or lessened, or muted... so tired of seeing this pathetic cry for attention, and horrible food. So many over the years that we loved, and now Sat mornings, she's front and center. Yuck. My husband is the nicest guy in the world, and he can't stand her. We love Ten Dollar Dinners, Mexican Made Easy, 5 Ingredient Fix, Ina, Giada, Nigella, Nadia G!!! so many great cooks. MKK