Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Where Have You Gone, Food Network?

Since today's is Julia Child's 100th birthday (see below),  I have a bone to pick regarding the world of foodie television.

Whatever happened to the Food Network? When did those days of cooking with Emeril, Giada, Paula and Ina in the cozy confines of a country or studio kitchen get lost in a programming schedule blocked with the same competition reality shows? In the glut of reality scheduling, how-to cooking shows on FN are hard to find, buried in the afternoon dead zone when no one is home, pushed aside by blocks of programming devoted to food competition.

Before all the Chopped fans rally to place my ass in a sling, hear me out. I'm not questioning the quality of these food competition shows. The food looks tasty or disgusting, depending on the dish. I understand the personal rush one gets in seeing talented cooks go nuts with ingredients specific to the challenge under a certain time. I personally enjoy watching Top Chef (yes, on Bravo) for that reason. I do like reality TV -  in small doses.

Yet, my once safe haven of recipes, delicious food porn and nice people like Sarah Moulton (who was sent back to PBS), has been replaced with judging panels, crying chefs, and bloody thumbs. Call it schedule overload, or call it America's need for speed. Tune in just about any time of the day, and you'll bump into another episode of Chopped, Iron Chef and Cupcake Wars, but no Barefoot, no Giada or Paula, whose shows are lost beneath the din of "Kitchen Stadium".

Furthermore, if I see another episode of Diners, Driving Ins and Dives, I'm petitioning the network to change their name to the"DDD Guy Fieri Network." 

Learning about food and how it's made is enriching. The overload of competition shows on Food Network, is filled to the rim and running over. Viewing potential chefs and bakers produce an edible delight under improbable time constraints with conditions their own judges have never faced? You've got to be kidding me. Food is to be enjoyed, not viewed through stress and tears. The average American can get that on a typical Thanksgiving dinner.

Even ABC's The Chew, a fun daytime show that features talk about food and style has allowed the Food Network format to pervade their hour with a competition element.

The Food Network shouldn't get rid of the all competition shows. They should just stop airing them back to back, or in an all week marathon, or on a virtual loop.  Until I actually find the Cooking Channel on my cable line up, it would be nice to see more straight forward food shows where people are actually cooking with care, without the musical sting, the snarky judges, or the talking head moments where competitors back bite each other.

I guess I'll have to go to PBS for my TV food fix.  Isn't that right, Julia and Galloping Gourmet Graham Kerr?

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