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Review: Gourmet's Diary of a Foodie
Monday, October 16, 2006 | posted by Mike

Gourmet's Diary of a FoodieBefore I delve into the review, I do want to mention a couple of comments in the post below.

Adam: I think you’re right. Someone coming into Philly trying to upstage a local with a cheesesteak would be like a Minnesotan coming down to Texas and trying to outdo you with a rack of ribs. It probably can’t be done, plus you have the local pride in the minds of the judges, who are supposed to be impartial, but… Erin: You obviously live in the Central New Jersey area, not far from TVFF.com HQ, and there is no excuse for going to Ruby Tuesdays. Really, drop us a line at tvfoodfan@gmail.com if you need a recommendation! But you make an excellent point about chain restaurants and declining value for your dining dollar. I’m guessing that is what Applebee’s is trying to counteract with the Tyler Florence menu. And, to answer your question about why they still pack people in: (1) marketing (“But it looked so good in the commercial!”) and (2) standardized food, which means you always get the same thing you expect and are never surprised (and that goes for both disappointment and pleasant surprises).

See…comment and you shall receive responses! Now, let’s move on to the review.

Let me start off by saying that I’m dealing with only the first episode, which took viewers on a culinary trip to China, and the upcoming episodes look like they deal with a wide array of topics, promising to make the show more than a food travelogue.

Gourmet’s Diary of a Foodie is what you would get if a corporate video crew filmed Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations.

Now, I don’t necessarily mean that as a criticism (of either the show or corporate video folks, many of whom I know and will undoubtedly be giving me grief for this). But the style is a bit odd for PBS, for a food show and particularly for a food travel show that is taking you down the back alleys of Beijing looking for roast duck.

It’s quite glossy. The pieces are very well filmed, with plenty of camera movement, unexpected close-ups and bottom-third graphics that fly in from the side of the screen and keep scrolling along beneath the speaker. It’s well done, but you never forget about the amount of production that went into it, and I think that takes away from the content a bit.

Speaking of the content, the show spotlights a number of different locations throughout China, and the information they provide is interesting. The on-camera correspondents, however, don’t quite connect with the viewer and I had some trouble figuring out exactly who they are and why they’re telling the story. Perhaps this is because I’m not a regular reader of Gourmet. The segment back in the kitchen was fine, but I really didn’t learn anything.

As I said, it looks like there are some interesting topics in the upcoming episodes. Although it’s not a “must watch” for me, it may become the type of show that you drop in on when they’re covering something that is of interest to you. If you didn’t get a chance to check it out, look it up on the listings for your local PBS station.



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