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Rachael's Trip to The Gourmet Institute: Part 2
Thursday, November 30, 2006 | posted by Mike

A month or so back, we told you that a friend of TVFF.com, Rachael, was going to be attending The Gourmet Institute, a weekend-long series of lectures, demonstrations and tastings sponsored by Gourmet magazine and featuring some of the most recognizable names in food.

In case you missed it, here is Part 1.

Below are the rest of the photos from Rachael's trip. As you can see, she had a chance to meet a seriously impressive list of chefs and food celebrities. And, I'm guessing, she also got to taste some pretty amazing food.

TVFF.com would like to thank Rachael so much for sharing her experiences with us!

Chocolate with Jacques Torres. Chocolate....AHH! Chocolate Rice Crispies, chocolate Cheerios, a chocolate heart filled with passion fruit, and a small chocolate bar of 72% cocoa...it's bitter, man.

Here are some pictures with Tony Bourdain...

…and a demonstration on how to chop a grapefruit properly. The chef made a great slaw from red cabbage, grapefruit, prosciutto and endive.

OK, now for those of you Road foodies, that was Jane and Michael Stern.

Rachael and Bobby Flay

Bobby's Session where he made Shrimp and Cheesy Grits from his restaurant Bar Americain.

Here is Tom Colicchio. OK, the biggest mistake I made over the weekend was choosing to eat at Scott Conant's restaurant rather than Tom Colicchio's Craft which, as I understand, was delicious.

The lovely Sara Moulton who asked me "How tall are you?" to which I responded with "uh, 5"2", so she said "I guess you have me beat by two inches."

Here are pictures from the session that Sara Moulton hosted. She made Braised Ribs (literally falling off the bone) with horseradish sauce.


Words of Wisdom (and Affordable Olive Oil) from Rachael Ray

Rachael RayI have to admit that I’m not the biggest fan of using celebrities and businesspeople as “role models” in the sense that, if you emulate all of the things that they did to become successful, you will become successful. It’s not that think there isn’t anything to be learned from their experiences, it’s just that I get the feeling that everyone’s situation is different and that you need to find your own way to success using the lessons you’ve picked up from role models, family and friends.

But, hey, what do I know? If you told me this time last year that I’d be running this site, being read by people around the world (do they even have Food Network in South Africa?) and interviewing stars of FN shows, I would have thought you were crazy.

So, if you are looking for some inspiration about how to “turn your passion into an empire,” check out the short piece on CNNMoney.com featuring Rachael Ray’s advice for success. You can say what you want about her (and that argument is still going on down in the comments), but the fact that she, like Chris Cognac and Duff Goldman, was doing “their thing” for the love of it and with no expectation of fame and fortune is pretty inspiring stuff. So, if the lesson to be learned is that you have to stick with that you love and it will pay off in the end, I guess that’s some pretty good advice.

OK, enough of the schmaltzy stuff.

Apparently, Rach is working with the Colavita (TVFF.com’s favorite “everyday” choice) folks on a new line of EVOO (that’s Extra Virgin Olive Oil, for those of you living under a rock). The skinny:
The olive oils we're developing with Colavita will be priced to be competitive with every other affordable olive oil. We chose to be in grocery stores, not fancy food stores, because that's where most of my audience shops.
Colavita also sponsors Lidia Bastianich’s show. Off the top of my head, I can’t remember them doing as much paid advertising as some of the other brands, so maybe a strategic alignment with food celebs is at the core of their marketing plan.



Crumbs – 11/29/06
Wednesday, November 29, 2006 | posted by Mike

Thanks for the spirited discussion in the comments area of the Hating Rachael Ray [http://tvfoodfan.blogspot.com/2006/11/hating-rachael-ray.html] post we had earlier this week. It’s always nice to see the conversation take off, although I do have to admit that RR is a fairly easy button to push because EVERYONE has an opinion.
  • Gawker spots Rachael Ray out and about. The good news: She’s described as being “normal and calm.” The bad news: The post also delves into some of the ugly rumors and allegations floating around about Rachael and her husband, John Cusimano.

  • Another Gawker report: This one mentioning seeing Giada De Laurentiis on Amtrak between Philly and NYC. Wait a minute…GDL was commuting past TVFF.com headquarters and we didn’t know about it? Seriously, one of the interns is getting fired for this.

  • Extra interviews Nigella Lawson.

  • America’s Test Kitchen’s Chris Kimball will be signing books in Oregon this evening.

  • And Ace of Cakes star Duff Goldman will help light the Washington Monument on December 7th. We’re guessing if Mary Alice is there, the food network addict will be there, too.

  • Emeril Lagasse does a good deed for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

  • The Dave Lieberman Macy’s Tour continues in Massachusetts on December 2nd. Dave is only 26? Wow…that makes me feel old and unaccomplished.

  • The Baltimore Sun looks at a couple of Food Network cookbooks.



Here's a Hot Tip
Tuesday, November 28, 2006 | posted by Mike

Actually, here’s about 20 of them.

If you’ve been watching The Hungry Detective (and you should be), you’ve seen that host Chris Cognac has his set of rules or guidelines that he uses to track down the best in off-the-beaten-track dining. It’s a blend of the wisdom learned while walking the beat, experience using research and the internet and common sense things like looking for long lines or ethnic neighborhoods. Typically, we get these hints in little “asides” that Cognac does which illustrate how he picked the restaurant he’s visiting.

Well, the folks at the Food Network web site were good enough to pull out all of the lessons and present them in a list. My favorite?
Strip malls: Head to strip malls to find creative cuisine at a bargain price. Many family-owned restaurants choose strip malls as their first location. The affordable rent allows them to spend more on the quality of their food rather than the overhead.
Hey, one of Extremely-Soon-to-Be-Mrs. TVFF.com’s and my favorite restaurants is sandwiched between a dollar store and a Borders Bookstore, so I’m definitely a proponent of strip mall dining.

Of course, these hints are good for you to use in any city if you want to do some detective work on your own. If you want the specific info on any of the shops or restaurants Chris Cognac visited on one of the episodes, check out The Hungry Detective main page and click on the city for a listing of web sites, addresses and phone number.



Emeril's Site Has a Blog...and It's Pretty Good!

Emeril LagasseRegular readers of TVFF.com know that I occasionally like to give food celebrities a hard time about their websites, especially when they’re not regularly updated (Giada!) or they don’t really make use of reasonably new technology (Pretty much everyone else!). Well, I guess it’s only fair that I also point out when I see someone doing a nice job, so here we go…

Emeril’s site has a blog…and it’s pretty good.

First of all, I should probably say that Emeril’s site as a whole is very well done. This is not surprising because, in addition to being the online presence of (no offense, Rachael) the biggest food celebrity around, it’s also a pretty nifty e-commerce site and home base for all of his restaurants. You can get everything from cutlery to spaghetti sauce on the site, so it pays (and I’m sure he paid) to have it look snazzy.

But the things that I stumbled upon recently are under the “RSS” link. First, there is an RSS feed for his “Newsroom,” which has the latest info on the chef and his restaurants. But the really cool thing is an RSS feed for the section of his site titled “Emeril’s Notes From the Kitchen.”

Updated pretty regularly by someone who goes by the name “lgaudin,” it covers all different kinds of food-related topics, from the always-popular turducken to the recently announced change to Hellmann’s mayonnaise. The posts are short but topical and, most importantly, the entries sound as if they’re written by a real person instead of some PR drone pumping out content. (No offense to PR drones.)

It’s not a complete home run…there is no way to leave comments and linking to individual posts is a bit of a hassle, but it’s still way out in front of much of what else is out there. They even have an extremely helpful explanation of how RSS works, which is fantastic for an audience that may not be as familiar with newer technology.

So, hats off to Emeril and, more importantly, to his web team.



Hating Rachael Ray
Monday, November 27, 2006 | posted by Mike

Rachael RayI know that we’ve hashed and rehashed this topic before, but it’s baaaaaack! (Actually…hash…not a bad idea for my leftover turkey.)

Rob Walker has an article in the New York Times Magazine about everyone’s favorite pastime, loathing everything there is to loathe about Rachael Ray. The piece covers all of the usual bases, from the “Yum-o” to the folks over at Rachael Ray Sucks, so there’s not a whole lot new to see there.

There is, however, a little bit of analysis as to why the attitude has grown among some toward Rachael, as well as the fact that this sort of thing is the norm for many celebrities, business and organizations. He points out that Rachael and her folks might want to take some solace in the fact that she is the object of their scorn, since, “nobody bothers to get together to hate an irrelevant entity.”

Walker goes a little easy on the RRS folks, though, saying that (at least when it comes to the board he was reviewing) the joking is good-natured. I’ve seen it be a bit more mean-spirited, though. It would have been nice for him to have Madeline of Everything Rachael Ray weigh in on the topic, as she is much closer to all of this.

I do get a kick out of Walker’s description of Misty Lane (really?!?!?), who runs the Rachael Ray Sucks Community:
…an upbeat-sounding woman who punctuates every other sentence with a friendly laugh.

“It’s like a family reunion!” Lane concluded. And then she laughed, quite cheerily.

Hmm. “Upbeat...cheery...laughing every other sentence.” Does that sound like any food celebrity/talk show host we know?



Rachael's Trip to The Gourmet Institute: Part 1
Sunday, November 26, 2006 | posted by Mike

A month or so back, we told you that a friend of TVFF.com, Rachael, was going to be attending The Gourmet Institute, a weekend-long series of lectures, demonstrations and tastings sponsored by Gourmet magazine and featuring some of the most recognizable names in food.

Well, Rachael was good enough to share some of her photos and commentary, which you can see below. In this post, we’ll cover her arrival and meeting Ruth Reichl. In the next post, we’ll get to the various food celebrities.

For any of the pictures, click on the image to view the large version. If you have any questions or thoughts for Rachael, leave them in the comments…I’m sure she’ll be checking in.

At the Gourmet Institute in NYC, which is in its 4th year and continued running, each ticket costs about $1350.00 which is ALL inclusive, and good too because all foods and drink is available throughout the days.

The first thing that I went to was the Travel and Hospitality Lounge. This is held on the 2nd floor of the Millennium Broadway Hotel (44th Street) and the workshops are held in the Gourmet magazine studios in the Conde Nast Building.

The first things I gulped down were these magnificent cupcakes sponsored by Jaguar and cranberry lemonade. A new invention called the Tassimo (www.tassimo.com) provided coffee, hot chocolate and varieties of tea. When one arrives at the day you receive a HUGE goodie-bag with knives from Henckels, Cuisinart, new spices from McCormick grinders (smoked sea salt and black sesame seeds)...wait there's more.

Finally a picture of me in the gown....at the newly opened Buddakhan restaurant (they had the opening Gala dinner or buffet) special goodies included boneless spare-ribs, minced pork fried balls (which I didn't partake of, but were spicy and just right with the plum dipping sauce), shrimp dumplings in egg-drop soup (Sorry couldn't get pictures of those), spring rolls, spicy rock shrimp, bento boxes for dessert.

Me and Ruth Reichl (It was not hard to meet Ruth over the course of the weekend. She's very easy to talk to and get pictures with, and avails herself to all folks over the weekend. I thought she would've been difficult to talk with but she put herself out there and sat tables among her guests and this was one of the 4 times that I spoke with her. She even signed her book "Garlic and Sapphires" for me. When I asked her about the ethics and moral dilemmas involved in getting into disguise for restaurant reviews, she said "NO! I was doing it because I wanted to see what it was like to be treated ordinarily. I had not qualms! Why should I have?" and I said not in the least.

Then it was off to have wine the next day with Michael Green...at 9:00 am (that was a very long day and I needed a nap, but couldn't take one.) The other sommeliers were from the restaurant Craft (Tom Colicchio's baby).

The Tyler Florence Video Player: Up and Running
Saturday, November 25, 2006 | posted by Mike

We had a post a week or two back about a new, customizable video player with content featuring Tyler Florence. We also noticed that it didn’t appear to be on the site, so we were wondering where it might be, especially since it was a “Holiday Menu Planner” and the season of “Holiday Menus” was rapidly approaching.

Well, wonder no more. We were checking out some Food Network programming and saw a commercial for the player. Sure enough, it’s up on the FN site and available at from the home page.

It’s actually pretty darn cool, with the ability to choose multiple items from the menu, add them to your viewing list and print out the recipes. The whole thing is in one big Flash player, so it runs smoothly and the video looks very nice.

Between this project and the online videos that were part of the Applebee’s new menu, Tyler Florence is really out in front when it comes to using online video. There is a website registered under “tylerflorence.com,” but it has a placeholder and a “Tyfood Media” logo (not to be confused with “Typhoid Media” which, as Alton would say, is definitely not good eats), so it will be interesting how cutting-edge the Tyler Florence site is once it’s launched.

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Crumbs – 11/22/06
Wednesday, November 22, 2006 | posted by Mike

All right, kids. Keep an eye out over the next few days, but I fully expect the gluttony of the holiday to prevent me from adding too much to the site. As always, feel free to mention TVFoodFan.com to your friends and family during lulls in the dinner table conversation this Thanksgiving.

Also, be sure to check back next week for our special piece on our friend Rachael’s trip to The Gourmet Institute.

P.S. Happy 200th post to us!



A Blogger Weighs in on Gordon Ramsay at the London
Tuesday, November 21, 2006 | posted by Mike

The comment boards have been on fire lately (relatively speaking, at least) and we’ve actually heard from a fellow blogger who has dined at Gordon Ramsay at the London. The folks over at Augieland have a full review as well as pictures of all of the courses. And, yes, we are very, very jealous.

The review hits a lot of the main points about the new restaurant, with everything covered from the cuisine to the chairs. From the sound of the review, it’s not all about the amazing new directions that Ramsay takes his food, but rather the virtuosity with which he prepares some relatively traditional dishes.
Go because you want fine food, not because you want to be awed.
Of course, this shouldn’t come as a surprise because the food that Ramsay has his contestants prepare on Hell’s Kitchen fall into that same category. Remember the Wellington? It really is all about being “spot on” when you’re a chef-in-training, a concept that is also echoed in much of Anthony Bourdain’s writings about the staffs at his restaurants.

The comment that pointed me towards Augieland said that the meal was not nearly as expensive as the price that I quoted in the Bloomberg article, so you might be able to get a meal for something less than a stratospheric bill. Also, note that the photos were taken clandestinely, hence the lack of a flash.

A big congratulations goes out to “Augie” for “landing” the first blogger review!



The First Word on Gordon Ramsay at the London?

Last week, we mentioned that Gordon Ramsay’s aptly titled Gordon Ramsay at the London was opening and that we would do our best to track down the word on the street once it got out.

Well, we came across our first review of the restaurant on the Bloomberg site and the verdict is…


OK, to be fair, the writer does go into a little bit of detail about the food that was served, although the bulk of the article is dedicated to the décor, the staff and the general vibe from those in the dining room. Fish dominated the menu, and the reviewer went with the flow.
We tried appetizers of pan-fried mullet with grapefruit, lobster ravioli in a chervil veloute, and entrees of braised halibut stuffed with smoked salmon and red-wine-poached "line-caught'' turbot on pomme puree with leeks, braised salsify and civet sauce.
Although the restaurant boasts both a casual and a formal dining area, but don’t let the word “casual” fool you.
The London Bar serves small, tapas-style dishes, which is why I'm still pondering my $262 bill for two for a "casual dining and bar experience" -- as Ramsay's Web site describes it. That's only $22 less than my next night's meal in the formal dining room.
Of course, unless you already have a reservation, you won’t be sampling Chef Ramsay’s food until well into the new year. Chances are the next season of Hell’s Kitchen will debut before you or I get a table at Gordon Ramsay.



Alton Brown Doesn't Want You Burning Down Your House This Thanksgiving
Monday, November 20, 2006 | posted by Mike

When you fry your turkey, will you be using a derrick? Do you even know what a derrick is?

No, and stop calling me Derrick. (Why are those kind of lines so much funnier when Leslie Nielsen says them?)

It’s Thanksgiving, which means that the two warnings you will be hearing from every cooking show, magazine and news program are:
  1. Don’t stuff you turkey and
  2. Don’t burn your house down while frying your turkey
Apparently, the whole turkey-frying thing has really taken off during the past few years, and experts say that nearly 75% of those who try to fry their turkey at home will accidentally burn down the house. Or something like that.

Alton Brown has come up with a dummy-proof way of frying your turkey and he’s more than willing to share the plans with you. A new entry under “Knowledge” on his website includes instructions and plans for a “turkey derrick,” which will allow you to lower the bird into the scalding hot oil with a minimum of potential for disaster.

Quite a bit of time and planning has obviously gone into the derrick, and the accompanying PDF has a blueprint-style drawing to accompany the hardware list and cooking instructions. Some of the hardware (carabiner, pulleys) isn’t going to be found in your typically suburban garage, but I’m guessing that if you are motivated enough to buy a turkey fryer, you’ll run down to the Home Depot and pick up the additional parts.

Of course, chances are you’ll be drunk when you try to fry your turkey and you'll end up kicking over the oil and setting your lawn on fire, so at least the derrick’s fiberglass ladder will give you a way to avoid flames until the fire engine arrives.



"Dinner: Impossible" Photos
Sunday, November 19, 2006 | posted by Mike

Ahhh…the beauty of the Internet!

We at TVFF.com post info about the upcoming Food Network show called Dinner: Impossible and someone who actually took part in one of the tapings chimes in with a comment and links to photos on his own blog.

Jeff, who seems to go by the name “El Jefe” at El Bloggo Torcido, is with the Twisted Oak Winery and they got a call from an associate and were asked “to be the featured winery on their Dinner Train on Saturday, and that the dinner would be taped as part of a new series on the Food Network.”

Obviously, working on a shoot means that you get to know what the show is all about. Jeff gives us a nice description:
Each week Master Chef Robert Irvine is dumped someplace on Saturday morning with a budget and an "impossible" task to create dinner for a group of people. Chef Irvine is a native of England and has cooked for Kings, Queens, Emirs, Presidents, and other such rabble. He's also one heck of a nice guy! Anyway, in an earlier taping, they dumped him on an island in Maine, handed him some cash, and told him to cook dinner for everyone on the island. In our episode, "all" he had to do was cook for 150 people on the train.
Hmmmm...as far as gimmicky premises go, that one isn’t bad at all.

You can see all of the photos at his post, including the one that I’ve included here, which lets us know that Marc Summers will be serving as the host of the show. Apparently, the rubber chicken is some sort of mascot for the winery, so there is no need to worry that Marc has gone off the deep end and insisted to always co-host with his best buddy, “Mr. Cluckers.”

UPDATE: A commenter let us know that Marc Summers is not, in fact, the host of the show. As mentioned in the comment, a number of stories on the show have noted that it will be produced by Marc Summers Productions.

None of this, of course, makes the above photo any less silly.

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"The Hungry Detective" in Beantown
Friday, November 17, 2006 | posted by Mike

Gentleman GourmandNow I would like to tell you about the people who make Chris Cognac’s pants.

Just kidding.

Since we’ve covered pretty much everything there is to cover in terms of Chris Cognac’s wardrobe, I suppose we should get back to sharing some actual news. Gentleman Gourmand, who used to work as a production assistant on the show during the summer, met up with Chris and the THD crew when they were filming an episode in Boston last week.

There are some great photos on the site and even some videos. I was up in Boston earlier this year and it looks like they’re down in the Faneuil Hall/Quincy Market area for one or two of the photos. Quincy Market has these great little food shops where you can get take-out of just about any kind of food you would want. It was the first time I had ever seen take-out Indian (other than just ordering out from a sit-down restaurant), which is so cool. We’ll definitely get back to Boston at some point, and maybe we will be able to check out some of the places we see on THD.

Check out Gentleman Gourmand and be sure to scroll down a bit to see all of the Hungry Detective posts.

TVFF.com Note: We’re going to keep on cooking through the holiday next week. You’ll remember that I said we had a correspondent go to The Gourmet Institute a little while back. Well, we got our hands on the photos and we’ll be running Rachael’s story and pictures very soon, so keep an eye out for that.



Gordon Ramsay Opens New York Restaurant

Gordon RamsayThe Gordon Ramsay era has now begun in New York City with the opening of Gordon Ramsay at The London last night. The AP story describes it as an “elegant restaurant with its French-influenced menu is located inside the London NYC Hotel in midtown.”

Predicting the success (or, more to the point, the failure) of Gordon Ramsay in New York has become a bit of a parlor game among food writers in the press and on the Internet, with particular questions about whether his autocratic management style will work here on our side of the pond. And, of course, Ramsay chose the biggest stage in the United States for his debut, so we’ll soon get to find out “if he can make it there…”

A quick look around has yet to yield any reviews or comments, but we’ll be sure to let you know once the reviews are in.

In other celebrity-chef-New-York-restaurant news, Soon-to-Be-Mrs. TVFF.com and I received a gift certificate to Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles (which, if I’m not mistaken, is French for “The Halles”) as a wedding shower gift. THANKS MARIA!!! I’ll be sure to let you know all about it. I’ll probably go for the steak frites, but anyone with another Les Halles menu recommendation should let me know I the comments or at tvfoodfan@gmail.com.

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"Dinner: Impossible" – A New Food Network Show
Thursday, November 16, 2006 | posted by Mike

Robert IrvineHey...you know what we haven’t had in a while? Word of a new show on the Food Network. FN seems to roll them out in groups. We went through a short span which saw the debuts of Nigella Feasts, Ace of Cakes, Throwdown, and The Hungry Detective, but nothing new of late.

So, when TVFF.com’s favorite exec Bob Tuschman starts handing out quotes, we know it’s time to look forward to some new product coming down the line.

Broadcast Newsroom has the skinny on Dinner: Impossible, which will star Robert Irvine, former chef to royalty and presidents. And what, exactly, is so impossible about dinner? Apparently, Irvine must "overcome culinary obstacles and deliver a delicious meal before his time runs out."

So, what makes Robert Irvine a perfect fit for the show?
"Robert's steely focus and culinary chops may be all that save him from disaster in each episode," Food senior vice president of programming Bob Tuschman said in a prepared statement. "We've thrown impossible challenges at him that no chef should ever have to experience. But luckily for us, Robert can never say no."
Dinner: Impossible won't debut until January 24th, 2007, so you’ll have to hang in there for a little while.

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Dressing Chris Cognac Part 2: K. Kauff-men

Last week, I shared with you some information about High Seas Trading Company, which makes a number of the shirts worn by Chris Cognac on The Hungry Detective. At that time, however, I said that wasn’t the whole story.

Chris also gets a number of his shirts from K.Kauff-men, a company run by Keith Kauffman, who you might say is a “superhero in reverse,” a crime fighter who is also a mild-mannered clothing designer. Well, we assume he’s mild-mannered. I just think that’s part of the superhero alter-ego requirements.

We spoke with Lieutenant Kauffman via e-mail about his designs and providing Chris Cognac with the clothing necessary to track down even the most elusive hidden cuisine.

TVFoodFan.com: First, can you give me a short introduction into who you are and what you do with the police force?

Keith Kauffman: I am a Police Lieutenant in Los Angeles County currently assigned as a patrol watch commander and commander of a SWAT team. Back in 1999, my wife and I decided to start a clothing company called K. Kauff-men. Originally it was a high-end casual collection geared to the 30-something guy and sold to small boutiques that would buy it. I did and still do the designing and my wife runs the business full time. We started selling to the Ritz Carlton and doing their poolside uniforms. They kept bugging us for a boys line and finally told them we would do it. We quickly figured out that high-end, American made, fashion forward boy's clothing was a niche that we were ready to fill. K. Kauff-men quickly took off and before we knew it, we were moving into a 5000 sq ft. warehouse and selling to store all over the country including places like Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom. Today the company has sales reps in Los Angeles, Dallas, Colorado, New York, and Atlanta. We just launched a girl's line called Chandler Kaye and we produce clothing for girls, boys, and men from sizes 6 month to Chris Cognac!

TVFF: I was hoping you could give me a short description of exactly what you create for Chris. In other words, how can we tell when we're seeing a "Keith Kauffman" on the show?

KK: I have known Chris for a long time. I have seen his off-duty attire and shaken my head from side to side more than once. Be sure and ask him about the court 'get up' he used to wear as a detective. When he started his business he would continually bug me for big guy shirts with sort of crazy print like sushi or peppers. Not that I have anything against sushi or pepper print shirts, but it is just not the K. Kauff-men image that our company portrayed so I blew him off in the beginning. I ended up providing some shirts for "The Calorie Commando" on the Food Network and when Chris landed his show, I really got the pressure from him. You should have seen the look on my pattern maker's face when I gave her the specs! Our cutter at the warehouse was used to cutting shirts in the 2-toddler range and then I laid the pattern on him. The end result was a shirt that K. Kauff-man was really proud of. We used our high-end Italian and French fabrics and applied them to a big guy shirt and the result was pretty impressive. I think they bring a new level of fashion and credibility to Chris' awesome talents in the food industry. My goal was to tone down some of the prints and let the audience focus directly on Chris and the message he tells. You will be able to pick out the K. Kauff-men shirts by finding the ones that push the limits of color for what one would normally expect from a plus size shirt. Look for a great drape that slims and a crisp look that distinguishes.

TVFF: How did you start making shirts and how did it get around within the force?

KK: My wife comes from a background in the women's clothing industry on the retail side. We started making clothes for men and many of our first customers in 1999 were cops that I work with. Some of those guys are still wearing those 7-year-old designs! My department is unique in that we have people from all walks of life with many different interests. I'm labeled the "fashion designer" by day and "SWAT commander" by night, but I like it. The jokes in the beginning took a little thick skin, but I have the last laugh now. I was just asked today about what I have available for our upcoming Christmas party. You will see no less that 5 to 7 K. Kauff-men designs at every department function. I did an entire wedding party for an officer that got married in Cabo last week, and I even designed a custom bag for a piece of tactical equipment that another officer developed. It's a lot of fun being the department's fashion advisor. I get real popular around the holidays and during promotions when some of the guys want some direction on what to wear.

TVFF: How did Chris approach you about using your shirts on the show?

KK: He bugged me until I broke.

TVFF: Finally, are there any plans to expand this beyond what you're doing now?

KK: For sure. My wife and I are always looking for opportunities to expand. Lately, we have been doing a lot of custom work and we are currently running the numbers on a retail store. We learned a long time ago that the best businesses in America keep their eyes open for opportunity and learn to adapt.

We would like to thank Lt. Kauffman for taking the time to talk to us. If you would like to find out more about K. Kauff-men clothing, check out their web site or give them a call at 310-323-5888.



Crumbs – 11/15/06
Wednesday, November 15, 2006 | posted by Mike

It’s that time of the week again…
  • Yet more evidence that the Food Network is catching on with the kids, courtesy of the Binghamton University (SUNY) online newspaper.

  • And October revenue was up for Scripps’ television franchises, including the Food Network.

  • Sandra Lee recommends a Pop-Up® disposable cooking thermometer for your turkey this Thanksgiving.

  • Apparently, things aren’t going smoothly for Gordon Ramsay at his soon-to-open New York restaurant.

  • If that’s true, he probably shouldn’t eat the cake they give him for his 40th birthday.

  • USAToday profiles America’s Test Kitchen and its host, Chris Kimball, in time for Turkey Day.

  • “Cojo visits Rachael on her new set!” There is video, assuming that is the kind of thing you want to see.

  • And we got some news about some shenanigans with Tony Danza at Rachael Ray’s show, instigated by David Letterman.



"Giada vs. Rachael" Provides Huge Numbers for Food Network...and TVFoodFan.com.

Food NetworkA big congratulations go out to the guys and gals at Food Network for a record-breaking night with Sunday’s Iron Chef America featuring Batali & Ray vs. Flay & De Laurentiis. Variety brings us word that the special presentation tallied an all-time high rating for FN of 5.8 million viewers. The numbers were better than anything else on cable and even topped broadcast network The CW.

It was also an impressive performer in FN’s target demographic:
Showing ranks as the most-watched telecast ever among Food's target adults 25-54 demo. Among adults 18-49, 9 p.m. episode delivered a big 2.6 million.
Does this mean that we’ll see more match-ups like this in the future? I wouldn’t be surprised. Television networks are never bashful about running with something that works…remember five nights per week of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? So maybe we’ll see Paula and Emeril and Ina and Tyler and so on and so forth until the idea runs out of steam and we get to witness what will become Food Network’s lowest rated show of all time:
Marc Summers vs. Jim O’Conner in Battle: Microwave Popcorn
Not coincidentally, TVFF.com also had a banner day on Monday, with plenty of people coming to the site for info on the match-up, giving us a new one-day traffic record by a large margin. We hope that many of you first-timers decide to stick around for a little while and make yourselves at home.

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Tag, I'm It: Welcome Dinner Meme
Tuesday, November 14, 2006 | posted by Mike

Jessica over at foodtvandme.com tagged me for a meme!
Which menu would you serve to blogging friends for a welcome dinner upon their first visit to your home?
I suppose a little explanation is necessary for those not familiar with blog memes. A meme is a topic or question that someone makes up, blogs on and then “tags” other bloggers to take on the same question or topic. It’s a fun thing to do and, frankly, a nice way to bang something out when I have nothing else to talk about.

The nice thing about this theoretical dinner is that I can mix and match cuisines without worrying about making my guests sick.

In honor of the Cuisinart food processor I just got as a wedding shower present (thanks Mom & Dad!), I’d start off with some fresh, home-made hummus. Since it’s a party and I had time to plan ahead, I would probably roast a head of garlic and toss that in there as well. I also might change it up and make it with cannellini beans instead of chick peas, but only if I was feeling really adventurous!

Next I would do a pasta course. I’d be tempted to do Lidia Bastianich’s Fusili Puttanesca (page 116 of Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen), which I do really well. But for the cool presentation and amazing flavor, I would probably go with Mario Batali’s Spaghetti Carbonara (go here and scroll down). The egg yolk on top is the clincher.

For the main course, I’d go to Thailand by way of the United Kingdom with Jamie Oliver’s Monkfish Wrapped in Banana leaves with Ginger, Cilantro, Chile, and Coconut Milk, which he did on Oliver’s Twist. You can probably go with the aluminum foil, but the banana leaves do make for a fantastic presentation. And be sure to go to a good Asian market and pick up some jasmine rice…a must for this recipe.

And I’d stay in Thailand for the desert, as well. Mango Sauce, made with fresh mango, bananas and a little lime juice (e-mail me for the recipe) makes the perfect topping for really good vanilla ice cream. I would recommend Halo Farm’s Tahiti Vanilla Bean (see the video below…I can’t believe someone actually put a video of Halo on the Internet), but unless you live near TVFF.com’s headquarters, you can’t get it. If you can get your hands on some of that sesame brittle candy, crush some up and spread it over the top as a garnish.

So, there you have it. I hope you enjoyed your virtual dinner and now I would like to tag the folks below to pick up the meme and run with it.


Food Network "Room Service" at Select Hilton Hotels

I was on a business trip to Philadelphia a few weeks back and it just happened to be during the week that The Hungry Detective was running its Philadelphia episode. Spooky, I know!

Anyway, I wanted to review that episode right away and was hoping that they would have the Food Network on the hotel cable system, but no dice. I had to wait until I got home and watched it on tape. (I’m still too cheap to spring for TiVo)

Well, I’m still not sure if this means I’ll get to watch Food Network on my next trip, but FN and Hilton Hotels have announced a new program to entice foodie travelers. The “Food Network Travel Package” will be offered at 11 Hilton locations around the United States. What, exactly, is included in the package?
At the participating properties, guests can experience a customized regionally inspired, four-course tasting menu specially created by the hotel’s Executive Chef. Guests of legal drinking age can enjoy wine pairings chosen by the wine steward or sommelier. Upon check-in, guests will receive a Food Network welcome package including a Food Network tote, cookbook, restaurant guide, and a Food Network DVD of their travel shows.
The fact that the Food Network is getting involved in travel is not terribly surprising. As the press release states, there are a number of culinary/travel shows on the network and a fairly robust travel section on the FN web site. Also, it is able to leverage a bit of travel content through its sister network, Fine Living, so it’s a smart fit.

The package is available at a number of prime vacation and travel destinations.
The “Food Network Travel Package” is available at the following Hilton Hotel properties: New York - The New York Hilton; Los Angeles - The Beverly Hilton and Hilton Costa Mesa; Chicago - Hilton Chicago; San Francisco - Hilton San Francisco; Honolulu - Hilton Hawaiian Village (Oahu); New Orleans - Hilton New Orleans Riverside; Austin - Hilton Austin; Atlanta - Hilton Atlanta; Boston - Hilton Back Bay; and in Arizona - Hilton Sedona.
No sign of the specials on the Hilton.com web site yet, but keep an eye out if you have travel plans for one of the cities above.



Customizable Video Player Coming to FoodNetwork.com
Monday, November 13, 2006 | posted by Mike

Food NetworkWe have mentioned on a couple of occasions that FoodNetwork.com is a tremendous resource for getting that recipe you just saw or finding out which episode is coming up. However, we’ve also been a little critical of the site for not “being all that it could be” in terms of interactivity and technology when you consider the content that they have at their disposal. I can watch last week’s episode of Lost on ABC.com (I might have to in order to keep my self occupied until it returns…in FEBRUARY!) but I can’t pull up a clip from one the FN’s shows. They do have some nice original content, but I think the model most networks are pursuing is a blend of original material and repackaged broadcast programming.

It looks like the Network is moving forward a bit in terms of the technology with the soon-to-debut “Tyler’s Ultimate Holiday Menu Planner.” Mediaweek has a story outlining the new, customizable video player which will allow “visitors to FoodNetwork.com the ability to mash up select instructional videos into an iTunes-like playlist to create a customized cooking/viewing experience.”

The videos are new pieces filmed with Tyler Florence and focusing on preparing holiday meals (duh), which is the big push right now both on the web site as well as during the promotional spots on the Network itself. MasterCard and Calphalon are on board and are providing additional videos and advertisements for the Planner.

So, how does it work?
Users can load up to 10 videos at a time from among the 26 original clips Florence has produced for the new player. In addition, users can post recipes from the Foodnetwork.com archives in Tyler’s Planner to spice up the video experience.
It is good to see the Food Network site providing more content, and I’m sure that most if not all visitors will gladly take a look at the advertisements in exchange for the opportunity to get to the good stuff.

Keep an eye out for this new feature that Robert Wade, the director of creative design for the site, hopes will catch on and be passed around as a bit of viral content.

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Giada vs. Rachael

So, the big event went down last night. If you taped it and don't want to know the outcome, you should look away now...

Are you still here?

The reaction to the Rachael victory in the TVFF.com household was mixed. Although the dishes clearly looked better than the other team's and the judges' reactions were nearly unanimous in their preferences, there was some thought that the fact that Mario was on Rachael's team was the deciding factor. Bobby's osso bucco did look good, though I'm not sure about the venison.

Also...was it just us, or did Giada look pretty pissed off that the judging went against her? We're hoping that Jacob over at food network addict fires up the screen capture software and provides another look at Ms. De Laurentiis' reaction.

As always, thoughts, questions and general gabbing are welcome in the comments below.

UPDATE: Madeline over at Everything Rachael Ray has a great run-down of what happened.

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Friday Happy Fun Time – 11/10/06
Friday, November 10, 2006 | posted by Mike

We haven’t had a FHFT in quite some time.

I also haven’t done this in a while, but just like PBS had its pledge drives and political parties have their get-out-the-vote efforts that come around every so often, I’m going to ask all of you who enjoy reading TVFoodFan.com to take a moment and mention the site to one of your foodie friends who doesn’t know about us. I’m thrilled with the growth of the site and I’m thankful to all of our “regulars,” but I’d love to see us grow even more.

Our “regulars” know that I’m a big fan of Anthony Bourdain. He obviously knows his food inside and out, but that’s not what makes him interesting. It’s his point of view, his willingness to state said opinion anywhere and everywhere he can and his tremendously funny prose. Seriously, if there were a food comedy show, he’d be the perfect writer. (Actually, there was a food comedy show…and it was based on his book! Kitchen Confidential was pretty good…right up until FOX cancelled it. Sigh.)

That wit is on display in the video below, taken from an appearance in Santa Monica some time back. He’s reading from The Nasty Bits and the piece is about a visit to a pub and the disastrous effects of seeing the menu on the wall. Credit for the video goes to starbright31, whoever that is.

The topic of conversation in the clip is fine, but the language gets R-rated once or twice, so consider yourself NSFW’d.



Grand Theft Sausage

Mario BataliThe past couple of weeks are shaping up to be one big rollercoaster ride for Mario Batali.

On one hand you have the HUGE Rutgers football win over Louisville and the charity roast, which I’m sure is a blast even if they are tearing you to shreds.

But, on the other hand, we get word of an incident that has probably left the chef wanting to put his clog to good use on the backside of the perpetrator.

The LA Times has a report about a theft at Mozza, Batali’s soon-to-open pizzeria, of $700 worth of hand-crafted meats that were made by Mario’s father Armandino, who owns the meat shop Salumi in Seattle. And, as if that wasn’t bad enough, a 13-pound mortadella was also stolen a few days later.

There is a lead:
The case of the missing mortadella is still a mystery, but the pilferer of the salumi was caught on tape.

"We checked out our security cameras and at 11:27 that Saturday night, you see this guy ride up on his bicycle," [co-owner Nancy] Silverton says. "He looks like some yuppie: He's got a receding hairline and he's wearing khakis. He's carrying a cellphone."
Our guess is that Mario is taking it in stride, as the restaurant is still all-systems-go to open next week. His father is certainly seeing the humor in the situation:
"He thought it was hilarious," she says. "In fact, it seemed like maybe he was even a little honored."
Anyone in the food service industry (or who read Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential) knows that food disappears from kitchens all the time. And, frankly, it probably cost Mario $700 to gas up his Vespa during the summer months, so it’s no more than a minor inconvenience.

But, if Batali is serious about getting his meat back, he’ll need a professional. Perhaps I can help.
“Mario Batali, meet Chris Cognac. Chris Cognac, meet Mario Batali.”



Rutgers 28 - Louisville 25
Thursday, November 09, 2006 | posted by Mike

Mario BataliSomewhere out there, my fellow Scarlet Knight Mario Batali is smiling.
RU, Rah, Rah;
RU, Rah, Rah,
Whoo-Rah, Whoo-Rah;
Rutgers Rah

Up Stream Red Team
Red Team Up Stream
Rah, Rah, Rutgers Rah
- The Bells Must Ring
And to commemorate the win against #3 Louisville, I present you the greatest culinary contribution of Rutgers University and New Brunswick, New Jersey.

The Fat Cat.



Chris Cognac and His Shirts of Many Colors

Tune in to any episode of The Hungry Detective and you’re guaranteed to see two things:

1) Chris Cognac walking down the street while talking into the camera. (It’s a slightly faster version of the walking/talking routine done by local news reporters. Seriously, is this something they teach you when you go to TV host school?)

2) Chris Cognac wearing a memorable shirt of some sort.

I saw a message board post about the shirts and wanted to know a bit more. It turns out that Chris has been wearing the print shirts for quite a while (when not wearing his police uniform, of course) and that he gets them from High Seas Trading Company. The shirts, including the prints seen on the show, can be purchased from the High Seas site. Click on the pictures displayed in this post to see a larger version of the shirts.

Terrill Agnew runs High Seas Trading Company. According to Mr. Agnew:
This company began in 1988 making casual beachwear. We had always made surf related clothing and a few aloha shirts. About 12 years ago we stared experimenting with novelty designs for our aloha shirts and our line has grown ever since. We have 13 collections of shirts in our line with over 125 prints total for 2006. Our specialties are tropicals, automotive prints, patriotic, Culinary, and novelty prints. We are among the 5% that still manufacture in the USA. This enables us to do small limited edition runs of specialty prints as well as oversee the quality control. All shirts are California made and feature matched pockets, authentic coconut buttons, double stitching and are made with premium combed cotton or cotton/rayon blends. Our beginning in the Culinary designs were the Chile, Sushi, and wine prints.
I spoke with Mr. Agnew about becoming the official outfitter of The Hungry Detective.

TVFoodFan.com: First, can you just tell me a little bit about how you got in touch with Chris and how you came to be his shirt "provider of choice" for the show.

Terrill Agnew: Chris has been a customer for at least 5 years. He started buying from us I guess because we are the one of the few companies that makes cool culinary designs and they also fit his personality. After a few years he sent us articles of what he was doing with the paper and we began to sponsor his efforts. Long before he got the TV show he was “working his beat” with the same enthusiasm he does on the show. He said he was working on trying to get a show on the Food Network and asked if I would provide shirts if he got the show. I said yes and a few months later he was successful in getting the show and they got the pick of the showroom.

TVFF: Can you tell me a little about what it was like to see your shirts on the show?

TA: Actually my first thought was that I was impressed with the production quality of the show. It was great to see the shirts on the show especially because it is in association with Chris’ show on the Food Network which has quite an enthusiastic following. I also think he shares the same philosophy as us in terms of spending time to uncover the hidden gems and also he steers clear of the hype and focuses on the authenticity and quality which is what we strive for in designing our products.

TVFF: Third, how much interest in your shirts have you seen since the debut of The Hungry Detective?

TA: It is hard to tell because people don’t always tell where they have seen our products. Chris has said that he and the networks have been receiving e-mails which is exciting and some friends have called as well.

TVFF: Finally, are there any plans to do any sort of "signature line" or "As seen on The Hungry Detective" promotions for the shirts that Chris wears?

TA: No, not yet. At this time they are still busy filming and we haven’t talked of anything yet. It would be an interesting line though because he likes a wide range of styles.

So, there you have it. As I said, if you’re interested in seeing the full line of shirts available, be sure to check out the High Seas Trading Company site.

But…High Seas doesn’t make all of the shirts that Chris wears on the show. There’s an interesting story there, so be sure to keep an eye out for that post soon.



Crumbs – 11/08/06
Wednesday, November 08, 2006 | posted by Mike

Lots of tasty crumbs today...

  • A television studio in Pittsburgh provides a behind-the-scenes interview with Rachael Ray.

  • And the University of Buffalo’s online newspaper tells students to cook “The Rachael Ray Way.”

  • New kitchenware lines from Gordon Ramsay and Nigella Lawson are coming in time for Christmas.

  • Bobby Flay recorded a 4:10:56 in the New York City Marathon.

  • Kaley Stroop, a 13-year-old from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, is a big Food Network fan.

  • Jamie Oliver’s shares the recipe from his appearance on the Today show.

  • A book club in Orlando is taking a look at Lidia Bastianich’s Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen, the Italian cookbook that TVFF.com swears by.

  • Did the Food Network poach the idea for Rachael Ray’s Inside Dish? The guy who filed this lawsuit seems to think so.



The Mario Batali Roast Recap

Alas, I was not in attendance for the big charity event, but the folks behind Grub Street made it and posted a recap of the festivities.

Unfortunately, it seemed like the biggest non-starter of the evening was our early pick to take home the top prize, Triumph the Insult Comic Dog. Apparently, there were technical difficulties and the set just didn’t work.

To nobody’s surprise, Mario’s girth was the subject of much of the comedy:
Nick DiPaolo: "Look at you! What are you, trying to be the Chris Farley of the Food Network?"
Of course, at the end of the evening, the roasted gets a chance to do some roasting of his own, but Grub Street declined to reprint any of it, saying:
His speech at the end was unexpectedly poised, venomous, and funny (and, sadly, too obscene too excerpt here).



Rachael Ray's Orphaned Show

Rachael RayIs the Food Network running a show starring Rachael Ray late at night like some modern-day television Flying Dutchman, destined to live an unnatural existence in a basic cable purgatory, never to become a full-time series? (Nice metaphor, Mike! Your 11th grade English teacher would be proud!)

Maybe, according to Madeline over at Everything Rachael Ray.

The show in question is Day to Day, which Madeline says has been airing in that always-popular 4:00 am time slot. (Seriously? I thought they switched to infomercials at that point.)

The ERR post has the full description of the show, so check it out. But, from the sound of it, Day to Day may have been some sort of “dry run” for a Rachael Ray talk show on the Food Network. The thought is that these are the pilot episodes that they decided to burn off by running as specials. Of course, if they were, I think it would make more sense to run them in a more reasonable time slot, considering Rachael is arguably the biggest celebrity on the Network and inarguably the hottest right now thanks to her syndicated show.

Madeline says:
There is a studio audience but it has a definite test show feel to it, mostly because the set looks really pared down. I also found a few forum posts by audience members who said they were told that they were filming pilot episodes, so were unsure when it would air. Oprah's too smart to try something that has never been tested, right?
The assumption would appear to be that Day to Day became the syndicated show.

But here’s a thought (warning: complete speculation): What if Day to Day actually “became” Paula’s Party?

If this was an FN-driven attempt to move into the talk show scene rather than something Rachael initiated as a springboard to syndication, maybe it just got repackaged and developed a Southern accent.

If anyone with more knowledge of the situation here would like to share some insight, let me know at tvfoodfan@gmail.com. As always, anonymity for sources is 100% guaranteed.



Why Does Rocco DiSpirito Have a Column on TheStreet.com?
Tuesday, November 07, 2006 | posted by Mike

Rocco DiSpiritoAnd why do so many of my post titles end in question marks? I don’t know.

TheStreet.com is a web site dedicated to investment news and was founded by Jim Cramer, a.k.a the guy who yells all the time about stocks on CNBC. (We at TVFF.com actually like Jim because we find the yelling reasonably funny, he once appeared on Arrested Development and he used to be a vendor at Philadelphia’s Veterans Stadium).

Anyway, it’s not the place you would expect to find a column from a celebrity chef, particularly one who had the business sense to engage in a mutual crash-and-burn with partner Jeffrey Chodorow on The Restaurant. I prefer to take my financial advice from someone who doesn’t get thrown out of the restaurant bearing his name, but maybe that’s just me.

So why is Rocco on TheStreet.com? We wondered the same thing when we commented on something from the column in our Crumbs post last week. And, frankly, we still don’t know why.

Rocco shares the admittedly touching story of the passing of his uncle Joe and the repercussions the event had on him and his family. The article focuses on “la dolce vita” and is generally life-affirming in that “do it while you still have the time” lesson that you get from watching a Frank Capra movie. Rocco didn’t get around to the food angle until late in the story, when he shares his uncle’s sausage recipe. By the way…not that you ask, but making sausages at home sounds like a FANTASTIC idea, and one that has zero chance of ever happening in my kitchen.

But, still, why is this here and not just on Rocco’s site? Ahhhhhh…we get to it at the very end:
Note: Rocco is shooting his new TV show, and he's looking for people with a dramatic situation in their lives involving food. Worried about that engagement dinner with your picky future mother-in-law? Trying to win back that ex-girlfriend who's still mad at you for cheating on her? Trying to bury the hatchet with that outcast uncle at your family reunion cookout? Rocco wants to help you! Please email with your problem and we will contact you!
Of course! What’s that saying again? “Out of sight…out of mind?” Gotta let everyone know you’re still around, I guess.



Have You Voted?

If not, the folks behind food network addict have provided some motivation.



The Food Network and "Getting Younger"
Monday, November 06, 2006 | posted by Mike

Food NetworkAt the risk of mixing food and sports metaphors, I wanted to mention something about the concept of “getting younger” and how it applies to the Food Network in particular and food TV in general. We’ve talked a bit about it before, including what I thought was a slightly dubious way of enticing a younger audience.

In sports, from time to time, you will hear about a team trying to “get younger.” What this means is that they want to make some moves with personnel (e.g. trades, free agents, not re-signing a player) in an attempt to reduce the average age of the team. It’s no secret that, as you age, you’re just not able to do as much physically as you can in your prime. Of course, you don’t want to go too far and lose your “veteran savvy.” But, all things being equal, it’s better to be good and young than good and old.

This is all fine and dandy when it comes to sports, but we keep eating throughout our life, so how does this apply to food TV?

Well, first, networks and shows target younger viewers because getting them interested early in life will result in loyalty for years and years to come. We have a bit of that when it comes to food TV. Look at Gourmet’s Diary of a Foodie, which incorporates a dynamic, fast-paced style that would appeal to a younger audience than you usually see on PBS. My guess is that they’re hoping that, as their audience ages, mellows out and starts spending more time reading, they’ll be (BUSINESS BUZZWORD ALERT!) converted into magazine subscribers.

This is also true of marketing, hence the Ronald McDonald advertising campaigns that appeal to young children, ensuring a lifetime of Quarter Pounders with Cheese. And this is not just the case with businesses. Many arts and cultural institutions (museums, performing arts, etc.) have school and child outreach programs which aim to get kids involved because (a) that also brings in the parents and (b) it instills an appreciation for the arts that will result in patronage later.

But younger doesn’t just mean “kids,” and that brings us to the REAL reason to target a more youthful audience: Advertising Revenue

Depending on what kinds of products you are looking to sell, the prime demographic usually falls somewhere between 18 and 35. These are the years of disposable income, with men and women out in the workforce but often without the costs associated with home ownership and raising a child. They have money to spend and they spend quite a lot.

Like I said, the prime age varies from product to product. Ever come out of a movie and think to yourself, “What a dumb movie…it’s like it was maid for brain-dead 14-year-olds?” Guess what…IT WAS! Who do you think is buying all of the tickets?

I don’t know what the sweet spot is for the Food Network. My guess is that it’s probably somewhere in that range, and that it’s probably a little more “male” than you would expect it to be considering it’s a “lifestyle” network and the traditional role of women as preparing meals. A particular show’s strong performance in that sweet spot is the holy grail of audiences because it allows them to charge higher rates to advertisers.

So, how is the Food Network doing with the younger crowd? Well, I don’t subscribe to Advertising Age, but this article from the Penn State Daily Collegian says that the University’s cable network may be adding the Food Network to its roster of channels as a result of the fact that they scored well in a survey of students. I know that I started really watching FN after my time in college, so I have to think it’s a good time to start recruiting new viewers.

And, hey, if you rate well a bunch of dining hall kids whose culinary abilities are limited to microwave popcorn and mixed cocktails, I’d say you’re doing something right.

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Alton Brown, Literary Critic?
Sunday, November 05, 2006 | posted by Mike

Alton BrownYou’ll have to excuse me if my posts are even less coherent than usual. I’m still recovering from my bachelor party this weekend. The shindig did have a culinary aspect, though, with a stop at Tony Luke’s for cheesesteaks included in the trip.

I was taking a spin around the Internets and dropped in on Alton Brown’s site, which I think is one of the better food celeb sites. Not only does it look good, but Alton and his team clearly care about it, taking the time to provide interesting content that can only be found on the site. Plus, you can buy Uni-tasker t-shirts, so that’s cool.

But the thing that caught my eye this time around was the inclusion of a “What I’m Reading” page, which includes links to four books and a short write-up on each by AB. And, lest you think that it’s just food-related reading, he includes Moby Dick and Watchmen.

Of course, there are links to Amazon.com so you can buy the books. That’s not out of the ordinary for sites, but I just thought it was interesting that Alton went beyond just linking to his own books.



Martha, Rachael in Manilow Tug-o-War!
Friday, November 03, 2006 | posted by Mike

Barry ManilowAt the risk of straying too far from our official mission of food television, we wanted to share some info about the growing rift between former inmate Martha Stewart and talk-show neophyte Rachael Ray.

You may remember from a while back that there was an incident wherein some of Martha Stewart’s cronies (sorry…when you’ve served time in the big house, your assistants must, by law, be labeled as either cronies or henchmen) crashed a taping of Rachael’s show. Actually, you might not remember this because we seemed to have missed covering it…but Madeline at Everything Rachael Ray was on the case.

Anyway, the dueling domestic divas are at it again over the scheduling of an appearance by the preternaturally young-looking Barry Manilow. Apparently, Martha was supposed to have him on Thursday and Rachael on Friday, but his appearance on RR got moved up and aired at the same time (at least in NY). Not taking kindly to the maneuver, Martha took a shot at Rachael in her monologue. The story is getting coverage in a couple of spots, but the post at TMZ.com has the video. (At least it says it does…we couldn’t get it to work because we either lack the proper media player or we’re just plain stoopid.)



Is Gordon Ramsay Trying to Sell You Lousy Chocolate?
Thursday, November 02, 2006 | posted by Mike

Gordon RamsayIt looks like he is, according to a post on Slashfood and according to, well, Gordo himself.
Gordon Ramsay, for example, doesn't seem to think that his new line of chocolates, called Just Desserts, are anything special. He said "I don't think you are going to be blown away at £3.99-odd for a box."
The post starts out with an interesting line, particularly when you think about all of the sponsorships, agreements and endorsements that we’re seeing with food celebrities. It asks, “How can you tell when a celebrity is doing something just for the money?” That’s a fair point, but we’ve already documented the fact that Ramsay is insanely rich. So why would he risk his credibility by attaching his name to a sub-par product?

Then, we thought, “Hey! He’s just saying that to drum up controversy…and sales!” Surely, a BRILLIANT observation on our part, until we remembered that he basically said that the candy stinks, and that’s really not the best way to reel people in. Although some may say that any publicity is good publicity, our guess is that “It’s $#*% Awful!” isn’t the kind of press they’re looking to get.

So, in the end, it looks like Gordo signed the paper and then got around to tasting the chocolate. If you think about it, he’s probably doing the smart thing by distancing himself from a bad product. After all, Gordon Ramsay is nothing if not a shrewd businessman.



Alton Brown Knows What Time It Is

Alton BrownAnd, thanks to a new online advertising campaign from the Food Network and their partner Agency.com, Alton will be able to tell you what’s coming up next whenever you happen to see one of the web ads. According to a press release on the Agency.com site:
The campaign doesn’t advertise any specific show, but rather it advertises every show. Each unit uses a flash program to read each computer’s system clock and deliver tune-in information for the next upcoming or current show.

The online ads show a caricature of Alton Brown through a combination of photography and illustration as he asks various food trivia questions. The potential answers scroll across the screen and invites the user to guess the correct answer. If they select the correct one, Alton provides them with a brief background and history to the answer. Users can then click-through to Alton’s page on FoodNetwork.com.
A little bit of explanation as to why this is interesting from a “customization” standpoint…

As I’m sure you know, companies like the Food Network work with advertising agencies to come up with a creative advertising campaign. In this case, it was a series of Internet advertisements. Then, the company would then take that “creative” and use an agency to place the spots on web sites that will attract the kind of visitors who would be interested in the topic of the campaign. (Sometimes they use the same agency, although many corporations buy the advertising in bulk through one of a few large agencies to get a discount.)

The catch here is that, with online marketing, it’s easy to decide what kind of sites on which to run the spot, but it’s difficult to “customize” the ads to know what is showing on the Food Network when Joe Blow logs on to the site from his home computer.

As it says in the release, the ad checks your desktop’s clock to find out what time it is in your neck of the woods, compares that to the Food Network schedule for your time zone and lets you know what’s coming up.

I think this is pretty cool, assuming that “Li’l Cartoon Alton” can’t also tell that I’m sitting at my computer covered in Pop-Tart crumbs and wearing sweatpants.



Hi, I'm Mike and I created TVFoodFan.com as a place where you can come to get the latest news and views about what’s going on in the world of culinary television.

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