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Oh, I'm a Travelin' Man
Monday, April 30, 2007 | posted by Mike

That's right. I'll be heading down to Atlanta bright and early tomorrow and will be there for the next few days. If I miss a day or two when it comes to posting, I hope you'll understand. Not sure if I'll have a chance to get out, but any "must eat" recommendations would be appreciated.

Also, a big "WELCOME" to all of the folks coming to us from a couple of posts linking to our story about a possible food festival in Brooklyn. Feel free to bookmark us and come back often!



Trashy Television Alert!

There are two kinds of programs on E! Entertainment Television: The trashy kind and Saturday Night Live reruns. And I'm not even sure that they still show the reruns. OK, The Soup is pretty awesome, but one thirty-minute clip show is not enough redeem an entire network.

But nothing is trashier than E!'s flagship show, True Hollywood Story. And now, one of your favorite Food Network celebrities is getting the THS treatment.

That's right, not only is THS taking on Rachael Ray. According to this article in the Jamaica Gleaner ("Your #1 Source for All Things Rachael Ray"), she actually decided to play along.

What prompted you to take such an active role in your 'E! True Hollywood Story' episode when so many others use only archival footage of the subject?

A guy who was filming it and was very involved in the show is an old, dear friend. If anyone is interested in talking to to you about your life, why not be nice about it and talk to them?

Well, that's certainly nice of her to lend a hand to an old friend. I'm also guessing that her participation will possibly soften some of the coverage in the show, particularly around her husband. I have a feeling that regular THS viewers might be disappointed, though, since most profiles of perky, bubbly stars only get interesting when they go on a week-long booze bender or join a cult.

Anyway, if you want to tune in, check it out at the times below.

Saturday, May 5, 6:00p
Sunday, May 6, 3:00a
Sunday, May 6, 9:00a
Sunday, May 6, 8:00p
Monday, May 7, 11:00a



We're Headed for a Showdown...a Recipe Showdown
Friday, April 27, 2007 | posted by Mike

Nothing like an overly dramatic headline to finish off the week!

I made a brief mention of this in the Crumbs entry from Wednesday, but there has been a whole lot of commotion around the announcement of this new show, so I figured it might warrant a little more space. The new show is called Ultimate Recipe Showdown and it just might be your chance to get your face on Food Network while at the same time paying tribute to Granny's Chicken Pot Pie recipe. According to the FN press release:

Calling all cooks! If you have a recipe that always gets requested for every family party, consistently wins the neighborhood competitions or was passed down from grandma, then Food Network wants to put them on TV for all of America to see. Food Network is looking for America’s best recipes to be showcased on the new series Ultimate Recipe Showdown, it was announced today by Bob Tuschman, Senior Vice President, Programming and Production. Starting April 25th, Food Network will begin accepting entries for the ultimate recipe contest that culminates in a showdown of epic proportions in Los Angeles. Whether a recipe is a new creation or has been in the family for generations, Food Network wants to know what America is cooking and the stories behind the delicious dishes.

"But Mike, what kinds of recipes are they accepting?"

CHICKEN – Whole, Fried and Soups & Stews

CAKES – Chocolate, Birthday and Cupcakes

COOKIES – Chocolate Chip, Spice and Bar

PASTA – Spaghetti & Meatballs, Lasagna and Stuffed

COMFORT FOOD – Sandwiches, Mac & Cheese and Chili

BURGERS – Beef, Poultry and Seafood/Veggie

"Sounds great! How do I submit my recipe?"

The top nine entries in each category will travel to Los Angeles in August 2007 and show-off their skills on-air in the ultimate competition. The contestants will compete for $10,000 and the title of “Ultimate Recipe.” Entrants should go to www.foodnetwork.com/ultimaterecipe to submit their recipe(s) to the show. The website will also give helpful hints on how to write up the recipe and suggestions for which category is appropriate. Applications will be accepted from April 25 – May 25, 2007.

I still have to check the fine print, but I'm guessing that my "Hamburger Helper with Fresh Grated Cheese" recipe probably won't qualify. I kid.

I tried to actually do a little "journalisming" and find out a couple details, including who will be hosting the show and whether they'll have any "celebrity judges," but nothing is set at this point. Hopefully we'll hear a little more once they start taping later in the summer.

If any of your decide to try your luck and submit, be sure to let me know how it goes. We'd love to hear about it.



College Bites - Food Network for the Dorm
Thursday, April 26, 2007 | posted by Mike

You know that I love people who do their own cooking shows from the comfort of their homes. It's part of the greatness of the whole Interweb thingy. People can make their very own television show in their kitchen. That's awesome. I've mentioned Deglazing and Genève's Kitchen, both of which have been on a little hiatus, but for good reason. Nicky's building a house and Genève quit her job and enrolled in culinary school. Congratulations to both of them!

Now, we can add another TV superstar-in-the-making with Lauren (www.ellemichelle.com), whose College Bites series is getting all kinds of notoriety at her school, the University of Florida. And for good reason. Lauren has come up with a show that speaks directly to her college-aged audience. As her website says:

College Bites is a show that aims to teach college students how to become kitchen experts. Viewers will learn everything from grocery shopping to cooking to cleaning up. Forget eating pizza or Ramen noodles each night, follow Lauren's tips and become a culinary genius!

It wasn't that long ago that I was a college student, so I remember the campus culinary situation pretty well. It's not a pretty sight. I was actually an on-campus student my entire time, so I didn't do much cooking for myself, thanks to the mandatory meal plan. But I know plenty of people who lived off campus and the dining adventures at their places weren't much healthier or better than the fast food quality served in campus dining halls. And that's where Lauren comes in.

Her videos are chock full of energy, with great tips for budget conscious shoppers and an eye for recipes that require a minimum of fancy equipment. And she's not just producing the videos. She's also conducting in-person cooking seminars for other students at the U of F. Oh, and she's also going to be writing a column with food tips for the Gainsville Sun this fall. This is an enterprising young lady!

Not surprisingly, Lauren gets quite a bit of enjoyment and inspiration from watching food on television. She was nice enough to answer a couple of questions for us, so we'd like to now present the TVFF Mini-Interview with Lauren of College Bites:

TV Food Fan: How did you become interested in food TV?

Lauren: I've always loved cooking, even as a little girl. I used to try and mix flour with all different liquids to make dough and I usually ended up with a mess. As I got older, I really honed in on my cooking abilities and took them all to college with me. I never had the Food Network until I was 14 or 15. I used to get my food fix through Julia Child on PBS, the Two Fat Ladies and cooking infomercials. I used to watch the same infomercials over and over again. I never bought anything except for the Rocket Chef which spawned a series of interesting events, that I could talk about forever. Long story short, I would convince my cousins to go on ridiculously long walks with me over the summer to different grocery stores so that I could buy stuff to make in it. Something always went wrong, such as torrential rain downpours. The first show I remember on the Food Network was Doorknock Dinners with Gordon Elliot and Paula Deen. I would love to bring that show back but visit different colleges and try and cook with what the students had in their pantries. Anyway, when I came to school I tried to cook as much as possible and would watch my friends and roommates order all sorts of unhealthy take out foods. I cooked for them as much as our schedules would allow but when I wasn't around, Dominos was their next of kin. This past December while in DC, I went to Warren Brown's bakery and he happened to be there. I told him all about my idea for a show for college students and he told me that I should do it myself. It had never occurred to me to film it on my own. The next day I went out and charged a video camera to my credit card and the rest is history. I love that I am able to reach out to people, not just students, who want to learn more about the kitchen. My goal with a TV show is to help out and educate as many people as I can, I feel this is my calling. But I am still getting my engineering degree and have an almost perfect GPA!

TVFF: Which food TV personalities influence your cooking?

L: If I had to pick three, I would say Dave Lieberman, Alton Brown and Ina Garten. I know this is a wide spread but I take a little from each of them. From Dave, I learn the cheaper is better philosophy. I love to watch him get excited over the affordability of canned beans! From Alton, I learn all of the important facts about ingredients. This helps me come up with new recipes and find different ways to use the same ingredient. From Ina, I learn all about indulgence. She really enjoys every moment of life and never skimps out on her recipes. I try to find the ways I can modify her luxurious ingredients into easy applications for those on a budget. You don't have to be a Hampton's Socialite to eat like one, right??

TVFF: Which food TV personalities influence your videos?

L: Gosh, asking that is like trying to pick your favorite M&M color. They are all so influential in different ways. Now that I film my own show, I watch every single detail in all of the Food Network shows. I study the camera angles, gestures and even the hosts' outfit. I love the way Giada is so personable in front of the camera and her great smile. I also love Paula's infectious laugh. If I can be half as successful as those two inspiring women, I will be more than happy! I think you really have to sell the person on who you are if you want them to try and make your recipes. I have so much fun when I am filming and I hope this shows in my presentation!
Hey, I said it was a Mini-Interview.

Do yourself a favor and check Lauren out at www.ellemichelle.com. She's only been doing for the videos for a short time, but she already has tremendous presence and Rachael Ray-esque pizazz. We're really looking forward to following her show.

Crumbs - 4/25/07
Wednesday, April 25, 2007 | posted by Mike

Just a couple of crumbs this week. Been busy and I have a fairly meaty post tomorrow. Plus, I have a bunch of stuff to take care of between now and Saturday, when I have to pick up Mrs. TVFF from the airport. If you take a look at the comments below, you'll see that she was nice enough to check in from Italy. How nice.

Hey, I haven't done this in a while. Consider this my "membership drive," just like PBS does. If you enjoy TVFF and you know a couple of other foodies (I know you do...foodies travel in packs), do me a favor and let them know about us. Things still aren't where they should be with the whole Google/traffic fiasco, and having lots and lots of people visit the site makes me happy. And you want to make me happy, don't you?

  • Victoria Beckham and PETA are teaming up to ask Gordon Ramsay not to cook lambs that used to graze on Becks & Posh's land.

  • Gordon Ramsay survives London marathon. Another runner isn't so lucky. (Was that insensitive?)

  • Somewhere, Mario weeps. "Swedish Hospital Bans Ugly Plastic Clogs."

  • Words of wisdom (and an unflattering photo) from Paula Deen.

  • Guy Fieri is getting plenty of press lately.

  • An interview with Marco Pierre White, mentor to Mario Batali, Anthony Bourdain and Gordon Ramsay.

  • You know I love when TVFF's Favorite FN Exec Bob Tuschman gets mentioned in a release or story. This one is for the "Ultimate Recipe."

  • What is it with Jamie Oliver and robbers ?



Italian Food, Revisited

On second thought, I suppose I could have compared pizza here with pizza in Italy by just going from New York City to Rome. In fact, here are some handy directions from Google Maps. Of course, the directions include this helpful step:

24. Swim across the Atlantic Ocean - 3,462 mi

The really funny thing is that they send you off the "Long Wharf" in Boston, which Mrs. TVFF and I walked down after dinner when we went there for a long weekend last year.


Italian Food
Tuesday, April 24, 2007 | posted by Mike

Mrs. TVFF is in Rome right now. Unfortunately, I'm sitting on my couch, trying to figure out why my WiFi doesn't work and writing TVFF posts. No offense to the intelligent and good-looking readers of TVFF, but...

Anyway, I figured that it would be fitting to enjoy a little Italian food of my own. And -- what do you know -- it has a food TV tie-in! (I love when that happens!)

Last night was a pasta and broccoli in a garlic olive oil/butter sauce that was recreated by memory from one of Jamie Oliver's cookbooks. I couldn't be bothered to pull out the book, but I'm confident that my rendition was close enough.

But the more adventurous part of this story comes from the fact that I was in New York on business today. No, I wasn't skulking around Chelsea trying to "accidentally" bump into a Food Network personality. It was for a conference.

However, I never like to waste a trip into the city on just business, so I decided to make a run down to Bleecker Street Pizza, which was one of the spots that Hungry Detective Chris Cognac profiled in his New York episode. It was a straight shot downtown on the F train, and it was well worth it.

There is a sign in the window proudly proclaiming it to be the "best in New York" according to the Food Network and Cognac. Now, even if you ate pizza for dinner every night, you would probably never be able to try every pizza joint in New York, especially if you consider new openings and ownership turnover. So I'm not sure that anyone can ever say definitively what the best is. But I wouldn't argue against Bleecker Street. It was fantastic.

New York pizza is just a different animal than the kind you can get anywhere else. Bleecker's featured a perfect blend of cheese and sauce, and the cheese had a very fresh and rich flavor. But the crust is what distinguishes the great from the good. It was almost uniformly crispy, with the exception of the trademark floppy end that signifies a New York style slice. I'm not an expert on cooking pizza (despite my summer spent making pizza and dancing in a giant rodent suit for a certain chain restaurant), but I really think that the key to the crust might be the fact that you're getting slices that are being warmed up a second time. Hear me out.

What does biscotti mean? That's right: twice baked. The process of cooking them twice gets rid of the moisture and makes them extra crispy. If done correctly, I'm thinking the same thing happens with the pizza crust. Of course, you can end up with overcooked, but Bleecker's was right where it needed to be.

As for ambiance...there is none. But it's the kind of place that you can grab two slices and a Coke and sit there by yourself. There was also what looked like a grandfather and grandson sitting across from me. For what it's worth, the kid looked like he was enjoying it. Of course, you could put ketchup on a piece of cardboard and call it "pizza" and a kid will like it.

But those of us that know better know that great pizza can be a wonderful thing, and finding a place that does it well is like finding a good stock broker. If I could only get Bleecker Street to deliver to TVFF HQ...

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Renewal: Probable

Hey, it's a good time to be a British chef who likes to yell.

Gordon Ramsay will be back on American television shortly and the Food Network's resident chef/body-builder looks like he's going to re-up for another 26 episodes, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer's "Inqlings" column.

Food Network has ordered 26 more episodes of Dinner Impossible, the wacky show in which chef Robert Irvine and his two partners whip up meals in odd situations.

It's a fun show, and although it's not necessarily appointment programming in the TVFF household, it is something that always gets me to stop as I'm flipping through the channels. I think the biggest draw is that Robert Irvine seems to sincerely want to complete the mission successfully...and we get to enjoy the process because we know he might not make it. In a TV landscape where we are right to be cynical about the authenticity of "reality shows," this is a refreshing thing.

So, congratulations to the cast and crew (which the Inky points out has a distinct Philadelphia flavor). Also, here's a blast from the past: Our interview with show producer Marc Summers, which ran when the show debuted.

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Food Network's Wine & Food Festival to Fly in DUMBO?
Monday, April 23, 2007 | posted by Mike

Yeah, I know that headline is a stretch, but remodeling the TVFF Headquarters monopolized much of my time this weekend, so cut me some slack.

I've been meaning to write about this for almost a week now. You know you're getting Grade A Prime scuttlebutt when you're reading the New York Post's Page Six, and that's where today's info can be found. In their April 15th "We Hear...We Hear...We Hear" column, there is this little nugget:

THAT Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz and South Beach Wine & Food Festival founder Lee Schrager are planning to bring a New York version of the weekend-long culinary klatsch to DUMBO next year. TV's Food Network and Food & Wine magazine are to sponsor the event and Mario Batali has committed to participate.

Hmmmm...very interesting.

I probably should take a minute and explain to our non-NYC area visitors exactly what "DUMBO" means. DUMBO is a part of Brooklyn which gets its name from it's location "Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass." According to the Wikipedia entry, it had been a bit of a bohemian enclave. Now, it's a neighborhood that you can't afford. Such is life in NYC, folks.

I've always thought it was a bit odd to have FN's big shindig down in Miami. Now, I understand the appeal of Florida in the winter and the fact that they do have a pretty interesting culinary scene. But let's get real. The place that really matters when it comes to food in this country is New York City. I'm pretty sure that SoBe was operating for a couple of years before FN's involvement, so the partnership might have come about because much of the infrastructure was already in place.

But this could be a move that is beneficial to both sides. The folks behind the Miami event get a chance to expand their presence into another city and the Food Network will have an event in their home town -- the biggest culinary stage in the country.

The big question is whether or not this actually replaces SoBe, or whether it becomes some sort of twice-yearly event, with a cold-weather event in Florida and a warm-weather even in NYC.

Wait a second...who are we kidding? The BIG question is whether or not we can score some press passes to the event, since it will be happening a short train ride (actually, a train ride and a subway ride) from TVFF HQ. I'll keep checking the mail. And holding my breath.



Expect Plenty More Catherine and Aaron
Thursday, April 19, 2007 | posted by Mike

Hey, did you notice that a bunch of the reviews for the Food Network Awards mentioned the....well...relative lack of "star-power" at the event? That's a bit of an unfair criticism, I think. First, this isn't the Academy Awards or Grammys. Secondly, I think that everyone tuning in knows the difference between "Hollywood Famous" and "Food Network Famous." But I guess that positioning this as an awards gala opens you up to that sort of criticism.

One piece of star wattage that did get mentioned was the presence of actors Catherine Zeta-Jones and Aaron Eckhart. If you smelled "movie promotion," you win a prize! The two will be playing chefs in an upcoming movie called No Reservations. (No relation to Anthony Bourdain's subtitle, I suppose)

But that is just the start of it. According to an article in Variety, you'll be seeing more of them in the lead up to the release of the film this July.

The Food Network has engineered the most elaborate tie-in movie promotion in its 13-year history, helping Warner Bros. to get the word out on "No Reservations," a summer romantic drama starring Catherine Zeta-Jones and Aaron Eckhart as gourmet chefs.

"Our strategy is to find partners who'll get us involved in movies that dial into the pop culture," said Susie Fogelson, VP of marketing for Food Network.

The plan is to carve out a whole night of primetime on July 26 to create shows linked to "No Reservations" during the first week of its release in U.S. theaters.

The kickoff show for the night, "Emeril," will feature as guests Eckhart and Abigail Breslin, who plays the niece of Zeta-Jones; the two will join Emeril as he prepares food derived from some of the recipes used in the movie. "Emeril" will lead in to a special edition of Food's "Unwrapped" series, hosted by Marc Summers, which will go behind the scenes of the movie.

Throughout the July 26 primetime schedule, Food net will include interstitial features with Zeta-Jones and Eckhart.

So, expect promos...lots and lots of promos.



Crumbs - 4/18/07
Wednesday, April 18, 2007 | posted by Mike

When I was talking about the Food Network Awards the other day, I made mention of the fact that the only real rooting interest that I had was when it came to the best grocery store. They're all great, but Wegman's has a special place for me since it's my weekly shopping destination, although Trader Joe's and Whole Foods are places I thoroughly enjoy and go to whenever I can. Hey, I didn't even let the fact that some moron drove into the side of my car in the Wegman's parking lot cloud my judgement on this. And, as you can see from upstate NY newspapers (here) around Wegman's headquarters, they won! Good for them and their tasty Mediterranean Olive Bar.

The Phillies' ballpark also won for best stadium eats or something like that. That may end up being the highlight of their season.

  • Gordon Ramsay wants Russel Crowe to play him if they make a movie out of his autobiography. They'd have to do something with his hair, but Crowe definitely can bring Ramsay's intensity.

  • A blog on PhillyBurbs.com likes the idea of Mario Batali in an Iron Chef America episode with garlic as the secret ingredient.

  • Jamie Oliver is offering a $360,000 reward for the capture of the robbers of his parents' restaurant. The men made off with only $24,000, so you can bet that Oliver's one pissed off celebrity chef to be putting that much money out there.

  • Bobby Flay just opened his first restaurant outside the United States, with a place at a new resort at Atlantis in the Bahamas.

  • Another big crowd for a Giada book signing, this time in Cleveland.



Alton Brown is Going to Hate This Show
Tuesday, April 17, 2007 | posted by Mike

I must have missed this the first time around (there was apparently a couple of episodes aired last October), but the folks at Food Network were pushing some promos this weekend for a show called Gotta Get It, which takes a look at kitchen gadgets. The episode that airs this weekend will be all about breakfast. Will we get to see one of those egg sandwich makers? I'm guessing we will.

It's been a long while since I blogged about kitchen gadgets. But I have to admit that I'm as guilty as the next foodie when it comes to collecting gadgets. I try not to do too much of it and I always try to adhere to Alton's rule that no tool (except the fire extinguisher) be a unitasker. And, having just moved, I now know the value of limiting the number of useless gadgets.

Of course, there's money to be made in kitchen gadgets, and as long as someone can dream up another way to separate an egg, peel garlic or (shudder) cut through an aluminum can with a knife, there will always be someone willing to shell out a couple of bucks for it.

Check out the show on April 21st at 9:30 p.m.


My Thoughts on the First Fifteen Minutes of the Food Network Awards
Monday, April 16, 2007 | posted by Mike

You'll all be thrilled to know that the big move of TVFF Headquarters went well thanks to some help from a bunch of people. I managed to miss the big Nor'easter, which was good timing. But getting all that stuff moved was a huge project and it left me in pretty bad shape. By the time that Sunday night came around, I was bruised, sore and extremely tired. For that reason, I wasn't in peak TV-watching form in the evening. Also, I was confronted with a dilemma.

As I was looking at the listings, 9:00 was clearly going to be an issue. On one hand, there was the Food Network Awards, which I knew I should check out for this site. On the other hand, there was The Sopranos, which I knew I would have to watch in order to prevent any unfortunate spoiler conversations around the TVFF offices on Monday morning. I had to make a choice, and let's just say that one of the shows made me an offer I couldn't refuse.

I did check out the lead-in to the Awards, though, including the red carpet footage. Wow.

Mrs. TVFF is a red carpet junkie, so she perked up when she saw it. However, it wasn't quite up to her Golden Globes standards. And who played the cruel joke on Dave Lieberman? Someone must have said to him, "Dave...everyone is wearing jeans! It's casual!"

Frankly, I'm going to be sure to tune in to E! tonight to find out what the fashion mavens think of Toucan Sam's outfit.

As the clock approached 9:00, my fellow New Jerseyans beckoned and I was off to HBO.

Food Network did rerun the show at Midnight, and I tried to make a go of it. The show confirmed a lot of what I thought going in based upon what we had heard in blogs and articles.

The show just seemed...off. It was disjointed, with audience reaction shots looking like they were taken out of context, perhaps an example of all of the editing necessitated by the stopping and starting and technical issues. Emeril wasn't terrible, but he just basically did what Emeril does. He yelled. That's fine, but I didn't want to watch an hour and a half of that.

The main problem with the show, however, was that you really didn't have a rooting interest in who won. Think about the Oscars, Emmys, Whatevers. The nominees are movies or shows that you've seen and that you have some sort of emotional investment in, and you like seeing them win. Or maybe you dislike an actor or actress and would like to see them not win. Either way, you care who gets the trophy. That's just not there when the competition is among three pastry chefs over who is doing the most interesting things with chocolate. And they're all more than 750 miles from where you live.

It was a cute idea in general, and I'm sure it was a great excuse to bring all of the FN stars together, but it just didn't quite work for me. It served as the crown jewel of the South Beach event, so they might keep it going. I'm sure the ratings for the broadcast will have something to say about that.

As for me, the Sandman came calling for me around 12:15. I knew that staying up was a losing battle and so I shuffled off to bed. Maybe things picked up after that...maybe I'll check it out if they rerun it. Anyone who stuck around for the whole thing is more than welcome to share their thoughts in the comments below.



Crumbs - 4/11/07
Wednesday, April 11, 2007 | posted by Mike

As you can guess from the late posting times for stories lately, I've been busy with the TVFF HQ move. I'm pretty much worn out and new entries may or may not be happening over the next few days, so I hope you'll understand.

Today I had a bit of a strange occurrence. I regularly keep an eye on the site's traffic, and I can see what search terms a visitor used to get to the site. This afternoon, I had someone visit the site because they searched for the phrase, "I hate Robin Miller." Frankly, the first thought that popped into my head was: " I don't think I have a sufficiently strong opinion -- pro or con -- about Robin Miller that I would want to do a search about my hatred/love for her." This is probably a result of her show being on at 10 a.m. on Saturdays and my inability to get an early start on weekends. I'm quite lazy.

In other news, I'd like to give a special "hello" to a current TCNJ student who apparently reads the site! Thanks for the comment, and great to see a fellow TCNJer is checking us out.

Anyhow, Crumbs:

The first two should be filed under the "Stories I Meant To Write But Never Got Around To It" heading:

  • Rachael Ray saved the prom for a high school hit by a tornado. (Madeline at ERR has the story )

  • Mario Batali is coming out with frozen pasta dishes. (Tracey at Foodie Obsessed has the details )

  • A chat with America's Test Kitchen's Chris Kimball.

  • And a chat with Duff Goldman.

  • Lidia Bastianich will be making an appearance in Syracuse, New York on this coming Saturday.

  • Speaking of Robin Miller...a so-so mini review of her cookbook.

  • The full run down on the next season of The Next Food Network Star.



Giada to Host Fourth Hour of "Today?"
Tuesday, April 10, 2007 | posted by Mike

It's no surprise that the folks at the Peacock Network are thrilled with Giada De Laurentiis' appearances on Today. They initially brought her on for some food and lifestyle spots here and there, but she's quickly becoming more and more of a presence on the morning news show. But now, Page Six of the New York Post is saying that she might be the leading candidate for a hosting gig during the show's fourth hour. Specifically...

We hear that the leading candidate to co-host the fourth hour of the "Today" show in September with Tiki Barber is gorgeous Giada DeLaurentiis, the Roman-born chef from the Food Network.

Now, this is great new for Giada. It should, however, serve as a warning to any Today fans out there. Not because of Giada, but because of Tiki.

OK. As an Eagles fan, I'm not exactly the most unbiased judge of he former Giants running back. But the guy is a smug jackass.

Anyway, what would this mean for Giada, and for us as Food Network watchers? Well, I'm assuming that the show would be shot in New York, which would pose an interesting situation for the Los Angeles-based De Laurentiis. The early-morning responsibilities would conceivably keep her free to continue to work for the Food Network, as their Chelsea studios would be a short limo ride from Rockefeller Center.

After all, pulling double duty on Today and Food Network hasn't been a problem for Al Roker, so it hopefully won't prove to be an issue for Giada.



Six Days Until the Food Network Awards
Monday, April 09, 2007 | posted by Mike

Can you feel it?!?! That longing for the coming weekend? No, it's not your soul-crushing job. It's the fact that this week features the debut of the 2007 Food Network Awards. I'm looking forward to it on a few levels.

First, there are the commercials that FN has been running during every break for the past week. You know the ones...they feature little talking-head snippets of the personalities saying how they can open the envelope using an open flame (Bobby), some EVOO (Rachael) or a stick of butter (Guess). I'm also eagerly anticipating what this whole thing is going to look like after the reports of technical difficulties that probably made them glad this is tape-delayed and not live.

But perhaps there is nothing making me anticipate the big event more than the fact that my three favorite grocery stores are duking it out for the somewhat vague title of "Super Market." That's right -- the competition between Wegman's (my every-week grocery store), Whole Foods (best for prepared and organic foods) and Trader Joe's (great bang for your buck) has me torn over who I want to see win.

One area I will be pulling for one of the nominees over the others will be for "Best Ballpark Eats," which sees my hometown Citizens Bank Park (home of the Phillies) up for the award. Hey...they have a Tony Luke's in the stadium, so I think they should win just for that. Plus, Flying Fish on tap. Nice.

You can check out the full roster of nominees. If I wasn't too busy with moving, I'd set up a pool with fabulous prizes for the winner.



Giada in TVFF's Neighborhood
Friday, April 06, 2007 | posted by Mike

That's right...Ms. De Laurentiis was just a few miles away from TV Food Fan HQ and I wasn't there. I have a good excuse, though, as I was giving a talk at my alma mater, The College of New Jersey. Plus, I already did the "gawking at Giada" thing once and the massive crowd that she usually draws makes standing in line for an autograph an all day affair.

According to this story from the Asbury Park Press, the 800 people who showed up for autographs were happy to wait in line for the chance to meet the Food Network celebrity. As you probably know, she's out on tour promoting her new cookbook, Everyday Pasta, which you can conveniently purchase from the TV Food Fan Store by clicking on that image over on the right. (Sorry for the shameless plug!)

The comments from the folks who stood in line are of the usual "we love her food and she's so nice" variety, the second part of which I can vouch for personally after seeing how gracious she was to each and everyone she signed for last year.

Herman likes De Laurentiis' recipes because they are easy to prepare and appetizing. She likes her personality as well.

"She comes across as somebody you'd want to have in your own kitchen," Herman said.

I was reading the article, just bopping along, and then I came across this gem:

"Her food is beautiful, as well as she is," Vansickle said. "She makes the Food Network that much more interesting."

When I read that first sentence, I cried a little bit for the New Jersey Education System. As comedian Lewis Black once said, "How do you diagram a sentence like that? I’ll tell you how. You take a pencil, put it in a sharpener, make sure it’s pointy, and then jab it in your eye!"

In non-food-related TVFF Birthday news, my gift from Mrs. TVFF was tickets to a reading in New Brunswick, NJ, by my favorite writer, David Sedaris. If I can become one tenth of one percent as good a writer as Sedaris, I'll consider that a major accomplishment. Ms. TVFF even bought me a copy of Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, which I had him sign after the show.

Actually...personal appearances in central New Jersey, quality writing and waiting in line for an autographed book...maybe my birthday story does have something to do with this post!



Good Eats Takes Home A Peabody
Wednesday, April 04, 2007 | posted by Mike

I've been running around all day, so there will be no Crumbs this week. I know you're all heartbroken.

Jessica over at Food TV and Me got around to this before I did, so a hat tip to her...

The University of Georgia made their announcement of the winners of the prestigious Peabody award and Good Eats was among them. In case you're not aware of the Peabody, this is a big thing. And since you know my thoughts on Alton Brown and Good Eats, you can probably guess that I feel it's well-deserved.

Our favorite non-food-related show, The Office, also took home an award, so we're pretty happy all around.



You Say It's Your Birthday...

...well it's my birthday too, yeah.

That's right. Not to seem self-serving, but today is the anniversary of my birth. Feel free to leave your well-wishes in the comments below. Cash is also accepted.

Actually, this does have at least a nominal tie-in with TV Food Fan, and it comes from the gift that I got from my parents.

Now, you all know that I never went to culinary school. In case you're wondering (although I'm sure you're not), I attended The College of New Jersey (formerly Trenton State College) for undergrad and got my masters at Rutgers University. Both are fantastic institutions of learning, but I never had a class that showed me how to make a roux.

However, I am no longer relegated to cooking in the red-and-white polka dot apron (seriously) simply because I don't have a degree from Johnson & Wales or the Culinary Institute of America.

Instead, I'll be cooking in my snazzy new denim Food Network chef's coat. It comes complete with the Food Network logo, french cuffs (which will stay out of the tomatoes as I squish them by hand for pasta sauce) and pockets in the sleeve for a thermometer, so I'll be cooking in style.

Sorry that I wasn't able to include a photo of it, but I haven't been doing much real cooking since renovations have begun on the new TVFF home office. I promise you that, once I'm settled and taking advantage of the extra space afforded by the new kitchen, I'll post a couple of me doing my thing in the new coat.



Gordon Ramsay Fans Can Look Forward to Thursday Nights
Tuesday, April 03, 2007 | posted by Mike

Sorry, still trying to work through some things with the design of the site...

Gordon Ramsay is one of those "love him or hate him" kind of guys. Actually, it might be more accurate to say that he's one of those "love to hate him" kind of guys. Either way, he certainly attracts strong ratings, as evidenced by the upcoming third iteration of Hell's Kitchen on Fox. If you're lucky enough to have BBC America and can't quite get enough of The Angry Chef, you'll be happy to hear this:

BBC America just announced their new schedule and Thursday night is shaping up as a virtual nirvana for Gordo fans:

Big Thursday – chef Gordon Ramsay and his two shows: Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares and Gordon Ramsay's F Word in addition to the Irish yenta celebrity gossip, The Graham Norton Show.

Now that the hoopla has died down around his New York restaurant and the middling reviews that it received, it will be interesting to see if that episode has any lasting impact on the popularity of Ramsay as a personality. The bloom is off the rose as far as his American reputation is concerned. He had been a largely unknown quantity, at least as far as his food. Will he continue to draw strong ratings with the belief out there that his food isn't all it's cracked up to be?



Food Network When You Want It
Monday, April 02, 2007 | posted by Mike

We've mentioned a few times about the potential appeal of a robust video-on-demand service featuring the shows of the Food Network. With more and more people possessing fully "wired" homes, the ability to cook along with your favorite chef would be a neat little future. Now, one digital satellite provider is bringing that idea into reality.

According to an article from Multichannel (part of Variety), DirecTV will be rolling out a new video-on-demand service that will include programming from the Food Network.

Looking to make up ground against cable operators and their interactive networks, DirecTV is preparing to roll out a new service that will essentially give basic-cable networks their own dedicated channels for programming delivered on-demand to viewers.

Food Network and Discovery Channel are among more than a dozen programming services that are expected to be available when the big satellite broadcaster launches its new on-demand service in July, according to DirecTV.


[DirecTV Executive Eric] Shanks said the service will give individual networks complete control over their own channel, including content and marketing messages; and that DirecTV has more than a dozen networks signed up to provide on-demand content.

Scripps Networks confirmed that it will provide content from its Food Network and HGTV-owned channels.

Not a whole lot of news there, but I'm guessing that we'll be seeing something about this in the coming months. Of course, this won't make much of a difference in the TVFF household (either in its current location or in the new office), since I doubt I'll be leaving wire-based cable for satellite any time soon.



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.

Contact Us at: mike@tvfoodfan.com

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