Yes, the live-wire British chef is considered a caricature by some, but thanks to an alliance with Aardman Animations, the folks behind the great Wallace & Grommit series, Oliver will actually be a character in an animated series.
The show, Little J, will follow Oliver as a 10-year-old trying to find the secret to becoming a great chef.
Oliver said: "I really want to pass on a little knowledge in a fun way, to really connect to the younger kids."
As you can see, Little J is a little bit deranged looking, and it's a bit odd for him to be partying and hanging out with the animals which will inevitably end up as one of his "pukka" dishes, but that's OK.
This is an interesting new tactic in Oliver's well-publicised crusade to improve the health of the United Kingdom's schoolchildren.
How do you think kids have been reacting to having their favorite fatty foods taken away? Exactly. So this show could be an interesting way for Oliver to improve his standing with younger children in the hopes that his message about health and nutrition finds a more receptive audience.
And we all know that marketers -- of both toys and food -- have become masters of using children's programming and cartoons in particular to sell products to unsuspecting children. Believe me...I had the Transformers to prove it. So it's interesting to see someone try to turn the tables on them.
Labels: Jamie Oliver
Well, Mrs. TVFF and I made the trip to Manhattan last Friday for dinner at Spice Market and it was very good. We were part of a table of five, so we ended up ordering and eating family style, but the highlights for me were (of course) the red curry duck, the mushroom egg rolls and the snapper. The decor was overwhelming, but in a good way...sort of an escape from the world outside. A tremendous amount of fun was had by all.
On to television-related stuff:
Does Gordo actually need a good reason to get his blood boiling? I'm guessing not, but if you think he gets irate if someone overcooks the Wellington, wait till you see him go ballistic when someone sues him.
Thanks to our good friend Dan over at The Hungover Gourmet, we get word that Gordo gave an interview after the recent dismissal of the lawsuit that was filed against Ramsay surrounding one of the episodes of his upcoming Kitchen Nightmares on Fox. And how did he take it?
“The idea of bringing moldy food in and planting actors is a f***** [ed note: more asterisks added to keep the site PG] joke,” Mr. Ramsay said. “There’s a man who got very scared and very embarrassed about his lack of professionalism. For a man to waste lawyers’ time and taxpayers’ money to get upset about something you’re the cause of...”
This, of course, begs a simple question: Since you've been chosen for and agreed to appear on a show that identifies and rehabilitates awful restaurants, don't you think you're probably on shaky legal ground if you want to sue the producers because you look bad on the show?
Now I don't have a law degree like my buddy and Philly blog colleague PhilaFoodie, but I'm guessing the people behind the show probably have a pretty well thought-out document that you have to sign if you want to play ball with them, and in the document there is likely a loooooong list of situations for which you waive your right to sue. Plus, you're appearing on a Fox reality show, so you should probably just check your dignity at the door and hope for good enough publicity from the show to make up for your poor, shattered self-esteem.
Ohhhh -- wait a second -- publicity. Now that wouldn't be why someone would sue Gordon Ramsay, would it?
Labels: Gordon Ramsay
On to more pressing issues, however.
Never one to let more than a month go by without a new show debuting, the Food Network has just announced a start date for The Gourmet Next Door starring Next Food Network Star winner Amy Finley. Sunday, October 14th at noon will mark the debut of the show which makes "the epicurean easy."
Take it away Mr. Tuschman:
“Amy’s infectious, easy going personality and approach to creating simple, impressive dishes will appeal to our food loving audience,” said Bob Tuschman, Senior Vice President, Programming for Food Network. “We couldn’t be happier with America’s choice as the new Food Network “Star” and we think Amy will fit in perfectly to our line-up.”
Viewers of the competition show will know that Amy isn't going to settle for a simple mac-and-cheese recipe, so it should be no surprise that the menu for her program skews toward the fancy:
With timesaving tips and tricks, Amy will demonstrate how to turn your everyday meals into gourmet feasts. Whether it’s a Moroccan Chicken with Squash and Dried Plums, Grilled Flank Steak with Shallot and Red Wine Sauce or one of her sweet treats like Amy's Freaky Good Apple Tart, one thing is for certain – she'll have you going from no star to four-star in no time flat!
As a relatively new homeowner, I certainly understand the appeal of higher-end fare like the stuff that Amy will be cooking. Although FN has been moving toward a "quick and easy" roster of chefs, there is certainly still a need for the kind of food you would be proud to serve to company when they come over.
Labels: Amy Finley
Regular readers of this site know that TVFF HQ is located in New Jersey. They'll also know that we talk about being "from Philadelphia," which roughly translates as having grown up about fifteen or twenty minutes from the Liberty Bell, but on the other side of the Delaware River. But the fact of the matter is that I don't really get into Philadelphia nearly enough to justify this being a "Philly blog," considering I could probably count on two hands the number of times that Mrs. TVFF and I actually get into Center City and hang out.
Well, that's about to change.
I alluded to some big stuff going on recently which has made it difficult to post with TVFF's usual regularity. The "big change" is actually a new day job, which will be located in Center City Philadelphia. I'm tremendously excited about this new opportunity, both for the job that I will be doing and for the location of offices, which will get me into the city on a daily basis. I fully expect to gain around 25 pounds on lunches, happy hours and whatnot thanks to the city's fantastic culinary scene. I've even been in touch with the food blog welcome wagon, and I'm looking forward to hooking up with him and a bunch of the other prominent food bloggers once I'm settled.
What does this mean for you, dear reader?
Not a whole lot, I don't think. Yes, I may be making even more references to the Philly scene, but this will remain the same old TVFF you know and love (are aware of and tolerate?). My commute will be a bit longer, but it will be mass transit, so I'll be able to bang out top-notch content for you while commuting.
So, that's that.
I know we have a bunch of readers down in Fluff-ya (who probably root for the Iggles and drink the wooder), so be sure to give us a shout! Especially if you want to take us out to your favorite stand for a Whiz Wit and a Yuengling.
Sorry about the lack of Crumbs last week, but I did mention that things have been a bit hectic. Look for news about that on Friday if you care (you probably don't). But now you're intrigued, so you'll probably come back, won't you? I'm clever like that.
Actually, look for it fairly early on Friday, as I'll be heading into NYC early in the day...I'm planning on seeing some sights (Museum of Modern Art, I think) and having drinks with friends. As I mentioned yesterday, be sure to let me know if you have any Spice Market experience and, if so, what you recommend.
Lidia Matticchio Bastianich, the Italian-born emigre to America who has brought an appreciation of fresh Italian cooking and of Italian culture to the homes of millions, will be Grand Marshal of the 2007 Columbus Day Parade in New York City.
"I was thrilled when the Foundation asked me to serve as Grand Marshal, an honor previously bestowed on many great Italians and Italian Americans," said Ms. Bastianich.
"The United States welcomed me as an Italian immigrant nearly 50 years ago, and it has been a joy and a pleasure to share with the women and men of America secrets from my grandmother and mother's kitchens as well as more recent confections. I am deeply grateful for the opportunities I have received in my adopted country and for this wonderful honor presented to me by the Columbus Citizens Foundation."
In other NYC-related news, Mrs. TVFF and I will be in the city this coming Friday evening for a dinner with some friends. After much back-and-forth and a number of food TV celebrity-owned possibilities, we've opted for Jean-George Vongerichten's Spice Market. I'm leaning heavily towards the curried duck, but would gladly accept suggestions from anyone who has been there!
Labels: Lidia Bastianich
Apparently, the folks at Food Network are looking to cut back on the number of separate e-mail press releases they send out, because they unleashed a monster of an alert today covering a range of information, from the formation of a big, new strategic partnership to a bunch of new programs, episodes and specials for the fall season.
The big news was the announcement that Food Network will be partnering with Cooking.com starting in October on a new e-commerce site called FoodNetworkStore.com, which will be powered by Cooking.com:
Food Network and Cooking.com today announced plans to enter into a multi-year partnership to expand Food Network’s already successful e-commerce business with a new online storefront – FoodNetworkStore.com, to launch October 1, 2007. The partnership will allow the Food Network Store to expand its product offerings taking the site from approximately 1,000 products to over 20,000 products. Cooking.com will provide a “powered by” solution, building and operating a leading-edge, easily navigated site that will include product reviews, tips from the Food Network Kitchens and product videos. Cooking.com will provide customer service support and fulfillment for the online orders at FoodNetworkStore.com.
“We know Food Network viewers enjoy buying products related to the network, and our goal is to establish the FoodNetworkStore.com as the place to go for all kitchenware products,” said Sergei Kuharsky, General Manager, Food Network. "Partnering with Cooking.com allows us to expand our product assortment exponentially and build a site that allows viewers to quickly and easily purchase the products they see our chefs using on-air all with an exceptional level of customer service.”
Long-term TVFF readers might remember Sergei's name coming up a while back, so it's interesting to see some of the results of that appointment.
Although Food Network has had an e-commerce component to its site for some time, the relationship with an established partner opens a world of cross-promotional opportunities and the ability to extend their online store significantly beyond their own branded products if they so choose.
In programming-related news, the press release outlined a whole bunch of new programs, including the debut of Have Fork, Will Travel, starring Zane Lamprey, the conclusion of the second season of Feasting on Asphalt and a new short series called Heavyweights.
This September, food lover and comedian Zane Lamprey travels the globe to celebrate something that people everywhere have in common – eating! Have Fork, Will Travel, Food Network’s new primetime, half-hour series premiering Tuesday, September 4th at 9:30pm ET/PT follows the American “fish-out-of-water” across various countries as he attempts to broaden his palate through exotic foods and new traditions and customs. Also in September, Alton Brown (Good Eats, Iron Chef America) concludes the second season of Feasting on Asphalt 2, his latest quest to find the most interesting food in America. Food Network will re-air a marathon of the entire season on Saturday, September 8th beginning at 4PM ET/PT leading up to the series finale at 9PM ET/PT. Food Network will air the limited series Heavyweights, which profiles historic food industry face-offs Saturdays, September 15th-29th from 9PM-10PM. The series investigates the influence of these brand battles on the popular culture, from the kick-start of the Pepsi Challenge to popular extra -terrestrial, E.T., choosing Reese’s Pieces over M&M’s.
Hmmm...as I was writing up this post, I have Alton talking about sandwiches in the background. He just insisted that you always, always use the guard when operating a mandoline-style slicer. If only he had been there with me that time in fifth grade, I might still have a fingerprint on the tip if my right index finger...
Yes, that's the sound of silence coming from TVFF over the past few days. Unfortunately, real life has intruded a bit on blog life, but it's all for a good reason that I'll be discussing at length with you shortly. In the mean time, I will certainly be trying my best to keep you up to date on the comings and goings of food TV.
Another thing that took up my time of late was that housewarming part that I mentioned a while back. Everyone who came had a great time thanks in large part to the well-stocked cooler full of beer. There were some culinary highlights, as well, including my hamburger spice blend (a secret combination of salt, pepper, ground ginger, garlic powder, cumin, coriander and fennel) and guacamole that I made fresh from a recipe by our blog-friend Genève.
OK...three food TV things to mention:
Labels: Hell's Kitchen
Labels: Jamie Oliver
I know he gets bashed quite a bit online, but I always liked Jamie Oliver. His was one of the first shows I watched regularly when I started to really tune in and follow food television. Yeah, truth be told, I'm a relatively new convert.
I always liked the goofy British-isms, the over-the-top use of the mortar and pestle and -- most importantly -- the strong Thai and Indian influence on many of his dishes.
And so it was with great joy that I managed to stumble across old episodes of The Naked Chef on BBC America (ahhhh...BBC America!). I get the feeling that the later shows that ended up on Food Network were more conscious of the American sensibility, because these episodes were chock full of goofy sayings that made absolutely no sense to me. But that's OK, because I still loved it whenever he said "pukka."
I had always thought that he made it up, but in the episode this weekend, he brought on an Indian chef friend who insisted that "pukka" meant "real" or "authentic." Not that it really mattered, but I guess it made me feel a little bit better about the whole thing.
Well, just as I have this little revelation, I see this:
Jamie Oliver has killed off his famous "pukka" catchphrase - and now describes his food as...
OK, let's stop right there. I'm fine with him trying to bury an overused catchphrase. I wouldn't want to be an old man at the retirement home having everyone come up to me and asking me to say "pukka" for them. And I'm all for him coming up with something new. But:
In the TV chef's new C4 series, Jamie At Home, he uses his new buzzword - short for delicious - SEVEN times while cooking just three dishes.
Sigh. Don't we already have someone using that word?
Labels: Jamie Oliver
The TVFF Research Department turns up plenty of "hits" when it comes to covering the world of food television. Some of them are worth blogging about, some of them aren't and some of them just have the wrong person in mind (you wouldn't believe how much "Sandra Lee" news there is about people other than the one on TV). So, when I hear about something out of context, I'm never quite sure if we're talking about the right person.
Case in point: I came across this story in the Houston Chronicle about delays at LAX airport:
"People are getting a little stir crazy, feeling claustrophobic," said Chris Cognac, 39, who was returning with family and friends — including 10 children — from a week in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. The group had been sitting on the tarmac for five hours when he spoke by phone Saturday.
Passengers on his plane were in the aisles, holding their carry-on luggage, and ready to disembark when the flight crew asked them to return to their seats, Cognac said.
"Everybody's pretty angry with customs at the moment because they're not informing anyone of anything," Cognac said. "It's becoming a logistical issue with diapers."
Wait a second...that wouldn't be F-O-TVFF (that's "friend of TV Food Fan," in case you're wondering) Chris Cognac, would it?
Yeah that was me...it sucked.
What do you know?!? When he's not out canvassing the area for the best eats in out-of-the-way locales, he's apparently covering the travel beat for the Chronicle. In all seriousness, being stuck in an idle plane with ten kids is not a pleasant thought. Oh...and thanks for the mental image of the diapers, Chris.
In happier news, we did hear that Chris will be serving as a judge in an upcoming episode of Iron Chef America, which will be taping in New York next month. Hopefully, the secret ingredient will be a little more interesting than last night's farmer's market, which solicited a simultaneous "huh?" from both Mrs. TVFF and me. I'm all for supporting your local growers, but it was a little hard to buy the Chairman's excitement when he had to unveil that one.
While it may be true that we're seeing less and less of Mario on Food Network these days (and I don't mean that he's losing weight), we may be getting more of him on broadcast television. OK...public television, but still...
According to Contactmusic.com, Oscar winner Gwyneth Paltrow will be teaming up with Batali for a new program about the sights, sounds and tastes of Spain.
The actress will return to Spain, where she spent magical summers growing up, to hail the country's cuisine with pal Batali joining her for the "road trip", which will be filmed in October and November (07) for U.S. cable network PBS.
Although best known for his Italian cooking, Mario Batali has a couple of ties to Spain. For starters, he lived there during his high school years. He also studied Spanish theater at Rutgers (Really? They have that? Why did I waste my time on communication?). And, last but not least, two of his NYC restaurants, Bar Jamon and Casa Mono, actually feature Spanish cuisine. So his expertise is legit.
Labels: Mario Batali
The latest example of the many, many blog appearances of the chef/social critic/food icon is his blog on Bravo's website, offering a running commentary on the latest Top Chef developments. Reading over his recaps and thoughts on the episodes makes me wonder if anyone else should even bother. He brings both a chef's knowledge and a reality-show junkie's passion for watching the car wreck unfold and puts it together in a format that's light years beyond anyone else's commentary on the show.
The Daily Blabber has a nice recap of the feud currently playing out between Bourdain and recent guest judge Rocco DiSpirito. For what it is worth, and despite the insistence of many commenters on this site, Rocco contends that he has not had surgery. That's nice. You're still a knucklehead, and I don't know of any medical procedure that can cure that affliction.
Just about every type of business has been taking a nice, long look at how they can make the InterGoogle work for them. We had Amazon, who realized that they could offer books that no brick and mortar bookstore would ever keep in stock, and Apple, who provided the listening device which created a huge market for legal online downloading of music. The big thing these days, however, is figuring out how to take advantage of the trend of user-created content, including viral videos and blogs. And which companies are in the best position to take advantage of this sort of thing?
Why, those that already create content for a living, of course.
And so Broadcast Newsroom brings us word of another new-media acquisition on the part of Food Network's parent, Scripps Networks.
Scripps Networks, whose Web properties are among the top-rated lifestyle content providers on the Internet, took another step to solidify its leadership position in the interactive space with the acquisition of Incando Corporation, its second new media purchase in less than a month.
Incando is known for its personal media sharing service Pickle.com and the user-generated content management platform Powered by Pickle. Based on proprietary software, Incando's Web2.0 technology enables speedy uploads of photos and videos from computers, mobile phones or digital cameras to any Web site and will enhance the user-centric, social media and personalization functionality around Scripps Networks.
You can take a look at Pickle.com, which is already touting the acquisition on the home page.
The video interface seems (at least to this semi-trained eye) to be more accessible and smooth than the embedded players that Food Network has been using to date. And, with the popularity of Next Food Network Star where viewers could upload their own videos as part of the application process, we'll probably see this as one of the main submission methods.
Beyond that, you could make it so that users are able to upload photos or videos of themselves cooking various recipes. Really, any kind of "submit your own..." show could be run with this platform, and programs like that are appealing to programmers also because they're pretty inexpensive to produce (once you get past the original cost of the technology). So, it will be interesting to see how they use this new toy.
One other technology story about Food Network right now is a note on NorthJersey.com saying that there were some glitches with the text message voting during NFNS.
The Food Network said this week that it discarded all text-message votes for its reality show after a technical glitch caused votes for Schepisi to initially be rejected. The winner, Amy Finley of California, was named after earning the most online votes. Carrie Welch, the Food Network's director of public relations, said text-message votes were a small percentage of total votes and didn't impact the margin.
I think the last thing this season needed was a recount, so I'm sure everyone is glad we're able to move on to the next round.
Labels: Food Network
Hey, thanks for not making fun of me too much for the goofy grilling picture. That really helped my self esteem.
I'd like to introduce you to a new feature here on TVFF. It's a semi-regular new series, which means that I'll post something in this vein whenever I'm too lazy to actually come up with a real topic. It's called "Like/Don't Like," and it will center on a theme of some sort that is somehow relevant to two things, one that I like and one that I don't. Confused yet? Good.
For example, today's topic is "cinematography."
Like: Alton Brown's second season of Feasting on Asphalt. Just as we said in our review of the first season, the show is almost a "playground" for the cinematographer in AB, and he takes the opportunity to try out some new toys and techniques. Part of it is necessary, having to travel light, and therefore unencumbered by the trappings of a full video crew. But part of it is the ethos of the road, which he is able to capture to a much greater degree in these digital video cameras. They're light, they're portable and they're on the move, even though they still haven't managed to work their way out of Louisiana by the end of the first episode.
The only reservation that I do have with the new season is the unfortunate decision to tinker with the format of the pre-commercial bumper, which now features the postcard-on-a-map motif rather than the slow zoom over three photos that they used last year. I greatly prefer last year's model. Feel free to share your opinions in the comments below if you feel differently.
Don't Like: The new season of 30-Minute Meals. Love the new digs, Rachael. Love the new look, too. Don't love the shaky-cam. It's not overwhelming, but when the camera dollies from side to side in the new kitchen, they're incorporating a little bit of a first-season-of-NYPD Blue thing that is slowly driving me nuts. Just like Blue toned it down considerably, I'm hoping they'll do the same on 30MM.
Yep, that's me "grillin!" The photo was taken in the TVFF HQ Back Yard while testing out my brand spanking new four-burner grill, which is cooking up a nice thick sirloin from Wegman's (key to grilling meat: plenty of salt and pepper) and a couple of ears of Jersey corn, which later got brushed with some nice Whole Foods saffron compound butter. Accompanied by a freshly picked cherry tomato and fresh basil (which you can see in the lower-right corner) salad, it was a perfect Sunday night dinner. Those of you lucky enough to be attending the upcoming TVFF Housewarming will get to see the grill first-hand, as if you needed any added incentive.
And, yes, that's the Food Network denim chef's coat that I got back in April as a birthday gift from my parents. It's even got that snazzy thermometer pocket on the sleeve. Thanks again!
Friday is here and I'm incapable of putting together anything too cerebral for today's post. Heck, I can't even keep my act together through Thursday nights any more, as I keep spacing out and missing the new episodes of Ace of Cakes. Hey...just another reason to get that DVR, I suppose.
I did manage to muster enough brain cells to bring you this story from the Press-Register down in Alabama, which tells of a law suit filed after a recent Paula Deen appearance.
A Fairhope bookstore has sued the Arthur R. Outlaw Mobile Convention Center and a production company for $1.5 million, alleging that a May event featuring Food Network star Paula Deen was marred by poor sound, lighting and parking amenities.
Feel free to click and read the article if you're interested in the legal merits of the case, but what really caught my eye was this little nugget:
On May 1, Deen, who hosts "Paula Deen's Home Cooking" on Food Network, spoke in front of about 4,000 people at the Convention Center. Tickets were $65 each, and a portion of the proceeds went to the Bay Area Food Bank.
Wha!?!? Sixty-five bucks? For a chat?!? With Paula Deen?
I'll just take comfort in the fact that it was for a good cause.
Labels: Paula Deen
Yes, after literally weeks of anticipation, we got to see Rocco in all of his nipped-and-tucked glory last night. He was surprisingly reserved (probably needed to be on his best behavior for his employers at Bertolli), but it was fun to see the contestants take some shots at him during the talking head interviews. Grub Street also has Joey's thoughts on Rocco.
OK...when it comes to the question of surgery, Mrs. TVFF and I aren't 100% sure. It is clear that he's lost a bunch of weight, so I'm not certain how much of a factor that may be.
But enough about that...I want to talk about my new favorite "look," which I finally put my finger on last night.
What do I mean by "look?" You know how Jack Benny would do his deadpan "hand on the chin" gesture and Archie Bunker had his trademark sneer of disgust at something Meathead said? It's that kind of comedic "take" that that sticks in your mind and creates a memorable character. Well, we now have "The Colicchio." It's not created out of exasperation or contempt. It's more of a look of bemused pity at events that are about to unfold, but which can only be foreseen by Tom Colicchio because he's smarter and a better chef than you.
Here's how it usually happens.
Tom Colicchio: "So, tell me what you're doing here."
Contestant: "I'm about to try my half-baked plan."
Tom Colicchio: (Knowing full well the plan has no chance of working) "Do you think this plan is going to work?"
Tom Colicchio: (Silently gives the contestant "The Colicchio") OK. (Walks away.)
You'll know it when you see it. There's a slight smile and an attempt to sincerely look like he thinks you know what you're talking about. He's trying not to laugh at your foolishness, but he files it away knowing there will be a "told you so" moment at the judges' table.
I'll agree that it's not quite as subtle as a Geoff Manthorne eyebrow raise, but It is my new fave.
So, do you want to subject yourself to "The Colicchio" on next year's Top Chef? Are you in the Las Vegas area?
If so, head on out this Sunday, August 5th from Noon-4:00 to:
3570 Las Vegas Blvd. S
Las Vegas, NV. 89109
Here are the details on what you need to apply. Best of luck!
Quiet week...plus I'm working on some sort of stomach bug. And the forecast says nothing but 90s for the coming week. Yuck.