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Perfection Means Never Having to Say You're Perfect
Monday, June 30, 2008 | posted by Mike

We like Lisa Garza. We really do. Which makes this semi-rant a little tough for us.

Sure, she's a bit too fussy some times. But she seems to be trying to work through it.

Yes, when she wears that necklace, we can't stop thinking of Wilma Flintstone. But the girl can accessorize!

And, yeah, her eyes have a strange habit of disappearing from time to time.

But if one thing has been sticking in our craw lately, it's the fact that she keeps bringing up the fact that she keeps bringing up the judges' feedback that she has to be "less of a perfectionist." Pu-leeeease!

Really? That's kind of annoying. Like when you go in for an interview, get that, "What is your worst trait?" question and respond with the fact that you care too much about your work or that you spend too much time at the office. In other words, it's just a different way of telling us how great you are.

That said...she's far from being the most annoying reality food contestant of the season (that's Jen from Hell's Kitchen) and she appears to have some real cooking chops, so we expect to see her around for a while.



Possibly My Favorite Contestant Ever
Wednesday, June 25, 2008 | posted by Mike

I don't spend a whole lot of time talking about Hell's Kitchen. For starters, it's the television equivalent of bubble gum. Secondly, the real joy to be gained from it is in the voyeuristic masochism that you get from watching the poor contestants get worked over by Gordon Ramsay. Talking about it is just superfluous.

But I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Matt, who has become possibly my favorite food reality show contestant of all time.

You may remember that we mentioned Matt way back at the beginning of the season, when he made Chef Ramsay vomit with a scallop/venison/white chocolate concoction. Well, the dish elicited a strangely defensive comment (really...check it out...) which warned all the critics to stay tuned because Matt's fortunes were gonna take a turn for the better.

But really, we were the ones who had good times ahead.

Matt managed to stick around despite getting torn apart week in and week out. It was really a sight to see. Consistently getting passed from team to team and getting called out by Ramsay. And yet, he stuck around.

But the best part was the faces he would make. In fact, a montage of the best looks was featured on an episode of Best Week Ever. And once you've made it on BWE, you're big time.

Matt, you made Pine Hill, New Jersey proud!



How Not to Shuck an Oyster
Monday, June 23, 2008 | posted by Mike

Do you see that big, black rubber thing with a wooden handle attached to it? Yes, it certainly appears to be a mallet. WHAT?!?!

Now, I'm no fishmonger, but I'm fairly certain that there is no good way to get an oyster out of it's shell by using a large hammer. Something's telling me one of the producers was having a good time and hoping that the could stump the contestant enough that he or she would "give it a whack."

Actually, I've shucked oysters. It's not that hard, and I think it's actually a tiny bit easier than getting into a smaller clam. The one thing that made it tough is that you have to find just the right spot and that the shell can very easily flake, and then you're going to be spending five minutes picking shell out of your oyster.

If you're interested in how you really get into an oyster or clam, check out this tutorial on the Food Network site.

Great, now that I wrote about this post, Mrs. TVFF will be asking for oysters again.



Emeril on Fine Living's Web Site
Thursday, June 19, 2008 | posted by Mike

Once upon a time, I mentioned how I really liked the Fine Living Web site.

Once upon a time, I mentioned how I really liked Emeril's site's content and -- particularly -- his blog.

And so, now that Emeril has BAMmed his way over to Fine Living on a nightly basis (7 pm), the two things I liked before have come together on a new Emeril page on Fine Living's site.

According to a note I got from the network, the new page features embeddable videos (like the one below), highlights some interesting facts about Emeril, and lists upcoming episodes and recipes. It also pulls in what looks like the latest post from the Emeril blog, which is written by the folks at his Web site.

Fine Living is building itself a nice portfolio of food programs, and they have an attractive site with some nice features to show it off.



Alton Brown, Disk Jockey?
Wednesday, June 18, 2008 | posted by Mike

We love Alton Brown.

We love his cooking, we love his nerdy take on food science and we love his general attitude.

But the thing we really love about Alton Brown is the fact that he's got something interesting to say pretty much every time he opens his mouth. So it's no surprise to see him put something out there that has nothing to do with food.

And so, we were delighted when we took a spin by his site and saw that Alton has contributed an iTunes Playlist...basically a celebrity-created list of songs that you can, if you wish, purchase from iTunes. You can check out his list and comments on each track on his home page or click here to go directly to the list in iTunes. (You need iTunes installed for that second link, obviously.)

And you should check out his list -- it's very good. Of course, I'd be remiss if I didn't offer some thoughts on his choices.

(Hey, if you think I'm an opinionated know-it-all about food TV, you should know that it actually runs a distant fourth to sports, politics and rock music from about 1964-1985.)
  • Prog rock with ELP's "Karn Evil 9" and jazz-rock with the Steely Dan cut: Good job establishing your genre-spanning credibility. He's only one glam-rock song short of the 70's Music Geek Troika.

  • The Black Keys: A nice shout-out to the cool kids. I'm getting into current music a bit more now that I'm down in Philly for work. Those of you in the Delaware Valley should be listening to bands like The Black Keys on 88.5 WXPN. Everyone not in the Delaware Valley should be listening to bands like The Black Keys on 88.5 WXPN's online feed.

  • Don Henley, Paul Simon and Billy Joel: A true music geek knows to throw out there some main-stream "pop" artists to prove that they're not an elitist. Usually, I go with Electric Light Orchestra and Todd Rundgren, but that's just me.

  • Joe Jackson's "Another World" off of Night and Day: Nicely played, Alton. Night and Day is currently in heavy rotation on my iPod. That said, "Another World" is a perfectly nice song that doesn't hold a candle to "Steppin' Out," a song that I think is an underrated gem and that I've loved forever. Hey...I had the 45 when I was six years old and I had it played at my wedding. Maybe Alton didn't want to go for the obvious choice. If that was the case, I would have gone back to Jackson's Look Sharp! or I'm the Man.
There you have it...my commentary on Alton's commentary on someone else's music. How "meta" can you get in one post?



Top Chef Promotional Tour Coming Your Way
Monday, June 16, 2008 | posted by Mike

Wanna see some Top Chef up close?
NBC Universal (NBCU) today announced the first of 20-city stops for Bravo’s “Top Chef: The Tour,” which kicks off in Jericho, NY on Long Island (Whole Foods Market, 429 North Broadway in the Birchwood Shopping Center) on Sat., June 21, 2008. The promotional tour will feature a customized traveling “Top Chef” 18-wheeler semi-truck and will offer Bravo’s passionate fans and cable affiliate partners with the unique opportunity to experience the hit series in their hometowns. Watch what happens when “Top Chef: The Tour” pulls up to a farmers market or food festival in the following cities:

Boston, MA -- July 1
Philadelphia, PA -- July 4
Pittsburgh, PA -- July 9
Columbus, OH -- July 12
St. Louis, MO -- July 16
Denver, CO -- July 19
Phoenix, AZ -- July 26
San Diego, CA -- July 30
San Francisco, CA -- August 2, 3
Los Angeles, CA -- August 8
Des Moines, IA -- August 16
Detroit, MI -- August 23
Madison, WI -- August 27
Chicago, IL -- September 3, 4
Raleigh, NC -- September 13
Tampa, FL -- September 20
Orlando, FL -- September 24
Atlanta, GA -- September 27
New York, NY -- TBD

In each city, select “Top Chef” chef’testants will host four live interactive shows, three for fans in attendance and one private show for cable affiliate partners over one or two days. Cooking demonstrations, gourmet tips, show secrets, and food tastings will be highlighted on the “Top Chef” truck, an impressive 48-foot self-sufficient moving vehicle equipped with power and water. The truck, which includes a state-of-the-art kitchen with the capacity to accommodate 38 guests per seating, also allows for addressing 300 people in an open-air setting. And, HD cameras will offer a live-feed of the chefs at work on 42” screens.

To sign up for free admission and learn more about “Top Chef: The Tour” visit www.bravotv.com/thetour.
I already got my hands on some tickets for Philadelphia, so be sure to grab some for your local stop ASAP.



Good News, Kids!
Sunday, June 15, 2008 | posted by Mike

Apparently, eating paste in elementary school has no long-term effect on cognitive ability.

At least none that prevent you from going on to become a Senior Vice President, Programming and Production.

We kid Mr. Tuschman because we like him. But seriously, Bob...we're glad you stayed away from the lead paint.



Musical Chairs: Food Personality Edition

There has been quite a bit of movement recently among the food celebs on television.

The other day, we told you about Ted Allen. Plus, over the past couple of months, we've had:
  • Mario to PBS
  • Emeril to Martha Stewart Inc.
  • Every big-name chef you can think of to Top Chef
  • Giada to Today
  • Guy Fieri to casual dining stardom.
That's a bunch of big names making big, high-profile changes.

In some of these cases, especially Giada and Rachael Ray's talk shows, it's clear that they got these opportunities because the possessed skills and talents beyond cooking, namely that they are naturals in front of the camera, regardless of their culinary abilities. In other cases, though, the changes seem to me to signal something else.

I really thing that it signifies the true arrival of the food celebrity on a level even higher than we've seen before.

Think about this...why did Katie Couric land the huge deal to host the CBS News? Yes, she got the job because she is a qualified journalist who can anchor a television program. But the real reason she's raking in the dough is that the brass at CBS thought that she was already enough of a celebrity that she would bring an audience with her.

She was a brand name that they were buying.

I think that, with the wealth of food programming available on a variety of outlets, and with food and cooking entering the mainstream media like never before, those who have achieved a certain level of fame are now marketable brands who producers and programmers believe can bring a built-in audience.

Of course, if it is true that they think that Emeril and Guy are worth big money, what they're really saying is that you, the viewer, are worth the money.

So maybe it's less about the rising stars of food television and more about the ever-increasing value of the food enthusiasts.

Ted Allen Heads to Food Network
Tuesday, June 10, 2008 | posted by Mike

Despite my extended sabbatical, the wonderful folks in the Food Network publicity department were nice enough to keep me on the press release mailing list. And so, we get some very exciting news about one of our favorite foodie personalities.
Famed culinary expert Ted Allen joins the Food Network family with the debut of his new series Food Detectives, premiering Tuesday, July 29th at 9pm ET/PT. The half-hour primetime series explores the delicious connection between science and food, pulling back the curtain and revealing the answers to some of the most puzzling food mysteries.

“We’ve wanted to work with Ted for years on a series of his own and we’ve found a great fit in Food Detectives,” said Bob Tuschman, Senior Vice President, Programming and Production for Food Network. “Not only will this show provide a wealth of interesting information for our viewers, it also gives Ted an opportunity to show off his wit and culinary knowledge.”
Ted's been a favorite of ours since his time on Queer Eye, and his recent appearances on Top Chef have pulled us out of our Padma-induced malaise, so the fact that he'll have his own show is welcome news indeed.

Allen's greatest strength is the same thing that made him the perfect food guy on Queer Eye. He's knowledgeable without being condescending, and he makes food extremely accessible without dumbing it down.

A little more about the show:
Food Detectives mixes a healthy dose of humor with a wealth of fascinating factoids. Aided by willing culinary techs and the brains from the leading science and technology magazine Popular Science, the series will conduct experiments to find the truth behind the most interesting food myths. Ted and his team will dig deep to answer questions like: Does it really take seven years for gum to digest in your stomach? Is the five-second rule true? Can an “apple a day” really keep the doctor away? Viewers can also get in on the fun by submitting their most puzzling food conundrums for potential show experiments.
As I mentioned above, Ted has done the rounds on a number of food-related programs. This seems to us to be an increasingly-common occurrence, and we'll have a bit more later this week on this development and what may be behind the whole thing.



Sunday, June 08, 2008 | posted by Mike

Next stop: Quitsville.

Oh, Nipa. Really? There were probably thousands of applicants who wanted a shot at this. You got it, and this is what you do with it? The fact that she's still in the running is a testament to either Kevin's ineptitude or the judges' desire to keep one of the few contestants with a clear, non-mainstream culinary POV.

Maybe she should have just cried. It worked for Shane last week!

Other than the boneheaded tantrum, the young season of The Next Food Network Star has been quite good, with a focus on food that is making me feel good about the culinary integrity of a program that could have veered into the realm of simple popularity and personality contest. Hey, they're cooking with duck...it can't be all bad, right?

Note: I know it's been a while, folks. More on that soon, but I promise to be better. Really, this time.



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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