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Philly Chef Jose Garces to Take on Iron Chef Bobby Flay
Thursday, July 31, 2008 | posted by Mike

It's a good time for folks from The City of Brotherly Love on Food Network.

First, we had Adam and Aaron as two of the three finalists for The Next Food Network Star.  Now we get word that Philly culinary star Chef Jose Garces will be taking on Bobby Flay in an upcoming installment of Iron Chef America.

Regular readers of TVFF may recognize the name of Chef Garces, as I've mentioned him a couple of times in the past.  His Spanish tapas restaurant, Amada, is an absolute delight.  His second, Tinto, is also very good and only a few blocks from TVFF's Philadelphia Branch Office.  This guy is the real deal, and it's going to be a lot of fun to see him in action.

Here's the press release:

On Sunday, August 17, at 9 p.m. ET/PT, Philadelphia’s Chef Jose Garces will become the city’s first chef-ambassador to Food Network’s “Kitchen Stadium” – as a challenger on the massively popular series “Iron Chef America.”

“It is an honor and a thrill to be chosen to compete against Bobby Flay, who is considered one of the world’s finest culinary talents,” says Chef Garces.  “I admire each of the Iron Chefs, and I’m so proud to have shared their kitchen and brought my food up against the best of the best.”

The chefs are given one hour to complete five dishes, which must each include the “secret” ingredient that is revealed to them at the beginning of the challenge.  At the conclusion of the hour, the chefs present their dishes to a trio of judges who score each competitor on taste, presentation and originality.

“The energy in Kitchen Stadium inspired me,” says Chef Garces, “and I feel that I put my very best food forward.  I can’t wait for viewers to watch the show and feel the excitement that I felt while competing.”
For one week after the episode airs, Chef Garces will share the dishes he prepared on the show with diners at his restaurants; each will offer a special Iron Chef Menu comprised of the five dishes that he created for the competition.

At age 36, Chef Jose Garces has fast become one of the country’s most distinguished chefs, a reputation that he solidified with the tremendous success of his first restaurant Amada, an authentic Andalusian tapas bar, which opened to rave reviews in Fall 2005.  He further reinforced this standing with his second venture Tinto, a wine bar inspired by Basque country, the coastal and mountainous region shared by Spain and France, which was one of the city’s most highly anticipated restaurants when it opened in March 2007.

In March 2008, Garces launched Mercat a la Planxa, a Barcelona-style tapas restaurant in Chicago, his hometown.  Most recently, Garces oversaw the opening of a third Philadelphia restaurant, Distrito, a spirited celebration of the culture and cuisine of Mexico City.  His first cookbook, Latin Evolution (Lake Isle Press), will be released in September 2008.

Called the “Latin Emeril” for his wide smile and educational approach to food, Garces is a two-time nominee for the James Beard Foundation’s prestigious “Best Chef Mid-Atlantic” award, and has long been an ambassador of contemporary Latin cuisine.  He has appeared in The New York Times, Travel & Leisure, Esquire, Conde Nast Traveler, Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, and Wall Street Journal.

For more information on Chef Jose Garces and his four acclaimed restaurants, or to make a reservation at any of them, please visit www.garcesgroup.com.  “Iron Chef America” will air on Sunday, August 17 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Food Network.

Both photos courtesy of Food Network



Reader Report: Top Chef Live
Tuesday, July 29, 2008 | posted by Mike

We always like it when we get a little feedback from our readers, so we were excited when we got an e-mail from Zach out in Arizona about a trip that he made to the local installment of the Top Chef Live tour.  He said that he read the write-up we posted here on TVFF and wanted to share his experience (and the image below).

Now, Zach is a serious foodie. ("I watch “Food TV” like a crack addict. I want to name my first daughter "Giada". My friends have given me "Lunchbox" as my nickname.")  He and his wife, Lynn, were able to score tickets to the 8:30 a.m. (now that's dedication) show in Phoenix.  Take it away, Lunchbox!
We were only able to find one person to go with us for such an early demo, so our friend Heather agreed to get up early and head downtown to the show. That just meant that one more person from the waiting list would get into the trailer. Former contestants Casey Thompson and Betty Fraser were scheduled to appear. We were excited at the prospect of meeting Casey. However a quick check of the website a day before gave us the real lineup of Richard Blais and Betty. I was excited to see Richard cook with smoke and aromatics and get super crazy in the kitchen. I would be disappointed in the end, but more on that in a min.

It was cool to see them in person and not stressed out from competition. I’ve attached a picture of me Lynn and Heather inside the trailer. We’re in the second row and I’m the guy making the goofy face with the thumbs up. The picture came from the girl sitting in front of Lynn's chair... I of course made that face and when she checked the picture she gave me a few chuckles and promised to email me. I told her my email address, never thinking I would actually see the picture. So mad props to Holly for actually sending it to me...

So Blais and Betty come in and they're 2 feet away from us and very enthusiastic for being so early in the morning. Betty started the demo by starting a Coconut shrimp with cabbage slaw... Three things that are not part of my pallet, coconut, shrimp, and cabbage... I’m just not a super big seafood guy, and I really don’t like the coconut texture. So I was a little disappointed about the demo as far as picking up a new recipe. When all was said and done I ate the dish and it wasn't too bad. I was excited about the prospect of Blais cooking something crazy but it didn't happen. Betty cooked, and Richard helped her with whatever she needed.

The coolest part was getting to ask questions while they were cooking and getting to hear the skinny on what really goes on behind the scenes of Bravo's "Top Chef". Like the fact that every episode is one day of taping. So they eliminate one person everyday when they're filming. This to me tells me how good those chefs are that get picked for the show. The question that I asked was what they did after the elimination when the chefs would just be hanging out at the house as far as cooking for each other... Richard said that the chefs would show off for each other and try to show their cooking skills and "intimidate" each other so to speak. They are totally sequestered as far as internet, TV, newspapers, etc... so as to not get any recipe ideas. What they bring to the show is what they bring, no outside influence whatsoever. I was impressed with how personable both chefs were. Richard even made a few jokes along the way, which I didn't expect. It was a lot of fun and I'm really glad we got to go.
Zach also told us that the folks at the demo from the network confirmed that they're currently taping the next season of Top Chef in New York, which jibes with reports of sightings of the cheftestants in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn.

Zach...great job and thanks for sharing!



A Couple of Random Thoughts on The Next Food Network Star's Adam
Monday, July 28, 2008 | posted by Mike

Nothing profound here...just two things:

1.  We've been getting a bunch of folks coming to the site after searching for Adam's recipe for beer can chicken.  Unfortunately, that isn't one of the "featured recipes" up on the TNFNS's site, but we did track down this recipe from The Surreal Gourmet.  It looks pretty similar to Adam's version.

2.  So, Gordon worked with each contestant on his or her potential show mini-pilot.  And, since Aaron's pilot is pretty much what we'll be seeing with his show, I'm guessing that the Network was "on board" with each of the concepts, the idea being that they could quickly transition to producing and airing the show, right?  Adam's show was heavily invested in the concept that they'd be using Web-submitted ideas/questions and other "high-tech" features.  Now, doesn't that sound an awful lot like Ask Aida?  What would have happend if Adam had won?  Would we be seeing Ask Aida?  Or was it a sign that we shouldn't have expected Adam to come through in the end?  Just wondering...

FYI...Adam's old (now-closed restaurant) is fondly remembered by one of my co-workers who was a regular at The Smoke Joint.



LiveBlog: The Next Food Network Star Finale
Sunday, July 27, 2008 | posted by Mike

Well, this is it, kids!  Will it be Lisa Garza, Adam Gertler or Aaron McCargo?

I'll be providing a running commentary of wise-ass remarks below.  Just keep hitting refresh every now and then for the lates.  Feel free to weigh in with your thoughts in the comments or via e-mail to mike@tvfoodfan.com.

Now, as soon as Mrs. TVFF finishes watching Bridezillas, we'll be ready to go...

10:01 - Bobby Flay says it may be the best cassoulet he's ever had.  Somewhere, Tony Bourdain throws something at the TV.

10:04 - It may not be Eagles vs. Cowboys, but the Philly/Camden vs. Dallas dynamic between Adam and Aaron on one side and Lisa on the other, I guess that's a sales point.

10:05 - GORDON!!!!!  I miss his Campbell's soup commercials.

10:06 - "Show in a Box."  Hehe.  Damn you, Saturday Night Live...you've ruined "in a box" for me forever!

10:09 - Lisa's fuchsia dress kinda clashes with the orange set.  (Yes, I had to check with Mrs. TVFF on both the spelling of "fuchsia" and whether they, indeed, clashed.)

10:12 - First commercial.  I'm glad this is the last episode, as it means it will also be the last time that Mrs. TVFF comments on the green blouse that Lisa wears in every interview.  Mrs. TVFF is convinced that she either owns the same blouse or one that looks remarkably similar.  Regardless her point is that either they're doing the interviews all at the same time, or she wears the same outfit for all of the interviews.  Me...I'm just looking forward to a day when this is no longer a topic of conversation in the TVFF house.

10:17 - I'm not bothered by the beer can shoved up the chicken's ass, but the jalapeno sticking out the top is weird.

10:18 - "A little bump."  Perhaps a terrorist fist jab?

10:23 - Gordon really captured the issue with Aaron, which is that he's really fine if/when he doesn't try too hard and "seize up" or ramble to the point of incoherence.  Of course, that's true of all of the contestants, too.  But this gets to the problem of judging the folks on this show, which is that being on camera, and doing something complicated on camera while trying to talk eloquently, is a decidedly unnatural thing.  That's why it's a good thing that the judges are people who are accustomed to looking at raw talent and seeing the diamond in the rough.

10:31 - Lisa's got a good connection to the camera, although you do feel like you have to "keep up" with her.

10:35 - The above was a pacing comment rather than a comment on her knowledge or, as Mrs. TVFF would say, her pretentious tone.

10:36 - Feasting coming soon!!!!  (September 7th)

10:38 - Hungry in Philadelphia:  also known as me at approximately 11:45 a.m.  Terrible name, espeically since the show has no real Philly connection and makes no reference to the main hook, the interactivity.

10:41 - Anyone else who would like to point out supposed liberal leanings in tonight's liveblog should feel free to do so in the comments!

10:46  - If I put a steak in a pan like that, we'd be taking the batteries out of the smoke detector to stop the beeping.  Must be nice to have a ventilation hood.

10:48 -That is one animated set of former contestants.

10:50 - That Alltel Circle Back feature gets to me.  Really...my attention span isn't that short.  I remember all the way back to the beginning of the hour.  And is it really necessary for those tuning in late?  Nothing has been decided, and I'm sure they get the gist of it.  Whatever.  It's getting late and I'm getting crotchety.

10:52 - The Chef Jeff Project apparently involves a lot of yelling.

10:57 - Brooke Johnson gets to make the big announcement?

10:58 - Nope...Bobby announces that Aaron McCargo Jr. is the winner.

10:59 - I think the discussion between Aaron and Bobby hit the nail on the head in terms of why Aaron won.  He got notes from the judges, he responded to them and provided to them a show that included the exact things that they were looking for from him.  There's something to be said for having your vision and sticking to it, but the thing that gets you ahead on these shows is to incorporate the judges' suggestions.  Simple as that.

Recap:  Well, if you went looking to find the winner when you heard about the leak the other day, you would have known who the winner was.  Unfortunatly, I was trying to preserve the suspense.  Oh well.

I would be lying if I said I wasn't happy to see Aaron, the Camden resident, come out on top.  I'm still not certain that his show will be a must-see for me, but he was certainly my home-town rooting interest.  And if you knew anything about Camden, you'd be happy that someone from there was getting a chance to make the city proud.

Thanks for tuning in, everyone!  Hope you had a good time!



The Winner is Out There (But Not in This Post!)
Friday, July 25, 2008 | posted by Mike

...so beware.

It's JAG, making his triumphant comeback!  I kid, of course.

A SideDish commenter caught a snafu (with a capital "F") on the Food Network Web site that revealed the winner.  And, of course, I managed to open the page and see the photo evidence before realizing what was up.  Grrrr.

Let this be a warning to you...anyone who wants to preserve the suspense should tread very carefully on the Web.

Of course, this won't change our plans for a fun-filled liveblog of the finale, Sunday at 10 Eastern.  You bring the beer (Victory HopDevil, please) and I'll bring the bitchy comments.



Liveblogging The Next Food Network Star Finale

Hey...wanted to try something a little fun and different this weekend. 

Have a laptop or computer near the TV?  Planning on watching the TNFNS finale?  Well, log on to TVFoodFan.com at 10 p.m. Eastern this Sunday and we'll be providing a running commentary on the event.  I can't promise that it will be insightful or profound.  I can promies you it will be snarky.

Obviously, the big warning here is that we're going to be posting a spoilerific commentary, so those of you who are either DVRing the show for later watching or anyone living in another time zone that doesn't want to know who wins should probably stay clear of the site after 10.  You west-coasters can check it out after it airs locally.  Of course, you can pull up the site and follow along, too.  Each entry will be time-stamped.  Just DON'T SCROLL AHEAD.

OK...you're officially warned!  Hope to see you on Sunday.



Aida, Princess of the Kitchen
Wednesday, July 23, 2008 | posted by Mike

Get it?  No?  OK, no more opera jokes.

Anyway, the Food Network folks sent along one of their preview press releases, highlighting the upcoming "interactive cooking show," Ask Aida.  They've been plugging it as part of their upcoming shows promos during The Next Food Network Star.  Here are the details on the August 2nd debut.
Cooking expert Aida Mollenkamp prepares delicious dishes while solving Food Network viewers' culinary conundrums on her new interactive cooking show, Ask Aida, premiering Saturday, August 2nd at 12:30pm ET/PT. Whether it’s pies or pasta, grilling or frying, simple dinners or sweet breakfasts, each episode highlights a topic inspired by viewer-submitted video, e-mail, and text questions that Aida answers as she whips up tasty recipes that include the ingredient or theme. With exceptional culinary experience and a relaxed approach, Aida addresses everything from recipe and ingredient issues to advice on kitchen catastrophes and culinary tools. Noah Starr serves as the “tech guru” sorting through then asking the questions sent to Aida while also trying to stump her with a crazy ingredient or gadget and, of course, tasting the food too.
There's more about it on the show's page on the FoodNetwork.com.

The interactivity thing is nothing new -- Sara Moulton's old show featured call-in questions -- but the ability to shoot and submit videos and use e-mail and text are obviously the new hook.

Down below, you can see a picture of Aida.  FYI...we'll be posting photos of Aida every chance we get.

But who is this Noah Starr character who will be serving as "tech guru?"

Well, thanks to the top-notch TVFF Research Department (a.k.a. Google), we know that he's a writer/performer from New York City.  He's also the proprietor of Noah Starr's Blogular Craptacular!  It's a sporadically-updated personal blog. Check it out now before the folks at Food Network send him a friendly note suggesting he maybe he should remove "Communism" from his list of "Things I Like."  (Don't worry...it's a joke.)

According to IMDB, he also appeared as "Victim" on The Maury Povich Show.  

Oh, man...we like him already!



Free Advice for Future "Next Food Network Star" Contestants
Monday, July 21, 2008 | posted by Mike

Here you go...possibly the best suggestion that I can offer you:

Make friends with the cameramen.

Why is that?  It's so, when five pounds of protein roll off your shopping cart in the middle of Whole Foods, maybe he or she gives you a little signal instead of just filming you while you walk away obliviously.



Vintage Julia Available on Netflix
Sunday, July 20, 2008 | posted by Mike

I mentioned that I was in a bit of a technology mood lately.  Sure, DVD isn't exactly cutting edge, but a recent browse through the listings on the DVD rental service Netflix turned up a surprise or two.

Although you can occasionally find programs on Food Network and PBS that featured guest appearances by Julia Child, I've had less luck coming across airings of her classic program, The French Chef.  Cited time and again by just about everyone as the seminal show in food television history...
The French Chef introduced French cooking to the United States at a time when it was considered expensive restaurant fare, not suitable for home cooking. Child emphasized fresh and, at the time, unusual ingredients.
In other words, if you want to understand how we got to where we are, it helps to check it out.  Thanks to Netflix, that a little bit easier.

The service features a pair of three-disk collections, The French Chef with Julia Child and The French Chef 2 with Julia Child.  Each of the two collections features approximately 18 episodes, so there is plenty of good stuff here.

Poking around a little bit also reveals a bunch of Food Network DVDs, as well, but the chance to learn from the master is pretty cool.

I know, I know..."technology" usually means instant gratification and you're going to have to wait for Netflix to ship you a disk.  Fine.  This may not be "vintage Julia Child," but it is vintage, it's hilarious and it's Julia Child (kinda).  Enjoy!



Jamie Oliver Joining the Video Game Craze
Thursday, July 17, 2008 | posted by Mike

It looks like Gordon Ramsay isn't the only one who has a forthcoming video game on the horizon. According to the folks over at YumSugar:
This October, British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver will be releasing a handheld cooking game on Nintendo DS. What's Cooking? With Jamie Oliver will simulate real-life cooking situations, from selecting ingredients at the supermarket to plating meals at the table. The Atari video game will have an interactive cookbook featuring 100 of the celebrity chef's original recipes, alongside photographs taken by David Loftus.

The game will include a series of real-time virtual challenges that involve real-life chopping, stirring, and plating; recipe cook-offs with other players; and a timed competition against the clock.
You might remember that, in our post about the Gordon Ramsay game, the really interesting thing was the possibilities afforded by the Wii interface. Well, the Nintendo DS (which will also feature a Ramsay game) also provides an intriguing possibility or two.

Thanks to my long commute, I flirted with the idea of picking up a DS, which is unique in that it features two screens, one of which is actually touch-sensitive. So, you’ll be controlling your game with the usual set of joysticks and buttons, but you can also use a stylus to do things with the touch screen. Need to give that sauté pan a shake? Go ahead and do it with the stylus. The other neat feature of the DS is that it includes WiFi capability, so you’ll be able to do things like play head-to-head with friends who also have the game. The portable nature of the DS will also mean that it can accompany you into the kitchen to follow real recipes, assuming you aren’t a klutz and drop the $130 device into the sink.

No kidding…I’ve been a total disaster in the kitchen lately. Last week, I managed to splash insanely hot canola oil onto my forearm while frying up some onions. There is now an open sore the size of a quarter on my right arm. Then, last night, while honing my chef’s knife, I managed to stab the end of the knife into my left wrist, narrowly missing the assorted veins, tendons and ligaments that reside nearby. In other words, it’s probably best not to stand next to me these days.

OK, OK…I promise this is the last video game post for a while. But, I am on a slight technology kick, so check back tomorrow for a post about how you can use the technology of today to enjoy some great stuff from yesterday.



Gordon Ramsay: Meanest Video Game Villain Since Those Things From Space Invaders
Tuesday, July 15, 2008 | posted by Mike

Having grown up on video games, I have to confess that, even now, I get a kick out of playing them.  Actually, this is true of many males from my generation.  I still have a PS2 hooked up to my television (although I rarely use it) and I’ll buy an occasional game now and then if it’s particularly interesting.  I will admit to owning and playing Madden 2004 and that, once, I was playing all day and hardly noticed it was 3:15 in the morning and time to go to bed.

Most of the games that I’ve owned over the years have involved either shooting at someone/something or competing in some sports event.  As far as I can remember, none of them involved having to chiffonade some basil.  In fact, the only ones that even included food were Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (you regained power by eating pizza) and Burger Time

Believe it or not, now there’s actually a Hell’s Kitchen game on the way.  And, thanks to reader Christian, we can point you to some screen shots of the game over at G4’s video game site.
Got some new screens of Hell's Kitchen for the Wii, DS, Mac and PC, courtesy of Ubisoft.  Based off the popular reality-show of the same name, you can now bring home the joys of burning the roast and not only being ridiculed by your friends... but a virtual demon-chef Gordon Ramsay as well.  The game comes to a boil this September.
There are a whole bunch of pictures on the site (go there and click on the first image for the gallery).

As you can see, it’s going to be available on four platforms:  the two home computer platforms, the Wii console and Nintendo’s DS dual-screen portable device.  The really intriguing thing here would be the Wii, though, with its motion-sensing controller that currently lets you do things like play golf and swing tennis racquets.  How about a game that lets you “virtually” slice carrots and toss ingredients in a frying pan?  That’s kinda cool, huh?

Judging by the comments beneath the images, the gamers over at G4 don’t seem too impressed.  But how else can you get berated for your substandard béarnaise in the comfort of your own family room?



Kelsey Forgets the First Rule of Culinary School
Monday, July 14, 2008 | posted by Mike

"You do not talk about culinary school."

Good bye, Kelsey. Fortunately, they haven't settled on a winner over at Legally Blonde The Musical: The Search For Elle Woods (which shows up on the DVR weekly thanks to Mrs. TVFF), so maybe you still have a shot over there.  You look like you'd fit right in!



Top Chef Tour Puts You in the Kitchen
Thursday, July 10, 2008 | posted by Mike

The skies weren't particularly encouraging last Saturday as I headed down to Penn's Landing, the strip of riverfront recreational areas that played host to the Top Chef tour that was in town as part of the Welcome America festivities in Philadelphia.  But we managed to dodge the rain for the most part and it was well worth the chance to get a front-row seat (literally, for me) to a live cooking demonstration and question-and-answer session with TC contestant Spike Mendelsohn.

I wasn't sure exactly what to expect from the Tour.  I knew that I had tickets and that the number was fairly limited, but it could have been "limited" to 500 for all I knew.  When we got there and saw that it was taking place in the distinctly-decorated trailer seen below, it was clear that the seats were going to be limited and that we were going to be right on top of the action.  They lined up the ticketholders and let us in.  My group was the second to be called, so I snagged a seat in a folding chair that was close enough to have me dodging grease spatter while Spike did his thing.

Spike got up and did his intro, followed by starting off the dish that he was going to be preparing, which was a Greek-style sautéed eggplant with a tomato sauce.  Really, though, the cooking was secondary to the discussion of his time on the show and the other questions he fielded from the audience.  Despite his on-show persona which may have left viewers feeling like he was a bit arrogant, Spike provided an insightful, honest and interesting series of answers.  He was extremely articulate and even self-effacing in discussing his ultimate downfall on the show, the use of frozen scallops.  In fact, he referenced the mis-step a couple of times during the talk and it because a bit of a catchphrase by the end..."those frozen scallops" elicited laughs from the crowd whenever it was mentioned.

As he continued his dish, Spike encouraged the crowd to ask more questions.  They hit on a variety of topics, most of which were about the experience of taping the show and how much of it was accurately portrayed on the screen.  He said that the producers did a good job of keeping the pressure up on the contestants and that the show depicted that in the finished version.  I was able to ask a couple of questions, including one that I've always wondered while watching the program.

From time to time, they like to include shots of the contestants back at the house, usually doing the kind of mundane things we all do...brushing teeth, working out and cooking.  I've always had the feeling that there was probably something pretty interesting going on with those meals.  I mean, you can't put a bunch of competitive chefs in a house together without some sort of one-upsmanship going on, can you?

Spike replied that it was true, the chefs did use the opportunity to try and break out the old family recipes in order to impress (and intimidate?) one another.  But not Spike.  He said the he sat back, relaxed and didn't lift a finger in the kitchen, instead enjoying some of the most consistently excellent meals of his life without having to fire up the stove.  It had me thinking that I may want to volunteer as a handyman at next season's contestant house...just so I can snag the leftovers.

Spike finished by talking about his future plans, which include a new burger restaurant in DC and the possibility of hosting some food shows in the vein of Anthony Bourdain's work.  He posed for photos, signed some autographs and spent time talking with fans.

This kinds of access isn't something you see every day, so if you can manage to finagle some tickets when it swings by your city, be sure to do it.

Check out the photos below for a few more shots of the action.



Food Detectives Promo
Wednesday, July 09, 2008 | posted by Mike

Here's that promo I mentioned below. I'll have a thing or two to say about it in an upcoming post. Also, stay tuned for a recap of my trip to the Top Chef Tour.



Food Network Maps on theSUGGESTR.com
Tuesday, July 08, 2008 | posted by Mike

We got a note from someone over at theSUGGESTR.com, a site that provides local, personalized restaurant suggestions.  The site is cool, as it lets you search locally, see ratings and comments for restaurants and then have them mapped on an embedded Google Map.  You can set up an account and rate your favorite spots.  Fun stuff.

They wanted to let us know that they've put together a couple of maps that may be of interest to food TV fans.  The maps include locations from episodes of $40 a Day and Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.  Check 'em out!

The one that I think is particularly helpful is the D,D&D map.  Lots of the places mentioned on the show feature alternatingly quirky (Biff's Beef-O-Rama or the like) or mundane (The Skyline Diner) names, so you may hear about a nearby location and then manage to forget the name before you can track down a pen and paper.  Nowadays, it's a bit easier for me since I can rewind with the DVR and you can always track it down on the Food Network Web site.  But having it represented on a map is a cool way to scan it quickly and see what's been covered in your neck of the woods.

Tough Times for Rachael Ray (and a Note on TNFNS)
Monday, July 07, 2008 | posted by Mike

First up, I think we're officially in the home stretch with The Next Food Network Star.  Mrs. TVFF turned to me last night during the episode and stated that she didn't see a watchable star among the group.  She may be right, but last night did give me a bit of hope that the eventual winner can handle him/herself on camera pretty well.  I'm still not sold that there is a compelling food program coming from one of these folks, but I'll take a show with someone who works well off a prompter.

Saw the quick commercial for the new Ted Allen show.  I know the idea that it was close to Good Eats was thrown out there, and the slightly zany nature of GE is on display, but from a content standpoint, it definitely looks like a food-centric MythBusters.

Ahh, Rachael.  We haven't talked much about Ms. Ray lately, mostly because I'm nowhere near a TV when her show is on.  But we have been able to track her rising star as she went from how-to host to veritible media maven, so we like to keep tabs.  As you may have heard, life hasn't been too good for her during the past week or so.

First, there was word that she's writing her memoirs, which received a scathing mention from the always-bitchy Ted Casablanca.  Be sure to check it out.  There's apparently some drama about the name of the forthcoming book.

I know what you're thinking:  Hey, this is good news.  If she's writing a memoir, that must mean that she's really made it...she's truly important.

That's where you're wrong.  The fact of the matter is that, unless your name is Winston Churchill or Bob Dylan, you're not interesting enough to actually warrant having your life and thoughts chronicled.  The only requisite for a memoir is an audience willing to buy it.  This is no slight to Rachael, but we already knew she was popular, and a memoir is always more about the writer's ego than his or her imparting wisdom to the world.

It's not the life story that lets us know that Rachael has entered the upper echelon of media personalities.  It's the news that a former employee on her show is suing for discrimination.  Welcome to the big time, Rach.
A former accountant for Rachael Ray’s cooking show has filed a $1 million lawsuit saying he was forced out of his job because he has an eating disorder.

Aaron Ferguson says in Manhattan court papers that he has suffered from anorexia for about six years. He says his supervisor repeatedly exhibited "hostile behavior" and made "vile," discriminatory and hurtful comments.
The lawsuit names CBS Corp., CBSTD Inc., and three individual employees of the show as defendants. Ray is not named.

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Happy 4th
Friday, July 04, 2008 | posted by Mike

Just wanted to wish you all a food-filled 4th of July.

We'll be attending the Top Chef demonstration in Philadelphia tomorrow (weather permitting), so we hope to have photos and a write-up for you by early next week.

It looks like there are still some tickets available (they had to change the date) and they're taking applications, so you can go and see Hung and Spike by signing up at the Bravo site.  I actually have two free tickets for the 1:30 show, so if you want to go to that one, you can also drop me a line ASAP.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008 | posted by Mike

I have absolutely no idea what this is about.



Now You Can Own a Piece of Food Network
Tuesday, July 01, 2008 | posted by Mike

Now you can help build your nest egg with a little bit of Tyler Florence because today marked the first day of trading for the spin-off Scripps Networks Interactive Inc.  Well, sure...you always could have bought a share of former parent company E.W. Scripps at one point or another, but whatever.

According to that article, E.W. Scripps shareholders will receive one share of the new stock for every SSP share they currently hold.  Congrats to all of our friends who work at Food Network, who are now likely proud shareholders of the new stock, which will trade under the code "SNI."  He're hoping you all got a generous stock compensation packaged when you signed on!

How good an investment is SNI?  Damned if I know.  This isn't a stock tip site.  And if you're taking investment advice from me, you're already in trouble.  But:
In the first quarter, Scripps Networks profits were up 16.6 percent in 2007, to $603.5 million, on revenue of nearly $1.2 billion, the company said. 
Considering the tailspin my old job's 401(k) is currently experiencing, maybe I should diversify into some Food Network. 

Or maybe I can earn some extra scratch by putting out my own line of ingredients like Giada.  Anyone interested in buying some official TVFF Thai Green Curry?

Happy 2nd Birthday to...Us!

That's right.

It's been two whole years since we sat down, signed up for an account and published our fist post to TV Food Fan. I'm not sure if I was drunk at the time, but that's the only rationale I have for making a decision like that considering the amount of work it was going to take.

You can see the post that started it all right here.

Typically, I'd take this opportunity to sum up all of my thoughts about the site, the food television landscape and whatever else I feel like talking about, but I'm just not feeling like it right now. I will say that, after taking a few weeks off and then coming back was a great chance to think about what I was doing with TVFF, make some decisions about what I did and didn't want the site to be about and get some pep back in my step when it comes to posting.

So, what can you do to show your birthday well-wishes? You can certainly give us a holler in the comments below, you can send us an e-mail at mike@tvfoodfan.com and, as always, you can show your appreciation by letting a foodie friend know about the site!


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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