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Saturday Exchange With FoodTV Executives

I live in Manhattan and about three weekends a month, my husband and I drive down to Soho for lunch at Blue Ribbon Sushi and chocolates at Kee's Chocolates. Went into Kee's Saturday afternoon and was waiting on line and perusing the options when two men came in behind me, to whom Kee passed a box of chocolates. Looking at the line, one of them men said something along the lines of "Kee's has the best chocolates in New York - we should know, we work at FoodTV." Putting aside the inference I drew that they thought those waiting in line were tourists, my first thought was - what do people at FoodTV know about food these days - most of the shows have very little to do with decent food. So, with my big mouth, I turned and said "Well, if you work for FoodTV, perhaps you could do something so that there are actually shows about real cooking and real food." They looked a bit stunned (well, I would have too ....), kind of muttered something and walked out. In retrospect, it was a bit rude on my part, but I could not resist an opportunity to give some feedback to FoodTV - there are so few shows on it that I want to watch anymore. Who cares how red hots are made anyway - well, I'm sure people do or they wouldn't broadcast what they do. And I have to concede that it's not called "CookingTV" or "GourmetTV" .... Anyway - gave me some satisfaction.

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  1. Kudos to you. I would have said the same thing.

    1. Love it!! I think I can thank you from a lot of chowhounds. I would have loved to have seen their faces. And you were not rude- they certainly sounded like pompous idiots!!

      1. ::::::Applause::::: Good for you, Ruth. They obviously weren't expecting a response at all - except maybe someone fawning all over them. Better that they got a little slap upside the head....although it probably didn't sink in.

        1. Who says that, is what I want to know?!? (At least, out loud!) (Just to clarify, not you, the men!) They were probably waterboys for Sandra Lee's show or something!

          1 Reply
          1. re: Katie Nell

            True! I may have been overstating it calling them "executives" ... but they certainly were self-important!

          2. You spoke for many of us with your remark. I would have done much the same!

            1. Excellent. I am glad you said something. I simply cannot watch FoodTV anymore. It seems as though everytime I turn it on it is Emeril, Rachel, Sandra, or Paula. Or, some show that isn't really about anything other than "reality."

              PBS Saturdays' has a better line up of cooking shows than FoodTV.

              1. Bravo. You spoke for many. If only they would do something about it. If I see Rachael Ray on my TV even one more time, I will scream.

                5 Replies
                1. re: celeste

                  I wrote to the programming exec for food tv...I asked him who Rachel Ray was doing in order to get so many shows (as irritating as she is). Gee...I never heard from him.

                  1. re: celeste

                    Brace yourself, Celeste, for her talk show this fall (supported and conceived by none other than Oprah herself).

                    1. re: gloriousfood

                      Oh cool, a new avenue for indulging in masochistic rituals.

                      It would only get better if somehow scientists could take a sample of RR's genes and match them with that little Miss Perky, Paige Davis, who hosted the "Trading Spaces" show, and clone the ultimate in a Perky Creature, now THAT would be a monster of a TV talk show hostess, and the true definition of Cruel & Unusual Punishment.

                      1. re: gloriousfood

                        Can you say "over-exposure" ala Emeril? I can't believe i am saying this, but it may actually work. Somehow, she connects with people. I simply don't get it.

                        1. re: Belly DuJour

                          I think many people identify with RR. She doesn't talk down, she is "just folks" like you and me - well maybe not, she's worth a bazillion dollars and can't cook worth a damn but you get the picture. I think Paula Deen appeals to the same demographic sample. If Karl Rove were running the food channel, this is what he would produce.

                    2. Gosh, yes, I agree with you completely. I stopped watching the Food Network as soon as I realized they don't make programs for me (I think I kept hoping they would). Although, A Brown's Good Eats is an exception.

                      Of course the network's advertising targets their market, which is focused on processed and prepared food!!!

                      Note to the executives: I'd also reruns of good food shows(Jeff Smith, please) from back in the day. More imagination, please!

                      1. I agree. The cooking shows on Fine Living have been great lately. Andrea Immer's show is also fresh and I think reall informative. Thanks for speaking up!

                        1. I'm sure this wasn't news to them, to be quite honest. Food TV made a conscious choice to do fewer cooking shows aimed at fine cooking, and more of the so-called crap shows. Clearly they view their current line up as more profitable than doing more straight ahead cooking shows, as you'd see on PBS. There have been many discussions on Chowhound about Gourmet magazine going in the same direction. I think Wine Spectator has done the same thing.

                          When Alton Brown goes off the air (or moves), I'm sure I will never watch Food TV again. My favorite cooking shows are, and have always been, on PBS.

                          So, I wouldn't say you told these execs anything they weren't aware of, and don't expect Food TV to change their format anytime soon.

                          1. Nicely put. I am afraid that given the opportunity I would have said something much, much ruder.

                            Food TV offers nothing of quality to the home cook. I like Batali but those are old shows. And although I like the content of Good Eats, that dorky/junk is a waste of my time, even if I have nothing to do.

                            1. I think the bottom line is that there are a lot more people who are turned off by food snobbery than there are food snobs. Somehow, FoodTV has started to pick up a crossover audience and I'm sure they realize there's more money to be made from catering to that audience than exclusively to "foodies." I don't really tune into food network for instruction in or observation of gourmet cooking, and I don't know that this has ever really been their intention. Their successful shows are those which entertain beyond the mere paces and background of food preparation. Is it what I personally find entertaining? Nope, but a lot of people apparently do. I don't consider myself "above" the concept at all...I for one would be extremely interested in a 30-minute-meals type show if it was able to churn out anything that looked or sounded like it would be appetizing. Alton Brown's show appeals to me as a scientist, but my SO finds it incredibly annoying. Personally I think Ham on the Street and Iron Chef are both entertaining enough to watch. So maybe I'm just not educated enough in the ways of good food to understand...but I'm surprised Food Network didn't start moving into dumbed-down "entertainment" programming much sooner.

                              I still don't really understand the appeal of Sandra Lee though. Has anyone else in America ever "created a beautiful tablescape?"

                              1. One of their best people, Anthony Bourdain, jumped ship, and has an excellent hour long show on the Travel Channel.

                                All that's left for me is Good Eats, and Iron Chef America.

                                I'd gladly watch all the missing Iron Chef episodes, the special battles, the ingredients too offensive for americans, and so on. Subtitles would be fine. But no-one seems interesting in putting them out.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: peekpoke

                                  Is it accurate to say that Anthony Bourdain "jumped ship"?

                                  1. re: Darren72

                                    I'd say it was more of a mutual non-admiration society towards the end - he wanted out as much as they didn't want him there, based on the way their format change to insipid, non-interesting shows.

                                  2. re: peekpoke

                                    Andrew Zimmern's new show, entitled BIZARRE FOODS, will start airing in January. If you like Anthony Bourdain, then you will love Andrew's show. His first special had gotten a lot of play on Travel Channel.

                                  3. I totally agree with what everyone says and a round of applause to the original poster, MMRuth. There's no real good shows in Food TV anymore. It's mostly meant to entertain the masses who are interested in food but are not foodies like us Chowhounds.

                                    The only shows I watch these days from Food TV are Good Eats, Iron Chef America (but I like the original Japanese version 10x more), Mario Batali's show and Ina Garten's show, Barefoot Contessa.

                                    Seriously, I don't see any merit to watch Sandra Lee's show (I truly detest using canned foods or packaged mixes of any sort) and I find Rachael Ray pretty annoying too.

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: chocokitty

                                      Sounds like you actually like quite a few shows.

                                      1. re: chocokitty

                                        Those are the shows I watch as well, though I have to confess to watching SL out of some skewed entertainment value. And, I have on occasion made a recipe from RR - tilapia w/ tomatillos. I like Ina Garten - not sure what the poster below means about her being "sloppy" - and I enjoy seeing her house and garden, etc.

                                        1. re: MMRuth

                                          For some reason, my husband who mostly zones out when I'm watching cooking shows, absolutely hates SL with a passion. He starts ranting and raving if I have the food channel on during her show. I'm not sure why. He's not into cooking so it can't be the lack of cooking content.

                                          1. re: cheryl_h

                                            My husband does too - he is completely disparaging about cooks who "cook out of cans" ... but he endured my brief obsession w/ watching her!

                                      2. Ina Garten's the, "Barefoot Contessa" is a sloppy cook who uses dated recipe's. she should not be teaching others how to cook.

                                        1. Honestly, I watch most of these shows for just because there's nothing to watch on TV. It's all empty-minded entertainment.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: chocokitty

                                            could not have been put better chocokitty...

                                          2. In an ideal world, would people here like to watch food shows to learn to cook, learn about food, or just be entertained by shows that are food-related in some way?

                                            Personally, I have never in my life watched a cooking show and then made the dish (I can't even imagine how people used to do it in the days before VCRs). Closest I've ever come to this is looking up a RR recipe for lemonade I saw her make on the Food Network website some time later.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: Franca_A

                                              I like to get recipe ideas. I use cook books in the same way. Good to inspire me! I think that is why I only do real baking around Holiday times. BAking is exact- I need to measure, time it, etc. With cooking, I am able to watch a show, or read a recipe, and tailor it my likes, or to what I have in the cupboard. So, I guess, in an ideal world I would like to learn about food and be entertained. I think Julia, Yan, the Two FAt Ladies, Alton Brown do ( or did) this, to name just a few.