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FoodNetwork — What's the Right Amount/Kind of Personality?

OK! I guess it's clear most people who love food and cooking think the FoodNetwork has gone somewhere between offkilter and completely obnoxious. And I'm with you there.

But, the truth is, personality *is* a big part of the equation. Personally, I like Alton Brown as much for his personality as his knowledge of food, technique and original delivery. And when people say they can't stand him, I think it's his personality they're talking about.

I suspect the wonderful Sara Moulton would still have a show if she had a little more down home in her. I will also concede that Mario Batalli has a great deal to teach about Italian food and culture. ...but I can't make myself listen to the man. And though I can't imagine myself ever cooking a Paula Deen recipe, I'd love to have a cup of coffee or a beer with her. Conversely, I'd throw darts at Sandra Lee (rather than at her poster) even if she *could* cook.

What's the right sort of personality for a TV cook and how much of it do you want coming through that screen to get you engaged enough to see what they have to offer?

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  1. I have to admit that part of the joy of watching the Food Network is loathing some of the personalities. My granddaughter and I happened on Sandra Lee the other day (I've been home recovering from surgery) and this 11 year old and I had a great half hour making fun of the woman's speech patterns. "The whoooooollllle bottle, Gramma. Not half the bottle, not a cup of wine...the whoooooollllle bottle." Perhaps not the best lesson in tolerance, but funny as all get out.
    And while I love Alton and the guy on Ham in the Street (who's just a goofball, but he's willing to look like a total fool, which I appreciate), I think Bobby Flay is just conceited, yet I watch (and I've loved his restaurants). Mario: a little full of himself, yet I watch (and I've loved his restaurants). Paula: definitely someone I'd love to hang with, but I'd never cook one of her recipes, either. Ina, the Barefoot one--anyone who seems to salivate over their own cooking as much as she does (she's constantly having to swallow) probably has the chops to back up that inane laugh. And I truly can't stand Rachael Ray--on some level, I even blame her for that spelling of the name--yet I watch (and mock, roll my eyes, can't believe what I'm hearing).
    The simple truth is that I'd rather watch someone cooking than...well, almost anything. So, to answer the "market research" part of the question: What's the right sort of personality for a TV cook? I'd say, someone who seems to be having fun cooking.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Elizzie

      I agree with most of your opinions on the "chefs", my only divergence is that I did try Paula Deen's pumpkin pie recipe and I will use it again. The Krispy Kreme bread pudding however....

      What is it about Bobby Flay, I like most of his recipes but can't stand the man himself. He has an unstated arrogance that just rubs me wrong.

      1. re: Scrapironchef

        Remember when he was on Grillin and Chillin? I loved him then. Clearly, pre superstar chef fame! I would watch reruns of that show!

    2. Julia Child, Jacques Pepin, Lidia B., anyone that actually knows how to cook (except Emeril)

      3 Replies
      1. re: faijay

        Emeril nows how to cook? I watched a show of his one time where he couldn't even open an oyster.

        A good general rule for me is not whether the host has the chops to do the recipe without a horde of PAs in the back.

        1. re: Scrapironchef

          I think his "Essence" shows are very well done and clearly explain his recipes. Yes, he knows how to cook.

          1. re: Scrapironchef

            Weren't his earliest FN shows a hoot? SOOOOO stiff, couldn't read cue cards, couldn't demo worth a darn--his food looked terrible as he tried to assemble it. I remember wondering, "WHERE did they find this guy....?" but eventually he started to loosen up, they got him a better set, he started joking with the camera guys, etc.

        2. Entertainment is secondary. I really am only interested in cooking when I am watching a cooking show. Most of them don't actually provide any entertainment anyway, instead they just keep repeating the same superlative over and over. The worst of them all is RR. After a few episodes, I really rather turn the TV off than listening to her. She gives me a headache and I don't even get headaches. Actually, in a different way, I hate "top five" even more. Bobby Rivers makes it very hard for me to keep my food down, listening to him and watching his expressions really make me want to v...t. It's so fake I don't know how he can even stomach himself. Tyler Florence comes across as a very insecure individual. Paula is just too scary. It's not just that her recipes are extremely "rich", but that she seems to go out of her way to make sure it is always way over the top - as if her mission in life is to make as many people as big as possible, like growing farm animals... sorry i think I have gone too far.

          3 Replies
            1. re: mimolette

              I totally agree with you about Bobby Rivers! Ugh...

              1. re: mimolette

                I couldn't agree more with you! I am losing interest with the food network. Paula Deen really gets on my nerves with that forced laugh of hers, and like everyone says her recipes just seem too way over the top. I have to cook for an 87 year old, and between PD and Emeril I just can't hack it.
                I tried many of Sarah Moultons recipes and liked most of them. I watch cooking shows, for the food--not for the celebrity! One reason I rarely watch Emeril. He is simply too much for my stomach to handle. ( so are many of his recipes) Likewise I have to agree Bobby Flay is a little prig. Maybe I'm showing my age, but I'd much rather enjoy reruns of Julia Child, and the Frugal Gourmet ( I have known many a chef, who was a dirty old man ). It matters little.
                Whether they can cook, and present it in a formative manner is all that should be important. Oh while I'm dissing Foodnetwork cooks, how about Giada! She has to be an orthodontists dream. LOL

                Hope my input, wasn't too critical.
                I'm just a cook.

              2. One thing that I have a hard time with is condescension. I think that is my problem with Bobby Flay, Rachel Ray, Bobby Rivers, Sandra Lee, Mario to a certain extent, and Emeril to a certain extent.

                These people condescend in two major ways:
                1) Talking down to people. "Well, EVERYONE knows what a mise en place is..." I put Bobby Flay and Mario in that category.

                2) Dumbing things down, to the point of being insulting. And that is the Rachel Ray/Sandra Lee/Bobby Rivers bunch.

                Alton Brown has that mad scientist glee and enthousiasm that is really cool, like he is sharing this real cool thing with you. Paula is just a down home gal, not prentious at all. Sarah Moulton laughs at herself all the time, which is endearing because it shows a certain humility and gives off a feeling that she is there with us in our struggles in the kitchen. Sincerity, that is the key. And you can't fake it.

                11 Replies
                1. re: Phaedrus

                  I was thinking the other day how much I would love to see Alton Brown do a show that focuses on World Cuisines. I was willing to try his Road Food show, but just wasn't taken with it. Good Eats is the only show left on Food Network that I watch because it is both informative and entertaining. Among the remaining personalities, that Lee woman has got to be half retarded and Bobby Flay and Mario really need to take a step back!

                  I do not want them to overexpose Alton, but I think that his expository approach would be a fantastic way to teach a broad segment of America about different cuisines. Oh and also he should do a project with the Myth Busters guys about Food Myths!!

                  1. re: Kater

                    I am kind of a geek. OK, not kind of, I am. Shows like Unwrapped, The Secret of... was to me, shows of great potential. But the way they use those shows as half hour product placement fests and silliness really turned me off. I would like to see Shirley Corriher or the food anthropologist ladies grab hold of the script writing and shake it out, put some real food facts in the contents and really give us some neat facts about the history of food and some of the science behind it. They probably should host the things but some one who has a modicum of intelligence would be a reat start.

                    1. re: Phaedrus

                      If they aired a robust version of The Secret Life Of hosted by a coherent being, I would watch it!

                    2. re: Phaedrus

                      what happened to sara moulton anyway? i used to like watching her a lot. she seemed really normal, and didn't take herself too seriously.

                      1. re: auberginegal

                        She's no longer in their demographic, according to TFN. They don't want chefs who teach. They want "personalities" who look good.

                        1. re: LindaWhit

                          Look good? FT is attack of the giant heads!

                          1. re: JudiAU

                            Well, obviously some people think they look good - there are those cults out there who revere Giada and Rachael Big-Head Big-Mouths. :-)

                        2. re: auberginegal

                          Of all the chef personalities on this network, she was my favorite. What a shame they've written her off. Who is their demographic these days anyways?

                          1. re: diablita FL

                            Would you believe men from 18 to 34, or something like that? Perhaps the reason for Sandra Lee and Giada and the "girls" hanging out.

                          2. re: auberginegal

                            I too adore Sara Moulton. Every one of her recipes that I tried (and I tried lots!) worked.

                            I believe she has a show on PBS in Boston.


                        3. Jamie Oliver was the best before he became too popular.
                          Charming, Cute and Capable. Before I get skewered, I'm talking about the early shows, The Naked Chef and Pukka Tukka. Yes, they were contrived, but they made for fun watching and they are on tv after all.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: pescatarian

                            I liked Jamie Oliver too but had trouble understanding him sometime. Does he has a lisp or something? Enjoyed seeing his mates come over for dinner--reminds me of Ina, except in England.

                          2. I think it helps if you're a little self-deprecating (Alton Brown and Tony Bourdain), it hurts if you're a sped-up maniac (Rachel Ray) or an obnoxious jackass (Gordon Ramsey and Bobby Flay) or someone who always has to be "on" (Emeril) or someone who really needs to have sex once in a while (Charlie Trotter).

                            It doesn't help either if your crew won't hold the camera still (Jamie Oliver), and thinks rapid-fire jumpcuts and dutch angles and blur focuses, camera techniques that were passe when MTV started, are really hip and edgy. I really hope Nigella Lawson's show has a crew who knows how to use camera equipment. Just focus on the food and her amazing bod and you'll have one dedicated customer here.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: monkeyrotica

                              Just send Giada's crew over to Nigella and all will be well.

                              Cleavage, MORE CLEAVAGE!!!!!!!

                            2. Interesting story in today's WSJ about Food Network. Profits & audience continue to grow but rating are stalling. Aud for Emeril was down 7%...Bobby Flay down 10%...Iron Chef down 11%. Also, more competition via Top Chef, Anthony Bourdain & a few more. So they are hyping Paula Deen (her show up +25%) big time in an attempt to fend off competition & attract a younger aud. They think her sense of humor & unruly personality will skew younger.

                              8 Replies
                              1. re: fauchon

                                Could you please post the article or provide a link? I'm not a subscriber so I can't get to it on their website.


                                1. re: mi2ca2mi

                                  Sorry but I don't have access to the on-line edition just the actual newspaper. Perhaps someone else will be able to provide the link.

                                  1. re: mi2ca2mi

                                    Get they to a public library. Many public libraries provide access to factiva or proquest through library card-accessible databses which provide access to WSJ.

                                      1. re: ChrisZ

                                        You do. The WSJ requires two subscriptions...one for the actual print version, another for on-line.

                                    1. re: fauchon

                                      I have no idea why they think PD would skew the younger demo.

                                      1. re: fascfoo

                                        I couldn't agree more...I'm just quoting the article.

                                        1. re: fascfoo

                                          I think they may be on to something my little one will not take his eyes off the screen when Paula is on and my 30 year old hubby has said since we met her in 1999 that she is the only woman he would ever leave me for!LOL!I think her bawdy since of humor helps her.

                                      2. Michael Chiarello is absolutely perfect for my senses. I Also like Giada. Both are enthusiastic about cooking, and talented.

                                        6 Replies
                                        1. re: Funwithfood

                                          I agree that Michael C. has talent, but he comes across a tad angry and arrogant in his show. I just think "This is not someone I would want to work with or be my boss."

                                          1. re: gloriousfood

                                            Funny how people can have such different reactions to people...he seems kind, down-to-earth and patient to me.

                                            1. re: Funwithfood

                                              Me too. I always thought he was one of the most even keeled and sober tempered personalities on the FN.

                                              1. re: Funwithfood

                                                I agree that it's funny how people have different reactions to people--I also find him arrogant and annoying, and his overuse, and, often misuse of the word "caramelize", as well as his hand gestures make me as irritated as Giada's facial expression when she (frequently) uses the word "creamy", in a creepy kind of way...

                                                1. re: Marge

                                                  agree about Giada's creepy delivery of certain terms, her growling mmmm when she eats chocolate and the REALLY, REALLY disgusting sloshing noises they amplify when she's stirring pasta. Sounds like my dog when he's licking himself clean. It makes me very uncomfortable.

                                            2. re: Funwithfood

                                              I agree... I love Michael and Giada. I could definitely hang out in the kitchen with Michael and pick his meyer lemons for him... my fiance says I would leave him for Michael! ;-)

                                            3. First answer: oddly shaped fake breasts and dental veneers.

                                              Second answer: A personality equiv. of the price is right lady. No skill, no talent, and an ability to smile BIG BIG BIG.

                                              1. I like watching Good Eats and Ham on the Street. Its interesting, quirky, and fun. I used to hate watching Emeril, too much BAM and too many ingredients in his food. I like to watch him now, he has the right personality now, never do I hear the BAM anymore, his cooking seems a little bit more toned down but I still haven't tried it. I like watching him now though.

                                                Rachel Ray talks too much with her hands and has way too much energy. It irritates me. I focus more on her hands than her food. Sandra Lee has great ideas that are interesting to watch the ideas, but I'm not a fan of the semi-homemade, and probably will never do one of her recipes. I love watching Giada, but I hate how she has to pronounce everything perfectly, that almost turns me off. I made a few of her recipes and I'm not impressed though. I can't get myself to watch Molto Mario. Too much talking, too cocky, no personality, all information.

                                                I like Barefoot Contessa, but she puts me to sleep. I love her for her cooking, but I might as well put her on mute.

                                                1. His Essence of Emeril show, where it was just him in a kitchen with a crew and no audience, used to be quite watchable. Now, it's just like the audience show, playing to the camera, moronic remarks. Again, he's always "on" which I find grating.

                                                  I saw some shows he was on before he became mega-famous (Great Chefs of New Orleans, Julia Child Cooking with Master Chefs). He actually seemed really professional and had some interesting things to say about the food.

                                                  I actually find Mario quite watchable. He's focused on the food, the process of preparation, the history, background stuff I'm interested in. His personality doesn't really get in the way, at least to me.

                                                  And he gets some interesting guests. Tony Bourdain was on once, didn't say much. Just seemed to be sitting there thinking, "C'mon! We know the smoking point of butter! Hurry up with the food!"

                                                  1. Tough crowd! I enjoy watching Mario and Tony Bourdain- they seem like they love what they do/eat and that gets passed along to the viewer. I also like Giada- I have one of her cookbooks and have made sensational meals from it- to rave reviews. I guess TV pesonalities can be like a box of assorted chocolates, there's something for everyone (if you like chocolate)...

                                                    1. RE: Jamie Oliver's accent. Brits ridicule him for overdoing what they call his "Mockney" accent (the Jamie-haters refer to him as "the Mockney tw@t"). But he's got good ideas and fine technique, and he makes what he does in the kitchen look like fun.

                                                      Me, I'm mad for Nigella Lawson. What she lacks in technique (and after all, she's not a trained chef) she makes up for in keen intelligence, saucy wit and sensuality. And really-- when she turns it on, she's the most stunningly beautiful woman on TV. Giada's a cutie, no question, but Nigella's All Woman. And that makes for Delicious TV.

                                                      1. Ah, TV chefs and hosts...sort of like underwear, everyone has a different preference. In the TV biz, part of "TVQ" (a gauge or score of likeability, friendliness, familar, etc.) is how one feels about someone (on TV) being a guest in your house. Given everyone has a different house and taste...pretty wide variations.

                                                        The question I'd ask myself, of the chefs/hosts on the tube, who would I want to have dinner with?

                                                        My List:

                                                        Alton Brown - nice enough guy but no art/feel, uber geek. Great info, no flavor. Not bad as Iron Chef America's host. (I'd have lunch with him a burger joint and his info would be great...dinner, no.)

                                                        Rachel Ray - I get the feeling she likes being on TV but doesn't really like food. If she says, "mmmmm delish" one more time I'll scream. (no dinner...ever)

                                                        Marc Summers - harmless yet creepy (no dinner or candy)

                                                        Bobby Flay - someone take him down, arrogant weenie, surprised no one has punched on his road travels. (no dinner)

                                                        Emeril - never gotten past 10 minutes of watching his show. The "bam" stuff is wrestlin' stuff. (no dinner)

                                                        Giada - cute as hell but her perkiness could poke an eye out. Dial it down 25% and I think she'd be in the sweet spot. (dinner, for sure if she'd stop smiling for a minute)

                                                        Anthony Bourdain - couldn't get past the first chapter of "KC" (didn't want to spend a week with this guy) yet on TV, surprisingly charming and human and even humble. Can't watch him all the time but he seems "real" and that's a plus. (dinner, certainly but only somewhere weird or far out)

                                                        Jacque Pepin - a little dry solo but with his daughter on "Cooking with Claudine" he shows some wry personality. Great mix really...if his daugther can't cook then you feel better and of course he knows what he's doing. (dinner, definately)

                                                        Julia Childs - as a kid I thought she was weird but as I get older I appreciate his ability to host and guide you gently. (dinner, definately)

                                                        Martin Yan - some of his cornball humor is weird but he has a great relationship with the camera. His newer stuff where he travels is very good...a mellower less hyper Martin. (dinner, on the road)

                                                        Lidia Bastianich - the real deal in my book. She like food and you can tell when she tastes. The show is a little slow but it suits her well. (dinner, definately)

                                                        A side note: in the Wall Street Journal article -- very interesting stuff. Hopefully it will break the FN formula of Flay and company.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: ML8000

                                                          Re Giada, if you see her first series of shows, she doesn't smile at all. Apparently she found the whole exercise tedious and frustrating.

                                                          I'm sure in "real life" she doesn't smile as often as she does on her current shows. Remember, this is show business, and there is a Director...

                                                        2. My new favorite is Daisy from Daisy cooks...usually on PBS. Not annoying, down to earth, tells a good story about the food she is cooking and I always want to make what she prepares. I love latino cuisine.

                                                          I also love Americas Test Kitchen and Lidia (Daisy used to work for Lidia).

                                                          I despise R. Ray so much and have my doubts about Oprah now too...seeing she is the reason RR is getting her own talk show. I wonder if RR would be able to talk if someone tied her hands behind her back..lol. And those faces she makes after she tastes the food on $40 a Day. I just can't stand it, but yes, when there is nothing else on I find myself watching and cringing. Who says EVOO....is it so difficult to say Olive Oil. UGH!!!!

                                                          My dad feels as much despise toward Paula. Everytime she says BUTT-AH I look at his face and crack up. I do think someone at the Network has talked to her about this as recently her accent has improved somewhat.

                                                          4 Replies
                                                          1. re: jenniebnyc

                                                            THe two women from ATK deserve their own shows, they clearly know what they are doing and love food.

                                                            1. re: Scrapironchef

                                                              ATK could stand to lose the guy with the bow tie.

                                                              1. re: Withnail42

                                                                Another good show is Everyday Food...it's a Martha Stewart show and a bit boring, but I like their methods and the food they cook. They also sell an Everyday Food magazine (more like a booklet) near the checkout at the grocery store which I like to buy as well.

                                                                1. re: Withnail42

                                                                  The "guy with the bow tie" is Christopher Kimball - founder and editor of Cooks Illustrated. He's the one who got the whole ball rolling so while his delivery may be a bit dry, the show (and magazine) would suffer greatly without him, IMO.

                                                            2. My favorites are Alton Brown,Jacques Pepin,Julia of course and Lida B. I like watching Tony B. but Bobby Flay is so smug and cut back on the cable so i no longer get Food Network.
                                                              Emeril and Racheal Ray are over exposed. By the way I heard this story about Emeril.Back in his restaraunt in New Orleans
                                                              this couple wanted him to do the Bam! deal, and he told them that was for TV.So I imagine in the kitchen he's very serious, and does schick for ratings and cause that's what Food Network wants.

                                                              1. Does anyone get the Rick Bayless PBS show outside of Chicago? Now there's an odd personality, Rachael Ray meets a John Houseman impersonator. Not that there's anything wrong with that...

                                                                3 Replies
                                                                1. re: HankBaldpate

                                                                  In L.A. it only runs on the PBS CreateTV network (digital off air).

                                                                  1. re: HankBaldpate

                                                                    More like he's doing a flamboyant Jack Nickolson act.

                                                                    1. re: uman

                                                                      Nah....he's William Shatner in the kitchen. He's adopted the cadence for sure. Dramatic....pause....when talking....about.........chipotles.

                                                                  2. I'm looking forward to catching Duff, the cake baker and I have enjoyed the various cook offs but I'd like to see a show that features 1) culinary grads right out of school, 2)kids who cook teaching other kids and 3) a show that highlights national food programs that support the homeless and working poor. eg: Food pantries, soup kitchens and the many wonderful projects that support world hunger issues exist year round, not just Thanksgiving & Christmas. Don't you think its time for Food Network to think outside the cereal box?

                                                                    1. Nobody mentions Wolfgang Puck? I consider him to be perhaps the best chef of the bunch or, should I say, his cooking style was just the thing for me. It was, however, painful to listen to him. I don't mind the accent - English is also my second language, even if he was an easy target. But all those constant screeching sounds of delight over wonderful smells, beautiful presentations, incredible tastes - I could not stop thinking of him as Arnold's Mini-Me.

                                                                      Rachel Ray, what can I say....well, she was good for a few drinking games with double shots designated for each "yamm-O" and "delish". Needless to say my liver couldn't withstand the onslaught. I was, on the other hand, quite surprised watching some interviews with Emerill, another heavy contributor to my liver woes. Without his studio audience he seems quite introspective, thoughtful, even shy. Bam! So there...

                                                                      1. I was watching some shows on FN when the owner of Commander's Palace came on. She was talking about how shy and introverted Emeril was when he came to work for her. I thought the Essense of Emeril is pretty good, very quiet and very instructional. Like most things in life, it is the loud that get noticed, so I think when people picked up on the BAM thing in the Essence show, the feedback grew to unbelievable proportions.

                                                                        Wolfgang Puck seem unduly and forcefully exuberant. I know, everyone in FN seems that way, but especially Wolfgang. And his motto just drives me nuts.

                                                                        1. sometimes you watch these shows to learn something and sometimes its "food pornography." its all about the colors and processes and mood. thats why i love nigella. i never ever make anything i see on her show but she inspires me to get in the kitchen and have fun.

                                                                          however, that can go too far. and i think thats where giada goes wrong. there is this one photograph in her family dinners book where she has so much boobage that i cant help but feel a little embarassed for her. she's a beautiful talented girl. why doe they feel the need to market her like a playboy bunny?

                                                                          1. I'm probably in the minority of viewers of the Food Network, but for me, it's all about the food; that is, how to cook it, and some history. Which isn't to say I don't prefer certain personalities, but it seems as if that's where FN is heading--all about the chef, with the food relegated to second fiddle.

                                                                            On the Food Network, I enjoy Michael Chiarello, Tyler Florence, Paula Deen, Alton Brown, and Mario Batali, in no particular order.

                                                                            Michael Chiarello: Pros: I heard it's one of the few shows that's actually shot as his place. He's never made something that didn't look absolutely delicious to me, he definitely knows what he's talking about, and he seems like a genuinely nice guy. Cons: Must be nice to have a ginormous kitchen like that--I'd be able to cook for a gazillion people, too; sometimes he's a little too high-end for me, although the whole point of the show is "Easy Entertaining," so it's food for a bunch of people, which is when you want to splurge a little.

                                                                            Tyler Florence: Pros: Of all the food tv dishes I've tried to make at home, I've made the most from his show(s). I made his meatloaf a while back, and it was the best meatloaf I've had in my life. Mostly simple, accessible food. Cons: I think sometimes he gets a little crazy with ingredients--I downloaded a chicken and rice recipe from him a while back, and if I went out and bought every spice and herb he wanted me to use, I wouldn't have been able to make my rent.

                                                                            Paula Deen: Pros: I can't help but laugh at how much butter she uses, and her fondness for deep-frying. I'm just waiting for her to dip her finger in some batter, dip it into her skillet, and start munching on it right there. But I love her for it. There's an unapologetic aspect I can respect there. Plus, the ironware she uses is gorgeous, and the food always looks tasty. Cons: She gets a little storyline-ish (let's go to the store!) and I trail off, and what I love about her (deep-fry EVERYTHING) also leads me to believe that if you ate what she cooked on a regular basis, you'd be on your third heart by now.

                                                                            Alton Brown: Pros: Deeply informative, great technical and historical information, and I love the little skits he works in. Cons: since the whole show is usually devoted to one ingredient, he loses me sometimes. I couldn't give less of a poop about a whole show on gourds or something similar.

                                                                            As for other shows, I don't like Rachael Ray. If you watch enough episodes, you realize she cooks remarkably similar variations of a few dishes over and over again. And sometimes the food just looks gross. A hamburger mixed with a hot dog? You've got to be kidding me. It might not be her fault, but her voice is getting worse--it's not a good thing to be reminded of listening to one of your bronze-skinned, chain-smoking aunts every time she opens her mouth. There's a whole website devoted to hatred of all things RR--it's hilarious how deeply those people despise her, but I certainly don't feel as strongly as them.

                                                                            Giada's show is OK, but there's waaaay too much food porn. Do they digitally enhance the width of her smile when she eats something, and does she have to look like she's performing a sex act every time she gives her marinara a taste? That being said, I respect her love for Nutella, and she's accessible enough that the average schmuck could pull off a few things she has on there. Wait, I didn't mean it like that!

                                                                            Bobby Flay seems like someone I didn't like in high school. Just an arrogant p**ck, if you ask me. He seems to have a lot of street cred among chef-types, but man, I wouldn't want to share a beer with him.

                                                                            Mario Batali's old show where he had a couple people salivating, waiting to eat his food, was pretty cool. I haven't caught much of anything he's been doing recently, but I did read "Heat" by Bill Buford, which shows a whole different side to Mario. Not bad, but just different.

                                                                            As for non-FN personalities, of course I've read everything by Tony Bourdain, and I loved his old Cook's Tour shows. He's a guy I'd definitely love to have a beer with. And when Flay walks over, we'd just roll our eyes and turn our backs to him,, and say "whatever."

                                                                            Here in Boston, our PBS station has Ming Tsai on. "Simply Ming" or something like that. He has a great, even-keeled personality, seems to be well-respected in the chef circles, and makes a lot of cool-looking food that I might attempt someday. His white knives freak me out a little, but he's cool. Lydia Bastianich (sp?) also has a cool show with some old-school Italian dishes.

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: bakingstoned

                                                                              I loved 'Heat' - it was an interesting view of Mario, wasn't it?

                                                                              Can't stand Bobby Flay, love Lydia, Alton Brown, and for some reason, The Hearty Boys. Evrything I've made from the Hearty Boys show has been delicious. I can only watch a little bit of Paula Dean before she gets on my nerves. I can't watch Rick Bayless, either - he has too many strange mannerisms. I like all the American's Test Kitchen shows, kind of like a fancy food Alton Brown in some ways. I credit Jeff Smith with getting me into cooking in the first place. I was in college and caught his show on TV, and that's how it all started for me.

                                                                            2. Of the current cooks on TV, I like Alton Brown the best. He is a little corny, but he seems genuine and I like the explanations behind things. As far as classics go, Pepin, Child, Jeff Smith (before I knew he was a pedophile) and Justin Wilson were the folks that got me watching cooking on TV. I also really enjoy the gret chefs of the world series as well.

                                                                              Billy Bob

                                                                              1. I prefer Alton Brown and Mario Battali to all the others on the network. I want to watch shows about food. Shows with a studio audience and it's own band are not for me. I want to learn about food and the countries and cultures that developed it.

                                                                                Rachel Ray can barely write her name in the ground with the sharpened end of a stick. How she got to be a food "Star" is beyone me. Giada makes good quick meals and is easy on the eyes, but the travel show is just another bad idea.

                                                                                Bobby Flay knows how to grill, but my dog has more talent with BBQ. Add his obnoxious behavior and you just want to reach out and slap him (Bobby that is, not my little buddy).

                                                                                I'd like to see FN bring back some classics. More Julia and Jacque. Hell, I'd even appreciate The Frugal Gourmet. And if they could ever get ahold of "Far Flung Floyd" I might be tempted to watch more of the channel.

                                                                                1. I've finally figured out what the essential divide between "foodies" and the people FoodNetwork is programing for is. FoodNetwork has to sell advertising and "foodies" aren't the people who buy the crap they're pumping. OTOH, people who think Rachel Ray or Sandra Lee can cook will also believe that manufactured food products are worth buying.

                                                                                  Soooooo, I guess it's time for us to give up our frustration and close the book on FoodNetwork. They'll never be about cooking. They'll just have enough people who are to make RR and Half-Baked credible. ...did I just use the word "credible" in the same sentence with the Food Whores? Astounding!

                                                                                  1. When Dave Chappelle comes out with a food network show, I'll start watching again. It's not so farfetched, I mean unlike some of these people he's talented at something.

                                                                                    1. I agree with much of what has been said. Alton Brown is actually witty and not in love with himself and has some knowledge to share. The rest of them talk DOWN so much that it's literally intolerable. There are many ways to teach - that one has never been one of my favorites. So many people I know love food and cooking and literally do not watch the food network, ever, because it's so awful. Doesn't bode well.

                                                                                      I am waiting for Rachael Ray to wear herself out. May it be soon. I bought a box of triscuits and was really pissed off to see her inspid smile on it when I got home.

                                                                                      1. Fun opinions.

                                                                                        I really like Alton Brown's technical stuff, despite the quirky gags; can't get enough of Giada's cleavage (and the cooking is interesting, too.) Michael Chiarelli is always fun, and I've used quite a few of his recipes - always good.

                                                                                        Was a longtime PBS fan of Julia and the Frugal Fruitcake, before he was outed. He was still fine for cooking, but he disappeared without a trace after that happened. I have three or four of his cookbooks, and go back to them from time to time.

                                                                                        Speaking of the Wall Street Journal, they recently carried a review of Paula's "The Lady and Sons" restaurant and... it was one of the most brutal restaurant reviews I've ever read. Apparently, you should go to Burger King instead, if you ever get to Savannah and want good cooking.

                                                                                        As for Rachel Ray, she's just beome like Katie Couric... terminally perky. I really can't stand her anymore. Maybe she needs to show more cleavage.



                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: MikeLM

                                                                                          Before Paula Dean became famous, her restaurant was fabulous. You could make a reservation, get seated, and enjoy wonderful Southern food. Post FN, she moved down the block and opened the current, super-sized version of The Lady and Son's, and the food as well as the enjoyment went all to hell. Now you have to stand outside in the hot Georgia sun for two hours while some pimply faced "hostess" screams out last names at the top their lungs while tour busses of DY's fill your lungs with exhaust. All for the privilege of eating food that you can find at most Cracker Barrels. Don't get me wrong, there's nothing better than authentically prepared Southern food (like she use to serve). However, she has turned her restaurant into an edible amusement park and forgotten what got her to where she is today.

                                                                                          The upside is that it forced me to look seriously for more alternatives when in Savannah, and I have found some real gems. So in that respect, I owe thanks to her. May she keep the DY's on her end of the street, while I happily dine at the other.

                                                                                          1. re: bkhuna

                                                                                            I can't find an antecedent to your "DY" abbreviation. What does it stand for?

                                                                                          2. re: MikeLM

                                                                                            Frugie went into hiding after the whole incident and died a couple of years ago. Sad story.

                                                                                          3. The trouble is most of these people are caricatures. Paul Deen is a great example. She's so over the top, Y'ALL. And her food seems ridiculous to me. I think it's a systemic problem over there. But it must be working for them, I guess. It just seems to be that everything is directed at a second grade audience. It's such a waste.

                                                                                            Rachael Ray has always been too perky for me. "EVOO! Yummy!"

                                                                                            1. It used to be that if any cooking show was on, good or bad, I'd watch it...but with the birth of the Food Network, catching a cooking show on tv just isn't that special. It's kind of like that Friends episode where Chandler and Joey discovered they had free porn and were afraid to turn it off, lest they lose it upon turning it on again.

                                                                                              I love that the Food Network exists with a plethora of offerings and am somewhat afraid that it would disappear if I stopped watching, no matter how sick I am of many of the shows...

                                                                                                Ina Garten
                                                                                                Michael C
                                                                                                Bobby Flay

                                                                                                Rachael Ray (too peppy and rushed and nervous and fake - overdone, everywhere, basic cooking)

                                                                                                Mark Summers

                                                                                                Paula Deen (boring, fatty fat fatness, overdone, too cutesy

                                                                                                1. For me FN hit scraped the bottom when they gave the Deen boys their own show. Nothing original about their show and these mama’s boys are not entertaining in the least. There is a definite lack of personality(ies)in this case.

                                                                                                  1. I've noticed many of the FN holiday shows have grouped their "personalities" together with the exception of Ina Garten. Marion & Gia...Tyler and Paula..a Christmas special with just about every personality of late...even IChef America..

                                                                                                    Why do you think Ina Garten has been absent from these various shows?

                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                    1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                      I think it's because Ina Garten doesn't want to subject herself to having to listen to Paula Deen's cackling....

                                                                                                      But seriously, I've noticed FN is almost trying to keep only "the beautiful" people. Mario can cook, but he isn't much to look at and the same goes for Emril. I'm waiting for Barefoot Contessa to be axed. She's the only one that doesn't seem to be a FN schill.

                                                                                                    2. I like recipes of Tyler Florence (they actually taste good, at least most of them), Alton Brown's as well. I love the lifestyle of Michael Chiarello and Ina Garten, but their recipes don't usually work as well. And Ina's cakes are soooooo simple, can't stand it. Are they supposed to be french? Maybe for a 1st grader in France....
                                                                                                      I don't care for the rest of them, but do admit I occasionally watch some other shows when I have nothing else to do. And yes, sometimes I print a recipe or two when something catches my eye.

                                                                                                      1. If the food looks good, I don't care about the personality.

                                                                                                        Some personalities on the FN have a certain quality about them that they wouldn't need to cook to be on TV. Alton, Emeril, and Paula are in that category.

                                                                                                        Some of them don't have great on-air personalities, but I like their recipes, so I forgive them for that. Those would include Tyler, Ina, and Giada. (Except that I have an anti-Ina thing because I have this anti-Hamptons prejudice). Tyler's Ultimate is very well shot and well-edited to really make the food the star.

                                                                                                        I find Rachael and Sandra unwatchable, but then their food is pretty awful too. They make up for their lack of on-air talent by being too over-the-top and it doesn't seem natural for them. I don't buy their acts.

                                                                                                        Sara and Mario were both a little dry. Mario tended to play to the people he was cooking for rather than for the camera. Sara wasn't totally comfortable on camera either. They both cooked so well I didn't care.

                                                                                                        I will also amend that for Paula, I don't find her appealing anymore either food-wise or personality-wise. Her recipes used to contain stuff that wasn't always drowning in fat and she didn't always play "Horny Crazy Old Lady" on her shows. Now she has become a parody of herself both in her presence and her cooking. It saddens me.

                                                                                                        If you can cook, and demonstrate a recipe in a way that I get it, understand it, and want to make it, then I really don't care if you have star quality in your performance.

                                                                                                        1. Bobby Flay: Of course he comes off as arrogant--he's hugely talented, hugely successful, and therefore hugely confident. I'm not threatened by that, so I like watching him. Of course if he came into MY backyard for a BBQ challenge, his career would soon be over!

                                                                                                          Rachel Ray: Cute as a button, but way over the top with the cliches and gonzo delivery. Have you looked at her magazine? Worth less than the paper on which it's printed.

                                                                                                          Mario Batali: Love the shorts, and I'd love to accompany him on one of his after-hours food fests.

                                                                                                          Emeril: Love him. "Bam" is show business. I've tried a few of his recipes, and the only ones that came out sub-standard were the ones I screwed up.

                                                                                                          Giada: The woman is a goddess. Everything recipe I've tried of her was exquisite and got rave reviews.

                                                                                                          Alton: Totally dig the background info he gives you, but his delivery--especially the dramatic "uhhhs"--are overly theatrical. We know it was rehearsed, just give us the show!

                                                                                                          Bourdain: Awesome. A gentleman, a connoisseur, an adventurer, and an articulate and amusing writer. What more could you ask?

                                                                                                          Andrew Zimmern: Okay, I know I'm on the wrong channel here, but hey. Arrogant, culturally ignorant, and rude. Love the concept, can't stand him.

                                                                                                          Paula Dean: Who cares what's in it--it tastes good! How can you not love that?

                                                                                                          Haven't watched a lot of the others, but my big question is . . . WHEN DOES THE NEW SEASON OF TOP CHEF BEGIN?!?!

                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                          1. re: LordOfTheGrill

                                                                                                            IMHO there simply was no better 'cooking personality' than dear old Floyd. No one ever came close to him. There are maybe hundreds of 'Youtube' vids from his shows.
                                                                                                            Excellent fun. Excellent simple basic 101 demonstrations. Especially needed back then in Britain.
                                                                                                            It was always 100% of the time about the food/time/place. Never about him. One got the idea that he was always just on a 'lark'.....which I'm sure he truly believed.
                                                                                                            If there is a heaven with a place for the best TV cooks he'll have the penthouse suite along with JC bless her bumbling ways.

                                                                                                          2. This is interesting. As far as personality goes. I like the cooking show host who isn't "over the top" in personality b/c I'm watching the show for the food. Ina Garten is one of my faves--while I realize she really bothers a lot of people, her personality is HER. She isn't over-the-top. She's knowledgeable and very simple and basic in her approach. I also liked Tyler Florence a lot as well. He was very specific and had a nice but low-key personality. I did like Two Hot Tamales and Sara Moulton. When Paula Deen first started on FN, she wasn't a cartoon version of herself--she was pretty subdued and very "homey"--over the years she just morphed into an over-the-top and extremely vulgar and annoying person. Rachael Ray was subdued as well and just became unbearable. Giada wasn't so "MAR-SCA-PONE-AYYYY" ish when she started. The issue with FN is that they really started off with pretty decent personality that were like a ballon being filled with air until they burst. I cannot remember the last time I even watched FN>
                                                                                                            OHHH..and I DID love that show with Jim O'Donnell where he traveled all over the country. That was fun!

                                                                                                            1. I guess I am pretty easy to please. I like almost all the personalities on these shows.

                                                                                                              My favorites are Alton Brown because he is funny and knowledgeable, Laura Calder (okay, Cooking Channel, not FN) because she is so sophisticated and charming, and Ina Garten because she is so down-to-earth. And all of the cooks which I have mentioned have recipes which work.

                                                                                                              Another non-FN personality which I like a lot is Jacques Pepin. Like Ina, he's down to earth and has forgotten more about cooking than most of the other cooks put together.

                                                                                                              1. Watch the dates when you read these posts.