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Dec 8, 2007 05:33 AM

Food Network: Canada vs US?

There has been a lot of grousing about the food network on the board, not least from me. I just took a look at the website for the American network, and something struck me: it seems that the Canadian network is still introducing new *cooking* shows with real chefs, not mere personalities, whereas, from my quick perusal of the website, and the comments made here, that seems not be the case in the US. Here, we've got Heston Blumenthal's In Search of Perfection, Anthony Sedlak doing The Main (good food, but hyperkinetic editing), and Ricardo Larrivee (a Quebec guy who really knows his stuff, but would never fly in the US - his accent is too thick, his linguistic faux pas would be very odd if you are unacquainted with French, his personality too Quebecois).

Is FN Canada doing a better job?

Any thoughts on this? Am I correct, or is this a misperception on my part?

Ciao, hounds.

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  1. My guess is that your right on. If you check out most of the cable TV networks, the top (most informed and informing) shows are done in Canada. That's true from children's shows on PBS, to cooking and decorating shows pretty much across the cable TV board.

    If I could, I would try to make an argument on behalf of U.S. originated shows by citing the writer's strike as a possible detriment, but too bad... Canada's excellence originates long before the WGA started talking about a possible strike.

    Historically, Canada had a real edge financially on production costs, but now, with the crumbling dollar and (gasp!) equality between the Canadian and U.S. dollars, it will be interesting to see if the Canadian edge holds after (when/if) the WGA strike ends.

    Stay tuned!

    1. A few years ago I would've said unequivocally that it's the US FTV that's better. The Canadian one had gone way down hill and although they had more "Cooking" shows, the level of the hosts left something to be desired. Canadian Living Cooks was the worst. The one woman just couldn't string together a sentence to save her life. She was a great cook but a poor TV host. There was also another woman who had a Sara Moulton type show that had an ego like you wouldn't believe. Absolutely ruined what couldve been a good show.

      I really only watch the US FTV now so I can't tell you which is better now. Considering the new US FTV has gone so far down in the ladder.

      PBS is still the way to go but alas, they've moved the best stuff to HD from what I can see and we haven't as yet taken the plunge.


      15 Replies
      1. re: Davwud

        The Sara Moulton wannabe was Christine Cushing, and not only did she have a huge ego, she was often wrong. I suspect that her second banana was the one who did the real work on that show.

        Agreed about Canadian Living Cooks: decent food, bad presenters.

        It's just that this season, FN Canada has introduced some very good new shows that actually address real cooking, which seemed contrary to the general perception on this board. Yesterday's episode of In Search of Perfection (Heston Blumenthal) on steak and salad was fascinating. I'm going to attempt his 24 hour steak with mushroom ketchup. I salivated through the entire episode.

        1. re: hungry_pangolin

          As I said above, I haven't watched FTV Canada in a few years so I couldn't comment on the new shows.
          One other thing that really irritated me was "Chef at Home." Michael Smith is good and all and I loved "The Inn Chef" but the camera angles on C@H bugged the crap out of me.


          1. re: Davwud

            Agreed, Michael Smith is good, great approach to food. Really basic approach with a very learned understanding of technique and just generally gets it. Oh yeah and Ricardo's got chops too. But I gotta say why do they gotta bring in their kids and family all the time, it's so corny.

            But other Cancon?
            French Food Lady - sorry but you are boring and you add little interest to old standards.

            Anna the Splenda Lady - Much better focus now than old show that talked about chocolate or whatever for half an hour.

            The Heat - Just not a well-made show, sorry dude you should know better than to get hair stylin' tips from David Adjey if you're going on TV Mark MacEwen even though you seem like you have a lot to offer and seem like a staight-up guy.

            Restaurant Makeover - I just hate this show and it's stale formula and mall design. Lynn Crawford however needs her own show - most competent and entertaining woman I've seen on TV in a while.

            My main problem is what foreign shows we get in Canada, no Jacques Pepin? No Jamie Oliver? What happened to Kylie Kwong? Keep the Tyler action coming though...

            1. re: Sui_Mai

              Kylie Kwong is back with the My China series - awesome show!

              And those contrived gatherings that the hosts always cook for bug the heck out of me - especially Anna Olson's...blahhhhhh

              1. re: Sui_Mai

                Disagree about French Food at Home. I find her endearing and the recipes are basic but appreciative of good food. I've also made the galette from her show and it's one of my favourite recipes for entertaining.

                1. re: pescatarian

                  "Disagree about French Food at Home. I find her endearing and the recipes are basic but appreciative of good food."

                  Agreed, her show is on Cooking Channel now. I like it a lot.

            2. re: hungry_pangolin

              OMG I sooo want to try his pickled mushrooms nad mushroom ketchup!!

              I think we get a lot more UK shows than the US does as well. not the least on FTV.
              Makes my parents really jealous (they're Brits living in the states)

              1. re: hungry_pangolin

                Christine Cushing still has her own show "Christine Cushing Live", which I can't watch. I think the lady Dave was thinking of on "Canadian Living Cooks" was Elizabeth Baird, who likewise drove me crazy.

                However, the worst - by far, by a mile, by a universe or two - was any show featuring the execrable Ken Kostick. He had two, IIRC, "What's for Dinner?" with a nearly as annoying female host, and another whose name I can't remember where he invited guests. He makes Ms. Ray seem positively enchanting by contrast.

                1. re: KevinB

                  Ken Kostick! What a friggin' meat puppet! And his co-host was Mary Jo Eustace, now best known for having been jilted by her husband, Dean McDermott, in favour of Tori Spelling.

                  Christine Cushing Live is in reruns. No new episodes.

                  1. re: KevinB

                    Seriously, who in the world watches Christine Cushing - and for an hour?!?!

                    1. re: Sui_Mai

                      No-one - that's why it's on at 6 am re-runs.

                      And Sui_Mai - you are on a roll today!

                      1. re: Sui_Mai

                        Thank goodness they took Christine Cushing off the air. I was always astounded that she got a show in the first place. Her responses during Q&A sessions were wrong more often than right and she had such a condescending style.

                        She clearly thought a lot more of herself than the rest of us did. I kept watching thinking I must be missing something but not so much. I don't ever recall seeing anything she made that I'd want to replicate.

                        As for FNC, my frustration comes from not being able to watch shows when they're aired in the US. We always seem to be a season or two behind. Not sure if Sara Moulton is still on FN-US but I used to really enjoy her shows and would take her any day over Laura Calder who seems so pretentious (to me anyway). That said, I hear her show is now being aired in the US though and has been very well received.

                        FNC seems to air a TON of repeats as well. Surely there's room for new programming.

                        1. re: Breadcrumbs

                          Cushing was one of the reasons I hated it when they replaced FN USA with FN Can. Her show was meant to replace "Cooking Live with Sara Moulton" which was quite good. For a few months (as they were gradually slipping in the CanCon and phasing out the American shows) Christine and Sara appeared in the station identification pieces together... "I'm Christine, and I'm Sara, and you're watching Food Network Canada..."

                          Then Sara disappeared from Canadian screens for good.

                      2. re: KevinB

                        mary jo is super hot and hilarious!!! What's for dinner is one of the best cooking shows ever! Even though their food sucks, Mary Jo debassing her uber gay asian cohort is SO hilarious! She's dreamy!!!

                    2. re: Davwud

                      Rest assured (sad to say) that the USA version of FTV has gone downhill in recent years of late as well. The channell was much more appealing in its earlier days, by virtue of its simplicity. It has become too slick, too merchandised, and I knew it was over when they entered the dark tunnel of "reality TV". Really a shame. It held such promise, but I guess it is a "business" and in that respect, a very successful one. But there's a lot less reason to watch these days.

                    3. Food Safari seems to be only shown in Canada, right? I know it's an Australian show but it's my favorite at the moment. They do a lot in a half hour and go to both professional and amateur cooks.

                      I've eyed Blumenthat with suspicion since the fish and chips episode where there was a huge gap between the "perfect" batter and the fish. It's not perfect if it has a big air pocket! I might as well cook the batter and fish separately and layer them.

                      8 Replies
                      1. re: sharonanne

                        I haven't watched enough FN US to make a judgement but I don't think FN Canada is that fantastic - why you ask - two words: Food Jammers

                        That show is an embarrassment. I loathe it.

                        1. re: shana

                          I agree, there are lamentably few shows I tune into on FN Canada, they're either pretty good or God awful (the Food Jammer guys, unfortunately are neither entertaining, witty, or barring that much eye candy).

                          1. re: shana

                            It's true, I don't even know why they keep showing their shows.

                            But does the US get the Thirsty Traveler?
                            One of my favourites.

                            1. re: whackamole

                              We got thirsty traveler 2 years ago, I think on FN. ? Or something like it. Someone on here will know....

                              1. re: whackamole

                                TT comes on Fine Living TV in the US.

                                One show I miss on FTV Canada was The Food Hunter with Pete Luckett. I don't know why that show didn't do well. Engaging host showing the origin of great food. I loved it.


                              2. re: shana

                                Funny... I love that show... not for the food of course but for the DIY stuff that goes with it... and I don't know who pick the music on that show but it is worth watching the show just to listen to it.

                                But then I guess I am a bit of a food geek too...

                              3. re: sharonanne

                                Agreed. I think Food Safari is one of the best shows on FN Canada. Possibly the best.

                                Which doesn’t say too much I guess, since most of their programming has become godawful over the last few years. And from what I understand, FN US is even worse.

                                1. re: sharonanne

                                  I like Food Safari, too, especially it being Austrailian...makes you really listen to what's being said.

                                2. There's also Laura Calder's show, French Food at Home, which doesn't air in the US, I believe.

                                  8 Replies
                                  1. re: xtal

                                    You are right--it doesn't. I caught it when in Toronto a couple of weeks ago, and liked it. She was making various terrines. A couple of "precious" moments but by and large a good, low key demonstration of the food and techniques.

                                    1. re: coney with everything

                                      Really? When I think of what could be done with a show on French food from a young fresh perspective I am gobsmacked by how lam-o this is. Francophiles are obsessives and perfectionists for the most part and this show is so humdrum.

                                      Like seriously - that loopy Parisian font is about as lazy-french as you can get.

                                      1. re: Sui_Mai

                                        I liked it because US FN has zero French cooking shows--it's a classic cuisine and there should be one show about it. Her show was basic enough for novices, which is the FN audience. Jacques Pepin, Julia Child levels of cooking are aspirational; I can't think of one show on US FN which could be considered "aspirational" cooking. Wolfgang Puck's and Jacques Torres' shows didn't last too long...

                                        I will say that I didn't watch the whole show, but the terrines looked fun and do-able. Maybe Rachel Ray can do a show devoted to a 30 minute terrine.

                                    2. re: xtal

                                      Something about the way Laura speaks makes it difficult for me to watch her. I don't know if she's nervous on TV, but she doesn't seem right for the role.

                                      To each their own, though. I'm sure plenty of others love her, if even if it's for her cleavage.

                                      1. re: eller

                                        I find her very knowledgable and fun. I really enjoy the show. She doesn't seem overly canned and sound-byte ready.

                                        1. re: sojo16

                                          I like her also. I also don't think it's too basic as someone mentioned earlier. I am not a basic cook, and I just find that it is simple yes, but in a way that showcases the love of good simple food.

                                          1. re: pescatarian

                                            I don't watch her too often, but I like that she dresses demurely. With her rather impressive embonpoint, if the show was being aired in the US, I'm sure the producer would want her to wear something low-cut like Giada, or something tight with lots of midriff shots, like Nigella.

                                            1. re: FrankD

                                              What? How do you not see her boobage all over the screen in those tight t-shirts she wears?

                                    3. I am in Canada and I like the some of the Canadian shows - French Food at Home, Chef at Home and Ricardo (occasionally - too much cream and butter for my taste).

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: blue bike

                                        I don't mind the recipes and ideas, but I get so distracted by the way Laura Calder talks. She opens her mouth so wide! All you can see is teeth! And there's something with the way she pronounces 't's' that bothers me. I just can't watch.