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Food Networks new game plan (from the ny times)

there's a very interesting article about the food network in sunday's ny time business section. it details what's next and what's changed (like most of us don't know THAT part).

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/17/bus...

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  1. "Food Network executives said the network has successfully broadened its programming in recent years, with shows like the extreme cake-building reality series “Ace of Cakes” and “Dinner: Impossible,” featuring a chef, Robert Irvine, in extreme cooking challenges."

    Extreme cake-building reality series...that's all you need to know.

    1 Reply
    1. re: mitchrc

      New name is "Fools Network"

    2. i LOVE mario batali's quote:

      “They don’t need me. They have decided they are mass market and they are going after the Wal-Mart crowd,” which he said was “a smart business decision. So they don’t need someone who uses polysyllabic words from other languages.”

      lol! :)

      however, TVFN president brooke johnson apparently has her head up her a**:

      "Ms. Johnson called “Top Chef” a copy of “The Next Food Network Star,” but “without the care about the food content, which we bring to everything we do.”"

      lol again, but for a VERY different reason.

      27 Replies
      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

        Seriously. "Care about the food content..." I almost spewed my Fresca.

        1. re: Fuser

          I was just about to paste the same quote. Are you kidding me?! I think she meant
          "without the care for the Walmart audience". Even the worst chef on Top Chef would outperform any TNFNS in the kitchen.

          Having said that, I'm looking forward to seeing Amy's new show...

        2. re: goodhealthgourmet

          I laughed myself silly at the top chef/NFNS comment. Who does he think he's kidding?! (I just read the article and fired up chowhound to come comment on it too...)

          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

            what, no photo of a bitter mario sneering at the "wal-mart" crowd?

            1. re: alkapal

              Nothing wrong with wanting to go for quality. Doesn't mean you're bitter.

              1. re: Withnail42

                he had the run of his show. fn canceled it? if so, that's cause for bitterness. that's all. i'm getting tired of all this snobbism about the proverbial "wal-mart shoppers". i like quality, too. i think it is snobbism to always assume that all of those "certain people" don't care about quality, or that they cannot appreciate a good cooking program, because of where they shop, or their economic circumstances....

                1. re: alkapal

                  I'm with you on getting weary of the "Walmart shoppers" cracks, and on resisting the urge to fall in with the trend of reducing people to their consumer habits. Unless, of course, we're discussing people who eat only at Applebees. I'm all for cracking at their expense. *heh*

                  1. re: clepro

                    LOL

                    I love Walmart and shop there often. I take no offence to it and nor should I. It's just a generalization and it's a lot more polite that calling them trailer trash or something along those lines (lazy/unemployed couch potatoes) which is who I feel the comment is referring to.

                    DT

                    Edit - On second thought, perhaps what "Walmart crowd" is referring to is the general public period. It's not a slight against anyone, it simply the fact that Walmart cuts a pretty wide swath in it demographic.

                    1. re: Davwud

                      I think the "Walmart Crowd" is being used to mean food-without-much-taste-or-personality that can suit all American consumers, and although I don't generally buy groceries at Walmart myself, I think it is a poor euphemism because although it may be true that Walmart's marketing technique is to be generic and therefore universal, referring to Walmart customers is so often linked to people of a particular socioeconomic status, and therefore these comments are interpreted as being about poor people rather than being about generic offerings.

                      It doesn't really make sense because I know people with quite a bit of money who still prefer supermarket chicken and frozen pizzas, and others who will scrap together their last loose change for aunthetic tapas. But I'm ok with being a food snob... and not with using that as an excuse to be an actual snob.

                      1. re: Adrienne

                        I interpreted the "walmart" quote to mean that Walmart represents products that are cheap, fast, convenient, and often of poorer quality, since this is sacrificed in favor of price. Similar to the new offerings of shows that feature recipes that are cheap, convenient, and fast with little regard to quality or authenticity of ingredients or cooking technique.

                        I personally shop at Walmart regularly to stock up on basics like laundry detergent and toilet paper (since frankly, I'm not looking for exceptional quality in these items, like I would in, say, fresh produce).... and I dont take offense to the comment.

            2. re: goodhealthgourmet

              I LOVE that quote from Batali - sums it up perfectly!!

              1. re: heathermb

                I thought it was a great quote too!

              2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                "Ms. Johnson called “Top Chef” a copy of “The Next Food Network Star,” but “without the care about the food content, which we bring to everything we do.” "
                ~~~~~~~~
                What a crock o' shite! CARE about the food content? Are they freaking kidding me? Let's see - have they looked at the "food content" in the Unwrapped show? I didn't think so. :-/

                And I agree with eternalX - anyone on TC could run rings around the best that TNFNS had to offer.

                1. re: LindaWhit

                  I agree... when I read that comment comparing Top Chef and TNFNS and the food content comment, I thought what a bag full of unwashed Shiitake mushrooms. When is finding a personality about the food? It's about ratings and appealing to the audience.

                  Also another part of the article, "But the network’s total day ratings have dipped to an average of 544,000 people from 580,000 a year ago. More significant, its signature weekend block of instructional programs, known collectively as “In the Kitchen,” has lost 15 percent of its audience in the last year, to 830,000 viewers on average."

                  Now, is this drop due to the fact that FN has moved away from instructional TV towards reality shows and putting pretty faces in front of the camera instead of tried and true chefs?

                  Not all of the shows hosted by chef's were that great... I believe Sursur Lee had an show on FTV which was really dry.

                  Another old show that was amusing to watch was the one with Bobby Flay and another guy with a Southern accent. Bobby always gave that guy condesending looks, at least that was my take.

                  1. re: dave_c

                    Grillin and Chillin--Bobby Flay and Jack McDavid. Jack wore overalls and used a charcoal grill. That was one of the first FN shows I remember.

                    1. re: coney with everything

                      Jack McDavid runs a few places in Philly (or did when I lived there). He was one of the first generation of chefs who worked closely with local farmers and used only locally sourced products when possible. Jack is a totally killer chef, but not exactly Mr. Personality on air. He'a a perfect example of TVFN putting style above substance. Flay can cook (I've staged for him very briefly and eaten in his restaurants in the pre-celebrity days) but he shines in front of the camera. Jack doesn't.

                      Style: 1
                      Substance: 0
                      TVFN; business as usual

                      1. re: rockycat

                        Thanks you two... That was the show.

                        Jack McDavid was definitely awkward in front of the camera, but from what I remember had a bunch of good ideas.

                        I just wanted to sing "He's a little bit country and He's a little bit rock and roll" when I watched those two.

                        1. re: dave_c

                          I always through he was hilarious. He was always giving Bobby Flay a hard time. He always seemed a better chef. Their gig, as I recall, was that Bobby Flay used a gas grill and Jack used charcoal. I liked the whole cracker with an attitude thing he had going.

                2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                  It was worth reading the article just for Mario's Wal-Mart quote! You know if Sandra Lee is demo-ing any her creations, that's where she's doing it. And she can just cross to the other side of the store to get the chochkies she needs for her tablescapes. One of their fork lift operators can give her a lift back home after she's thoroughly sampled those [insert anything]-tinis she keeps mixing up - color to match table runner...

                  1. re: sasha1

                    HA! sasha1 wins the smile of the day award!!!!

                  2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                    I think I swallowed my gum with that comment.

                    BTW which show did come first?

                    1. re: Withnail42

                      the first season of tnfns aired in june '05. tc didn't start until march '06.

                      food network may have gotten there first, but bravo got it RIGHT.

                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                        I agree they are two different shows with a similar theme.

                        But that asinine statement by the FN exec was funny because of it's stupidity. Perhaps this is some insight into their thinking. Maybe they think that they really are putting out quality shows.

                    2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                      That seems a disingenuous comment from the guy who brought us “Mario Tailgates NASCAR Style.” I mean where does he think the folks who tailgate get their equipment or even food? I think he shot himself in the foot with that little witticism.

                      Then again, I guess not, seeing as his book is sold out on Amazon.

                      1. re: MplsM ary

                        “Mario Tailgates NASCAR Style.” I mean where does he think the folks who tailgate get their equipment or even food?
                        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                        I know many people in the New England area who are big Nascar fans, and they're most definitely NOT Walmart shoppers. Fan of one does not necessarily mean fan of the other. (I'm not a fan of either.)

                        1. re: LindaWhit

                          I have no problem with Walmart, but I started becoming dismayed with the FN when Paula Deen got all gussied up. I just knew that was the beginning of the end.

                          I'm sad to see this thread. I hadn't read anything anywhere else about the decline of the FN, and here it is, in black and white, the suits actually believe that the new format is somehow better.

                          I often think, as I surf, quickly, past a channel that I once enjoyed tremendously, that Julia Child would be horrified.

                        2. re: MplsM ary

                          MplsM ary-
                          I'm a big Mario fan, but that is a GREAT question- one he should answer.

                      2. New programming? All I've seen these past few months would qualify it as the Food Rerun Network.

                        1. Looks like the only show on the FN I'll be watching will be Jamie Olivers new show, At Home with Jamie. The whole thing is just another episode in the dumbing down of America.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Gio

                            Agreed! I'm looking forward to Jamie. Other than that'll it'll just be reruns of shows from so long ago I've forgotten the recipes.

                            1. re: NYCkaren

                              We've had At Home with Jamie Oliver on the Canadian Food network since the fall - I'm really enjoying it.

                          2. According to that Mario is still doing Iron Chef... interesting. I also loved his quote.
                            We'll be watching for Jamie Oliver, we've enjoyed his programs in the past.
                            thanks for posting that, it was interesting.

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: jujuthomas

                              They tape Iron Chef episodes a bunch at a time, so it's possible they just have some Batali episodes in the can from whenever the last round of taping was and once they run out of those, no more Iron Chef Mario.

                              1. re: jujuthomas

                                <According to that Mario is still doing Iron Chef... interesting.> Don't hold your breath!

                                1. re: jujuthomas

                                  maybe he's on his way out? isn't that why they did the next iron chef thing? to replace batali?

                                  1. re: soypower

                                    FYI - I just heard from Michael Symon that he recently taped an Iron Chef with Batali for what it's worth. Can't say if he'll leave at the end of a contract or what but Symon was refuting someone who said Batali was leaving the network entirely.

                                  2. re: jujuthomas

                                    I will enjoy Jamie as well. I have two of his books. Plus, when I was younger, like 6 years ago, I wanted to marry him.

                                    gawd.

                                  3. What I don't understand is why they (Food Network executives) think their shift in programming from being geared to people actually interested in food to the mass market has been successful. Their loss in viewership seems to indicate that it hasn't worked. They've lost their core audience. I think Mario really nailed it – except his comment about it being a smart business decision (unless he was being sarcastic).

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Carole

                                      I wonder how helpful that comment will be for Mario seeing how he's in talks with them about another show...

                                    2. can't wait for the new show with MB, but who needs Gwyneth Paltrow?

                                      1. Interesting article, and a very telling, pointed quote from Mr. Batali.

                                        Chowhounders like to bash the direction of FN, but they don't owe us anything -- they're a business and in it to make money. Obviously they feel that their shift toward a mass market brand serves and/or will serve them better in this respect. It is true that they've lost some daytime viewership, but they evidently feel that their gains for "brand" programming will continue to grow and more than make up for the losses. There's a pretty good chance they're right, from an accounting perspective.

                                        But before we all bemoan the "dumbing down of America" there is a silver lining to all this. As the article says, FN is facing competition from all sides. In the wake of FN's success, lots of new food programming has emerged on other networks, some of which targets the Chowhound market much more consciously.

                                        Call it the "Starbucks" effect. Coffee enthusiasts (not speaking as one myself) decry the product that SB offers, but too often miss the big picture: SB's success has created a huge market with opportunities filled by competitors that the enthusiasts may like more. Were it not for SB, the entire coffee market would be much smaller, and even enthusiast-approved establishments might not survive.

                                        Similarly, a mass-market FN creates a large wake. As more competitors look to earn a buck off of food programming, inevitably some will target the chowhound-ish enthusiast market. It's already happening. The Wal-Martization of FN is really not a bad thing for foodie TV, even if that means us foodies won't actually be watching FN.

                                        26 Replies
                                        1. re: thebordella

                                          there is so much young talent in the resturant world. i would love to see foodnetwork go out and bring some of those guys into the mix. they cannot afford to continue to with rachel ray as the prime star. other than bobby flay, who is left that is actually a professional chef with a resturant on the resume????

                                          1. re: cdog

                                            When Emeril was first "discovered" on FN, and "bam!", etc., became catchphrases, FN was the all-Emeril, all the time network--he was totally overexposed. I know I grew tired of the schtick after a (short) while. I think they're in the same position with RR.

                                            I don't think any single person on FN should dominate like RR does, and Emeril did. It's a lazy and relatively cheap way to fil the programming hours, but long term I question the sense of that type of programming.

                                            1. re: cdog

                                              ina garten? paula deen?

                                              1. re: alkapal

                                                Paula "cackling hen" Deen appeals to the Wal Mart crowd but I worry they will find Ina Garten not of their demographic. She is the one FN program I really enjoy watching. She, Alton Brown & Tyler Florence are the only FN hosts whose recipe I enjoy downloading and making.

                                                1. re: Diane in Bexley

                                                  Diane, i shop at wal-mart, yet i like ina garten. am i part of the wal-mart crowd that so many hounds are proud of sneering at? i find the elitism of so many on this board to be truly amazing!

                                                  1. re: alkapal

                                                    Alkie, the "they" I was referring to are the execs at the FN. The demographic they seem to be aiming for is young men who want to ogle women with tight tops and large chests.

                                                    1. re: Diane in Bexley

                                                      gives a new slant on the "boob tube"! ;-O

                                                    2. re: alkapal

                                                      I don't shop at Walmart and I hate Ina Garten because I hate the whole snobby elitist Hamptons thing (although I think she cooks quite well).

                                                      I'm insulted by the Food Network because of the assumptions that it makes about its audience. There are people who love Ina and Walmart. There are people who hate Ina and Walmart. There are people who love Target and hate Alton Brown. There are people who hate Walmart and love Rachael Ray.

                                                      In other words, Food Network makes a lot of assumptions about its audience and I think there is something very elitist about that.

                                                      In FN World, everyone is white.
                                                      In FN World, everyone has children they have to cook for
                                                      In FN World, everyone has no time to cook a meal, but we're not really sure why they have no time.
                                                      In FN World, cuisines outside the western european and American spheres of influence are scary

                                                      1. re: Avalondaughter

                                                        I won't argue whether or not that's true. But whatever their assumptions, it's working for them

                                                        DT

                                                        1. re: Davwud

                                                          I don't know if you read the article but it doesn't seem like things are working so well as evidenced by the declining ratings.

                                                          1. re: KTinNYC

                                                            I must confess, I didn't really read it. Kinda skimmed it and got the gist from people here.

                                                            DT

                                                            1. re: KTinNYC

                                                              I think they're in a classic negative feedback loop. The more they dumb down, the more they drive away the passionate viewers. Ratings get lower, so the network brain trust gets together to see what to do. "More Rachael Ray! More contests! They get the best ratings" More viewers abandon ship and the loop repeats.

                                                              People who don't care too much about food won't care all that much about Food Network. They'll watch but not as avidly as the true foodies did in the beginning. FN becomes just one more channel of "there's nothing on". Frankly, it seems to me that you'd be better off appealing to a small but passionate group that will be engaged in the programming, than a large group of channel surfers who might watch a program or two while doing something else.

                                                              It's kind of like what's happening to newspapers, but that's a discussion for a different board.

                                                              1. re: coney with everything

                                                                >>I think they're in a classic negative feedback loop.

                                                                Good point, coney, but why is it working with all the other channels too? With whom is it working? If the ratings are plummeting, the stations are not exactly restoring their old programming, they're just getting more dumb and more outrageous. How low can they go?

                                                                TNN became SPIKE tv. CourtTV is becoming TruTV, whatever that will be.

                                                                WHO is watching the current screeching, grating version of FN? I know I'm not.

                                                                True on the newspapers as well, but since the rules no longer apply, the newspaper are buying up the television stations. I wonder, who owns the FN?

                                                                1. re: dolores

                                                                  Scripts owns FN among many other things.

                                                                  1. re: dolores

                                                                    I don't think it's just TV--it reminds me of Porsche, who used to make just sports cars for a small passionate group of Porsche fanatics. Then their management decided that they needed to grow beyond that niche--now they have the Cayenne SUV and, soon, the Panamera 4 door sedan. The true believers are annoyed at the loss of their exclusivity and snob appeal, but are they annoyed enough to totally bail on the brand? So far, not really. Any loss is more than offset by the new customers.

                                                                    The FN pioneers (us) are pretty annoyed by the dumbing down of the content, but we don't seem to be totally bailing on FN either--I still watch it at times, but less. But the loss of a few "true believers" is small compared to the new viewers that are happy to see "assembly" shows, or food porn, instead of "cooking" shows.

                                                                    Of course, as the article points out, they may have overplayed their strategy...if you try to be all things to all people, you end up being nothing.

                                                            2. re: Avalondaughter

                                                              bravo, Avalondaughter!

                                                              1. re: Avalondaughter

                                                                I felt so bad for RR the other day when I watched her embarass herself by trying to make Indian food.

                                                        2. re: cdog

                                                          I read that the repulsive and ubiquitous Guy (Tater Tots) Fieri owns a couple of restaurants in No Cal.

                                                          1. re: Sarah

                                                            DITTO ON REPULSIVE

                                                        3. re: thebordella

                                                          These are such good points. I guess it's just human nature to bemoan decline of what was once a really innovative and fresh concept. I supposes it's better to take the "glass half full" look at the phenomenon and look forward.

                                                          1. re: Fuser

                                                            I "supposes" that just because things change, that doesn't mean they are moving forward.

                                                            1. re: Shayna Madel

                                                              Geez, cranky much? Sorry about "supposes," but bitching and moaning never makes anything better, so perhaps trying to look at the positive makes change more palatable, even if you don't agree.
                                                              Some of the people here are making the point that the FN has started a phenomenon of food shows that has spilled over into other networks, which now do them better. It's similar in concept to the economic model in a capitalistic society that says that anything successful will inspire mulitple competitors, who will A. drive the price down and ultimately B. Oversaturate the market and shake out the lesser quality players.
                                                              As the FN seeks to Wal Mart itself -- in the sense of mass marketing, not a criticism of Wal-Mart shoppers, which really isn't Mario's point -- others will step in to take up the slack in the foodie niche, which FN has abandoned.
                                                              So perhaps the FN slide will yield another Julia (who would never have been in the FN stable anyway) elsewhere.
                                                              We can always hope. That's really not a bad thing is it?

                                                              1. re: Fuser

                                                                ok, its not about wal-mart shoppers, just everyone who can't handle his use of polysyllabic words in foreign languages. (i want to make sure this horse is good and dead!) ;-0

                                                                1. re: Fuser

                                                                  Thin skin? It appears to be your opinion that people cannot be unhappy about change, should not commiserate and that change is always positive. Well, you are entitled to your opinion. And it may be true that as a result of the changes at the food network, other channels have, in effect, picked up the slack. But this thread started out as a discussion on what the Food Network sees as its own future, not what those changes have resulted in elsewhere. I'm pretty sure that the execs didn't give cooking-obsessed viewers much of a thought while figuring out how to fill their coffers more fully. I highly doubt that they figured that other food shows (or reruns of old food shows) would pop up on other networks to take the place of the type of shows that the Food Network has cast into the wind. But one thing we can agree on--we can only hope that the slide would yield another Julia!

                                                            2. re: thebordella

                                                              Well said, thebordella. We indeed should be happy about the effect they've had.

                                                              1. re: thebordella

                                                                I am 100% with you (Thebordella). More approachable versions may water down the entire pool, but they also make the original literally more accessible. I love coffee houses, and they are definitely more popular everywhere thanks to Starbucks. And I love cooking shows, and they have cropped up thanks to FN -- though I do wish it were easier to locate "true" cooking shows. Maybe there's a website somewhere that someone has organized with a tv-guide for real foodie tv.

                                                              2. Before all of CH loses entire faith in FN programming... good boys and girls get a Christmas Day Marathon of Anthony Bourdain's "Cook's Tour"!
                                                                FN will also rebroadcast Bourdain beginning Jan 8th 2008.
                                                                http://money.cnn.com/news/newsfeeds/a...

                                                                Yes! I read that press release with some disbelief, double checking the publish date and source in hopes to not have been duped by an Onion piece. heh. In this article Tuschman on Bourdain,
                                                                "Anthony Bourdain is a passionate foodie who has amazing stories to share as he takes viewers on a unique tour of our planet," said Tuschman. "We look forward to introducing new viewers to this memorable Food Network series and know they will enjoy Anthony's unique voice and unforgettable adventures."

                                                                I am very pleased with this decision. Reruns are perfectly okay with me.

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: ilny

                                                                  This is not the first time FN has done a marathon with Chef Bourdain. I think the last one was around Thanksgiving time. Always a treat to see.

                                                                2. Food Network executives assert that Mr. Lagasse, who declined to comment, remains a valued member of the family. “All good things come to an end, and it was time to do something new,” said Brooke Johnson, the network’s president. “Right now, we’re figuring out what that something new is,” she said, noting that Mr. Lagasse’s “Essence of Emeril” on the network remains in production.

                                                                  --They're canceling a show and then figuring out what new to put in its place? Interesting.

                                                                  Jon Rosen, senior vice president at the William Morris Agency, who represents Ms. Ray, said the cutback will “make her happier and well-rested and enable her to take a breath and concentrate on her total brand a little more.”

                                                                  --So she's making 20 fewer in-studio shows, but 13 travel oriented shows I am guessing by the title including the word "vacation," and that is making her more well-rested? Makes perfect sense to me.

                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                  1. re: Shayna Madel

                                                                    >They're canceling a show and then figuring out what new to put in its place?

                                                                    Sounds like a plan to me. Not.

                                                                    1. re: Cpt Wafer

                                                                      My guess is that the new contract they offered Emeril gave them a cut of his merchandising deals, and he turned it down. He doesn't need them to sell his name, so why give them a cut? The departure of the "old guard" makes more sense now.

                                                                    2. re: Shayna Madel

                                                                      Doesn't make any mention of the other two (I think) shows she's had/has on the Food Network which I think are $40 a Day and Rachel Ray's Tasty Travels (is that the one with celebrities?). Perhaps they've cut those out entirely or something?

                                                                      1. re: Shayna Madel

                                                                        >Jon Rosen, senior vice president at the William Morris Agency, who represents Ms. Ray, said the cutback will “make her happier and well-rested and enable her to take a breath and concentrate on her total brand a little more.”

                                                                        Since I see her face on TV oh about every 10 minutes with those Dunkin Donuts commercials and can't get through an isle of the supermarket without seeing her face on some product or another, I don't see how it would be possible to concentrate on her "total brand" any more.

                                                                      2. Seems to me that FN got greedy with the new batch of celebrities that didn't know any better and are taking bigger and bigger cuts of their merchandising. The original celebs have made cookbooks and merch on their own and don't need FN so the deals went sour. Just my opinion.

                                                                        1. I was beginning to think that they came to their senses when they brought back Jamie Oliver. Blah, do they really need another Rachael Ray/traveling show? I'd rather watch the shows on PBS and Onnetworks.com (with Sam Mason, "Stump the Chef," etc.)

                                                                          6 Replies
                                                                          1. re: thesu

                                                                            Another Rachael Ray traveling show, "The Joys of Tipping 10% or less - Do you want some Cheezits with that?"

                                                                            1. re: dave_c

                                                                              no kidding. It's amazing how everything she eats, whether it is bisquick pancakes with aunt jemima syrup or a mar's bar is YUMMO and MMMmmm delicious!

                                                                              1. re: dave_c

                                                                                I forget which No Reservations it was but Bourdain asked the waitress if RR had been there, she confirmed it and then he asked how much did she tip, she said:"No comment", laughed and got out of camera range really quickly.

                                                                                1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                  It was the one where he visited South Carolina/Charleston. It was rebroadcast just last night.

                                                                                  1. re: Roo

                                                                                    I caught part of that show last night... someone off camera did say 10%. Anthony Bourdain gave the camera a look and said something to the effect, "Rachael. 10%? Come on now."

                                                                                    Priceless!

                                                                                    1. re: Roo

                                                                                      Haha, I just got a kick reading this. Thats food networks tipping allowance and nothing to do with Rachel. And maybe thats how much they want to pay these amateurs on TV. Hence the reason they are canning the ones with big checks.

                                                                              2. Anyone else notice the little blurb about FN wanting to own the product endorsement deals of its "talent" could this be part of the grand scheme, along with the need to appeal to the Wal-Mart set, that motivated their descendance into pap-dom?

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                  One thing that almost everyone here can agree on is that it's all about the almighty dollar. Yeah right, the talent is "happy with their deals." Look, I am sure the deals are not take it or leave it, but It's not as if there are that many options for the "chefs" out there in new food programming land.

                                                                                2. Great article, but I couldn't help but notice they kept referring to Rachel Ray as "Ms. Ray"...so I guess the divorce rumors are true?

                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: Bunson

                                                                                    most married women who keep their maiden names for profession [or other] reasons, go by ms.

                                                                                    1. re: Bunson

                                                                                      That's also a NYTimes style issue. They have their own rules for how the refer to individuals and I think goodhealthgourmet hit on the key point; Mrs. would only be appropriate if she was using her husband's name.

                                                                                      No clue about any divorce rumors one way or another, I only know a few things about the times.

                                                                                    2. Re: Jamie At Home

                                                                                      I'm very intrigued by the teaser spots that show Jamie pulling gorgeous (yellow!) home-grown carrots out of the ground and shaking the dirt off before heading into the kitchen.

                                                                                      Now, that's MY kind of cooking show. I love his enthusiasm which isn't the smarmy type of Ms Ray.

                                                                                      Noted with relief they didn't mention any more team "championship" competitions like the candy/cake series. UGH.

                                                                                      10 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: toodie jane

                                                                                        I'm so glad to see how many of your like Jamie Oliver. I have all of his cookbooks, and I recently acquired several of his DVDs, among them HAPPY DAYS TOUR, a stage show that he took around the U.K. It takes about 10 minutes to warm up to the DVD, but man, is he dynamite! I've seldom seen any program that captured the raw energy required of a chef. Anyone else seen this?

                                                                                        1. re: Tom Steele

                                                                                          I'm not a big JO fan but I really had to admire his getting into the public school system to work with kids and try to provide them with a healthy lunch.

                                                                                          He will always be in good stead in my books.

                                                                                          DT

                                                                                          1. re: Davwud

                                                                                            He also started a hugely successful restaurant in London, called Fifteen, where he trained disadvataged young people to work in a restaurant. More Fifteens have opened around Europe and in Australia. I think he's pretty wonderful, and like him or not, he's what they call "good television."

                                                                                            1. re: Tom Steele

                                                                                              Agreed.

                                                                                              From what I understand, JO had a pretty rough life until he stepped into a kitchen. It's nice to see someone who didn't turn their back on their past.

                                                                                              DT

                                                                                              1. re: Davwud

                                                                                                Jamie Oliver grew up solidly middle class. His Mom and Dad ran a pub in a very respectable area.

                                                                                                1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                                  I was under the impression he was in trouble with the law as a youngster

                                                                                                  DT

                                                                                                  1. re: Davwud

                                                                                                    I've never seen any mention of this. As far as I know Jamie grew up cooking in his old man's pub. He became famous quite young so I doubt he was ever a hooligan. His cockney accent is a total put on by the way.

                                                                                                    1. re: Davwud

                                                                                                      Davwud: you may be confusing him with gordon ramsay.

                                                                                                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                        You may be right.

                                                                                                        I just seem to remember a show where he went back to a reform school that he went to as a kid to teach some of them how to cook.
                                                                                                        Now that you mention Ramsay, I think that may be the case.

                                                                                                        My mistake.

                                                                                                        DT

                                                                                                        1. re: Davwud

                                                                                                          I’m pretty certain Gordo was never in reform school either.

                                                                                                          I’d be willing to bet you are thinking of the series documenting the creation on Jamie’s opening of his restaurant, 15. The concept was that JO would train 15 underprivileged teens how to cook and then work in the newly opened restaurant.

                                                                                        2. If FN is really "expanding" its programing, maybe now we will finally see Black, Hispanic and/or Asian chef/hosts! This might actually increase their ratings and make the channel more interesting as it is currently sinking in a sea of bland inanity. For fifty reasons why Paula Dean is no Edna Lewis, read the late, great chef's posthumously published essay in this month's Gourmet..abundance without a hint of excess.

                                                                                          1. I think the NY Times might have found the sticking point. FN has created all these celebrity chefs (Emeril, Mario, et al) and isn't reaping the success they are sowing like they feel they should. They aren't seeing many of the celebrities they helped reach celebrity status share their wealth. Alas, in the end, it comes down to money.

                                                                                            It's a shame though, because the people I watched on FN taught me to love to cook more, even though not much of how to cook. Bobby Flay, I find Throwdown entertaining, Emeril Live, entertaining, Palua Dean, entertaining, Alton Brown, entertaining, Giada, entertaining eye candy (though she can cook italian). FN became all about entertaining with the chef as the star, not so much the food. Kind of ironic too, the one I like to watch the most as far as I know, doesn't own a restaurant, Alton Brown. I like how he mixes (even though corny) education and food. I like the concept, a single ingredient or food with some education behind it. If it weren't for him, I probably wouldn't watch Iron Chef. Some of his tips are great, like using a heating pad as a warmer for waffles or french toast.

                                                                                            Other shows I just find boring or annoying. Simply Delciouso, 30 minute meals fall into this category. 30 Minute Meals is like watching a human pinball machine and dizzying. And to think it really only takes her 10 hours to do a show that shows you how to cook a meal in under 30 minutes. What ticks me off about $40 a day is how Rachael Ray tips. Rather I should say how she doesn't tip. I get emabrrased and annoyed when I see her tipping so little so she can stay under that $40 mark. I guess that FN feels the servers will make it up with the increased business the establishment will get after the exposure on the show. I like the food content on Everyday Italian, and it is everyday food. But the diffusion on the lens, the cleavage and the way they "sex up" the show just turns me off it. I can just look up a recipe from Giada on the website.

                                                                                            Of all the FN chefs, I would probably only eat at Paula Dean's in Savannah, just to try the fried chicken, Emeril, only in New Orleans where it's probably the best of all of his places even though I don't like his idea of "essence" where almost everything has to have some hot spice in it. Bobby Flay I'll pass on since everything seems to be cooked with some hot spice or another, though I could be persuaded to try Bobby Flay's Steak at the Borgata Casino. The guy would probably put chipoltes in vanilla ice cream. Same thing with Guy Fieri. Why do some of these chefs think everything needs to have some hot spice or vegetable added to it? I have eaten at one of Mario's and it was good, but pricey. I think I probably had one of his Chicken Parm sandwiches back when I was a student at Rutgers Univ. when he was in the kitchen at a restaurant in New Brunswick, NJ.

                                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: LoveFoodTV

                                                                                              Good points, LoveFoodTV. Did you say Mario Batali made a chicken parm sandwich!!!!??? LOL, there was a big discussion at another thread on how chicken parm is not Italian! Funny. I like it and don't really care what it is, but funny all the same.

                                                                                              I don't like the cleavage shots -- I doubt if female chefs wear WonderBras, do they?

                                                                                              I don't like Paula Deen anymore, she is too much of a Rachel Ray wannabee.

                                                                                              However, you DID mention one of my very favorites, before they forced him to take to the road on a motorcycle. Poor Alton, like a trained seal.

                                                                                              Alton Brown had one of THE funniest hours in FN television. It was a takeoff on Tom Hank's movie 'Castaway' and had Alton cooking on a deserted island, talking of course to a coconut head. I always used to pause for Alton, now not so much.

                                                                                              It's a shame, but not surprising. All the cable stations are now about money.

                                                                                              1. re: dolores

                                                                                                Was there ever a time when tv, network or cable, wasn't about making money?

                                                                                                1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                                  No, but perhaps cable in the 1980s was more about experimenting with television, and less about copying every other show that made a buck?

                                                                                                  The FN didn't 'need' to get into challenges and to program less cooking, anymore than BRAVO and the HISTORY channel needed to dumb down their programs. But they did, and now I imagine they're financially successful.

                                                                                              2. re: LoveFoodTV

                                                                                                My personal feeling on spice in food is a bit of tingle on your tongue wakes up your taste buds. They are more sensitive. The thing is, it's a small window and it's different for everyone. So you pretty much have to do it yourself.

                                                                                                DT

                                                                                              3. Great debate here on the thread.
                                                                                                The Food Network is a lifestyle channel now, and I actually like some of it.
                                                                                                Giada's weekends, Guy's show with the diners and dives. Cooking instruction? I watch America's Test Kitchen or Rick Bayless for that...

                                                                                                10 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: JCap

                                                                                                  Ooooooooooo - Rick Bayless! He's so soft-spoken and effortless. I can't get enough of him and Lidia B. Even though they're intelligent and funny, I find Anthony too macho and Alton too fussy. Just MHO.

                                                                                                  1. re: JCap

                                                                                                    Exactly JCap! If I see one more episode of Marc Summers showing us how they make Hostess Twinkies or Wrigley's bubble gum I'll foam at the mouth. The best cooking shows I think are on PBS (Lydia, Fast Food My Way with Jaques Pepin, America's Test Kitchen's etc. Also the American Life Network used to have that Embassy Chef show...) OK, RR is a lousy tipper but why doesn't she, Sandra Lee or Ms. Cleavage Giada ever wear hair nets? Because That's Not Entertainment! Emeril? I won't miss him wiping his nose with his left hand at least twice a show and then grabbing a piece of chicken to fry. Hey, there is a towel draped around your shoulder big guy. The FN is Lake Wobegone: All the dishes are above average and the only person of color is Doc Gibbs and his bandmates.

                                                                                                    1. re: scoopG

                                                                                                      I remember ONE chef, from a looong time ago, who was black. I don't remember his name, but I do remember I liked his show.

                                                                                                      Amazing, now that you mention it, that there is NO diversity, either in race or in personality, in the channel anymore.

                                                                                                      1. re: dolores

                                                                                                        Curtis Aikens (who is black) used to be on FN with a vegetarian show (I have a cookbook).

                                                                                                        1. re: coney with everything

                                                                                                          That's him! Thanks, coney. I liked his show.

                                                                                                        2. re: dolores

                                                                                                          In a thread a long time ago I lamented pretty much the same thing. Not so much as a equal opportunity issue but more of a "Why don't they have a Jamaican come on and do a show on Island foods. A French person do French food. An African do some African cooking" kinda thing. They could do a one hour episode a week and have a chef/home cook who is excellent at their craft come on and do foods from around the world.
                                                                                                          Not "Emeril's tribute to Madagascar foods."

                                                                                                          If you know what I'm saying

                                                                                                          DT

                                                                                                          1. re: Davwud

                                                                                                            I know EXACTLY what you are saying Davwud. I used to watch Emeril Live pretty often until he did a Chinese food episode. I went through the stages: uncontrolled laughter, denial, anger, furstration the whole bit. He is such a great chef, why make him do stuff that he knows nothing about?

                                                                                                            Ming Tsai did a great job of explaining the why's and the how's of Chinese culinary history. Martin Yan knows a lot but has become a caricature of himself, the laughing Chinaman schtick was old 20 years ago. I wish he would do a serious Chinese cuisine show with all the history and the techniques.

                                                                                                            1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                                              Ming Tsai's show is still floating around somewhere--I'd catch it every now and then by chance. I like his mix of East-West cooking, which is expected given his global experiences. I met him once, and let me tell you, his show does not do justice to his personality. The man has a fantastic sense of humor.

                                                                                                              Have you seen Kylie Kwong on the Discover channel? IMO, she makes cooking Chinese food appear way more complicated than it has to be, and I am never encouraged to attempt any of her dishes (contrary to Martin Yan, who made Chinese cooking less "mysterious" and more accessible). Plus, her show is filled with all these moody shots of her staring at god knows what, which I find both distracting and annoying when I used to watch her.

                                                                                                              Martin Yan had much potential to educate people about Chinese food, but, as you said, his schtick became so thin that I was embarrassed to watch him.

                                                                                                              1. re: gloriousfood

                                                                                                                You can get Ming Tsai's SIMPLY MING on DVD, in a three-disc boxed set. It's terrific!

                                                                                                                1. re: Tom Steele

                                                                                                                  simply ming is on PBS here in los angeles.

                                                                                                    2. Wow this is some excellent discussion!!

                                                                                                      In looking for a food analogy I think we've seen what came first, the stars or the FN. IMHO it was the stars that made the food network what it is today although without doubt the FN made them superstars. Even the non-chefs RR and Alton brought something to the network. They weren't their creations. The FN was not able to cash in on the rise of its most famous personalities and has now decided to create their own.

                                                                                                      Here is my concern and I'd be interested in what others think. Can there be other superstars in the food world that will NOT be indebted to the FN? Is anyone else afraid that the homogenization of the FN will lead to medicocracy as more chefs and cooks try to emulate what they see on FN?

                                                                                                      PS My daughters and I love Ace of Cakes but that could be on any network which I think is the problem with their programming.

                                                                                                      6 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: MaryKatesMom

                                                                                                        It was the viewers that made FN what it is today. Ironically they aren't the ones FN is interested in retaining. People were drawn in by interesting cooking shows. FN then opted to go for a broader audience and dumbed things down to it's current sad level.

                                                                                                        True RR was doing her own thing when she came to the food network. However they then went and built on what it was that she brought and gave her more and more shows. Giada was a cute girl with a famous grandparent who could passably cook Italian and looked good doing it. She would certainly not be where she is today without FN. I could go on. FN has a formula about their programing. They find people that fit that formula. On TNFNS over and over again they talk about the importance of personality and seemingly not so much about the food.

                                                                                                        Part of the problem people see FN and consider it gospel. The (majority) people on FN are not chefs. They are personalities who are cooking. Yes there are numerous big name chefs and cooks who are not indebted to FN. Have a look at PBS sometime.

                                                                                                        In answer to your question about homogenization; can't ever see that happening. You are assuming that real chefs and culinary professionals take it seriously or use it as some sort of reference tool. I can't ever envision the day when Thomas Keller starts whipping out 'semi homemade' dishes. It's more about dumbing down a catering to the lowest common denominator to get viewers. This is what people are complaining about. The fact that there used to be good shows that had interesting people and informative ideas.

                                                                                                        1. re: Withnail42

                                                                                                          I need to get TiVo! I did just go look up the local programming and Saturday afternoon is when they air. You're right I'd forgotten that public television has very fine cooking shows. I grew up on those. I still have the Frugal Gourmet's cook book on my shelf. I wonder what happened to his assistant?

                                                                                                          I laughed out loud at the image of Thomas Keller and Sandra Lee cooking together. Can you see a "tablescape" at The French Laundry?

                                                                                                          I knew professionals would never settle for the lowest common denominator. I was thinking more along the lines of people like myself who live in a rural area (I don't think my area stores stocked capers until I was in college) whose ONLY access into the culinary world was PBS. I was the only one I knew who lived to eat. I'm still in charge of making the dining reservations. Not everyone is willing to put Esca and Lupa on speed dial so they can call at the 30 day mark.

                                                                                                          I completely agree. I've watched FN from the beginning and it has moved from the great chef's enthusiastic about the food, to big personalities doing some cooking.

                                                                                                          I remember many years ago The Essence of Emeril won an award. I think it was Time Magazines Show of the Year but I'm really not sure. It was before he was a household name. The article read who couldn't love someone that enthusiastically says "Lamb Shanks - you see 'em, you buy 'em baby!" Now whenever we see them on the menu, my husband has to do his Emeril impersonation.

                                                                                                          Anyway, my point is the network has moved away from lamb shanks to the drama of crashing sugar creations. IMHO the original Iron Chef was great because the chefs were so serious and treated it like a real competition but Iron Chef America is more about the trumped up drama. I worry that there will be people who WILL use the FN and semi-homemade as a reference because that is all that they will be exposed to. Maybe my pantry would have more cream of mushroom soup then 7 different mustards if I didn't know any better?

                                                                                                          What is the food network telling the mass market about good food?

                                                                                                          1. re: MaryKatesMom

                                                                                                            I'll jump to the defense of the chefs on Iron Chef America and say that from what I see, they really do take it seriously as a competition and work pretty darned hard to turn out the best food they can in an hour (more or less, I've never been sure about the whole plating later bit...but who cares?). The way the show is edited and cut and produced is certainly different than the original Iron Chef but I don't think that's because the chefs aren't doing their thing.

                                                                                                            1. re: ccbweb

                                                                                                              agreed. it (ICA) and an occasional episode of barefoot contessa (i know but i like her) are the only things i'll watch on there anymore.

                                                                                                              1. re: ccbweb

                                                                                                                The way the plating works on ICA (from what I've heard) is that there are two hour-long segments. In the first one, the one that is taped for broadcast, the contenders plate one of each dish for the cameras. In the second segment, which is not broadcast, they cook for the judges.

                                                                                                              2. re: MaryKatesMom

                                                                                                                Oh my gosh....TABLESCAPE! That and the outfits.....Sometimes I call my husband just so we can laugh about what she is wearing or doing. God bless her though.

                                                                                                          2. Has anyone noticed Fine Living lately? First Ming Tsai, then Mario, and now Wolfgang Puck's coming on! It seems like their food programming is turning into what we wish Food Network would turn back into.
                                                                                                            Is Fine Living and the Food Channel owned by the same company?

                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: JCap

                                                                                                              I think they are. When I went to the Food Channel website and looked at the very bottom of the page, I found they were all listed. And I found this link to what appears to be the parent company.

                                                                                                              http://www.scrippsnetworks.com/

                                                                                                              1. re: JCap

                                                                                                                Yes. They're both owned by E.W. Scripps, which owns the DIY channel HGTV, the Food Network and Fine Living. The company also owns newspapers and television stations, but will be splitting in tow this coming year.

                                                                                                              2. What about the other side of the coin? I am a foodie-in-training, long way to go.....but I have to credit the FN with my new found interest in food/cooking. When I began to watch FN, I was a sucker for RR, Paula, and Giada, now...you couldn't pay me to watch them. I still have to give credit where credit is due. I owe my new food obsession to the whacked out programming that is the Food Network. Take it for what's it worth, even if it does make you cringe.

                                                                                                                7 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: byeCalihelloBahamas

                                                                                                                  We loved Mario and it is kinda sad to see TVFN evolve the way it has, but I guess it's more about 'media play' than 'food play'. There are still a lot of good shows... but what's this blowhard Robert Irvine with the tight shirts? I mean, how much time does he spend in the gym vs the kitchen? What's next, a female chef in a thong under her apron? I heard that show of Irvine's is BS from a vendor back east who was asked to be in the Eagles parking lot 'tv show'. Irvine deserves his close up, but by joining 60 Minutes with Roger C. and the 'roids scandal! We want more English Chefs- but ones that can cook like Jamie Oliver, not Chef 'Roids- please TVFN!

                                                                                                                  1. re: FoodWarrior22

                                                                                                                    I always feel sad for Chef Irvine. TVFN puts him in impossible situations and he always seems to be suffering so much. I realize that is the premise of the show. Why must reality TV always operate from the premise of the negative? From a female stand point, Chef Irvine is not attractive and the negativity emanating from the premise makes the show depressing. NEVER want to watch him. Heard Oprah is getting her own network, maybe she will create positive programming where people are actually empowered to succeed rather than fail. Will be curious to see if she does food/health/diet programming.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Diane in Bexley

                                                                                                                      I'm not sure about facts here, but I think we have Oprah to blame for Rachel Ray. I believe she 'discovered' her.

                                                                                                                      1. re: sebetti

                                                                                                                        Like her or not RR is pretty much self made. She started on a local news show in upstate NY. Made it to the Today Show, then Food Network and only then was given a talk show by Oprah.

                                                                                                                        1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                                                          Yes, Oprah absolutely did not discover RR.

                                                                                                                          1. re: gloriousfood

                                                                                                                            I'd hate to think that Oprah unleashed the pox of Dr. Phil AND RR on the unsuspecting public. I don't think there is enough money in the world to redeem herself after that.

                                                                                                                            1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                                                              Just think what she'll be able to do with her own TV channel. :-/

                                                                                                                2. Yes, the Food Network has abandoned the idea of making money by selling commnercial time on TV programs that people watch..

                                                                                                                  With the introduction of the ridiculous "Rachael Ray Garbage Bowl," it's obvious that their new aim is merchandising of shoddy goods. Next: New miracle knife that slices through ground chicken like it was ground turkey! But wait! We'll throw in free a fabulous Rachel Ray wall Postert! But there's more! A free Rachael Ray video on how to boil spathetti! Call now! This offer will only last for the next 2 years! Please have your credit card ready! And hey! Why not get the new Rachael Ray Visa credit card! Rachael Ray's picture is actually on it!

                                                                                                                  Nothing to do with food, obviously. Just gulling the gullible.

                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: mpalmer6c

                                                                                                                    I'm waiting for the knife that slices through slightly cool butter as if it were slightly warm butter. I hear it will be made of the new wonder material "plastic" and comes with a bonus "spork". If you order in the next 10 minutes they will throw in, at no additional charge, an absorbant paper "napkin" and sample packets of their upcoming seasoning products "salt" and "pepper".

                                                                                                                    1. re: LabRat

                                                                                                                      Rachael Ray Smoky Cumin...that has possibilities. Shelve it next to the RR EVOO.

                                                                                                                  2. Before I begin reading the responses I just want to add my 2cent. I stopped watching the food network about 2 years ago when I felt the shows were featuring too many amateurs with with more tv personalities than cooking to match. It didn't feel like a cooking show anymore. No substance, just a pretty face to stare at. The recipes are horrible and I see more boobs and flashy veneers than any cooking to be done. Real cooking on the food network was 10 years ago when the chefs had more credentials, experience and passion to teach the public than it is today. I felt disapointed in myself for not tuning into the food network last year, and questioned myself about my passion to educate myself. But now I don't feel so bad anymore because this article confirms my feelings that it is no longer what it was 10 years ago. As bored as I am with Emeril, it is even sadder to see who they are replacing his slots with.

                                                                                                                    They want no name chefs to turn into their cash cows.
                                                                                                                    Less Pay + Blow them up big + endorse products = keep a nice percentage off earnings. Cash Cow,

                                                                                                                    Julia Child must be turning 6 feet under.

                                                                                                                    Sometimes PBS and Discovery will have cooking shows and I always enjoys those more than food networks. The set is not shiny or flashy but they are real chefs with real cooking to be had(listen up sandra).

                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                    1. re: DarthEater

                                                                                                                      >>With the introduction of the ridiculous "Rachael Ray Garbage Bowl,"

                                                                                                                      That's a joke? Please?

                                                                                                                      >>Julia Child must be turning 6 feet under.

                                                                                                                      I so agree.