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Dec 16, 2007 08:22 PM

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).

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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. 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


                    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.


                    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: 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.