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The Food Network

I used to really enjoy watching the food network but it seems to me that in the last few years they have basically turned into the unofficial spokesperson for the "feeding trough" chain restaurants. C'mon, how many times do I have to listen to Guy Fieri hawk TGIFriday's, and the commercials sheeeesh. The hosts with the most to offer have been side lined in order to broadcast to the lowest common denominator. Personally I've switched to watching the foodie shows on Bravo and the Travel Channel or the BBC when I can.


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    1. re: ClaireWalter

      Second the suggestion of PBS, especially if you have the Create digital channel available

      1. re: coney with everything

        I didn't forget PBS- while I started the post my little girls had a major melt down....... craziness in the house, I love PBS because they do expose one to local chefs as well as the well known ones.

        1. re: Lenox637

          Can't remember where I read it, but it seems that public television identified the need for more food related shows and has devoted close to 40% of it's programming budget to developing more of the type of format FN abandoned.

        2. re: coney with everything

          Thank you for reminding me how much I miss Create and that I have to check with my cable company (Comcast) as to when/where it will be back. TERRIFIC programming!

          I spent years watching all the cooking shows on PBS before I moved out and finally got cable like the rest of the planet. Used to love Jacques Torres/Dessert Circus. Remember that one? Anyway, great idea to return to PBS for food programming where FN is coming up short.

          EDIT: P.S. Fine Living had some good shows, too, but I haven't tuned in in a while. I enjoyed Andrea Immer.

          1. re: kattyeyes

            Mt next door neighbour is a tech support for Comcast. I will be seeing her on Sat. and will see if she can dig up any info for you. Will let you know when I know.

            1. re: billieboy

              Terrific--thanks so kindly, billieboy! I love the cooking and travel--esp. Rick Steves' Europe. I am beyond overdue for a vacation and that was my vicarious one all summer. :) Went to Italy, Switzerland, took in all the scenery and food with no jet lag and didn't have to pack!

              Another goodie--Perfect Day. I only caught a couple of episodes. Passadumkeg and Cay Johan would totally dig this, too:

      2. I agree with your posting completely. I'm not much of a TV watcher, however a few years ago the food network used to comprise a large bulk of my time watching TV. Yes, the Bravo, PBS, and BBC shows are great - as well as the many shows on HULU (After Hours, Three Sheets, etc.).

        I guess the management at the Food Network made a decision that they were going to market their product and shows to more mainstream audiences and families. Thus, certain chefs like Batali and even Emeril were seen as too "high-end" and not catering to their demographic. Ever wonder why their kitchen products are sold at Kohls? That is the audience they are going after. Not that I have anything against Kohls...

        1 Reply
        1. re: vinhotinto75

          Also, watch the advertisements on the Food Network. That will also tell you something about who their demographic is, who they're marketing their shows to.

          Quick-serve pasta meals. Ranch dressing, from a bottle, slathered all over fresh vegetables. That "Kraft Lady" who tells you how to make a "nutritious & economical" meal for 4 by combining a jar of salsa, a cube of cheese, a can of soup & a couple of chopped chicken breasts in a casserole dish.

          That, too, is the audience they are going after.

        2. You have to remember the overall viewing audience. Not just you and foodies alike. Who is watching what do sponsors who pay for all those show want. They like the average audience who has sky rocketed with the likes of Rachel, Paula, Guy and everyone else you dislike. I personally enjoy them. The other shows of Bravo and Travel bore me. Just me, what I record or get time to watch. I appreciate their tips and their knowledge but honestly they bore me. At least Guy can be entrtaining, maybe not the best cook ... BUT LOOK AT WHAT IS IMPORTANT He has got millions to be interested in cooking. Same with Rachel and Paula. I may not use their recipes and don't. I get ideas but I don't think I have ever used one of their recipes, but millions have.

          To me ... that is what is important. I may not like them, but ... with their shows and the publicity, they have turned a fast food nation into at least some of those people who want to try or learn how to cook. That is why you need to remember. What entertains MOST, not just you or other foodies. We are a minority compared to the big picture. They aren't here to entertain just us but many more and aparently there are many out there that enjoy the fun frivality and quirkyness of all those stars... Personally I'm one. They entertain. Bravo as much as I apprecuate the stars and their knowsledge I do learn, but ... bores the H*ll out of me.

          1 Reply
          1. re: kchurchill5

            I agree about the comment that the FN introduces "fast food nation" to what else is out there, but..... TGIFriday's? Chain restaurants? IMO all they are doing is getting people out of the drive-thru and into vinyl banquets with their marketing strategy, not to mention that they take a product, like Guy Fieri, and beat it down our throats until "we" are thoroughly sick of it. Look at Rachel Ray for instance. They took a good show and host, saw the interest and overused her. Now she looks overly tired and I must say her show now looks more like a pain in the ass for her than the joy she exhibited in her earlier shows. There is enough talent and subject matter out there where we don't have to watch Fieri 10 times a day. Thankfully there IS an abundance of food shows out there. Personally I watch food shows primarily for knowledge and secondly for entertainment. Thankfully we all have likes and dislikes and for the most part the wicked square box brings into our homes what we desire.

          2. Except for the recent Chef Jeff Project, which I found unexpectedly gut wrenching, most of the current Food Network programming leaves my guts retching.

            1. I loved watching FoodTV when it first aired where most of the production values were low, but the shows had real chefs cooking and explaining the dishes. I would estimate about 60% of my TV time was FoodTV.

              Now that it's FoodNetwork, they've lost me. Also, TNFNS series clearly shows what the execs are looking for - A personality with a winning smile that can look in the camera to sell you the dish. It's all marketing, high production value and hitting the target demographic. It just seems like food has become the prop to sell the "brand".

              Currently, the only show I watch is Good Eats and that show seems to be all reruns.

              4 Replies
              1. re: dave_c

                Even Alton Brown has become a bit of a patronizing fat cat, I used to like him because he seemed kind of quirky, I now find him incredibly obnoxious.

                1. re: Lenox637

                  I get the feeling Alton (who I still like) and Bobby Flay (who I've never cared for) are doing what they can (i.e. tap dancing) to keep their jobs. They will probably be the next "old talent" to go. A decade ago I watched FoodTV all the time, but now the only thing I'm interested in on the network are new episodes of Good Eats, which are few and far between.

                  It's sad really. There used to be such good shows on FoodTV; now it's pretty much all crap. Thank God for PBS and that the likes of Jacques Pepin and Lidia Bastianich are still around doin' their thing.

                  1. re: Lenox637

                    I couldn't agree more. I used to find him quirky as well, now that quirkiness seems more like self-importance. If I want to put wasabi on my sushi nigiri, that's my business. All too often he speaks to the audience like they are a petulant child.

                2. I've only had "expanded cable" (beyond the broadcast channels) for about a year. When I first got it, the first thing I thought was "great, I can finally get the Food Network". However *whenever* I'm surfing and I check it out, it is just SO not interesting.I don't think there's a single show on there that I ever watch (except for Iron Chef, which I *think* is on that channel).

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: DGresh

                    Could someone let us know what food shows are on the BBC and HULU channels? I'm not even sure I even have access to them but I'm curious as to the content.

                    1. re: hopegoode

                      If you live in North America and have internet access, then you can watch all shows on Hulu - which is legal and free. If you truly like food, cooking, and beverage, here are some shows you can watch on Hulu:

                      The Chefs Kitchen - a program that brings together some of the best chefs who make great recipes on the spot. The co-host is annoying, yet the shows are great and informative.

                      Made in Spain - PBS show with José Andrés. An informative cooking tour of regional Spanish cuisine. José is enthusiastic, yet my only minor complaint about the show is the excessive pop music which takes away from the great landscape.

                      After Hours - a show staring Daniel Boulud where he gather friends for after midnight feasts in NYC, LA, NO, and Miami.

                      Three Sheets - Drinking tours of the world. Funny and quirky.

                      There are many others to check out. as well for full episodes and short clips.


                  2. The problem with the Food Network is pigeonholes its demographics. They imagine this world of busy moms who can't cook, shop at Wal Mart, and have very little time.

                    Food viewers are far more complex than that. I love to cook. I also tend to ignore channels like Fine Living and The Travel Channel because to me they're way too uppercrust and snooty for me. I can't afford those lifestyles or vacations to those exotic places, so why watch that stuff and just sit around resenting rich people? On the other hand, I love to cook. What little discretionary cash I have might be spent on special ingredients for my dishes. I have no kids, so I have more time than your average "busy mom", but that doesn't mean I need three hours to cook a good meal. Yeah, sometimes I shop at Kohl's and sometimes I shop at Whole Foods. You can't really stereotype me into on particular demographic. People aren't black and white and the Food Network doesn't always realize that.

                    I have been much more tolerant of the Food Network of late. They seem to be attempting to swing the other way. I get why they got rid of Emeril. His recipes were often complex, he cooked too many things in one show to really get a feel for what he was cooking, and the show became about schtick. The schtick grew old. I also understand why they got rid of Mario. All too often he worked with expensive or hard to find ingredients.

                    But let's look at who is still there. Anne Burrell's act may be annoying as anything, but she is teaching people real technique. I've seen her make chicken stock, risotto, whole fish. She presents these as basic recipes that anyone can do and she really cooks. It was the same with the sadly-cancelled Alex Guarnaschelli. They brought back Jamie Oliver and he showed how to prepare fresh vegetables in simple and tasty ways. Obviously the execs are understanding that people who know how to, and enjoy coooking are demanding shows with better recipes and chefs who know what they're doing.

                    Let's talk about some of hte others: Guy, Giada, Paula. All three are, or have been, successful owners of restaurants and caterers. Twice in the past week I have seen Guy's show and I saw him chop his own vegetables (I think he has some mean knife skills) and make his own spaetzle from scratch. Giada and Paula will both bake from scratch. Paula cut up her own cabbage for cole slaw in a show I saw recently. Yes, Paula uses a lot of butter and cream. So does Ina Garten and yet she gets a pass from the foodies.

                    Yes, we unfortunately still have people like Sandra Lee and Rachael Ray who have no real credentials and no business teaching people how to cook. Sadly, they're immensely popular. Still, FN isn't doing everything wrong. Even though it seems that way, there are shows on the FN that don't feature Rachael Ray.

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: Avalondaughter

                      I agree to mostly ...
                      Emeril, I don't think cooking and the food explosion would be the same without him. He inspired many of the chefs now on the show to inspire a lot of people.

                      Agreed, we are not all single moms and walmart shoppers, but I feel that is a wrong impression. I have many friends through work and with my catering and my travels that aren't single, don't shop at walmart, but have no clue in H*ll how to cook. And like me I work 12 hour days, have a son and am single but don't work at walmart and I can cook. Most daily dishes 3 hrs would be 1am for me. I often get home at 8 or 9, I still cook good which is why I have shortcuts, but my catering and my parties I have uses the best. Also with the economy, many can't even afford their mortgage payment no less good ingredients. But many of my friends work long days, both working parents and unfortunately never had parents who taught them. So, they can't cook an egg no less anything else. And they follow Rachel, Sandra, etc They can relate and I think there is a huge portion of America like that out there.

                      Emeril's recipes are too complicated to me for a easy show. I like Ann Burell, different, but just her and she does teach. They all in different ways have appeal and appeal to a different audience. You got to appreciate who they are targeted at not whether you enjoy them. That is why there are different hosts. I love Michael Chiarello, just enjoy his cooking. I record it every day to watch at night.

                      And me, I have been a head chef, caterer and taught cooking classes ... No training ... am I popular, yes I was. But I try to incorporate, the fine quality of food with the realization of there are many single, married and just every day people who watch the food network because they honestly have no idea how to cook and want to learn. And if Rachel works for them. Fine.

                      And sorry Avalondaughter, I just feel the single moms and busy is a big part of demographics these days, not just moms but single moms and dads. I now 3 single dads so I think it affects everyone. And Walmart, I think we all do at one time or another.
                      Didn't mean anything bad on that part of the comment.

                      1. re: kchurchill5

                        I'm not quite sure what you're getting at. I'm saying that people are more diverse than the black and white demographics that the Food Network is trying to appeal to. What's worse is that people who do belong to the "busy mom" (I never said single - just busy) group who truly can't cook, aren't learning much from FN if they stick to the Rachey-Sandy group. These women use tons of expensive ingredients (all of that pre-chopped and jarred stuff Sandy uses and Rachel loves bagged salads, pancetta, boneless skinless chicken tenders and pricey imported cheeses) so they really don't cater to people on a budget. If more people taught simple technique rather than throwing cheese and ground beef on top of pasta, we would all be a lot healthier and more confident in the kitchen.

                        I love good cooking, but I'm not a fine living kind of person. The whole issue I have with FN is that cooking well and properly is an elitist pastime. I shop in discount stores, took over 20 years beteween my first trip to Europe and my second one, and have seen very few major American cities other than NY, which happens to be the area where I live. What's more, I haven't experienced much fine dining in the cities I have visited. Food Network has no idea what to do with a demographic like me. They can't acknowledge I exist. I also think they have taught their viewers that people like me don't exist. "Normal" people don't like to cook.

                        1. re: Avalondaughter

                          No no, I simply meant I think there are more relate to the fun or the "shows" even antics at times that the FN brings is all. Not that they don't like the other shows, but from what I have fun in the last few years living in MI, FL, CO, OH and MN that FN just appeals is all. I totally agree the other stations have more of a learning value which I appreciate, but those who I have encountered seem to get more out of the FN at times is all. Maybe because of the marketing value and publicity is all.

                          Rachel Ray and Sandy use very expensive ingredients and too many. I don't agree with that. My philosophy is to use some shortcuts and also healthy ingredients whenever possible.

                          FYI, I don't think network knows what to do with my demographic either. I love fresh, I am too busy, I don't agree with most of the fast food recipes but can take hints, love the long way but don't always have close to enough time but honestly other than food network, most other shows bore me. I know against the grain, but they do. It is teaching, but the short time I watch TV, I want entertainment not teaching. I know ... I should be the other.

                          Teaching is important and on the weekend or at 3 am watching tv I do now and then watch. I sleep 5 hrs tops every night. Learning how to make a fresh sauce ... even with diced canned tomatoes and some fresh ingredients is so much better than premade. And a gravy, we have all used canned or jarred, but if quick and not hard. and I do give rachel ray credit for making that. So my apologies, I wasn't against you, similar views believe me.

                          I do get bagged salads sometimes for the week cuz I can take them to work and eat them all week long, or and if worse case or when I sale I do get chicken tenders but not very often. But I always tell me it is an option. I can't afford it very often, and to me now worth it, but sometimes it is necessary when totally in a bind.

                      2. re: Avalondaughter

                        I myself find Rachel ray incredibly annoying, but to set the record straight, she hosted a cooking show in the Albany NY area before she was "found" by FN. That doesn't place her at the top of the list but they ARE credentials.

                        1. re: Lenox637

                          She hosted a cookiing show in Albany after giving demos in a supermarket meant to sell food. those are pretty lame credentials.

                          1. re: Avalondaughter

                            You gotta start somewhere. Sounds like sour grapes.

                      3. There's not too much you can do about commercials. Sponsorship is a way of income for these shows and allows for such a budget. As for the shows themselves, I was just talking with the wife about how much The Food Network does in bringing a spotlight to a lot of local places.

                        4 specific shows that showcase the local Mom & Pop restaurants....

                        Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives
                        Throwdown with Bobby Flay
                        Road Tasted
                        Alton Brown's Feasting on Asphalt (formally)

                        1. As I read this, I realize that I am WATCHING the Food Network (Ace of Cakes- but the TV was on when i walked in the door and I'm not engaged). But here are my two cents-

                          I have to defend Food Network for one reason and one reason alone: Alton Brown. Iron Chef America has moved to my #1 favorite TV show since he took over hosting. I can't believe no one has mentioned this show yet. I have been a fan of Good Eats since way way WAY back. Alton might be quirky and weird or tapdancing or whatever but he is one of the most knowledgeable guys in the business and I ALWAYS learn something from him, so I have to love him for that.

                          The rest of them- Rachel Ray, Bobby Flay, Guy, Paula, even Giada (sorry, but she annoys me)- can go. I too prefer Anthony Bourdain and Top Chef

                          36 Replies
                          1. re: CoryKatherine

                            I can't watch Iron Chef after watching the original on Manhattan Cable in Japanese back in the late 80's and 90's. The fun and real skill is gone.

                            1. re: currymouth

                              Why is the skill level different?

                              1. re: KTinNYC

                                The Japanese version produced not only more dishes per episode, visually they were better, using more unique ingredients, while still managing to write a sonnet or perhaps produce a beautiful carved melon to hold yet another dish. All the while keeping most of the foodstuffs off the studio floor.You honestly do not see a skill difference between let's say Flay and Morimoto?

                                1. re: currymouth

                                  ICA is too knudge knudge wink wink. The hilarity of the original is that they are so very deadly serious that the result is very humorous. Also, I miss the judges, like the sumo wrestler, the skinny little starlet with the non-stop giggles as well as the ocassional Oba-san fortune teller.

                                  1. re: Phaedrus

                                    Chairman Kaga biting into the red pepper.........Priceless!

                                    1. re: currymouth

                                      I thought it was always a yellow pepper!

                                      1. re: Atahualpa

                                        Was it, I can't remember it's been so long.

                            2. re: CoryKatherine

                              we are all knowledgeable when we have four monitors in front of us and a whole room full of production assistants to look things up for us. kind of like the statisticians who supply the baseball announcers with their knowledge during a televised game.

                              1. re: Lenox637

                                uh- sorry- no way. The guys on the floor will be like oh, i think he's.... and before they even finish panning over it, Alton Brown has identified exactly what is going on, before the chefs say anything, before anyone. He might get a little bit of help, sure, but Alton Brown is the most knowledgeable guy in the industry, period. He might not be the best cook, I'm not saying that, but he knows his shit.

                                1. re: CoryKatherine

                                  "Alton Brown is the most knowledgeable guy in the industry, period". You cannot be serious.

                                  1. re: KTinNYC

                                    KT I couldn't agree with you more. More knowledgeable than say.... Eric Ripert or Jacques Pepin just to name two well known names? I have tried many of Alton's recipes (from the times, years ago, that I watched him) and found them ...... eh. I took his recipes as a formula and then played mad scientist until I created something much more to my wife's and my liking. Pedestrian is how I would classify Monsieur Brown.

                                    1. re: Lenox637

                                      I too like alton and find him very knowledgeable, scientifically and food wise. He doesn't have highly complicated recipes, but makes a good ingredient great.. I enjoy him.

                                      Jacques Pepin the few times I have seen him ... totally un impressed. He is boring to me and don't enjoy watching him. Sorry foodies, I just don't like him.

                                      1. re: kchurchill5

                                        You can find Pepin to be boring but I know he is a better cook then you, no disrespect intended. I don't know anything about you except from what I've read on these boards and I have no qualms in making my statement.

                                        1. re: KTinNYC

                                          With all due respect.......... I must agree.

                                          1. re: currymouth

                                            I came back to edit my post to make it sound less harsh but since currymouth has already commented on my post I'll add what I had to say here. If you are watch Pepin and you don't learn something then you are not watching carefully enough. Maybe he is not entertaining to you, that is completely subjective, no he doesn't have props, he doesn't dress up in funny costumes, etc, etc. but he is a fantastic teacher and has incredible technique. I'll go so far as to say he is a better cook than anyone on these boards, at least at French/Western food.

                                            1. re: KTinNYC

                                              A lot of my chef friends are only entertaining while we're all "socializing". Ask them to explain something and they'll roll their eyes in annoyance, ask them to SHOW you a technique or some thing else and they're right there next to you. There are very few chefs who can "please" a wide audience with their personality, just watch all the cooking competition shows and you'll see what I mean. It's ALL about the food, not whether I like them or not. True, Alton can provide you with a lot of scientific stuff but this isn't Jeopardy!

                                              1. re: KTinNYC

                                                The problem is too many Americans don't want to think, they just want to be entertained. That's fine if you're watching the Simpsons but if you want to learn to cook, it's not always a song and dance and shouldn't be. It's a problem teaching college students, too, because if you're not a circus up there, they tune you out, no matter what the topic. What happened to learning instead of being expected to be entertained? I can learn from Jacques Pepin, even if I turn off the volume, just by watching what he does.

                                                1. re: chowser

                                                  You are too right about that. have you ever seen the movie Idiocracy? A very chilling possible future (in an extreme manner). I like to be entertained by food shows, that is why I watch No Reservations or inanity like Man vs. Food (guilty pleasure) but above all I want to LEARN, LEARN, LEARN and I agree you get just as much from Jacques Pepin with the volume down as you can with the sound on.

                                                  1. re: chowser

                                                    I don't disagree with that at all. However we have to look at what society is and it isn't that. Sad but true. And to a whole overhaul changes the major scope of of society, that won't happen. So, I agree with the philosophy, but it doesn't work. At 11 pm when home and turn on tv, learn learn learn is not what I want ... sorry society rules here. I just worked 12 hours, cooked, cleaned and did laundry, I'm in bed, 5 hr and up for tomorrow. I'm not in the minority. Do I really want to learn or be entertained. If nothing good drama wise or movie wise, I choose entertain with the food network.

                                              2. re: KTinNYC

                                                I agree, absolutely. But as a host for a show, I turn him off, BORING for me. He is extremely knowlegeable and very talented and very boring. I know.

                                                Probably in the minority. But there is nothing about him that makes me want to watch him. I don't get to watch much TV except 2 and 3 am. And then cooking is not what I watch. So with TV on, it is background noise. If entertaining I tend to listen, for him I don't.

                                                1. re: kchurchill5

                                                  It's hard for me to imagine not wanting to learn from one of the undisputed best teachers if you are in the industry but to each their own.

                                                  1. re: KTinNYC

                                                    It isn't that I don't want to learn, but the few times I watch TV I'm usually doing 5 other things. I need something to keep my attention is all. If I want to learn I'll pick up a book. He is just not interesting to me and I love cooking. It isn't I like Guy or Alton better but maybe just a bit of entertainment keeps me listening.

                                                    He is good but I just don't enjoy him and I can understand why some wouldn't get him. There are many NON cooks out there and from what I have found catering, he is not the type that appeals to a NON cook.

                                                    No offense. I think is he great, I just personal don't think he appeals to many other than someone very interested and passionate about cooking. And I truly believe that is a minority today. Sad but true. There are many who love cooking and want to learn but not on his level.

                                                    But hey, just my opinion

                                                    1. re: kchurchill5

                                                      "There are many NON cooks out there and from what I have found catering, he is not the type that appeals to a NON cook." Huh?

                                                      1. re: KTinNYC

                                                        I think it means Jacques Pepin doesn't appeal to the Sandra Lee crowd. Can't argue with that. You don't see many Brittney Spears teenyboppers at Joshua Bell concerts either.

                                            2. re: Lenox637

                                              Pedestrian!? Yikes. That is scathing. I HATE that term and the snobs that use it so sorry if I react strongly. (Not saying you're a snob, I don't know you, but that language is off-putting).

                                              Okay 1) I meant the food television industry. Jacques Pepin may be on TV but he is primarily a chef- focusing on the execution of a meal and less on anything else.
                                              2) I never claimed Alton Brown was the best cutting edge molecular gastronomist or a even a great chef- I wouldn't because he ISN'T a chef. He's just a wicked smart foodie (and a pilot and a cinemetographer and an overall incredibly talented person- if thats what you consider pedestrian, I hate to think how little you appreciate of the people around you). I haven't tasted his food so what do I know about how he actually cooks. But in terms of food facts, history, identification, science- I haven't heard anyone with a better understanding and more fluency translating that understanding the to masses.
                                              3) This is my opinion. I happen to like food jeopardy. I like learning about where it comes from, how it reacts to heat and what it's commonly used with (etc). For one, it helps me remember things, and for another I appreciate a greater understanding of what I'm eating than just how to make it taste good. For my purposes, he's the most knowledgeable overall food guy on TV.

                                              1. re: CoryKatherine

                                                You have a stronger argument that Alton Brown is most knowledgeable person on television but that isn't a very deep pool of talent. You are wrong that Pepin is primarily a chef that happens to be on TV. Pepin has not worked in a restaurant in decades and he is primarily known as an educator. I doubt we would know his name if he never wrote La Technique.

                                                1. re: CoryKatherine

                                                  Along the lines of the Jeopardy analogy, saying Alton Brown knows his stuff because he knows what his show is presenting is like saying Alec Trebec is a genius because he knows the answers on Jeopardy. If he wrote, produced, etc. his show, it would be different but he presents information taught to him. Yes, of course he's learned a lot of stuff along the way , just as Alec Trebec (is that his name?) has but they're not the originators of the shows.

                                            3. re: Lenox637

                                              I don't think he's specifically knowledgeable since he's really an actor playing the part but OTOH, I don't think he claims to be the scientist or chef either. He brings in Shirley Corriher, et all, and gives them credit. I think Good Eats is on far too much these days and don't watch it anymore but used to think he was funny and quirky. Not a chef but an actor.

                                              1. re: chowser

                                                Alton brown isn't a chef, but he did attend culinary school, so he has a bit of cred. His background is in television production and film making. Good Eats was his way of doing what he loves and what he is good at. He conceived of the ideas and the topics and then he did the research and called upon the experts like Corriher to add the gravitas to the knowledge. No one ever accused him of being a working culinary professional, but he is more than just a dilettante entertainer.

                                                1. re: Phaedrus

                                                  That's a good way to put it and I did diminish what he brings to the show w/out meaning to. I do like him, but I don't put him in the same class as Jacques Pepin or Mario Batali. He brings science and cooking to the level that my kids can understand what trans fats are, like the train.

                                                  1. re: Phaedrus

                                                    thanks. bunch of haters on here. i'd like to see them all in some sort of head-to-head food knowledge contest with the guy.
                                                    also, to the people who are whining about "society these days"- what a cliche. Times change. Learning styles change. Young people now are a product of their upbringing and their environment, just like YOU were, when your parents lamented about "kids these days."

                                                    1. re: CoryKatherine

                                                      There is a difference between not worshipping someone and hating them. I like Alton Brown on his show but have no doubt that most of what he says he's learned for the show. He's not one of the most well regarded chefs out there but that doesn't mean people who say that HATE him.

                                                      It's too bad that people prefer to learn from an entertainer rather than a well respected professional who know the trade well, like Jacques Pepin. We don't need professors in schools anymore, just actors who play them and read the cue cards. Who needs Stephen Hawkings when Brad Pitt could just play him and look good at the same time?

                                                      1. re: chowser

                                                        I don't dislike the guy, I just don't enjoy him, I dislike his show. He is very talented, but I certainly don't enjoy watching him.

                                                        I don't think that people prefer to learn from an entertainer. I love to read up, read cook books and articles but my TV time is so limited that a serious show is not what I want and is usually nothing more than background noise. That is all. He is very accomplished, but for me to watch him on TV when I am home, he just doesn't grasp my attention. I think MANY, not all ... but many of today's "Wanna be" and aspiring cooks that these cooks and cooking shows try to gain the attention of, it is often the case as I have found with friends and clients that the viewers don't have time for something that serious. Not all obviously, but I am talking of some of the general everyday men and women who "WANT" to learn or know how to cook but want to improve. This is of course not everyone, just a majority of those I deal with either from work, friends, and many of my clients. Most of us are working 24/7 just to make ends work these days and I enjoy a little frivolity and fun and entertainment on TV as I am cooking, cleaning, laundry, paperwork and trying to get everything done before trying to get to bed at midnight at up at 5.

                                                        Now maybe a married couple and the wife or husband is home, or they don't work or retired. I can see him hitting that audience. But for many of us who work 10-12 hr days with family and a house to run, TV is entertainment when we get the chance.

                                                        Before writing my book I did survey locally and via the internet, just random friends and some of their friends and a blog. No names, just a small survey. And this is what I found.

                                                        1. re: kchurchill5

                                                          I'm a stay at home Dad, I have worked various angles of the food biz. On the line, catering, food production and high end retail. I LOVE to cook, I LOVE to learn and taste new things. AB I'm sure is a nice enough guy, I just don't like his TV personality, but I love those hard to hear low production cost cooking shows where the chef can barely speak english... I learn more from them on HOW to cook than an entire day watching the digitized glop that comes from the FN. Not to say there aren't some entertaining shows there, I've just exhausted my FN education.

                                                          1. re: Lenox637

                                                            honestly, it probably comes down to a difference between more "expert" cooks and more amateur. I'm no professional. I've never worked in the food biz, I make mistakes all the time, I'm just a young person who is trying to learn. I'm not ashamed to say I've learned more than a few basics from Alton Brown that are probably big "duhs" to some other people out there. To each his own I guess.

                                                            But I have to say, to Chowsers comments- I think that to be an effective teacher you can't be JUST knowledgeable. There are plenty of experts out there who aren't good teachers. The reason why some people are good at TEACHING is not always because they know the most about their subject but because they know the most about how to teach. (NOT saying Jacques Pepin isn't a good teacher, at all, obviously lots and lots of people like to learn from him- see my comments above about the real reason some people prefer one over the other). And I would say that Alton Brown not only knows how to teach (or 'entertain' as you say), but is ALSO a respected professional and knows the trade well. In his case the terms aren't mutually exclusive.

                                                            lastly, "haters" is a term used to describe people who voice an opinion putting something or someone down. not to say they have true vicious 'hate' in their hearts.

                                            4. The Food Network is about entertainment and marketing. It has little to do with actual cooking (with the clear exception of Alton Brown). PBS is about cooking; great shows where you can learn a lot. I'll watch both FN and PBS, but for entirely different reasons.

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: bnemes3343

                                                Alton Brown makes me feel like I should be taking notes about the chemical composition of green beans or the melting point of Marshmallow Fluff(tm) or the physics behind grinding your own cornmeal.

                                                His presentation feels too much like school and not enough like recess, if you catch my drift.

                                                I was watching an ICA episode recently wherein the guest chef -- name escapes me, it was some typical head-shaved "edgy" chef -- kept correcting Alton. It was funny because the guest chef was clearly annoyed. Alton would say something like "I believe that's dried crushed and reconstituted yellow beet paste he's using" and the guest chef would reply with a smug little smirk, "Nope. Brown sugar."

                                                Alton knows his stuff but his acdemic approach isn't for me.


                                                1. re: bnemes3343

                                                  I agree with your comparison between FN and PBS.

                                                  Alton represents the entertainment involved in learning and cooking, while Pepin on PBS can explain a technique in one or two sentences and a quick demo. I can't even imagine Alton explaining a point without a long-winded explanation and the use of props.

                                                  I watch Alton for entertainment and Pepin for the love of food and learning technique.

                                                  1. "I wouldn't belong to a club that would have me as a member". My exact feelings about the Fud Network. I would never watch any channel that would have Sandra Lee/RR/Guy Ferrie, et.al as a show host.

                                                    Hopefully, Alton and the other two or three decent show hosts will jump of the steaming pile of crap that FN has deteriorated into and get on PBS.

                                                    1. There is very little food left on the Food Network. Perhaps the network should change their name to FFF - Frightening Fast Fat.

                                                      1. Another surprising alternative to the Fud Network (thx, bkhuna) is the FitTV channel.
                                                        Yup, the fitness related channel of Discovery Networks.

                                                        In addition to some reruns from the late Discovery Home channel, they have a few chefs oriented toward healthy cooking with quality ingredients. Hmmm, Sounds like a Chow demographic intersection to me :-).

                                                        Some shows of possible interest:
                                                        - A Lyon In The Kitchen - actual chef, diverse cuisine
                                                        - Healthy Decadence - haven't watched it yet
                                                        - Blaines Low Carb Kitchen - can't remember
                                                        - Just Cook This - low key non-chef, my favorite

                                                        A link to the weekly schedule:

                                                        BTW I disagree with the above poster about the Fine Living channel - the *COOKING* shows on it mostly are the BEST reruns from the better days of FN. No Ray-Ray yet.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: DiveFan

                                                          I saw Just Cook This once and I actually loved it. Good call.