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Mar 26, 2009 08:02 AM

The cooking channel - your thoughts?

I'm really disappointed with it. I feel like its a great way to "expose" people to cooking but not good for more advanced cooks - those that are already familiar with cooking and want to learn about the science of food and more intermediate/advanced techniques. For example, I think Rachael Ray and that semi homemade lady are a total joke. I mean, it does not take anyone with any special qualifications to come up with those recipes.

I love tyler florence, alton, ellie krieger, and alex guarnachelli (cooking loft - which is only on sporadically). The vast majority of the time however, the channel plays a lot of useful programs that have no additive value. How do you all feel about this? I have always wondered why they don't bump up the standards and bring in more shows like tylers and altons. Its really unfortunate...

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  1. I'm with ya all the way! Fine Living Network (same family as Food Network) now plays some good re-runs of the old Molto Mario and some other shows (haven't kept up with it).

    1. I love Food Network. Even though all of the shows aren't focusing on advanced recipes and high quality dishes, it's overall a great channel. I like all the chefs you mentioned, but I also like Rachael Ray. While she's sometimes a bit irritating, I can admit to making many of her meals (or variations of them) on weeknights. I just don't have a few hours to put something together, but hell I've got 30 min. Sandra Lee's show is pretty funny and while the recipes aren't typically my style, I have made a few of her desserts. Everyone's always liked them, and while they're not haute cuisine, they're fun and festive.

      The shows on in the evening are more for entertainment value than instruction. "Challenge" bothers me but, hey, something there's nothing better on and I get sucked in. I do have a guilty pleasure and I love "Diners, Drive Ins, and Drives"... there's just something about all that fried food and crazy combos that makes me laugh and wince at the same time.

      28 Replies
      1. re: cheesecake17

        Rachael Rays recipes appeal to people because they are quick but if they are going to appeal to that audience, they should also try and appeal to those that are really into cooking and don't want to see another variation of a burger. I def don't have a lot of time to spend in the kitchen but the whole point of the channel for me is to learn things I didn't already know or what common sense wouldn't tell me. My problem w the shows is they don't delve into technique and the science (like alton). Also, I feel like there are too many random ones that have the same function.

        1. re: cups123

          You're right.. she does cook a lot of variations on the same thing. But I guess it appeals to people because she uses basic ingredients that are easy to find and the same techniques over and over. You'd be surprised how many people lack cooking common sense.

          Barefoot Contessa talks about technique and so does Anne Burell. Alton's show is pretty unique, and I like it, but find myself tivo-ing through parts. What do you mean when you say random shows with the same function?

          1. re: cheesecake17

            Like all those new ones on saturday mornings, rachael ray, sandra, that show about latin cooking, guy fieri, that lady and her husband forget their names, even anne burrell i can't warm up to her. I wish they had shows that would focus on different aspects of cooking and really went into detail. Like italian cooking, how to make homemade pastas, etc etc. Or like pastries and all the nuances associated with making homemade doughs, for example.

            1. re: cups123

              Like macca said- you're not really the demographic of the channel. People watching are prob more interested in cooking the pasta than making it from scratch.

              Re the Sat morning shows- even though it's called "in the kitchen" they're more entertainment than skill-building. Viva Daisy (the latin) show is quite annoying- her voice grates on my nerves. The recipes don't appeal to me at all and sometimes I just don't understand her ingredient combos. I like the Neeleys (lady and husband) and while I wouldn't make any of their food.. it's fun to watch.

              I also prefer PBS cooking shows... ATK, Cooks Country, Simply Ming, Lidia's Kitchen- all great shows that teach technique and great recipes.

              1. re: cheesecake17

                Huh, i just looked at my comcast channel it possible that I don't have pbs?

                1. re: cups123

                  you def have PBS but it might not be called PBS. where are you located?

                  1. re: cups123

                    Just type in public television _____ (insert your nearest major city in that blank) in Google and that's your channel. Here in Atlanta we have 2 public broadcasting stations (pbs) 1. GPB (Georgia Public Broadcasting) and 2. PBA (Public Broadcasting Atlanta).

                    Like cheesecake said, you most certainly have a PBS station, it's probably in the lower end of the channels near the rest of your local news channels (ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX).

                    1. re: HaagenDazs

                      Depending where you are, you might have a bunch of PBS stations. In NYC, I have about 4 or 5 I think. They all have different shows, and the schedule changes often. I just have the tivo record a season pass of all the shows I like.

                      If you truly have a problem finding it out the station channel, call up comcast. They should be able to help you.

                      1. re: cheesecake17

                        Lucky you re 4 or 5 PBS channels. We had two in CT--the regular PBS, then Create. We lost Create for the past couple of months and I miss it horribly!

                        But definitely look for the Create channel in your city as it has lots of good programming--food, travel and otherwise.

                        1. re: kattyeyes

                          I think I get so many b/c with Directv I get some of the NJ channels. I don't think I have Create, but I do remember watching the channel somewhere.

                          I watched a tivoed Ming Tsai episode last night and the recipes looked fabulous. I'm on a search for maitake mushrooms :)

                          1. re: cheesecake17

                            I found it hehe. Apparently its not called PBS on comcasts listings. Any recommendations on what I should or should not watch?

                            1. re: cups123

                              Different markets show different shows at different times of the day and at different times during the year/season.

                              There are some standards out there I'm sure but:

                              Jacques Pepin Fast Food My Way,

                              Cooking with Julia Child,

                              Simply Ming (Ming Tsai),

                              Mexico One Plate at a Time (Rick Bayless),

                              Gourmet's Diary of a Foodie, and the

                              America's Test Kitchen and

                              Cook's Country are good starts.

                              Prepare to be amazed at the wealth of knowledge that you will see on these shows compared to the circus-type-soccer-mom atmosphere that Food Network presents. Do check out Jamie at Home on Saturday mornings on Food Network though. DVR is a good friend for this show in the early AM. ;-)

                                1. re: kattyeyes

                                  I cant stand him. I know in the minority. He just annoys me. Not sure why. I just can't watch him at all.

                                2. re: HaagenDazs

                                  I'm up by 5 normally or 6. I watch FN, but have also watched Ming Tsai, Jacques and I think Rick if I remember, but they aren't interesting to me. They are great but not interesting. I don't watch a lot of TV so when I watch TV it is background noise and I need something interesting on. They aren't it. But I do appreciate their skills and knowledge. I just don't like them

                                3. re: cups123

                                  Cooks Country and America's Test Kitchen are really good shows. The show has a little bit of science and food history and is broken up into segments. They usually have two recipes per show and a segment about equipment or a taste test. The recipes are typically their "best" version of a classic.

                                  Ming Tsai is East meets West fusion. He's entertaining and brings on celeb chefs every so often. He usually takes two ingredients- say blood oranges and mushrooms- and bases his recipes on those. His recipes are really good and usually simple to prepare.

                                  Lidia's Italy- she's an Italian grandma who cooks Italian and Italian-American food. I've met her in person and she's a total sweetheart. I enjoy watching her shows, especially when she brings her grandkids on. I have't cooked many recipes from her show, but I have made some from her cookbooks. She often makes fresh pasta in various forms.

                                  Trying to think what else at the moment, but I'm blanking. Check the schedule and see what's on and watch every chef. If you like their style, great, and if not think of it as only a half hour wasted.

                                  1. re: cheesecake17

                                    Oh yeah, Lidia's Italy is good too.

                                    Hubert Keller is OK but not my favorite. He's been on locally for a few weeks/couple months now.

                                    1. re: cheesecake17

                                      Love Lidia- I made her brussel sprouts recipe- and everyone loved it.. Labor intensive, as each leave had to be individually separated before cooking. Well worth the time, as I was able to "convert" brusssel sprout haters.

                                      1. re: cheesecake17

                                        Ming is about the only one is any who is interesting to me. And I don't cook that type of food that often so it is interesting but not too much for me.

                      2. re: cheesecake17

                        Anne Burell has serious chef credentials and stuff I made of hers has been good. She's just so hard to watch with all the wierdness.

                        1. re: Den

                          haha like she calls oil "orl." and BROWN FOOD TASTES GOOD- I can't get that screech out of my mind!

                      3. re: cups123

                        You do have a good point- for you, the channel is to learn things you do not know. Unfortunately, you are not the demographic the channel is targeting. Most of the shows are for people looking for quick tips or general food info. With that said, I do like Iron Chef America ( though it is not nearly as entertaining as the original), Ina Garte. Now I usually watch PBS for my cooking show fixes. And one thing I cannot figure out- why is there so many shows about cakes- it really surproses me there is such a large audience for this type of show.

                        1. re: macca

                          The thing is that for those of us who started watching the channel in it's early days have noticed a HUGE, and by huge I mean *very* drastic, change in programming from truly good cooking shows (Molto Mario) to goofy "bake-offs" or other competitions. Sure, keep Sandra Lee on the channel, I don't care, but balance it with some real quality. Replace all those Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives or the "Food Network Special" candy sculpture tower competition with something of substance. Right now the only new-ish show that has any real cooking merit is Jamie at Home... and that airs at 7:30 AM, one day a week on Saturday mornings.

                          1. re: HaagenDazs

                            Agree, I hate the bake offs and candy shows and some others. Replace with good shows. I don't disagree.

                            1. re: HaagenDazs

                              Ypu are right- I have been watching the show since its inception,too. I was simply telling the OP why the channel has the programs it now has. It is all about the money, and FTV obviously figured out it made more money airing the shows they have now. Even Mario's more recent shows cannot compare to the early ones. I used to LOVE two fat ladies- though I am not sure I would be cooking much of what they offered. But- to me- that was an entertaining show.
                              I also like the Jamie at home show- he had a great show about mushrooms a few weeks ago. And I have gotten ideas from Tylers Ultimate. But, like you, the cake, candy competition shows are nuts.
                              Maybe because lots of my friends love to cook and eat, but it seems to me there is at least some kind of demand for real cooking shows. But I may be wrong, as I am sure the gurus at FTV have researched this subject thouroughly.

                              1. re: macca

                                I find the candy and cake competitions to be boring. When those shows were specials offered once in a while, I would maybe watch. Now I find them repetitive and silly. Who can build the tallest Disney cake? Who can make the fanciest sugar tower? Not my type of tv.. but I guess most people like it since it's on every night at 7pm.

                                1. re: cheesecake17

                                  I know, boring every night. Now and then is ok. I like cooking but it isn't my everyday show. I have other shows I watch.

                                  I enjoy entertainment but some education too.

                        2. re: cheesecake17

                          I love your comments cheesecake17, I'm the same. They aren't advanced but people have to remember the majority of cooking families are NOT like us. They are average 40 hr working or more families, single or kids that are crazy with errands and daily life activities and don't have all day to make stock. I would love to and do when I have time. Some can't even cook an egg no less make stock. My best friend down here in FL just called to ask me how to cook a turkey he had in the freezer he wanted to use. 40 yrs old and NO clue what to do. He was married and has a son but he never cooked. Now single and TRYING to learn. This unfortunately makes up a large portion of our nation.
                          Rachel and Sandy appeal.

                          Now Rachel, I love the 30 min idea and have used the base of some of her dishes and made them mine with several changes. To me too many ingredients that most people don't even know or even ever heard of.

                          Sandy, like some deserts, I agree with you. Food. I took a dish she had artichokes in champagne and cream and adapted it to a scallop pasta dish I had. It turned out great. She does have some good ideas but unrealistic for me, but I still enjoy having her on in the background as I cook. And most importantly, she does appeal to a wide fan group.

                          Guy, it is just enjoyable, who cares about how good the food is ... and by the way, some look pretty damn good. People can relate.

                          If you don't like it ... don't watch it. It's pretty popular so I guess there are enough out there that enjoy them. I do enjoy learning but Jacques Pepin bores me to death ... he is very talented and knowledgble, but I can't stand to watch him. Hence. TV is all about pleasing everyone. Yes the food network may not be for the gourmet or those looking to learn and be educated but it appeals to a huge audience and sometimes I just like to be amused. After working 12 hours. The last thing I need is another lesson.

                          Robin Miller, nothing good from what I can see, but she gave me a great idea for a dinner. Used some leftovers and made the pasta and 20 minutes on the table for 4. I didn't make exactly what she made. I used bits and pieces ... but she did inspire me. So I love to watch now and then. I primarily record as I work all day and usually just watch when I get the chance, usually 2am, lol.

                          So thank cheesecake17. Yeah, guess I'm a fan too.

                          So at that to an end ... Yep ... I enjoy the food network.

                          I feel like its a great way to "expose" people to cooking but not good for more advanced cooks - those that are already familiar with cooking and want to learn about the science of food and more intermediate/advanced techniques.

                        3. Quite simply Food Network is not educational television, it is entertainment, no different than most of the networks. it just so happens it focuses on food. I don't think it was ever meant to be the PBS for food lovers. I love to cook, and do so much more than the average person. I can expose myself to technique etc. through cookbooks, classes and other avenues. If Food Network became some type of dry educational channel with the only goal being to teach various cooking techniques I probably would not watch as often.

                          I personally like watching Rachel Ray but rarely make any of her recipes. I still adore Paula Deen even though they have saturated the channel with her over the top southern charm. Sandra Lee, what can I say? I love a great tablescape and I like the fact she always includes cocktails. Now that is my kind of semi homemade cooking.

                          8 Replies
                          1. re: swamp

                            I love the episodes where she makes two cocktails... just makes me laugh..

                            1. re: swamp

                              Total agreement, but it is entertainment ... and today so many of us just need entertainment. After 12 hours and trying to cook something healthy ... Sandra makes me laugh at 1am and going through recorded shows on my DVR. Not much else.

                              However it is educational to a degree. It is very educational to those who have no clue how to cook Yesterday I relied to a thread for "I can't remember" but someone wrote broil the food. The poster wrote what is broil? OK, dumb question but honest ... So these shows do educate to a degree and we have to remember not all of us can cook and some just are looking to learn.

                              Short Story:

                              FYI, my dad called last night and was making a pasta Rachel had made. I was shocked. He hardly can boil and egg, but he followed the recipe. Called me for subs which he didn't have at home and he made it. Turned out great. He is actually learning. Moms health is bad so he now has to cook. Someone who has never cooked before is learning due to Rachel. Not the same recipe, but close and I assisted but rather than going out he cooked with fresh ingredients.

                              Isn't that teaching and educating to a degree. You have to start somewhere. You don't teach a gymnast a double back somersault .. you start with a cartwheel and work your way up ... same with cooking. Nothing wrong with food network.

                              1. re: kchurchill5

                                What a sweet story! Rachael has taught my several of my friends basic cooking and simple recipes. May not be the fanciest food, but it's usually simple to prepare, and relatively healthy.

                                Paula Deen at 1am cracks me up even more than Sandra Lee. Sometimes I'll be half sleeping while watching and rewind the DVR to make sure she really put 4 sticks of butter in the cake!

                                1. re: cheesecake17

                                  4 sticks minus the 2 tablespoons she licks off of her fingers, hilarious.

                                  1. re: swamp

                                    haha.. on one episode she made some sort of compound butter and started eating spoonfuls of it.

                                  2. re: cheesecake17

                                    Yep, but you still laugh, entertained and somewhere along the way remember something you may take to a recipe.

                                    And that is what I do. And Dad, he actually wrote it down and many of my friends they can't make a burger no less meatloaf. They watch and learn and then usually ask me how to make it easier ... if nothing else they watched and they want to cook! Isn't that what it is for ... getting people to cook.

                                    Job done.Jacques Pepin, great, good, amazing but my dad ... my best friend ... would of never watched him. So There is a channel for everyone. CHOW HOUNDS, wanna be cooks, beginners and just trying to find a great new recipe! We should help them all and they should do for us.

                                    1. re: kchurchill5

                                      I totally get that its important to teach people to cook and that they have to start from basics. obviously. my point was that they should have something for everyone. We don't need all beginners classes - they should mix it up a bit.

                                      1. re: cups123

                                        I agree. I would like some more advanced "teachers" or hosts. Agree absolutely. I don't dislike I actually like but a few top CHEFS or HOSTS would be nice with a more teaching method would be nice.

                              2. I'm not in the target audience for the Food or Fine Living Networks.

                                The shows I will watch are, Good Eats, Follow that Food, Molto Mario (very much Mario, great title) and Tyler Florence, when the topic is of interest to me. Good Eats and Follow that food are the most informative.

                                1. The Food Channel has been largely a disappointment for me for years now. I just am SOO tired of the celebrity chef concept which was bad enough. Then they had to get into the reality TV trend and the cook off silliness and my desire to even stop on the channel has diminished greatly. Yeah Alton Brown is great but its not enough. Paula Deen is a riot but Id rather see her do stand up then another cooking show. I like the whole Dives and Drive Ins concept but Guy Fieri is obnoxious and a turn off. And PLEASE someone explain to me why Bobby Flay is so popular… Everywhere I turn there he is… And they should have left Iron Chief to its Japanese roots and not Americanized it.

                                  Frankly the better “food” shows are on the Travel Channel in my opinion. And yeah bring back PBS 80’s cooking shows when the stuff was still underground and it was about the food not the celebrity or the competition. I don’t care about your restaurant or your celebrity friends or what you do for fun. Just focus on GOOD food. You can have personality and character that’s fine. Shoot, my favorite cooking show of all time was Justin Wilson’s Cajun Cooking which I used to watch when I was a kid. “…an add a lil reed unyon… and sum kayan peppuh… WOOOH!” God do I miss that show. Ive seen DVDs around but I haven’t bought any because I cant tell if they are the actual show or just him spinning stories and telling jokes. Anybody own them?

                                  4 Replies
                                    1. re: Insidious Rex

                                      I don't own any of the Justin Wilson DVDs, but I'll keep an eye out for them. I was just watching him on YouTube today. That was fun stuff, I gahrontee! ;)

                                      1. re: kattyeyes

                                        ooh... Ill have to try that at home.

                                        "A day widout wine is like a day widout soonshine..."

                                      2. re: Insidious Rex

                                        mmm.. Justin Wilson.... "Aahh garrruntee" the best show cooking show ever! Then again Julia C and J. Pepin are right there too.

                                        Molto Mario was the best thing Food Network ever did... but that's gone now too.

                                        Hate those "competitions" and "reality" shows. But I doubt that FTV will ever catch on to the thousands of us that do. I reach for the "clicker" the second they come on!