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Dec 16, 2009 11:03 AM

Michael and Bryan Voltaggio on Bonnie Hunt Show Today 12/16

They made hot chocolate and homemade marshmallows with bizarre spices. Not very exciting and not very accessible. Much to esoteric for me and I like to make a good deal of things from scratch...

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  1. I just heard the Bonnie Hunt show has beencanceled. Sounds right.

    6 Replies
    1. re: chicgail

      I don't think I ever saw the show before (it's really not my cup of tea) but I saw the show description on the guide and thought I'd check out the top chefs... My problem was not with the show (it seemed pretty par for the course for daytime talk) my problem was with the Voltaggios. I mean it's one thing to use fennel pollen and make your own mint infused marshmallows from scratch on Top Chef, but not when you're doing a cooking demonstration on tv. People want you to teach them something/give them a recipe that they can do themselves. Not watch them get themselves off with fennel pollen and bee wort.

      1. re: StheJ

        I didn't see the show, but I agree. I have done PR and media training with chefs who have been scheduled to do on-air demonstrations and they forget who they're talking to. A viewer will both tune out and be left with a bad impression of a chef who uses ingredients they can't get -- or worse -- that they didn't know existed. Chefs think they're talking to their peers and they want to do something that makes them look good to the industry. BTW, doctors and scientists do the same thing.

        1. re: StheJ

          Another perspective:

          These chefs are known for cooking modern, complex food. If they went on TV and demo'ed 2-minute hot cocoa or some other Rachel Ray-style recipe, they would be seen as not being true to themselves, their careers, or their food. That's who they are. Would you expect Ferran Adria to make accessible food on TV? If the food looks or sounds unappealing to you, then you are not a potential customer of the Voltaggio Bros anyway - better to turn off non-customers than to alienate those who would come to their restaurants by speaking down to them.

          If this made for bad TV, I suspect that the problem was in the Bonnie Hunt show booking them in the first place. It was not realistic to expect them to make traditional TV demo food.

          And Chicgail - doctors and scientists face the problem that as soon as they oversimplify (and yes- TV demands oversimplification), they've lost all credibility with some members of their audience - notably their peers. And doctors and scientists do NOT want to lose all credibility with their peers. Usually the only ones who don't care about their credibility in their industry don't have any in the first place.

          1. re: cowboyardee

            You make some interesting points... but:

            1. If they intend to have a "successful" cooking show on tv or on the internet, then they need to appeal to a wide customer/fan base. My point being that their appeal is too limited for them to be successful as tv cooking show hosts.

            2. I think that they can stay true to their cooking style at the same time that they make it interesting and accessible to a wider fan base. i.e. they just failed to evaluate their audience and adapt their cooking style as necessary or didn't realize that they needed to or should.

            3. As to the doctors/scientists being able to communicate with not only their peers but lay people, I don't judge my peers on the way they make their specialties accessible to lay people. I say: hey, they're explaining something in a digestible way to someone without the background and evaluate them on the success of their explanation and seperatly evaluate their professional work on a professional basis.

            4. Lastly, I don't get your point about alienating customers of their restaurants. We're talking about them doing a successful cooking show. Aside from the exposure, one has nothing to do with the other.

            1. re: cowboyardee

              You are correct about over simplification and credibility with their peers and that's the conundrum. But TV, radio and most print media is targeted not to peers, but to the general public who has a very limited exposure to and knowledge of a technical and complicated subject. The overwelming make-up of the Bonnie Hunt show does not include many master chefs, physicians or scientists.

              The position I take is that when dealing with any kind of media (the exception being a professional journal,or targeted professional audience) is that the limitations of time and/or space and the knowledge base of the audience demands that any high level scientific/medical/culinary concepts be simplified. And that simplification will cause some distortion of what they are saying.

              The chef or doc or scientist then has a choice. He or she can speak in jargon and/or complexities and leave the host, reporter or viewer, listener, reader to make of it what they will (and hence the distortion). Or he or she can choose the simplification and distortion that he or she as a professional can best live with, that is most accurate and communicates best.

              As a rule, if the message is too technical, Joe and Mary Sixpack (and I include you and me in that category) will tune out completely or take away a totally incorrect message.

              That's why Dr. Oz and Alton Brown so effective. They know who they are talking to. They know what they want to communicate and they find ways to communicate it that make sense to the people who are watching.

              And you are absolutely right that the V-bros did not belong on Bonnie Hunt, but given that they were, good guidance would have been for them to modify for the home cook.

              1. re: chicgail

                First off: in all fairness, there are of course those who actually make things more complicated than they have to be in order to sound smart or use words like "hepatic" when "liver" would be just as correct (a lot of Docs do this to their patients in the hospital just as they do on TV). I'm not referring to that but to a much larger problem.

                The Alton Brown and Dr Oz examples are useful. They are both excellent communicators, and that's not as easy as it seems. But just as important- they are both given a longer format to explain themselves. That's quite rare for television. I'd hope that given a longer format, the V bros are able to make sense of their cooking for anyone interested. Time will tell.

                I'm especially sensitive to the doctor/scientist issue - I'm an RN at a large trauma center and my wife is a research scientist. Many medical and scientific issues are complex by their nature - a simple explanation does not exist. I truly believe that watering down medical advice for wide dispersion is irresponsible. And a 2 minute or 30 second sound bite to explain most medical or scientific issues is usually not appropriate for those issues.

                I don't know whether to blame the TV medium for not accommodating the actual complexities of medicine or science or the general public for trying to glean their medical or scientific knowledge from television. But I have a hard time blaming a physician or scientist for not turning calculus into arithmetic. They face an enormous catch 22. Any imprecise information could be misleading or even dangerous; yet they are given just a few seconds to give their most important messages.

                If the medium makes unrealistic demands, we should critique the medium and/or its role in our lives.

        2. I thought Bonnie was cancelled. I don't find it on any channel. What channel did you watch it on?

          1 Reply
          1. Michael and Bryan will be hosting a web food show: