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Martha and Emeril reveal their knowledge of basic cooking oils. Busted.

Caught a few minutes of the lunchtime broadcast of Martha Stewart show, where Emeril was selling product (boxed rice, spice, and cast iron pans) and showing how to fry chicken.

I don't mean to "bash" here, and a Tivoed tape would better give a verbatim on my recollected transcript, but I was appalled at the moment when E. said he used vegetable oil, and Martha casually asked him "what kind of vegetable oil" and he replied "just.. vegetable oil" and she gently pressed "but which kind?" and he said "vegetable oil" and E. recountered, "vegetable oil" flinching in misunderstanding.

Does the King of Cajun Fry-up not know that all "vegetable oils" are labeled as to species origin. be it canola or soybean (the 2 most common when marketed as "vegetable oil"). His body language showed that he was busted.

Martha co-dependently countered, in a deft move to save the segment, with "well Mom always used Crisco... that's vegetable oil, right? (Crisco's name come from Crystallized Cottonseed Oil, unknowingly twisting the discussion into artificial hygrogenation. )

So there we were. I stared at the TV in disbelief rather than insert the next bite of my lunch. Two of the biggest millionaire players, showing an absolute lack of understanding of the absolute basics.

I'm surprised that they aired the episode without a director running in to delicately demand a reshoot.. But apparently the bottom line was that with all that "food power".... nobody knew.

So, rather than bashing them, I simple chuckled, finished my sandwich, and celebrated those of us empowered cooks who choose our oils knowledgeably and carefully.

Martha and Emeril followers, is it worth bringing email attention to their websites?

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  1. i was trying to find a video clip to watch for myself, so of course i checked Martha's website - they posted Emeril's fried chicken recipe (it's apparently from one of his cookbooks) and it actually calls for *peanut* oil...but i'm guessing that's not what they used for the demo on the show, because they would have been able to identify it by the aroma.


    BTW, no luck on the video clip.

    2 Replies
    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

      IT was broadcast today. No telling of date of original taping, as martha is apparently carrying her self to another network. But I would think that it is strictly contemporary. So they haven't archived it in youtube form yet.

      There was no mention of peanut oil, or any other species. It was a "clusterfry"... no noses or eptitude at work. That's why I was appalled enough to make this possibly inflammatory post.

      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

        The recipe actually looks pretty good. The only thing I would do different is use self-rising flour. Of all the fried chicken recipes I've tried, self-rising flour seems to turn out better... crunchier.

        In terms of oil... whatever is on sale. I do like peanut oil for the faint hint of peanutty goodness it imparts to foods, but that stuff is over $2 more expensive.

      2. In defense of the two of them, not even food moguls can/do know everything, but it seems that basic vegetable oil knowledge is something they should be quite clear on. Maybe Emeril was thinking peanut oil, which many chefs use for deep frying, and he lost his concentration or encountered massive confusion when Martha asked him "what type..." but that's just speculation on my part. Awkward at the very least.

        GHG- Highly refined peanut oil, which is what would be used for frying chicken, or anything else, for that matter, has a extremely subtle peanut aroma and would not be noticed during frying, much like any other higly refined oil. Unrefined peanut oil does have a wonderful peanut aroma, but you wouldn't use that oil for deep frying. Not only that, if Martha/Emeril don't know jack about vegetable oil, they certainly wouldn't be able to identify a subtle frying oil aroma.

        2 Replies
        1. re: bushwickgirl

          I was remiss in my OP not to clearly state: please view the original video to see the nuances and the body language. It may take weeks for that to surface, if ever.

          I would not have posted this gossip-like gotcha were I not appalled. May I respectfully move the metaphor from "Not knowing Sh*t from Shinola" to "Not knowing soy from canola". (peanut is my kudo oil too as offers it's high smoke point).

          In fairness, let's let the video record a chance to surface. Then we can see if they are really cooks.

          1. re: FoodFuser

            I almost watched this episode, but went to my favorite reruns of ER. Oh well.
            FWIW, I don't feel you're being at all gossipy it pointing out this one (glaring) error, you're not bashing Martha/Emeril, just their lack of knowledge. Let's chalk it up to TV jitters for Emeril.

        2. After thirty years of frying Emeril probably views a few high temperature vegetable oils as being interchangeable and not essential to the dish. To my knowledge, soybean, peanut. safflower are heat resistant oils

          Right or wrong, Emeril would say you are being too precise. Emeril was excluding animal fats and oils and I think that was his main concern

          1 Reply
          1. re: zzDan

            Emeril's recipe calls for peanut oil. why specify a particular oil if it doesn't matter? note, i'm not pointing this out to call foul on Emeril's part, but to address your assumption that he views them as interchangeable. i think MplsMary was correct in he comment below - Emeril had a brain fart on this one. we've all had them, and i'm guilty of it on a pretty regular basis!

          2. A couple weeks ago I spent a day trying to remember the word ‘falafel.’ My sister and I met up in Vegas and I was telling her about my weekly lunches with our uncle. After two years of weekly lunches uncle and I finally found a place we both truly enjoy because he can get a great corned beef sandwich and I order the falafel platter. Not being able to remember ‘falafel’ was just a goofy glitch. Off camera, thank goodness.

            Come on, this is a tempest in a teaspoon,

            Have you never had a brain fart? Oh, and they (bf’s) are contagious – when a friend can’t remember, like as not you mayn’t either.

            2 Replies
            1. re: MplsM ary

              i think you're right. there's no question that after 30 years the guy knows what he's doing, and [as much as it pains me to say this] i'm sure Martha knows her oils well too. as bushwickgirl pointed out above, highly refined peanut oil doesn't have much of an aroma - i had a brain fart *myself* on that one because i don't really fry anymore, so the peanut oil i'm accustomed to using these days has a very distinct peanutty smell...but the stuff they were using wouldn't.

              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                Absolutely -- any one of us can glitch, and that's compounded many, many times over by being in front of a live audience.

                And furthermore, fried chicken at home isn't a high-heat application with oil you plan on reusing for hours at a time. I'd feel comfortable doing it in pretty much anything, though my preference would be Crisco (which no longer has trans fats).

            2. One thing Emeril always touted is that cooking is not rocket science. I bet when Martha kept pushing the point, I can imagine he what he was thinking... "It doesn't freakin' matter what type of vegetable oi. Vegetable oil is vegetable oil. Martha, why are you wasting airtime talking about this bs."

              In the US, vegetable oil is pure soybean oil. If you look at the ingredients of Wesson and Crisco vegetable oil and any other house-brand veg oil, it's soybean oil. For the blends, a lot of marketing goes into pointing out that the oil is a "blend" with heart healthy canola.

              In regards to Crisco, Crisco does sell vegetable oil which I doubt was available when Martha's mom was around. I would have thought Crisco veg oil instead of Crisco shortening.

              4 Replies
              1. re: dave_c

                >>"In the US, vegetable oil is pure soybean oil."<<

                Exactly. "What kind of vegetable oil?" is a stupid question. You buy the big bottle that says "Vegetable Oil" on it. Done and done. Sure, you could send the viewers to the fine print on the side that lists the ingredient ("soybean oil"), but why not just tell them what the big print on the front of the label says?

                1. re: alanbarnes

                  that's just what I was thinking. At the grocery, the bottles are labeled "corn", "canola", "peanut", or "vegetable". So he's saying the one labeled "vegetable" is a-ok. Whatever.

                    1. re: phantomdoc

                      sure fine-- that wasn't my point. My point was that Emeril saying "vegetable oil" is not a silly statement.

              2. First, you are really looking for a way to bash Emeril's.

                Second, there is a product called vegetable oil. Here's the link to Crisco's vegetable oil. The target audience of the Martha Stewart Show are home cooks so I think Emeril was suggesting a general use oil that is widely avaliable to those watching the show.If a viewer went to the grocery store they would be able to find a product called vegetable oil.


                Lastly, do you really think Emeril doesn't know how to cook? Have you been to his restaurants in New Orleans? He's not some flash in the pan chef. He worked hard for a very long time before he became a TV sensation.

                11 Replies
                1. re: hudsonvalleyfoodblog

                  Whoa, slow down, I don't think any Emeril or Martha bashing is going on here, and I do think we've somewhat agreed, after some discussion, that is was a Emeril brain fart.
                  The question was what type of vegetable oil, and we will never know what Emeril was thinking about (or not) at the moment of questioning.

                  1. re: bushwickgirl

                    We've all agreed? We'll never know what he was thinking about? I don't think so.

                    He was talking about VEGETABLE OIL. Which is the name of a product sold in every American supermarket. How is that possibly a brain fart?

                    1. re: alanbarnes

                      i think the point is that there was some expectation - on behalf of Martha and those who were watching or wondering - that Emeril would specify what that "vegetable oil" is made of - soybean, canola, safflower, etc.

                      the major brands - Crisco, Wesson, Goya - are 100% soybean oil, so the question is whether Emeril actually knew that and just couldn't remember at the moment.

                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                        I suppose that he could have specified "soybean oil." And when quizzed about baking powder, he could specify "a combination of sodium bicarbonate and tartaric acid." But why not just refer to a product by what it says on the label instead of sending the viewer to the ingredients list?

                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                          <specify what that "vegetable oil" is made of - soybean, canola, safflower, etc.> No vegetable oil is made of "Canola," because there is no such thing as a "Canola."

                            1. re: ChefJune

                              Re "there is no such thing as a 'Canola.'"

                              See http://www.canolacouncil.org/canola_o...

                              Canadian Oil Low Acid (Canola) does exist (I Have a bottle in my oil cupboard) and is not rapeseed, although it is descended from rapeseed.

                              1. re: rbp foodie

                                Funny how often people quote that same piece of Canola oil industry propaganda. They can call it anything they want, but it's scientific classification indicates that it's simply a rapeseed cultivar.

                          1. re: alanbarnes

                            Who cares? Maybe he made a mistake or maybe not. This is a gotcha situation, just another attempt to jump on someone who is a big target. The man knows how to cook, flat out.

                          2. re: bushwickgirl

                            I replied to the first post. It seems everyone is on the same page with the vegetable oil part. You have to admit the first post was a little strong. It went pretty hard after Emeril. So when a post like that is made you have to expect some strong reactions.

                            1. re: hudsonvalleyfoodblog

                              I suppose if Emeril had blurted out "soybean," as an answer, we wouldn't all still be posting here.<chuckle> Life goes on...

                        2. "Does the King of Cajun Fry-up not know that all "vegetable oils" are labeled as to species origin. be it canola or soybean (the 2 most common when marketed as "vegetable oil")."

                          Is this a new thing? Because I've seen bottles of vegetable oil that state they "may contain" one or more of several oils. Even if it did say on the container, the producers probably buy restaurant-sized containers and decant them into smaller containers for use in front of the cameras, so unless he ran back to look at the original container, he wouldn't know. In other words, he was handed a container of "vegetable oil" and probably never saw the original container, let alone looked at the fine print to see what oil/oils it contained.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Ruth Lafler

                            Ruth and I shop for the same Vegetable Oil.
                            We even may have read the same bottles.

                            Seems as if this long, long winter is getting to all of us.

                            1. re: shallots

                              Well, actually, I don't use "vegetable oil" but I do read labels compulsively!

                          2. The clip is up at Martha Stewart's website: (12:01 minutes long)

                            The oil talk starts at about 6:30 minutes into the clip.
                            Emeril states that you can use vegetable oil or canola oil.

                            At 6:45, Martha asks the vegetable oil question.

                            My take on this whole conversation... Martha doesn't know her oils.
                            Emeril seemed kind of surprised by Martha continued questions about vegetable oil.

                            "Martha and Emeril followers, is it worth bringing email attention to their websites?"
                            Nah... it's 30 seconds of Martha being confused.

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: dave_c

                              Yeah, me too glad i watched the segment that you're talking about. I didn't get that impression at all or feel he should of answered her with the kind of details she was asking and not really caring about the answer. Martha asks a lot of questions, I get the impression she either likes the sound of her own voice, or she just has bad habit of asking questions. It's very distacting at times. Did you catch her talking about her own situation with her hot oil expansion problem. He was like whatever, and moved on.
                              What a mess, tee hee!

                              Shoot I don't want to give the wrong impression either, I love Martha and Emeril both, I do have a huge amount of respect for them, This simply shows they're human just like the rest of us. I bet they'd laugh if they saw this discussion.

                              So what I reall want to know is, is the fried chicken any good?

                              1. re: chef chicklet

                                I made the recipe last weekend. I thought it was a good recipe, but lacked something.. Maybe more herbs? Overall, everyone enjoyed the chicken.

                                A couple things. 360F is too high. The crust browned too much, probably due to the buttermilk. 300F is more like it. Also, in the video, he mentions soaking in ice water. That I did not do since it wasn't written in the recipe.

                                BTW... I used Canola.

                                Attached is a photo of the drumstick... I tried to photoshop out the clutter... lol

                                1. re: dave_c

                                  I didn't like the way the crust looked, anyway from the photo at least.
                                  I am very picky about my fried chicken and have tried for quite some time to perfect my own batter or coating.
                                  Good to know about the canola, but what Kind of Canola?
                                  Kidding. I use Crisco for frying chicken.

                                  1. re: chef chicklet

                                    Sorry I just noticed YOUR picture. Yours looks far better!

                                2. re: chef chicklet

                                  <she just has bad habit of asking questions.>

                                  It is her job as the program host to ask questions to which she undoubtedly knows the answers, because her average viewer does not have her expertise. She is standing in for the less-informed viewer. When Julia Child did programs with guest cooks/bakers, she asked many questions, very obviously for the benefit of the viewer.

                                  In this case, she was probably trying to elicit from Emeril an exposition of which oils are best suited for frying, and why. A program has better flow if the guest explains the details. When the host takes over the clarification, it can seem like s/he is showing off.

                              2. Good grief. I watched this episode and did not get that impression in the least. I thought maybe Martha wanted Emeril to say "Traditionally lard is used..." or "Peanut oil has a very high smoke point so..." I did not take it to mean that Martha and Emeril are ignorant. You are really nitpicking here. The show is directed to a diverse audience with diverse interests and a varied depth of knowledge. She has cooking, crafts, gardening, and general homemaking tips/ideas. This is not a "lets show off how much we know about X." Emeril probably was thinking...we're frying chicken, not building a nuclear submarine....and this is the Martha Stewart Show, not a culinary school lecture.

                                " So, rather than bashing them, I simple chuckled, finished my sandwich, and celebrated those of us empowered cooks who choose our oils knowledgeably and carefully."

                                How is coming onto CH and acting like you're superior to E&M and advocating emailing them over something totally ridiculous- NOT bashing?!

                                1 Reply
                                1. Huh? What's wrong with just saying vegetable oil? It's just called vegetable oil...I have a bottle in the cupboard right now...just "vegetable oil" on the label. He is probably talking about that seems pretty pointless for him to know exactly what vegetable is used in the making of this oil...

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: AngelSanctuary

                                    31 (now 32) replies to this post? I'm all for catching an emperor without clothes, but c'mon, folks. If we had to catalogue every such slip by every such figure, we'd have no time to, you know, read and reply to CH. Although I have to confess to annoyance when I see Lidia Bastianich occasionally bloop--describing a white wine she was drinking as another DOC red (or vice versa), or when she visited the bustling fish market in Civitanova (Marche) and called it Civitavecchia (Lazio). Back to real life.

                                    1. re: bob96

                                      I agree...the nitpicking is pretty silly.

                                      Then again, I do also remember Emeril on his show some years ago talking about rice, and authoritatively stating that Jasmine rice is long grain rice with flavoring added to it.

                                  2. So many good replies that can help us all individually calibrate our concepts and expectations of experts and cooking oils.

                                    Thanks to dave C for posting the link to the original video so that we could all review the nuanced conversation on Martha's show.

                                    1. I'm not getting what the big deal is here. I have vegetable oil in my cupboard. What kind? I don't know. What kind? I don't know.
                                      The average viewer "gets" vegetable oil as a product and this helps guide them to make the recipe. Do you really think that most folks fixate on "OMG!! but what KIND of vegetable oil?"
                                      As Joy Behar would say- "So what? Who cares?
                                      Really, stop trying to knock people down.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: monavano

                                        I thought of this thread the other day when I asked my 13 year old to get me the oil out of the pantry-- he says "which one" I say the one that says "vegetable oil". I could have said "the soybean oil--" "which one?" "the soybean oil-- you know the one that says 'vegetable oil"

                                      2. i think it might be because the 5 gal oils you buy thru a restaurant distributor are labeled "olive" (couple different kinds/grades) "peanut," "canola," "vegetable" (soy&blended), etc. they don't necessarily correlate to home cooking oils & brands-- emeril was thinking in terms of a product that restaurants can get but home cooks can't, and when martha asked him "which kind" he got flustered because he couldn't think of which commercial product/brand would be most similar to what he uses in a restaurant. i agree he probably meant to imply that any veg-based oil would be fine to use, while martha wants (in ocd way) name, provenance, brand, size, weight, measurement. . . just the way the two of them are, right? i haven't seen the clip and so i'm once again, just guessing.