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Jul 22, 2010 08:09 AM

Thoughts on: TV cooking show "sets" and "methods" as well as who "outfits" these TV cooks.

Sitting here watching a show right now, all 3 of these things are making me take notice for some reason.

Although, I don't like this one particular cooking show, nothing else is worth watching while I'm typing out an email to my sister, as back ground noise. The "cook" says to add 1 tablespoon oil to hot pan. She literally put in a 1/4 cup of oil though. This happens on most shows I watch and wonder do they not have time to measure or is it really not important how much "whatever" goes in or do they think we'll not know that [that] was way more than a tablespoon? At least RR says to eyeball it. Mentioned before that the size bowls they often use are way too small and I feel awkward watching someone put in an over abundance of noodles or greens or whatever it is [in a bowl that size] when its' size is obviously and clearly questionable.

The set for this show is probably supposed to be her home where she cooks out of her kitchen. Thing is, to me it looks like a tape running outside the kitchen window with seemingly the same cars going up and down the street all the time. Or they park outside her house or turn left or right, drive really slow. Is this fake or is it real? Are the leaves outside her window real or fake? I'm not naming her because that's not the point, most of this pertains to most shows in one way or another.

This lady is often in similar clothing and it's probably typical of someone's idea of current trendiness. The appearance of her body shape is cute and small however the clothes they put her in don't show that. My question is does she have say so over what they put her in or is that left to the one dressing her? She's a tiny woman but her tops emphasize her mid section as appearing off balance. That said, I am no fashion icon or brilliant in clothing choices either, but these people make a statement with what they wear unless it's a chef's jacket.

My best girlfriend is a make up artist and does their hair often too although isn't a hair dresser. We've talked a lot but not about the clothes worn on shows.

The measuring bothers me as it is usually off, maybe due to time constraints but if people really don't know how to cook, they could think "boy a tablespoon is a lot of oil", or whatever the mis-measurement is. The sets I suppose are subjective, whatever you like or I like someone else might not. Their attire is also, maybe not a big deal.

Is there anyone else in here that notices or am I being way too observant? I'm assuming these shows aren't inexpensive to put on and attention to detail is being over looked.

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  1. I have noticed the same thing about the measurements. I'm never sure, though, whether they're exaggerating amounts for the camera or if the visual proportions are skewed in my perception since the items appear so much larger on my screen than they do on my counter, if that makes sense.

    1 Reply
    1. re: mattwarner

      It makes sense Matt. They are bigger on screen especially when the screen is 72".
      I've been cooking all my life and watching a quarter cup of oil being dropped into a waiting skillet & calling it a tablespoon or putting a scant pinch of salt in a sauce and saying "that's about a teaspoon I'd say" confuses an average cook I'd think ;(

    2. If you're talking about Giada, most things look big compared to her. That quarter cup of oil could easily actually only be a tablespoon

      7 Replies
      1. re: raleighboy

        I think iL Divo is talking about Robin Miller. Giada dresses too nicely to be the hinted at host. So iL Divo, who is it?

        1. re: just_M

          I thought of Robin Miller as well, it was the mention of the possible fake car tape outside the kitchen window. Always wondered about that. Robin is normally fairly accurate when measuring, from what I've observed; maybe not with oil though, being that her show tends toward a healthier quick cooking style.

          Haven't watched Robin in awhile, though.

          1. re: bushwickgirl

            Wasn't meaning to be vague or have this be a guessing game, also wasn't trying to be rude to any one tv personality. Was trying to engage anyone in their opinions about dress/sets/measurements. Watching that particular
            day the subject was RM.
            Can anyone address who decides on clothes and set decor also measurements

            1. re: iL Divo

              I did not perceive rudeness in your OP.

              The following is my perception of what goes into making a cooking show:

              When you say measurements, you are talking about the recipe measurement breakdown? The show host is usually the one who develops the recipes. The recipes are run by his or her show's director/producer, to keep within budget and show focus, but I believe recipe R & D is truly the host's job, with the food prep for the show being the host's and his/her assistant's job. How the host prepares the recipe in front of the camera is a bit of a personal style; I outlined my thoughts about Robin's cooking technique in my post upthread. Recipes sometimes appear not to be closely followed on cooking shows, except when baking and unless mise en place is set up and strictly adhered to, but in reality, the shows are discussed, rehearsed and/or the ingredients and techniques are burned into the mind of the host. Take Tyler Florence, who is very comfortable in front of the camera and seems to be throwing a dish together with great ease, but he has it all very well choregraphed (in his head).

              I'm betting that for time and budgetary restraints, cooking shows don't do many takes. I've witnessed my share of taped flubs; no re-do's.

              The show's host, director and producer most likely chose the set, along with other staff member and production company involvement. Most sets scream home kitchen, and are TV kitchen studios or are occasionally someone's leased kitchen; other sets are more professional looking affairs. The less professional looking, the more approachable and familiar for home cooks, imo.

              The cooking show host's outfits are much less important to me than what's on the menu, the plate and the cooking skill of the host. I look at the food, the knife skills, the technique. The dress code now on most shows is quite casual, unless the host is a professional chef and wears a uniform, which may be offputting to home cooks.

              I don't think lots of time or thought goes into dressing the host, except by the host.

              1. re: bushwickgirl

                I loved UR post thanks for being so informative.

        2. re: raleighboy

          I thought he was talking about Rachel Ray when he mentioned the ill-fitting clothes. RR has a cute body but her clothes do NOTHING for her!

          1. re: Fromageball

            how funny that you assume I'm a he since my screen name is masculine right? sorry, but my husband is pretty convinced I'm a girl, as are our children..........hahahhh

            yea, no, not RR..........

        3. the bowls hardly ever seem to be large enough on these shows -- and i've even noticed it sometimes on america's test kitchen. it drives me nuts to see them trying to stir, mix, blend -- whatever -- without the food coming over the edge.

          second, the breaking of eggs is a problem with way too many tv cooks who should know (or should've been told) better. don't break the eggs on the edge of your bowl, and don't break the egg directly into your batter, or ground meat, or whatever.

          and sound effects! oh my goodness, is it only me who thinks that they have a special department for martha stewart's "everyday food" show that just does sound effects? i think they are the same FX people who used to work for "wild kingdom" from mutual of omaha.
          crunch, crunch, cruuuunnnnch. sizzle, sizzle, SIZZLE! listen to the chopping! they make using a chef's knife sound like a run on the guillotine fun during the french revolution.
          and secret of a restaurant chef gal -- anne, dear -- DON'T freakin' lick your fingers and then stick them in the product you'll be serving!

          11 Replies
          1. re: alkapal

            SOARC's Anne, stop grunting & growling too, she's hard to watch.
            Tv for us is often a visual thing, right or wrong... It is. AB's attire is something I can't see beyond unfortunately.

            1. re: iL Divo

              oh YES, the grunts and growls are mightily annoying. gyack, she is atavistic! i've commented on her tight knit blouses not being flattering. hasn't she switched to a chef's jacket, now?

              the set, too, is a real distraction. who *designed* this show? it is over-the-top, and not in a good way.

              1. re: alkapal

                I don't think AB has switched over to the white chef jacket but I could be wrong.
                Being a hairdresser in my last life, I remember a favorite customer of mine coming in one day saying that's it, change this hair style. I said to what? She said I don't care but make it easy. She had the worst hair ever with more importantly, the worst hairline ever, so, very hard to cut. I gave her the now famous AB, totally bleached white and spikey beyond belief. On her, it was the best thing that had ever happened to her, the attention she got was instantly amazing and the men went wild. But for AB, I say, it's time for a change there too.............

                1. re: iL Divo

                  il divo, would we recognize her if she changed the hair, i wonder?

                  1. re: alkapal

                    who? < my old customer or Anne Burrell?
                    probably in both cases.
                    you know what I'd do to AB, make it shorter and dark, closer to her face and redo her makeup, she'd be darling..........but this is just my not so humble opinion so...............

                    1. re: iL Divo

                      i was thinking of AB. i agree with your suggestion for a new do. and i think it would make her look younger, too. as she is, she just makes me think of billy idol or vanilla ice.

                      1. re: alkapal

                        I know huh..............some time soon, I hope they change her stylist

                    2. re: alkapal

                      in fact,all the while.i thought you were referring to alton brown! trying to imagine him with a spiked out, bleached out 'do. since my hair is already mostly salt with a healthy shot of pepper, i recently got the spike out and love it; many compliments,easy care, great base for hats.BTW, il divo maybe we think of you as a he because of your cute icon; like one of the tenors, or something; maybe you're s bass?

                      1. re: betsydiver


                        First: I love spiked out do's. They can be (and are) total winners on some.
                        Second: I am a shoot from the hip girl. Also do things on impulse.
                        Choosing the username for CH was easy but will admit a dumb choice.
                        Should have chosen a cooking related term but couldn't think of anything original that spoke to me. Could have used something related to my profession but that seemed lame and tired. A family title? < Not original enough for me.
                        BUT.....the name of "my boys", now that seemed brill! < But wasn't cause everyone thinks that's either me, my husband or son, it's NOTA, it's Sebastien from Il Divo.
                        I refer to the group as "my boys" they know it, I've told each of them that, they just giggle. Perhaps "iL Divo-tee" would have made more sense. Can I have a do over please? :))))

                        1. re: iL Divo

                          we'll just keep it an inside secret that you're a kick-butt gal!

                          1. re: alkapal

                            ^^^^^ uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh^^^^^
                            yes I am :)

            2. I always thought that Rachel Ray was the biggest offender of the measurement follies. Instead of telling what the measurement was she would give it an undefined term of measure.

              1 Reply
              1. re: SanityRemoved

                Yea, but, atleast I understood her "2 rounds around the pan" visualizing how much I perceived that to be. Also, with RR, I don't make her recipes usually as I find them not to my liking or completely wrong in ingredient measuring ie. her pasta fagiole (sp?). That said I honestly do enjoy her mile high lasagna

              2. My cable company offers MAG RACK in their ON DEMAND. They have cooking videos that give the written ingredients at the end. It'll say 1 TB of oil but you could have sworn the chef doing the demo earlier poured a lot more.

                edited to add: However, America's Test Kitchen is always *extremely* precise in their measurements. The cook will have a ramekin of oil but will only take 1 TB out of it and put it in the frying pan etc.

                2 Replies
                1. re: pdxgastro

                  just finished watching GDL make a veg of artichokes and breaded topping, then baked.
                  what I still don't understand is why she'd use a tiny bowl to put the bread crumbs in and the butter and olive oil and parm cheese etc then grab a big stainless spoon to stir it all. it is hard to watch when you know she's got a bigger bowl somewhere, why stoop to using this little tiny barely bigger than a ramekin thing?

                  she also really has a love of nutella. uses it so often, she must have limited ingredient imagination. I don't much have a go to staple.........