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Dec 6, 2010 07:00 AM

Why Can't We Just Have a Decent Cooking Show on TV??

OK. perhaps I'm being too picky here but it has dawned on me that I hardly ever watch The Food Network anymore. I watch the Cooking Network even less. Was a time I remember watching good and decent cooking shows on PBS. John Folse. Nathalie Dupree. That Menonite Lady who always said "Essa Goot"; Justin; Julia Child; Jacques Pepin, Mary Ellen Esposito, Lidia, America's Test Kitchen...just to name a few. All entertaining in their own ways. I loved the banter between Julia Child and Jacques Pepin and learned a helluva lot of tips from them. I laughed at Nathalie Dupree's clumsiness because it was so natural and the same stuff would happen to me. I adored Mary Ellen Esposito's explanations of how she is cooking--listening to her was just like being in school and listening to your favorite teacher. John Folse--my fave--he even sent me a case of Steens Can Syrup when I called him up to tell him I could not find it in New York City--true story! These chefs/cooks/bakers really loved what they did and sent the message across that they wanted you to succeed.
Now we're stuck with personalities first/food second. Who would make half the garbage that some of these TV personalities make anyway? I cannot even look at Sandra Lee's finished products. Can Paula Deen have an episode where she does NOT use a ton of butter? Can Guy Fieri go one day where he doesn't say "MONEY"??? Iron Chef has lost it's greatness. Rachael Ray's 30 minute meals are a waste of ...well...30 minutes! I'm tired. Unwrapped is nothing but reruns. Mo Rocca's voice is more annoying than Fran Dresher's. Actually the only two shows on Cooking Network that I can get through are the French Cooking thing with Laura Calder and that Italian cooking show with that cute guy who films it in Italy. Oh..and the reruns of that Food Road Show with Jim O'Donnell--he should come back and host Unwapped. I the only one who feels this way? I want damn good recipes and want to be challanged..I'm tired of the entertainment aspect already.

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  1. Dessert First is nice and on Food Network. PBS still has good cooking shows with Lidia Bastianich, Rick Bayless, they are currently showing Jacques and Julia and sometimes Avec Eric (with Eric Ripert). They also show Cooks Illustrated people. No offense, but it sounds to me like all you really need to do is change the channel. I do like Unwrapped, but they are mostly repeats. The new ones I think come on the same day as the new Best Thing I Ever Ate. Funny when Food Network started out it was all Bobby Flay and Mario Batali cooking and some Michael Chiarello (the easy entertaining). I like Barefoot Contessa okay at least I know the majority of her stuff will come out well.

    2 Replies
    1. re: burgeoningfoodie

      Yeah. I know. I do change the channel, and I still watch a lot of those PBS shows now on "Create". It just gets to me how the evolution of cooking shows has just been dumbed down so much.

      1. re: jarona

        These shows may be entertaining but do not offer much in teaching, I don't like them and do miss the older cookings shows, I felt as if I were taking a cooking course online without a test.

    2. The two cooking shows you watch are Canadian. PBS is still decent, ATK and Cooks Country are the best.

      1 Reply
      1. re: mlukan

        I agree with those choices. I would also add Mary Ann Esposito and Nick Stellino as being some of the better cooking hosts/shows on TV today.

      2. Maybe you know too much to find what you want on TV. TV isn't a good medium for presenting challenging recipes. It's too fleeting. It can wet your appetite, but you still need a written list of the ingredients. And if certain steps need to be demonstrated, still photos, or a DVD that you can stop and repeat are better than brief TV segment.

        5 Replies
        1. re: paulj

          That's true, but TV today is better equipped for teaching than it was in the day when we didn't have DVR or even VCR. Heck, when I first was watching Julia and the Frugal Gourmet, you could write (as in, a letter in a stamped envelope) to the network for a copy of the recipes used in that episode -- no web, even! Why not give us reasonable instruction now that we can watch the eps on demand or on DVR (and pause/rewind) or online.

            1. re: paulj

              When I disconnected my TV because I was only watching cooking shows, I thought I'd just spend the $90-$100 monthly fee to buy all the cooking DVD's I wanted. That's been a long time now and I certainly ran out of cooking DVD's to buy after a short while. I find a lot of information (and enjoyment, too) on youtube. At least half of the time when I'm looking for a recipe and/or technique for that recipe, I automatically think, "youtube." Thanks, paulj, for bringing that to everyone's attention.

              1. re: Rella

                I second this idea ... so much on YouTube now in the way of specific cooking videos - and that's where you'll also find the channels of the food bloggers who regularly do videos. Also haunt the sites of some cooking magazines and bet you'll find entertaining content - at least, short form.

              2. re: paulj

                Add RunnyRunny to that list.

                Also: FoodWishes, Maangchi, ltkman (he's removed a lot of his videos)

          1. I want damn good recipes and want to be challanged..I'm tired of the entertainment aspect already.
            Guess what? That's what the marketing folks say sells ad dollars...that "entertainment aspect" of it.

            Those of us who want challenging or at least instructional cooking shows don't pay the cost to broadcast real cooking shows. The people who watch Shamdra Lee for her tablescapes and processed food dreck or watch Paula Deen's and Rachael Ray's over-the-top accents or smiles for that entertainment aspect of it are paying the bills - because they're buying the canned/processed food or kitchen items being subtly and not-so-subtly advertised on the show. "Oooh - Rachael Ray uses that cool single-use vegetable washing thingie - I want one of those!" and out they go and buy them (and probably never use them again).

            Believe me, I'm not saying it's a good thing. It's definitely not. But it's the way TV is sold nowadays, for the most part. Drumming it down to the masses vs. elevating it up so they can actually learn something.

            1 Reply
            1. re: LindaWhit

              i know its an old thread but this sums it up pretty well. look at the next food network star. look what food network has done to a "star" like pioneer woman. say what you want about her..but she has a sense of humor. she has a personality. none comes through on the show.

              its simply the producers who make a lot of money who think they know what sells.not only do they not know what makes a good cooking show they aren't aiming for chowhounders. they're aiming for the casaul people who'll never cook anything.

              think of it like comedies. most often the funniest people can't make a show. the comedians are always told what's funny by clueless producers.

            2. I grew up with Julia Child and the like. I was just thinking the other day how I miss those old shows. Nothing flashy just cooking!

              5 Replies
              1. re: libgirl2

                My heart is broken that everyone is talking about how bad the Food Network is, but no one is saying that the CHOW videos are great! We are trying to challenge everything you're describing above! OK, enough pity party...for now.

                Meredith of CHOW Video

                  1. re: mudaba

                    I've seen some of the Chow Videos and the web is a great resource. I think if the Chow Videos had a more prominent place on the site. Speaking personally, I'm so focused on the threads and the discussions the videos just get scrolled by. They are often in a place where other websites would put ads and so it gets lumped into the collective conscience unless I'm purposefully looking for a video or how to.

                    1. re: mudaba

                      I really love the Chow videos. I liked Aida's show, too.

                      1. re: mudaba

                        Mudaba ... indeed. Now, when I look at who Chow's owner is these days I HAVE to ask myself... why on earth isn't Chow stringing together a show for the network or one of its holdings or station affiliates? No matter what daypart, it seems like a real wasted opportunity. (Short form is great but I have to admit I only watch short form when I'm in real want-to-learn-about-this-specific-thing mode. Even a half-hour of good, cohesive content in magazine show style stringing together relevant clips is something I'd watch and set the DVR for.)