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May 23, 2011 04:09 AM

So tired of so many food "celebrities"

I was watching Best Thing I Ever Ate last night and realized that almost everyone was listed as a "celebrity chef" or other food celebrity. Where do all of these people come from? There are a handful of genuine celebrity chefs, including Emeril, Mario Batali, Bobby Flay, etc. And I'll even add in Paula Deen , Rachel Ray and others because, like them or not, they have built very successful empires even though they are not chefs. But now I think the Food Network (and even the Cooking Channel) is trying to manufacture a new army of food celebrities. Amanda Freitag? Alex G? Come on. I think vehicles like Best Thing I Ever Ate, etc. are just vehicles for FN to try to create their own batch of celebrities. Just because someone was placed by FN on a handful of shows does not make them a celebrity, no matter how bad FN wants them to be one.

These people are celebrities as much as the Kardashians are celebrities...

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  1. ...... in their own minds, they are.

    1. I caught a few minutes of some gameshow last night on TV and noticed that they had Guy Fieri hosting it. I was thinking "I can't even stand this guy on D,D and D and now he's hosting game shows in prime time?".

      After watching Curtis Stone on ANGR and Top Chef Masters and now seeing him on tv commercials...I'm really getting sick of him as well.

      It seems too much like they are trying to 'make' stars now rather than having stars naturally emerge after years (decades) of hard work.

      1. What makes someone a celebrity? I mean, I can identify Alex G or Amanda F, I can name them from a picture, but have never met them. I can even tell you things about their likes/dislikes or personality (or at least their on-screen personality). Sure, it's because FN jams them down my throat, but it's still the case. That seems darn close to saying they are a "celebrity". How does one become a celebrity? By creating an empire and/or getting lots of media coverage? How does one do that without being on channels like the FN? Seems like a chicken/egg problem to me.

        Personally, I like Best Thing I Ever Ate as a concept, but it doesn't work if they just pick random shmoes who we've never seen before. the show really only works because it is FN "celebrities".

        I'm not sure what your complaint really is. Are you complaining that the FN has people hosting shows that you don't like? That the FN should stick only to a heavy rotation of about 8-10 people? Or are you just grumbling because it's monday morning and you haven't had any coffee yet? :-)

        6 Replies
        1. re: LurkerDan

          I like Best Thing I Ever Ate as a concept too but for me it has little if nothing to do with the 'celebrities' and more (or all) about the food. I don't tend to pay much attention to who is touting what and 5 minutes after the show is over, unless it's one of the big names, I don't remember who I saw. But you'd better believe that I remember those deep fried cupcakes. :)

          Perhaps it's because I don't watch a lot of tv, food or otherwise, and when I do I prefer genuine cooking instruction such as America's Test Kitchen. Have never once watched a cooking competition show, so I don't know who half of the 'celebrities' are anyway. For me it's all about the food. If the 'celebrity' host or guest were to get under my skin, and from instructional shows I know they for sure can, then why watch them? Whether or not they are celebrities in their own minds or in the real world is neither here nor there, to me anyways.

          1. re: 16crab

            I had to smile at your comment: But you'd better believe that I remember those deep fried cupcakes. :)

            because, I am so guilty of running to the PC to check out that food/resto/specialty shop mentioned on a food program that is highlighting businesses big & usually small offering unique food stuffs before it slips my mind. I have bought dozens of products and visited many shops because of shows like BTIEA.

            1. re: HillJ

              I have actually been thinking about those deep fried cupcakes for weeks on end!

              I am often curious if the businesses featured on there pay for the promotion. I was actually just watching it yesterday and intended to look, but my DVR cut off the end credits...

              1. re: 16crab

                Their shows scouts find the companies usually. I'd hate to spoil it by thinking they pay for promo. What does a deep fried cupcake taste like?

                1. re: HillJ

                  I sure wish I knew. In trying to find the bakery that made them, I learned that the cupcake in question was actually featured on Kid in a candy store, not BTIEA. Just goes to show how well I pay attention to the food porn I watch while folding laundry! Nonetheless, here's the cupcake: I'm thinking about them again!

                  1. re: 16crab

                    Wow, served with a scoop of ice cream would really appeal to my family and friends on a hot, humid day in NJ. Great inspiraton. I could definately try this in my kitchen. How about you?

        2. you don;t think mario, flay, and emeril's celebrity was manufactured by food network?

          8 Replies
          1. re: thew

            Emeril and Batali wouldn't be household names like they are without the backing from food network they received, but I believe they would still be well known chefs. Mario's food is so good he would have eventually become well known, and despite all the emeril hate that is around, he is a FANTASTIC chef. When he was the exec at Commander's Palace it was known as one of the best restaurants in the country, and before he left the kitchen at Emiril's in new orleans it was an AMAZING restaurant. It's still pretty good, but it used to be phenomenal when he was actually back there working.

            As for bobby flay, I think he probably would have only achieved moderate success.

            1. re: twyst

              there are plenty of chef's in NYC that are as good or better than mario, whose names are not known to the level of celebrity. Even more so Emeril in NOLA.

              this is not to take anything away from their skills. But their celebrity is completely due to FOodNetwork exposure. exactly as those chefs and cooks disdained by the OP.

              1. re: thew

                I'll have to disagree with you on Emeril in New Orleans. He was easily the best chef in the city when he actually ran the kitchen in his own restaurant and when he was running commander's palace. I moved out of New Orleans in 2001 but still make it back at least once a month. Other restaurants are better than Emeril's now, but they werent back then and most New Orleanians share my view.

                1. re: twyst

                  without arguing that point - how many people - inside NOLA and out, would know of emeril, if he was just the guy cooing at commanders, and not the TV personality?

                  1. re: thew

                    Oh I absolutely agree he would not be a household name, but I still think he would be well known in the "foodie" community. He was already well known in new orleans before his show ever hit the air, but mostly because of his namesake restaurant. I think he would have achieved a level of "fame" a couple of notches lower than someone like keller, who has become a celeb based solely on his (outstanding) food.

                2. re: thew

                  I'd heard of Emeril at least a decade before I ever saw FN. He was quite the pre-internet superstar, I thought, and his good reputation was well deserved. Same with Bobby Flay (or am I confusing him with Jonathan Waxman?)

                  1. re: Jay F

                    Him too, and for a lot longer than ten years.

                    1. re: mamachef

                      I was going to use the word "decades," but I wasn't sure when I started to hear about these guys.

            2. Freitag and Alex g are actually pretty accomplished chefs so I dont mind them getting their shot at becoming food celebs. The neeley's, claire robinson, aida etc, not so much and it feels forced.