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Sigh................ Cooking Channel and Baron Ambrosia

So................. I've almost gotten to the point where I can handle Nadia G's shtick when there's nothing else on after midnight and now I find The Culinary Adventures of Baron Ambrosia. More shtick!

OK............. I get that there's a demographic out there that thinks traditional cooking shows need some excitement and find this kind of stuff "fun".............. I guess. But I lasted all of 2 minutes with The Baron and had to switch channels. I'm not THAT old! I just saw Hunger Games and liked it a lot.

Is this stuff the Jersey Shore of cooking shows? I guess so. There seems to be an audience for just about anything these days. HELP!!!???

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  1. I like the shtick. Baron Ambrosia and Nadia G are like Alton Brown on steroids.

    4 Replies
    1. re: FoodPopulist

      I saw the Baron last night - I think the show is funny. Not every show will appeal to every person. I've never made it through 30 minutes with Alton Brown myself.

      1. re: 512window

        2¢ worth of wisdom on my own reaction:

        I think part of this has to do with a feeling of 'safety'? or confidence one would like to have with one's sources of information/learning. It's like finding that your wise old Uncle tells very bad jokes over and over. (I was going to say 'tells racist jokes', but that's too harsh for this). They're not all that bad, and you don't have to listen, but it becomes something of an 'Emperor has no clothes' feeling.

        1. re: Midlife

          Sorry to be so slow to respond. I didn't see anything in the Baron's show that made me question any knowledge that might have been conveyed. The kind of shtick that this show has is very easy to separate from the information content. He's essentially going to restaurants and describing what they're making.

          The show that I watched was about Uzbeck cuisine in NYC. I've had Uzbeck-style dishes in China and was comparing what I had with what was presented by the Baron. I'm not likely to get to NYC to try the food myself, so this was the next best thing.

          I appreciate new content on FNC and CC, especially if it isn't competitions like Chopped and that cupcake show. I'm certainly not tuning in for repeats of the Fat Ladies and Alton Brown.

      2. re: FoodPopulist

        Nadia is more like a edgy RR. And the Baron, I'd compare him more with DDD, or one of the other 'restaurant finds' shows on Cooking Channel. Funny thing is, I don't recall the names of those other shows. They are nice and watchable, but not memorable. I can only name one of the 'hosts' off hand, Amanda.

        A lot of posters will be focusing on the style, and whether they can stand it or not. A more Houndish question is, are the food finds good? I'm not going to visiting these places that the Baron has visited, but I learned about a Portuguese seafood and bread stew on his pilot show, and liked the idea enough to look up the dish, and try make it myself. I think his philosophy of searching for restaurants is very chowhoundish. Ten years ago he too would have delighted in discovering the arepa lady.

      3. I forgot to watch it- thought that the commercials for it were funny as hell though!

        1. I saw it the first season and was stunned to see it make it back. I really didn't see it making another season, but according to the two other posters it has a market. Woof.

          1. 2 minutes? Wow, that's about 4 times longer than I could watch!

            1. I can't even watch the commercials

              1 Reply
              1. Not every show appeals to everyone, I accept that. I know how to change channels. For the most part I DVR the shows I like and watch those when I need a cooking show fix.

                I recorded the Baron Ambrosia premier out of curiosity, and watched it a couple of days ago. The show didn't really interest me, the ratio of food to shtick was too far off.

                Alton Brown, in his heyday, seemed to get that ratio right. I learned a lot of food science from his show and it was entertaining. However, I was only inspired to cook something once or twice and it was an all day project.

                I find Nadia G funny and her food looks good, but haven't felt compelled to make any of her recipes. Also, her new season is a little less funny, it may be that she's run out of material.

                I personally don't think Baron Ambrosia offers anywhere near as much as either Alton or Nadia in terms of cooking, or humor (but that's a very subjective opinion). It seems he is more in the cooking/travel arena and there are plenty of those shows. From one episode I can't tell if he is bringing anything chow-worthy to the show, but I will most likely not be watching again.

                1. It is "Baron Ambrosia" after all, you realize that, right?

                  It's almost a bit like complaining that Ronald McDonald's clothes are too colorful.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: ipsedixit

                    So....what are you sayin'?

                    You mean that's not his real name? ;)

                  2. Hey all. I'm from the Bronx and I have to tell you this dude Baron is for real. I mean this is not some act for TV. He really lives like this, acts like this, dresses like this. Ive even seen his drive down my block in his pimped out purple car. He's kind of a local hero to gangsters and abuelas alike.

                    Maybe the Bronx is a little too ahead of the curve. We did invent hiphop you know. Enjoy our passion.

                    1. Personally found the schtick too theatrical and distracting from the food.

                      Here's more info than you probably want or need on (real name) Justin
                      Fornal, underground filmmaker: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baron_Am...

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: cmvan

                        cmvan, you make the best point-Justin was hired for his colorful character and theatrics and his shtick is about food culture.

                        Nadia come on the scene with a Joan Jett persona and an Italian tradition.

                        However long either of these FN personalities last is going to be based on how long viewers tune in.

                        Hardly the first time entertainers gave different opportunities a go.

                      2. I think of it more as narrative than shtick. Look, we can't have 24/7 programming of stand and dump cooking shows, and FN and CN know that. So... we've had cooking shows at Tonight Show (Emeril Lagasse), cooking shows as game shows (Chopped, etc), cooking shows as reality TV (Top Chef, et al). We've had travel shows (that Guy guy, Anthony Bourdain) and - with Alton Brown - just a bit of kitschy narrative. I think it's high time for a tongue in cheek, comedy show meant to appeal to the Monty Python, Saturday Night Live, Portlandia watching viewer. And the funny thing is that, unlike some Guy Fieri, Baron Ambrosia gleaned serious media cred in New York for slapping the jaded New York food media upside its collective head and saying: stop writing about every time David Chang clears his throat! New York has amazingly exotic food cultures in its outer boroughs. Aside from the narratine, BA's food journalism got him into the pages of Saveur, the New York Times, etc

                        8 Replies
                        1. re: nrxchef

                          Have to agree with nrxchef. The Baron was an "underground" hit of sorts on Manhattan community-access cable, where he went around the Bronx being, well, himself: not something all the time or for everyone, but another side of city food and life. I grew to like his curiousity, imagination and performance energy. Nadia G is another small-bites treat, if only for her very clever take on ethnic excess (Italian and Greek Canadian, still exotic to this Brooklyn Italian), the sometimes very sharp and polished comedy, and the fact that hers is the only tv show that regularly uses Italian food-related dialect slang that I grew up with. Don't notice much about the food itself. How long these amuse-bouches last is always a function of viewership and sponsorship, but there's got to be room for humor that's a little-self referential. Can anyone take seriously any more fake high dramatics of the reality or contest shows? Maybe we need a show that's actuaslly a full bore satire of those shows, in the vein of the movies "Best in Show" or "Waiting for Guffman."

                          1. re: bob96

                            >>>he went around the Bronx being, well, himself<<<

                            Only if you believe that Paul Reubens really is Pee-Wee Herman or Leonard Nimoy really is Spock.

                          2. re: nrxchef

                            Extremely well spoken. I have to agree fully. It takes all kinds of personalities to make the world go round. Point taken

                            1. re: nrxchef

                              "Look, we can't have 24/7 programming of stand and dump cooking shows, and FN and CN know that."

                              Well............. I think some of the disappointment comes from the fact that this channel was announced, when it first went on air, as pretty much a 'serious' cooking channel. It's apparent that 'serious' is in the eye of the beholder.

                              1. re: nrxchef

                                Having read that, I think that not only is there a place for but there is also a desperate need for cooking shows that annoy the crap out of people who take food too seriously and suck the joy out of it with their complaining.

                                1. re: nrxchef

                                  I came for the goofiness but stayed for the excellent food that gets showcased on BA. He's breaking down some pretty (to me) exotic dishes that would be intimidating if I came across them myself. A welcome relief from the dozens of shows that feature nothing but hot-sauce sandwiches and racks of ribs every episode.

                                  1. re: nrxchef

                                    Well taken ...
                                    I enjoyed the narrative, albeit kitchshy, continuity across episodes on the back-channels over "let's see what's in the basket".
                                    The Liberia segment .. imagine if he had a "Bourdain" budget/advance team.

                                  2. "NadiaG" & her idiotic "Bitchin Kitchen", & now "The Baron" = food shows dumbed down to the lowest possible common denominator. Way too sad.

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: Bacardi1

                                      In what sense are they 'dumbed down'? Are you implying that the people who are attracted to these shows are dumb? Or just that these shows appeal to people with a less refined taste?

                                      1. re: paulj

                                        Definitely not that the people who watch are "dumb", just that they feel the only way to make food interesting & popular is to host them by folks dressed up like Halloween characters & acting the same way.

                                        1. re: Bacardi1

                                          'The only way'? What have we been watching on CC from the start? Aren't Unique Eats and Unique Sweets serious enough? United Tastes and Eat Street are their other 'restaurant survey' shows.

                                          As others have noted Baron has established a local (Bronx) following. CC tried a pilot episode last year, and evidently got enough interest to commission the current series. They have taken advantage of an existing interest.

                                          Sames goes for cooking shows. They have dozens of serious cooking shows. Some come from FN, some from FN Canada, some commissioned for CC. Nadia is one of those imports. And judging from her time slot, has proven to be more popular with the audience than the more classy Laura Calder.

                                          Notice also that both of these 'clown' shows appear on Friday and Saturday nights, in conjunction with Two Fat Ladies (an older British offbeat cooking show), and Supersizers Go (which combines some serious food history with humor).

                                    2. Sorry I hadn't seen this thread before. While really appreciate the coverage that Baron Ambrosia gives to the cuisines in NYC that are severely under represented, I really like the foods he covers. The dialog and the story lines are a little distracting. I really need to be in the right mood to watch this thing.

                                      Yes, it is a whole hell of a lot better than another Chopped/Next Food Network Star/Cupcake competition show. But not by much.

                                      Nadia G took a bit of getting used to. The actual point where I "got" her is when she was on Andrew Zimmern's Montreal show, where she is from. She took him around to a couple of places, one that had the really decadent poutine dishes stood out. She was not as overt on that show as she is on her own show, but her shtick wasn't really that much of a schtick. She does talk like that in real life and she is passionate about food. So what's not to like about that.

                                      1. Another Cooking Channel restaurant tour show - Hidden Eats with Aarti Sequeira. Looks pretty good, enough depth to get an idea of how most dishes are cooked, enthusiastic host, and no over powering humor or story line. This may just be a pilot.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: paulj

                                          Is that new? Haven't heard of it. Looking it up! While i have not gotten through an episode of The Baron yet, I plan to. I lived in The Bronx for four years, and met " the hubs" there. Also grew up in Queens,and in retrospect, really respect the food scene of " The Outer Boroughs."

                                        2. I lasted through one minute of the promo. before all the flashing lights gave me a headache and I started getting seasick from his hydraulics. I'm all for changing up the go-to format for most restaurant/cooking shows, but I don't understand this at all.

                                          1. I haven't watched any BA yet.
                                            I have seen 2 or 3 of N's BK, and she's brasher than I want. Personal choice.

                                            My resistance to viewing both is that the //commercials// present them both Not As People but as a 1-dimensional stereotypes who are Pretending To Be Real Peope. So, I'm not intrigued, but repulsed.
                                            On the strength of my value of CH opinion, I'll give BA a try.

                                            1. When I saw the Baron Ambrosia ad the first thing I thought of was when Susie asked Emily if her persona was who she really is or a character. Baron Ambrosia seems like a character to me, not who someone really is.

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: rasputina

                                                I thought everyone on TV was a 'character'.

                                                1. His shows definitely have a John Waters(ish) quality to them (minus much of the sexual inuendo and gross-out stuff in f the more outrageous ones). So if you don't "get" Water's films it's unlikely you'll find the Baron appealing. As a matter of fact, when I saw his pilot episode last year, I immediately had John Waters films flashing into my mind and I recognized that same passion for the kitsch of, and fondness for, the the 50s.

                                                  Guerilla filmmaking for sure but definitely won't appeal to everyone.

                                                  But I'm really curious about when anyone regarded the Food Network as a viable source of substantive food knowledge (aside from the first few years they were on). The days of David Rosengarten Julia Child and Sara Moulton regulars are long since gone. They've been replaced by the likes of Guy Fieri who is best remembered for his spiky bleached hair, tattoos, and ability to keep his sunglasses on his head backwards while stuffing enormous amounts of food into his mouth.

                                                  If I want solid food info and technique, I head over to PBS for Jacques Pepin, ATK, Andreas Viestad, Lydia B (not as hyper as Nadia G but far more knowledgable about ALL the regional cuisines of Italy) and others.

                                                  I can only watch so many reruns of Alton and Tyler Florence and Chuck Hughes on FN before I give up on trying to find a decent FOOD show that's more than time-passing entertainment or a stupid contest.

                                                  It's crystal clear from Next FN Star judging comments that they're trying to find the next outrageous clone of Guy F. They keep dogging on Ippy for being too laid back, bla bla bla, even while admitting he makes delicious great food.

                                                  Well, both Lydia and Jacques and Sara are plenty laid back because that's their genuine personality and they seem to be flourishing just fine. But, oh right, they're not on Food Network, are they now?

                                                  I don't watch The Baron expecting a CIA-type culinary background and fantastic technique (nobody does that better than Jacque anyhow). He is what he is; a passionately dedicated undrgrpund filmmaker and entertainer who is focusing the spotlight on many cuisines and neighborhoods traditionally overlooked. And he's doing a great job of it too.

                                                  And how often have we heard those with serious culinary chops (from Jacques to Bourdain etc.) heap praise upon "peasant cooking" as delicious, authentic, and well worth seeking out?

                                                  Guys like Rick Bayliss have managed to build a mini-empire by doing just that. And I love the Bourdain episode where he accompanied his Mexican. Sous chef to his tiny hometown out in the middle of nowhere to watch the women of the town preparing excellent food in their tiny little kitchens. He stated that in most NY kitchens, the majority of the cooking is done by the Hispanic guys who are the backbone of the kitchen. He wanted to find out where this remarkable cooking talent possessed by these guys originated.

                                                  And thats what the Baron is featuring by going to all these little Mom and Pop establishments. Quite frankly, I had never even heard of Uzbecki cuisine prior to his show.

                                                  He may not be everyone cup of tea but what he does he does very well indeed. His show is truly unique in a land of celebrity chef clones and a much welcome breath of fresh air in all the other half-assed crap produced by FN. I mean Cupcake Wars ? Really ? Really now ? (I can hear Seth Myers mocking voice in the background. Really?

                                                  And when was the last time John Waters appeared in anybody's film? He did it for the Baron. That says a lot. Was it corny? Sure it was corny as it gets but hilarious as all hell. I loved it.

                                                  Frankly, I'm amazed FN gave him the chance. But they do everything by what gets the numbers and he'll likely be gone soon. Hopefully the Travel Channel will pick him up as they did with Bourdain. Can't you just envision a crossover episode like he did with Andrew Zimmerm? Tony meets The Baron. I would pay money to see that. Who else is up for it?

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: buttonstc

                                                    I don't know if the Travel Channel would pick up every FN reject, as they are owned by the same company.

                                                    1. So who will be the first to make Flying Jacob, the traditional (as of 1976) Swedish chicken dish?

                                                      It doesn't, off hand, sound that appealing, but I'm tempted to make if for the next extended family dinner - to generate some comments if nothing else).

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. Just another sad example of how low-brow, dumbed-down cooking shows produced for mass appeal and ratings are taking over the airwaves. Why The Cooking Channel countenanced this Baron Ambrosia crap is beyond belief. What an insult to trained chefs and hosts of quality cooking shows i.e., Laura Calder and Chuck Hughes. Ahem, reminds me of Bob Tuschman's Wal-Mart approach to what passes for cooking on the Food Network. Foodies need to stick with PBS, the last bastion of serious culinary television productions.

                                                        9 Replies
                                                        1. re: LindyCindy

                                                          I agree, but at a lower level of condemnation. I really don't doubt that this is all about business, and I DO get that there is not enough audience for a full network schedule of the kind of programming I would prefer. I give credit to FN for trying. It just disappoints me that the numbers don't work.

                                                          1. re: Midlife

                                                            What show did the Baron boot out of the Friday night lineup?

                                                            1. re: paulj

                                                              You're either missing my point or don't want to understand it. Either way...................Let's just agree to disagree on this.

                                                              1. re: Midlife

                                                                Not sure that I would be as charitable to FN as you. For years, this channel has been going down hill. Even Emeril's live show was plagued with gimmickry including a live studio audience and a band. Bob Tuschman's all about making FN shows palatable for the masses with little regard for serious culinary pursuits. That's why shows like Pioneer Woman have a venue.

                                                                1. re: LindyCindy

                                                                  In my years in business I have never, unfortunately, been in a position where I could make all my decisions based on what I thought was right...... over what would turn a profit. I lost one very big job when profits dove for a year and the company had to "have SOMETHING to tell the bank". Chairman said "You don't expect ME to take the fall, do you?"' I suppose I've just become sympathetic to corporate reality.

                                                                  1. re: Midlife

                                                                    I understand where you're coming from, still it seems like FN and TCC could figure out a way for their mainstream shows to peacefully co-exist with the more serious culinary productions.

                                                                    1. re: LindyCindy

                                                                      I think they co-exist just fine. They only air one show at a time, of course, and I realize that I don't have to watch the shows I don't wish to....... but I DO lament the fact that they seem to be necessary to help pay the rent. It's just a microcosm of all of TV........... or, actually, the world, if that's not too heavy a thought.

                                                                      1. re: Midlife

                                                                        Someone must be enjoying the programming for it to be airing. Just because "we" don't doesn't mean the show has no appeal.

                                                                        1. re: HillJ

                                                                          Not sure you're addressing me directly but, if you are, please show me where I said it has no appeal to those who watch it. I'm not sure why, but this topic seems to have brought out a level of emotion I did not expect.

                                                        2. The first time I watched "the Baron" I was ready to put a brick through the TV set. I thought his food review was quite good, but the schtick was making me almost rabid with irritation.

                                                          The second time I watched him, I simply LOLed at the guy's balls to put on an act like this while he is filming episodes in various restaurants, and especially the pseudo-romantic and flirtatious schticks with the female workers.

                                                          I was also thinking of the sheer human degradation that he had to undergo before he was a personality, while he developed this schtick. :)

                                                          It grew on me suddenly - his shows have a very experimental, edgy feel to them.

                                                          Even aside from Nadia G's Italian biker babe thing, I don't find much value in her presentation. Someone in this thread compared her to an edgier RR and I think that's accurate. IE, she doesn't explain why she is adding whatever she is to a dish. It's all supposed to be magic.

                                                          2 Replies
                                                          1. re: donw9876

                                                            I'll occasionally sit through an episode of Nadia G. I finally figured out why--the show reminds me of Beakman's World, which was one of my favorites when I was a kid.

                                                            I've channel-surfed to the baron's show on a few occasions. Never stayed longer than a few minutes. I find the content interesting, but I can't stand the act. I'd probably watch more if he'd drop that act.

                                                            1. re: fogeylv

                                                              recipes from this show.

                                                              Looks like they have played all the episodes (7) of the current (1st) season. You can now rest easy. Tonight (Friday) looks like it's all Good Eats reruns, which should delight those who want real cooking instruction. :)

                                                          2. That commercial annoys me so much, I refuse to watch the program.

                                                            Maybe it's just me, but I've stopped watching the Cooking Channel as much... I think I've only watched it once in the past 2 months because it's going the way of the food network.

                                                            I'm more into the Create programs.

                                                            1. Believe it or not, he was much more "schticky" when his show was on channel 25 in NYC. I couldn't get through even one episode. I don't follow this show but have been able to sit through at least one episode of it on the CC, so it' an upgrade from what it was!

                                                              1. Seriously now. isn't this the network that gave us Rachel Ray, Paula Deen and the comely Dino de Laurentis's granddaughter? So why doesn't the Baron fit in? Personally, I'll take his shtick any day over some of the slop cooked by those I mentioned above, not including the very comely granddaughter of Dino De Laurentis who I would never say a bad word about.

                                                                2 Replies
                                                                1. re: salvati

                                                                  To each his/her own. Personally.................. I'd take any of them over this guy's 'performance schtick'.

                                                                  And, by the way, while The Cooking Channel is owned by the same folks as Food Network (birthplace of the 'ladies') it's SUPPOSED to spun off as a more "serious" approach to cooking shows. Not for long, apparently.

                                                                  1. re: Midlife

                                                                    A pre-Cooking Channel thread
                                                                    from that a Salon article

                                                                    "The lineup is mostly composed of standard food programming, albeit with a few exotic and intellectual twists. “Spice Goddess” and “Caribbean Food Made Easy” ....“Drink Up” ..., Foodography ... “Foodcrafters” ...
                                                                    " based on this lineup, the Cooking Channel sounds like it might, without signaling a massive change, be a small step in a more interesting, more relevant and somewhat hipper direction for food programming on TV."
                                                                    Nothing about more 'serious' programming.

                                                                    long thread with early reactions to CC.

                                                                2. I'm kind of reluctant to admit it, but I don't hate Baron Ambrosia, i"m not sure why. I've long hated the stupidization of Food Network and Cooking Channel. Maybe Nadia G was the bounce off the bottom and they're back on their way up? Nah. IMO Bitchin Kitchen is the Jersey Shore of FN and CC, and food in general, for that matter. BA may be just another skid mark along the bottom but I'll actually watch the show from time to time. Plus he's not as horrible to look at as Nadia G.

                                                                  1. Just wanted to give a shout out to our man Baron A who has been interviewed by both Chris Kimball and Anthony Bourdain this year.

                                                                    1. This. Who are these idiots? Why do we need shtick? I got sick of Emeril's in a year. I couldn't last 2 minutes with these posers.