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Can someone please explain why one of the most popular features of this site is coming to an end? Why has James Norton been fired?

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    1. re: paulj

      I follow him on FB. He announced today that his segment has been cancelled and he is looking for employment.

        1. re: Jambie

          that page is gone off of twitter

      1. Very sad indeed. I wrote before that I thought James Norton's reviews are great. Maybe because he was asking for a high price and the negotiation failed? Maybe CHOW saw James compete with its own reviews?

        I remember seeing James' cookware review (of the banana cutter) and I said it is better than CHOW's official review.

        1. Huh, I had no idea that being Supertaster was a paid job. Shows how much I know! I did enjoy watching it, though.

          1. I loved Supertaster.
            My heart goes out to him.
            He just had a new baby for godsakes.

            1. This is horrible news! Honestly I'd never seen or heard of Supertaster until I saw these posts but I've just watched a few of JN's reviews and I'm smitten. He's professional, articulate, engaging, charming and informative.

              I'm really sorry it's under these circumstances that I've discovered him and can only imagine there will be bigger and better things ahead for this very talented guy.

              Shame on you Chow for not promoting this jewel in your crown so more of us could have enjoyed his reviews!

              1. If Norton is going, so am I. This is the lamest food site on the web without him.

                4 Replies
                1. re: Predson

                  "If Norton is going, so am I."

                  As Jerry said to Kramer when he announced to Jerry that he was going to retire "Retire from what?" I see no posts from you, other than this one, on this site.

                  1. re: Servorg

                    Not everyone who enjoys this site posts on the boards. There are recipes, videos, blogs and those that prefer to read and not post. No need to get nasty. We're all upset that James is gone....let's focus on that!

                    1. re: Science Chick

                      no offense, but the recipes here usually suck

                      1. re: Science Chick

                        "This is the lamest food site on the web without him" and you are criticizing a response to that statement? Really?

                  2. I am so upset about this cancellation. Supertaster has been the centerpiece of my daily online video viewing and James Norton is one of the most articulate and savvy food reviewers Chow was lucky enough to have on board. Can we please have some feedback from the powers that be on this decision?

                    1. I think I'll be logging off of Chow and not logging back in. Supertaster was a great feature, and James Norton a true pro. Unlike a majority of the other content on this site, his was always worthwhile and well produced.....unlike some of the other presenters here. The good news is I can continue to follow James and not have to bother with this site again!

                      1. I guess they got tired of having a goose laying all those golden eggs.

                        1. Everyone please send this petition to as many people as possible! We want our Supertaster back!


                          9 Replies
                          1. re: segaprophet

                            You know. It may be better for James to start his own business.

                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                              I thought that as well but it would be nice if it was his choice to do so. I signed that petition and hope he gets to make the choice.

                              1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                Why would he get a choice if he is being dropped? Typically that's not how it works.

                                1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                  Sometime we get complacent. We all do. If you have a semi-good job, then you are not going to risk for a better job. I like Jim. I think he is knowledgeable, thoughtful and well-spoken. Ask yourself this question:

                                  "Do you think being the CHOW's Supertaster is the best James can be?"

                                  I don't.

                                  This is like watching a nice guy being dumped by a bad girlfriend. On one hand, I feel bad for the guy, but on the other hand, I also feel that it may be the best thing that can happen to him.

                                  While I will miss James being the Supertaster, I thinks he can do better. James is destined for bigger things.

                                2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                  Please don't try and deceive us with any of your foolish logic.

                                3. re: segaprophet

                                  i'd love to see supertaster return. however, i cannot sign a petition that is so poorly written.

                                  1. re: freshmanjs

                                    I didn't create the petition - it was just the first one to come up.

                                    It's too late to get everyone to sign a new one, IMO.

                                    1. re: segaprophet

                                      I sincerely doubt it will have any influence whatsoever on CHOW's decision anyway.

                                4. Well............. this is a good example of the dichotomy that exists between Chow and Chowhound. I've been a frequent reader and poster on several Chowhound boards for almost 10 years, but have not heard of Supertaster until finding this topic. Just me?

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: Midlife

                                    Not 10 years for me, more like 4/5 years. I'm still trying to figure out if this is Jim Norton from the Opie and Anthony show, now THAT would impress me!

                                    1. re: jrvedivici

                                      I think that's a different guy. BTW, that JN just did an IAMA on reddit yesterday, in case you are interested.

                                      1. re: EM23

                                        Someone posted a link in another one of these threads and it is a different Norton.

                                        Thank you for the response!
                                        (After watching a few of the videos I really don't understand this uproar. Now watch the hate mail roll in)

                                    2. re: Midlife

                                      Ditto this, Midlife. I knew nothing of Supertaster until seeing several threads about it.

                                      The cross-pollination between CHOW and Chowhound is rather horrible, and Chowhound remains the better site.

                                      And interesting that no one from CHOW has given any explanation - at least not that I've seen. Perhaps they didn't like being shown up by a better reviewer?

                                    3. Well folks, welcome to the food biz, they come and they go.

                                        1. re: jrvedivici

                                          Judging by the Chow.com homepage it looks like they are trying to make Chow the web version of Food Network (maybe Cooking Channel?) in best and worst ways. The discussions feed is shoved off to the lower right and everything else is kitchen/home cook based.

                                          Supertaster does not align with this direction.

                                          Why they think there is a void in that area is beyond me, but it seems to be where they are now - or where they seem headed.

                                          1. re: MplsM ary

                                            Maybe it's because I'm logged in, but the header and footer (and right side bar) on the chow.com page is basically the same as for this thread.

                                            1. re: paulj

                                              You are right. I just took a look using the wayback machine and it appears I missed that Chow has always been aimed at home cooks. I never visited the Chow side before Supertaster.

                                              Supertaster fit better with the Chowhound side of things.

                                              1. re: MplsM ary

                                                I thought you were referring the layout than the content. That front page has always been more about cooking than restaurants. Someone from the Chowteam wrote that when they set up Chow (i.e. bought Chowhound) they bought a joblot of recipes. Since they've been working to replace those with Chow-kitchen tested ones. The closest it has gotten to reflecting the regional boards are the digests (or now blogs).

                                                Most of the videos are cooking how-tos.

                                                Supertaster is an odd ball on both sides of the aisle. It's semi-serious half tongue in the cheek reviews of junk food.

                                                He taste tests watermelon flavored oreos. CH threads complain about too many flavors. Or seek recipes for vegan low carb locally sources versions.

                                        2. I'm really sad about this, too. I loved James' videos and often had my chowish son watch them, too. We chuckled over his humor and were impressed with his thoughtful and insightful work. His observations were spot-on and not clouded by preconceived judgements. I feel that Chow just lost one more feature that made the site quirky and authentic.

                                          I wish James and his young family all the best.

                                          1. Breaking rules and making the same mistake over and over usually ends like this. Companies do not let someone go with a reason.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. Remember what Forrest said, "Stupid is as Stupid Does" and Chow.com does STUPID really well by canceling the Supertaster. I'm off to Roadfood.com

                                              1. Chow.com is a CBS division and as such is part of an organization that is using big guns to shoot its feet off. They are doing a great job in their dealings with Time Warner to accelerate the death of TV on cable. They live on advertising and James Norton is an advertiser's nightmare. Anyone who's allowed to knock a product and tell whoever will listen what it really is is persona non grata. He was cancelled for what he is, someone who speaks truth to power.

                                                1. I am so disappointing they chow.com cancelled Supertaster..it was one of the main reasons I even came to this site!

                                                  I guess I will be spending my time elsewhere from now on!

                                                  1. I really enjoyed the Supertaster videos and any decision to cancel him makes no sense. Bad move Chow.com - but there still is time from Chow.com to change their mind and bring him back....

                                                    1. Intelligent Quirkiness has no place in corporate America. he will be missed.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: fara

                                                        Whew......I got scared there for a minute thinking my career was about to come to an end. Then I realized, thank God I'm not intelligent! I'm safe!

                                                      2. James Norton's Supertaster feature was the main reason I came to chow.com...now I won't be coming here nearly as much!

                                                        1. What a bummer. James is an incredibly dynamic, fun, and engaging video host. Been following his Supertaster column/videos for a long time now. What a shame. I don't understand how they think this is a good idea? Any responses from CHOW management? :(

                                                          1. I've been away so I'm just catching up with some of the threads making headlines. Supertaster is one of a fairly good sized list of food folks who have come and gone through CHOW. We all have our favorites and even those we loved to hate. There's also been a fairly consistent change of the guard at the CHOW office. So whether you found Supertaster, the gal from Table Manners, the recently exposed RuBo, the very talented Liza of Food Curated, Pervaiz's NY Chow Finds, the Cocktail guy or the MDRN KITCH guy fun viewing they've all come & gone without much fanfare and in some cases, so have CHOW staff members who've contributed here.

                                                            If your'e a fan of any of these talented folks, be happy to know they all have other outlets both on the Net and on the circuit to keep us entertained.

                                                            Seek them out. None of these food storytellers have stopped doing what they do to educate, entertain or inspire.

                                                            3 Replies
                                                            1. re: HillJ

                                                              I totally forgot about Table Manners. She was among my "love to hate" but I got a kick out of reading the article. I guess she bit the dust when the went from articles to videos for all of their features. Too bad, she always caused such a stir. Where do we find her now?

                                                              1. re: centralpadiner

                                                                For starters, the entire archive (and if you've read through the entire catalog of TM columns-wow) is still housed on CHOW, here: http://www.chow.com/tablemanners still a fun read.

                                                                here's her website, she keeps a FB page

                                                                Currently she is a writer for the San Francisco Writers Grotto. She's a very well educated lady.

                                                                1. re: centralpadiner

                                                                  I guess "love to hate" would describe my feeling about Table Manners - when the column was here I certainly hate-read it. It was probably the most unintentionally funny thing on the entire site . But I haven't missed it. Now SuperTaster is another story - I genuinely enjoyed the column.

                                                              2. This is unbelievably disappointing. I'm not going to assume that he was cancelled because, let's face it, advertising is critical for sites like Chow. And for big spenders like Kraft, General Mills, McDonalds, etc. I'm sure they can't be having someone providing "GHASTLY" reviews on popular brands. I HOPE this is not the reason for his being let go, but either way, now it's time to say goodbye to you Chow.com.

                                                                PS, way to fire someone just over a month after he has a baby. Disgusting. Really, really, REALLY disgusting.

                                                                1. I will miss his straightforward and honest review, even when i didn't agree with them for one reason or another.

                                                                  At the same time since I don't know what the status of his contract was, what terms or conditions either side was unhappy with, what expectations weren't being met, then I'm not ready to condemn anyone.

                                                                  I am reminded of a student election. Two candidates for president. One of them didn't even show up the day of the vote. He was widely castigated for his lack of concern, his lack of dedication, etc. This was long before cell phones, text messages, twittering, or Facebook. He wasn't there and it was unacceptable. The ohter candidate, a true lost cause until that morning she won by a landslide.

                                                                  The next morning we found out that the elderly single woman who lived next door to the missing candidate tripped on some ice and the candidate rushed back into his house, called an ambulance, and brought out blankets and kept his neighbor as comfortable as possible while he waited with her as the ambulance fought rush hour traffic. By then he was so late he followed to the hospital and made sure she got checked in properly.

                                                                  And what does this have to do with Mr. Norton? Unless you know the facts don't be so quick to blame, conclude, or condemn. Lets just wish him the best and look to see how we can support whatever his next endeavor is.

                                                                  43 Replies
                                                                  1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                    K-Man, it's healthy for people who followed Supertaster to vent a tad over his departure. Venting about all sorts of food related things is par for the course on CH and holding back isn't all that common in the process. Armchair quarterbacking is the life-blood of CH.

                                                                    Fans miss Supertaster. What's so hard to understand? How considerate that these followers came out to say Jame's work will be missed.

                                                                    I wasn't an avid follower of the videos. I tuned in while revisiting the entire CHOW side of this site but he did have a dedicated following on CHOW, YouTube, Twitter and in his local area. I didn't have any difficulty finding material by James all over the Net; he's an accomplished guy. In a variety of mediums. I hope his fan base takes time to learn more about his professional projects beyond the videos he produced for CHOW's video channel. .

                                                                    1. re: HillJ

                                                                      >it's healthy for people who followed Supertaster to vent a tad over his departure. Venting about all sorts of food related things is par for the course on CH and holding back isn't all that common in the process. Armchair quarterbacking is the life-blood of CH.

                                                                      No argument there. But when he observes that speculation about James' contract situation and Chow's motives may be groundless, KMan makes a good point.

                                                                      1. re: squid kun

                                                                        KMan is free to express his point. No argument there.
                                                                        That IS the point. Folks were bound to have questions and want answers. Not everyone realizes James was paid to work at CHOW or saw that his employment would be off topic. The CH boards are full of people questioning all sorts of things-human nature :)

                                                                        James was reaching an audience; an audience encouraged by CHOW to voice their opinion through comment boxes, FB & Twitter. His departure was bound to upset a few passionate viewers who would use those same outlets to vent their disappointment and confusion.

                                                                        When folks speculate about high profile food chefs, food industry stories are posted as the latest headlines on threads which often get heated through discussion. Speculation abounds, with all sorts of pov's. I see no difference in how fans of Supertaster reacted to his unexpected departure.

                                                                        Nor do I see the 4-5 threads specifically on the topic of Supertaster removed from these boards. Fans should be allowed to express their disappoint. The CH Team has let the fans do just that.

                                                                        So whether you agree with CHOW's decision to end the show or are disappointed by the news-the reaction was permitted.

                                                                        Groundless reactive comments have never stopped a determined, upset individual to vent on a forum board.

                                                                        1. re: squid kun

                                                                          But those that follow James on twitter and Facebook have gotten a pretty clear version from his side. Granted, only his side. But he was completely shocked at getting let go. He was given no indication it was coming. He was not up for some type of contract renewal, etc. He just got a call (granted, according to him) one morning and was told Chow would not longer be in need of his feature.

                                                                          To be honest, I was a little shocked at his frankness on social media and worried that it may hurt him going forward. But, I am a bit older and it seems the younger folks, (I have no idea how old James is, but I assume younger than me by at least several years) especially those that use social media as a major element of their professions, let it all out there much more than I would personally be comfortable with.

                                                                          Either way, it was quite clear he was moving on by no choice of his own.

                                                                          1. re: centralpadiner

                                                                            I also read his explanation to his fans and it was hard to read once I realized he wasn't given the opportunity to formally say goodbye to his listeners on CHOW.

                                                                            I wish Mr. Norton the best.

                                                                            1. re: HillJ

                                                                              I agree that I don't like the way Chow handled the whole thing, and as a responsible business they do owe their customers/subscribers/clients some explanation. Just having James disappear is not good business practice - at least from my viewpoint. I simply felt that hounds would find their time better spent making specific comments rather than just lambasting Chow for despicable acts.

                                                                              Dear Chow,

                                                                              It is clear from the responses you have received that the departure of James Norton's "Supertaster" is not seen to be an improvement to the site, rather a great detriment.

                                                                              Considering the number of positive comments that Mr. Norton received on his videos, as opposed say to the incredible number of negative views "Table Manners" used to receive on a weekly basis, I am confused as to your rationale. Finally by (apparently) not giving Mr. Norton the opportunity to thank his viewers for their loyalty, their comments, and their suggestions you have managed to irritate a great number of your constituents.

                                                                              As a fairly long time poster, I request that you give Mr. Norton a belated opportunity to provide a final video, prefaced by some sort of explanation from chow to your many members.


                                                                              1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                K-Man, so from what I'm reading above you share a passionate reaction over Supertaster's departure but your own reasons may be different.

                                                                                I see no reason to use the now closed Table Manners column to make your case since the CHOW Staffers at that time are not the same team (entirely) running the site now.

                                                                                If I have an opinion/observation at all about this recent decision it's this: Each CHOW team has their own pet projects, budget, skill sets, industry connections, business plan and goals. These components to daily business decisions can change with a change in management and often do. Contracted hires can come and go. Plenty have if you're reading through the video archives and CHOW staff list as I have over the years.

                                                                                In other words, change is quite common at CHOW. Especially since CBS took on the site. I don't expect anyone in CA to explain why they make any of the hiring decisions. That's the right of employers. I'm a non paying forum member and hold no voting right here.

                                                                                Now, doing something for the fans of Supertaster would be lovely. So since you've stuck your neck out twice, I wish you good luck on your campaign. I wish more people did.

                                                                                1. re: HillJ

                                                                                  "That's the right of employers. I'm a non paying forum member and hold no voting right here."

                                                                                  Of course you have voting rights here. Every time you click that mouse you vote. Not clicking is another way to "vote" here.

                                                                                  1. re: Servorg

                                                                                    I've never thought of it that way.

                                                                                  2. re: HillJ

                                                                                    <I see no reason to use the now closed Table Manners column to make your case>

                                                                                    One should try best not to compare because it can brew ill-feeling and can sometime make things worse. On the other hand, these sort of things are on everyone's mind and it is so tempering to say it out loud and confront the situation.

                                                                                    <That's the right of employers. I'm a non paying forum member and hold no voting right here.>

                                                                                    I think there are a lot of gray areas between "what is the actual right (or legal right)?" and "what is appropriate". I don't think CHOW or CBS did anything unlawful or out of their rights. However, they would have execute the situation much better.

                                                                                    I will use another example. Remember the NBC situation between Connan and Jay Leno? NBC acted 100% within its right. However, it was also badly executed. Very badly.

                                                                                    I am within my right to pick my nose on the streets too, but.....

                                                                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                      Oh I'm not jumping into some tank of legal. That's not my area or something to play with. For me, this is an employer decision and not my business to demand answers over.

                                                                                      However, how fans feel is hard to ignore. So, perhaps some middle ground for the fans can be reached. I have no idea..

                                                                              2. re: centralpadiner

                                                                                <To be honest, I was a little shocked at his frankness on social media and worried that it may hurt him going forward>

                                                                                I didn't follow James. Did he really reveal a lot? Should I read up?

                                                                                Yes, it is a double edge sword. In today's atmosphere, this sort of thing (being too frank) can haunt you. Alternatively, some time bad news is still better than no news.

                                                                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                  Out of all the companies I worked for and the hundreds of clients I had for accounts, not knowing the ax is going to fall is pretty hard to accept.
                                                                                  i know I mentioned this before but if you are paying attention in the least, you KNOW things are heading south. With a company as large as CHOW can you even guess how many meetings were taken with this subject as the main event?
                                                                                  The only real surprised people were the readers of CHOW.
                                                                                  .......Getting back to your post, Anyone posting on a social network, bad mouthing or laying blame on their former employer, was called in the old days burning bridges . There is no going back when you do that. And now with the social networks, what future employer would what to take a chance ?
                                                                                  Never, ever burn bridges. It is a small world and people remember.

                                                                                  1. re: genoO

                                                                                    <Out of all the companies I worked for and the hundreds of clients I had for accounts, not knowing the ax is going to fall is pretty hard to accept. >

                                                                                    I have gone through several rounds of layoff, and have not been axed. Of these layoff, half of them we know way ahead. I think 2 of them we know like within 2 weeks, but one was a real surprise with very little warning -- maybe a day or two. In other words, I think it is possible to hide the news if the company chooses to.

                                                                                    <With a company as large as CHOW >

                                                                                    Do you mean CHOW is big or not?

                                                                                    <Anyone posting on a social network, bad mouthing or laying blame on their former employer, was called in the old days burning bridges >

                                                                                    Yes, but the truth is that I didn't read his social network responses, so maybe he wasn't bad mouthing.

                                                                                    <Never, ever burn bridges. It is a small world and people remember.>

                                                                                    That is the traditional thinking and certainly true probably 50 years ago. However, I noticed these rules are slowly changing. 50 years ago, if you have a marriage affair, you will destroy your image. Now, you can jump start your career with a sex tape or what not -- think Pair Hilton and Kim Kardashian...etc.

                                                                                    I am not saying that we should burn bridges, but I think what is considered acceptable and not acceptable has changed in the last 10 years.

                                                                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                      Does this sound like an accurate description of the Supertaster programming to you, Chem? James typically drove to a fast food joint or called in his review from the comfort of his house, greeted his audience with a smile, selected one product to review or a few diff foods to compare, gave each a bite, rated the taste profile, gave out the occasional CHOW t-shirt and logged off. I don't even know where genoO is coming from with such strong language to describe what fans of the "show" experienced. Some axe to grind? Some personal distaste for the program? I have no clue. But, nothing genoO has written resembles what I've read online from Supertaster. Not on the CHOW YouTube page or through his Twitter feed or FB page. If anything the disappointed fans were more passionate with their language over James departure than James. He explained with surprise that the show was cancelled. That's it. Fans asked him, what's next and he answered best he could. Hot seat online-ugh.

                                                                                      From my pals in CA, I'm told CHOW's office consists of a small hard working team and volunteer Mods.. It's CBS that's the big back office.

                                                                                      As for the rest, hey we all have opinions, I can't fault anyone for that. It's just not in me to kick anyone who's already been shown the door. Especially as K-Man said, no official statement has been made (& I hope one never comes). Because if the decision has been made, I hope the CHOW team is focusing on the fans who read their magazine and still want entertaining programming.

                                                                                      1. re: HillJ


                                                                                        I think you are correct. James probably works very distantly from his editor(s). I work on site -- in office and in lab, so I see almost everyone face to face. However, I have many friends in sale, and they work from home and in the field >90% of time. They rarely see their bosses face to face and even more rare to go their "offices". I think when you work like my friends or James, then it can be difficult to sense what is going on.

                                                                                        genoO is probably coming from a good place though. I remember him in other threads, and he is an advocator for strong hard working ethic. It probably rubbed him the wrong way when he found out that James was talking about his layoff/fired experience. The old school way is that you don't talk about these things out in open. Everything should be handled closed door.

                                                                                        The thing is that James is not an average white collar worker. Like you said, he worked from home, and more importantly he is a semi-celebrity. When you are a celebrity and work in that circle, you are actually responsible for your followers and have to respond. He cannot just go quiet when his fans ask him what is going -- that actually will kill his career (going quiet). If I am fired, all I may explain to are to people close to me because those are the one who care. When you are a celebrity like James, then many people will care and want to know. Being quiet may not be an option because people expect you to say something. Just look at the early open rivalry between Jay Leno and David Letterman, or the more recent Conan O'Brien incident, or Terrance Howard on being re-casted from Iron Man 2:

                                                                                        "“Promises aren’t kept, and good faith negotiations aren’t always held up… (The contract) just… up and vanished.” "


                                                                                        Or David Hayter was very open when he was replaced by Kiefer Sutherland for the role of Snake.

                                                                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                          Chem, I'm focused on a few wider details I suppose. Like the fact that many of the videos have an on camera host guiding you through the video presentation and some of the programs have ended. Like the fact that negative comments ran across the playing field of videos equally. The main diff is that James was not in CA. He produced the shows but CHOW owned the channel space. CHOW provided the social media and has NOT turned off the social media where fans are still commenting.

                                                                                          We all come from life experiences that color our opinions and speculation, right? I've worked hard all my life. I love working. I'm taking a dinner break from work right now. It's just not in me to expect my life to be the perfect fit for someone else. And back on topic, we also don't know what James wants a week after the announcement. I think at this point, what he wants for himself is where the answers lie. He's a talented guy. I've taken the time to read about some of his other projects. I still believe talent will always find a home.

                                                                                          1. re: HillJ

                                                                                            < The main diff is that James was not in CA. He produced the shows but CHOW owned the channel space>

                                                                                            I agree.

                                                                                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                              Does anyone know what sort of arrangement James Norton had with Chow? Does he own the name "Supertaster"? Or perhaps it can't be copyrighted because it is a common word? Or Chow owns it?

                                                                                              What about a non-compete agreement? Can he go on producing product reviews from his home but call the episodes something else, such as "Three Minutes," or "Average Taster," or "YouTube Gourmet," or "You Tube Non-Gourmet"?

                                                                                              I hope the program just has a hiatus, rather than disappearing and returns on YouTube or somewhere else under a different name.

                                                                                              1. re: gfr1111

                                                                                                JN provides comments to those types of questions on his personal Twitter account.

                                                                                            2. re: HillJ

                                                                                              Do we even have any idea of how much of a job this was? He produced 3 segments a week, 3 minutes each, so 9 minutes total. How much time did that take? 9 hours? Was he paid by hour, segment, or ad hits?

                                                                                              1. re: paulj

                                                                                                paulj, have you used the search engine to uncover Supertaster's body of work?


                                                                                                Let's see, there's product research, script writing, travel, production: taping and editing the show, covering the social media outlets each week, recruiting and maintaining an online following, PR...the usual paperwork and reporting in and then decide. I have no idea the actual time but 9 hours seems way too low.

                                                                                                I have no idea how JN was paid.

                                                                                                1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                  I think you two hits on many excellent points. His video segments are not that long, maybe 5-10 min. The production time is tough to say. Considering that he probably work by himself with maybe 1-2 more partners, they will have to work pretty long. A lot of works are done behind the scene.

                                                                                                  <9 hours seems way too low.>

                                                                                                  If it is a one-man or two-men team, then they can be spending full time job work time.

                                                                                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                    Making the job appear easy doesn't mean it is. Coupled with subtle scripting; the humor and playfulness of the video presentation one could view these "shows" and think "how hard can it be?" I'd venture to say most CHOW videos involve a great deal of work.

                                                                                                  2. re: HillJ

                                                                                                    "James Norton | jrnorton@heavytable.com
                                                                                                    James Norton is the co-author of a book about Minnesota sandwiches and the people who eat them, the co-author of a book about Wisconsin’s master cheesemakers, and was until recently a thrice-weekly video blogger for CHOW.com. His latest book is a guide to the food and restaurants of Minneapolis and St. Paul called the Food Lovers’ Guide to the Twin Cities. Norton has written about food for Culture: The Word on Cheese, Salon, Gastronomica, Popular Science, Saveur.com, Minnesota Monthly, and City Pages (as a weekly restaurant reviewer). You can hear him regularly on Minnesota Public Radio, the Current, and WCCO news radio."

                                                                                                    1. re: paulj

                                                                                                      paulj, I'm aware that Mr. Norton has other projects and other talents. I said on this thread initially that many of the folks working for/with CHOW have other active work outlets. Including pre-CHOW. A few CH's have recently shared his local work and partners through Heavy Table already.

                                                                                                      Here's the thing, I don't know why it would surprise anyone that talented people, professional writers an excellent example, would have more than one project going or more than ONE talent. Nothing wrong with that. Nothing wrong with multi-tasking.

                                                                                                      Anyone can google James Norton and learn more about his work. Fans have a place to follow him.

                                                                                                      Thanks for adding the info here.

                                                                                                      1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                        Well, I wasn't aware of his other projects! Yes I assumed he was involved in other stuff. These videos were too short and casual to be his livelihood. But some posters make it sound as though he was left high-n-dry, with a new baby and no job.

                                                                                                        It's one thing for a person to loose their 9-5 job, it's another for a writer to loose a project. I took a stab with the 9hr estimate because I wanted educated guesses.

                                                                                                        1. re: paulj

                                                                                                          And I can appreciate wanted to be better informed by doing your own research. I don't have any insider information, I just read James bio, visited the various sites he contributes to and followed the back story he supplies.

                                                                                                          I have no interest in invading his personal life or job prospects.

                                                                                                          What I have gleaned is a greater respect for his work.

                                                                                                          1. re: paulj

                                                                                                            So paulj, I'm over at Heavy Table killing my 30 min dinner hour to do a bit of newbie reading and I stumble on a gem. A look inside Prince's refrigerator is the gist of the article. Given the mystery surrounding this "rock star" I'm already curious. Where do Prince and Heavy Table knock knees exactly?

                                                                                                            I'm a fan.


                                                                                                            1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                              French blogger (and author and cookbook editor) Clotilde Dusoulier has a 'Draw me a fridge' series


                                                                                                              herve this

                                                                                                              1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                Thanks, I've never seen that before. Especially since I'm a fan Luisa Weiss at The Wednesday Chef and her food memoir My Berlin Kitchen!

                                                                                                          2. re: HillJ

                                                                                                            And it is good for a freelancer to have many different projects going on because, out of the blue and for seemingly no reason, an employer can fire you with no warning!

                                                                                                            1. re: gfr1111

                                                                                                              Sure can. And a freelancer can put in their contracted time and leave for other opportunities.

                                                                                                    2. re: HillJ

                                                                                                      I also think I excluded one of the more important differences btwn the Supertaster "show" and other videos that were produced in house, have ended or been recently introduced.

                                                                                                      James Norton has FANS. Fans who followed him here on CHOW.com and to social media sites setup specifically for him to talk with his audience. On camera, he spoke to his audience and invited their suggestions.

                                                                                                      Shame on me for dribbling on without mentioning a key ingredient to every living work: people who give a shit.

                                                                                                      1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                        I am extremely disappointed with this outcome. I checked daily for new posts. I preferred his written work but I did watch the videos. Since he has a new baby I doubt he will be starting anything new for awhile. But I hope I am wrong.

                                                                                                    3. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                      I actually googled this because I thought somebody was remaking one of my favorite movies, Escape from New York, and that Kiefer Sutherland was going to play Snake Pliskin.

                                                                                                      Wow. What a relief. You can't improve on perfection.

                                                                                                      1. re: ratgirlagogo

                                                                                                        :) They are kind of related. Snake Pliskin from Escape from New York (Film) is the inspiration for Snake from Metal Gear (Game):


                                                                                                        Anyway, for what it is worth, Kiefer Sutherland is now pissing a lot of game fans off.

                                                                                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                          Gee, anything Snake Pliskin related is something I need to get informed about. Thanks, I need to get with it.

                                                                                                  3. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                    See, the way life goes is this. Your old boss, or second in command or what ever, moves on to another company. Now you are going to apply at THAT company. Of course you don't know who is personally hiring. Good luck.
                                                                                                    The world is small and your personal working field is even smaller, 5 or 10 years down the road, guess what. You are working with people who know you and know about you.
                                                                                                    You NEVER burn bridges, ever, Until you are 55 years old and on your last ride at the rodeo, take your lumps and move on,

                                                                                                    1. re: genoO


                                                                                                      I know where you are coming from. I do. However, you and I in traditional work fields. We are not celebrities. Our careers depend on our reputation within our field. We don't need average people to get us hire. Like you said, the world can be very small, especially in my circle. However, I think celebrity run in a different sort of circle. They need reputations from director and writers, but more importantly to them, they need supports from fans. That is one of their important concerns -- if not the biggest concern. A popular celebrity with a huge fan base is the one that get hired.

                                                                                                  4. re: genoO

                                                                                                    As i said on another thread on this topic, you have no idea what the circumstances were surrounding his departure, nor do you have any what his workplace interaction was with CHOW staff. Continuing to post as if you do is absurd.

                                                                                              2. re: squid kun

                                                                                                <No argument there. But when he observes that speculation about James' contract situation and Chow's motives may be groundless>

                                                                                                Yes, it is groundless, but the good thing is that it is presented very obviously as a speculation, so I don't think anyone is misled. While it is speculation, it is likely that James Norton was let go because he no longer represent the direction CHOW wants to go (in the future), speculation is a possible one. It is really the "elephant in the room". Yes, it may not be an elephant. Maybe it is a hippo or a rhino, but it certainly is not a mouse or cat.

                                                                                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                  We all decide for ourselves how much value to assign to groundless speculation and how much time to spend reading it. For me, that would be very little.

                                                                                          2. Hey, on the bright side, now CHOW has more room to post videos on how to make peanut butter and jam sandwiches and how to set fire to your dorm room.

                                                                                            Slow clap, CHOW, brilliant.

                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                            1. re: HouseSparrow

                                                                                              oh, i didn't know i was on the sarcasm thread. i withdraw all comments. my bad.

                                                                                            2. He introduced me to the Brueggers Siracha sandwich which has become an absolute favorite. (Something I probably wouldn't have tried otherwise)

                                                                                              Really too bad...

                                                                                              1. I agree. Chow needs to keep up with its video segments. Supertaster, gone. Obsessives, gone. Modern kitchen was kinda interesting... GONE.

                                                                                                Are they just turning into a review site now? I feel like a lot of good things that made me interested in CHOW are going away. Take note content producers.

                                                                                                1. Sad, best wishes to James on his future endeavors.

                                                                                                  1. Terrible, terrible news.

                                                                                                    Really the only consistently good videos on this site. Today's feature: How to cook with a coffee maker. In case you're stuck in a hotel room. With examples shown using coffee makers of the type THEY DON'T PUT IN HOTEL ROOMS. FFS, Chow, what the hell are you thinking??

                                                                                                    Further degradation of what was once a very good site. Sad. Very sad.

                                                                                                    FYI, to follow James on Twitter: http://twitter.com/jrnorton23

                                                                                                    1. Did anybody from Chow respond with the reasoning why such a beloved portion of their site summarily dismissed. If was just money, PAY HIM!

                                                                                                      1. :(. He seems like someone who would do well with a PBS documentary special or Travel Channel show. Hopefully he'll reappear soon as a guest editor or content mgr. somewhere, maybe Huffpo or WSJ?

                                                                                                        Bigger, better, brighter markets awaits.

                                                                                                        I really enjoyed his vids. :)

                                                                                                        1. Has their been an official CHOW response as to why Supertaster is no more? I have not seen one. If one exists, please provide the link. Thanks!

                                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: josephnl

                                                                                                            I think it would be highly unusual (probably for legal reasons) for any company to publicly comment on the reasons for letting someone go.

                                                                                                            1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                              No, but a provider of online content can provide reasons for why they suddenly cancelled very popular content.

                                                                                                              1. re: Science Chick

                                                                                                                I think their silence speak volumes. It's obviously for reasons of "creative differences" (like it is said in the "Biz").

                                                                                                          2. I watched his videos religiously.... I looked forward to them! CHOW, why did you do this?

                                                                                                            1. James was the only reason why i visited this site. Lame, CBS, Lame.

                                                                                                              1. I find it unprofessional that there is no official link to his current situation. Unpaid mods just say oh go find him if you want to..

                                                                                                                20 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: fara

                                                                                                                  The "unpaid Mod's" toil on the Chowhound side of the board where the content is user supplied. The Chow side, where Supertaster resided, is paid content. I can't see the editorial team on Chow firing someone and then posting about how that newly canned employee can be followed someplace else on the Web.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                    Many other professions function like this. If chowhound is if afraid people will follow JN they should have kept him. Just seems like a very cheap, Walmart like approach to both customers and workers.

                                                                                                                    1. re: fara

                                                                                                                      That typically happens when the decision is mutual, clearly in this case it was not. I doubt that Chowhound is "afraid" of anything.

                                                                                                                      1. re: fara

                                                                                                                        After 20 years of doing executive search I can tell you that no other professions that I'm aware of fire an employee and then tell those who might be interested where they can find the new services of that employee.

                                                                                                                        1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                          Well I see it all the time. Perhaps we run in different circles.

                                                                                                                          1. re: fara

                                                                                                                            I'd be curious to know which professions do this.

                                                                                                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                              Academia, the food industry, retail, wholesale, primary education, religious outlets...I've seen this happen at all of these, and even at law firms.

                                                                                                                              1. re: fara

                                                                                                                                As Samalicious said, usually only when it's by mutual agreement. This situation was not.

                                                                                                                          2. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                            One easy place to find employment history, provided by the individual, not the employer, is: http://www.linkedin.com/.

                                                                                                                            Even under less than mutual departures the formally employed still have a resume and credentials to offer the next source of employment.

                                                                                                                            Expecting a private decision to go public should be left to the individuals involved anyway. Not fans and not information seekers.

                                                                                                                            I will miss the entertaining value of Jim Norton's work @ CHOW but I don't see Jim doing anything more than moving on. Good for him! I respect that.

                                                                                                                          3. re: fara

                                                                                                                            Hmm, don't know if anyone else has mentioned this but they are now involved in intellectual property issues. Niiiice...chowhound has come a long way since Jim Leff. I guess that cool start up feeling is officially dead.

                                                                                                                            1. re: fara

                                                                                                                              Jim was just days away from pulling the plug on CH due to financial issues. C/Net yanked a smoldering CH from the fire and allowed it to survive. I really don't notice that much of a difference between the CH discussion boards of Jim and Bob's day, and the current site.

                                                                                                                              The good thing about the present day site is mostly the new boards, especially the Chains board, which took the pressure off of the local/regional boards. I basically never go on to the Chow side of the business. For my purposes and from my perspective CH maintains an even strain.

                                                                                                                              1. re: fara

                                                                                                                                Hmm, don't know if anyone else has mentioned this but they are now involved in intellectual property issues.
                                                                                                                                what in the world does that mean, fara? Isn't that a loaded, awkward, unclear statement!

                                                                                                                                  1. re: fara

                                                                                                                                    I see comments related to who owns what but nothing about any legal battles or legal issues on JN's personal Twitter account where he has answered many questions from fans and readers of his various work.

                                                                                                                                    I honestly don't know why you wrote that, fara.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                      Yep. I went back and read through his tweets again and there is nothing to support that claim. I figured that a company that publishes digital content would have IP issues pretty buttoned down.
                                                                                                                                      Welcome back, HillJ! I hope you had some supertastes in Spain.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: EM23

                                                                                                                                        Hi EM! Always a pleasure to "see" you here! Many tales to tell :) and I'm still working!!! I'll be home in 2 weeks!

                                                                                                                                1. re: fara

                                                                                                                                  Is he in an actual legal battle with CBS Interactive/CHOW over the IP rights to the Supertaster content? I didn't see anything on his Twitter feed about this, although I may have missed it.

                                                                                                                            2. re: fara

                                                                                                                              Since Moderators are not identified, I don't have any way of knowing that a CH Mod actually commented on JN's departure at all.

                                                                                                                              Several of us CH members have offered links where you can still find JN working. I thought that's what fans of Supertaster were looking for.

                                                                                                                              1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                I think it's pretty obvious but let's retract that statement for fear if censorship

                                                                                                                                1. re: fara

                                                                                                                                  Sorry it's not obvious to me. I don't know what you are referring to. The CH Team/Mods have not given any threads about Supertaster anything but the space to share how they feel about the show ending.

                                                                                                                            3. It's really hard to understand how Chow could cut Supertaster and continue to show absolutely inane videos such as "Shred Meat in Your Stand Mixer". Give me a break! How stupid do they think CH's are?

                                                                                                                              5 Replies
                                                                                                                              1. re: josephnl

                                                                                                                                Chowhound and Chow are going in a different direction.

                                                                                                                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                  What directions are those?

                                                                                                                                  Supertaster was popular, but I don't see how it fit anyone's direction. That 'meat shredding' video at least fits with a Chow recipe, and indirectly with HomeCooking.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                    No idea. I was just paraphrasing what CHOW said to James Norton when he was let go. Apparently, all they told him is that CHOW is going in a different direction.

                                                                                                                                    I have respect for James, and think he will do a good job in the future. His Supertaster bit was a fun and comedy video. The videos were informative, while being funny and entertaining.

                                                                                                                                    It is very possible that CHOW wants to show case a much more serious tone. Maybe to assert some authority. Have you seen all of these new CHOW products reviews? They are dry (and to be honest, I think most of them are both dry and lack in depth informative).

                                                                                                                                    As for the meat shredding video, you can tell it has this very somber and serious tone to it -- almost reminded me of those driver ed videos. Do you remember those?

                                                                                                                                    Kind of like this:


                                                                                                                                    (this is not old, but I cannot find an old one)

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                      >> It is very possible that CHOW wants to show case a much more serious tone. Maybe to assert some authority. Have you seen all of these new CHOW products reviews? They are dry (and to be honest, I think most of them are both dry and lack in depth informative).

                                                                                                                                      That's an interesting observation.

                                                                                                                                      I noticed that they reviewed Cooks Illustrated's winning model of the Crock Pot Touchscreen slow cooker.


                                                                                                                                      I personally prefer the CI methodology, which is more thorough and also compares various models side by side. There's additional info to be gleaned by comparing what's out there, rather than just doing one-off reviews.

                                                                                                                                      Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                        <I personally prefer the CI methodology, which is more thorough and also compares various models side by side.>

                                                                                                                                        Exactly, agree. I have mentioned this several times that the CHOW product reviews lack perspective. It hardly ever make comparisons to other current systems. This makes it very difficult for readers to grasp. When they say a pan heat up evenly, what does that really mean? Your definition of evenly is different than mine. However, a statement like "pan A is more even heating than pan B" gives much more depth.

                                                                                                                                        In addition, a lot of the earlier CHOW product reviews lack knowledge. For example, the CHOW product review of the Shun Deba knife. A Deba knife is a Japanese fish butchering knife. It is a rather specialized knife:


                                                                                                                                        Guess what? The CHOW review did almost everything except the right test. It never tested it against a fish. It even judges the Shun's Deba's rock chopping ability:

                                                                                                                                        "Chopping: The Deba’s blade has less of a curve than our French chef’s knife, so the rocking motion is limited in a way that makes it feel more stable, easier to control..."


                                                                                                                              2. James Norton you made a stressful day after work more enjoyable when I tuned into your Supertaster reviews. You are the incentive that lured me to Chow in the first place. You have that gift of bringing intrigue and smiles to many and I consider that priceless. I wish only the best to you and your family. You are sadly missed and I will be visiting this site much less now.

                                                                                                                                1. I miss the Supertaster so, so much. CHOW just feels kind of empty now.

                                                                                                                                  1. After so many years of observing the 'dumbing down' of The Food Network, followed by a similar trajectory at The Cooking Channel, is it a big surprise that Chow and Chowhound are "going in a different direction"?

                                                                                                                                    8 Replies
                                                                                                                                    1. re: Midlife

                                                                                                                                      I don't see the connection. If Chow followed FN's example they'd add a bunch of Supertaster clones - Superdrinker, Supersmeller, Supertoucher. Instead they are concentrating on cooking tips and recipes, things the FN has relegated to Sunday morning hours.

                                                                                                                                      Supertaster was the DDD of Chow.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                        <they are concentrating on cooking tips and recipes>

                                                                                                                                        Except some of their cooking tips, recipes and products suck -- more dumb down than Supertaster product review. You should watch one of James Norton's (Supertaster's) product reviews and then read one of Chow's product review.



                                                                                                                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                          I was entertained, but not impressed or informed by his banana slicer test. Samesa as with his watermelon oreo tests.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                            But were you informed by CHOW product reviews? Ever? (it is all about comparison/relative)

                                                                                                                                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                              Dear Shun knife reviewer:

                                                                                                                                              In addition to the comments left on the post:

                                                                                                                                              1) A "badass" knife that will "impress your friends"? Am I supposed to take you seriously after you says this?

                                                                                                                                              2) You mention "VG10 Stainless Alloy" but don't explain what this alloy is, if this particular alloy is good or bad when used in knives, or what its properties this alloy contributes other than saying it's "hard". How exactly does a hard alloy contribute to (or distract from) the overall performance of the knife?

                                                                                                                                              3) What is "pakka wood" and why is it good (or bad) to have as part of the handle? Are you just mentioning it because it looks cool? How about telling us if it has a slippery grip when chopping wet things, like that chicken you carved up? That's important, you know. It's a knife-- ultimately it's more about substance than style.

                                                                                                                                              4) You say that "the blade probably won't need to be sharpened very often." Well are you sure, or not? Did you actually test this knife for several days (or weeks) in order to determine this? How exactly did you come to this conclusion? If the hard "VG10 stainless alloy" is part of your conclusion, shouldn't you have said this?

                                                                                                                                              At least the Supertaster review is a ridiculous review of a ridiculous product, and James Norton obviously knows it. Still, he does his due diligence, despite the ridiculousness of the assignment.

                                                                                                                                              I wonder if the Chow editor that assigned him the banana slicer is the same one doing the knife review? :)

                                                                                                                                              Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                              1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                I saw your response to the Shun Deba knife. It is well written.

                                                                                                                                                <At least the Supertaster review is a ridiculous review of a ridiculous product, and James Norton obviously knows it. Still, he does his due diligence, despite the ridiculousness of the assignment. >

                                                                                                                                                At least James Norton reviewed the two banana slicers as banana slicers, and not as body lotion. James actually did a solid job reviewing the banana slicer products. First and most foremost, he reviewed the products as they are intended. Second, he compared them to the standard method (the kitchen knife) and gives some perspectives.

                                                                                                                                                The Shun knife deba review, frankly, is a prime example of "what not to do". The reviewer didn't know what a Deba knife is. It is a fish knife. The knife was tested for all sort of random things -- except for fish. It was also tested for a lot of cutting motions which are not designed for the knife.

                                                                                                                                                "We put the Deba through three tests that home cooks frequently encounter: chopping almonds, slicing and dicing carrots, and boning chicken breasts...."

                                                                                                                                                Whoever wrote the review did not do his/her homework.

                                                                                                                                                It isn't just this review. I think other CHOW product reviews are poorly to averagely written.

                                                                                                                                                <I wonder if the Chow editor that assigned him the banana slicer is the same one doing the knife review? :)>

                                                                                                                                                Probably. :)

                                                                                                                                        2. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                          I guess I shouldn't have commented on this as I'm not at all familiar with Supertaster's work. I'd gotten the impression, from what seemed like the majority of posts lamenting his loss, that his material was on the enlightened, edgy, useful, and more sophisticated side. If that's true, his end would be in keeping with other comments here that Chow is going more mass-market than aficionado in its direction. If I'm wrong about that, then to quote Gilda Radner...... "Never mind!".

                                                                                                                                      2. Need a SuperT fix?

                                                                                                                                        You can find James Norton on the radio! Looks like Wednesday morning over at The Current and MPR
                                                                                                                                        (Minnesota Public Radio) archives.



                                                                                                                                        and still over @ the Heavy Table.