HOME > Chowhound > Food Media & News >

Discussion

FN quest for ratings: we are more likely to see Giada De Laurentiis or Bobby Flay cooking “ethnic foods” than we are to see a brown person cooking them.

The author notices some racism there, and I'm not sure I disagree

http://www.salon.com/2014/07/08/food_...

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. The network exists to sell advertising, the shows to attract viewers. Those with the highest ratings get the copycats and remain the longest.

    1. There are a number of good cooking shows that are filmed in foreign countries. I watch them and really enjoy their take on cooking.
      The problem lies in language, Americans will not watch something that is not in english, even if it is subtitled in english.

      1. You know, my head was blowing up with names of not-white hosts while reading this, but they may be on Cooking Channel. So technically the point would still stand.

        But: Roger Mooking, G. Garvin, Bal Arneson, Siba, Judy Joo off the top of my head. Maybe it's true (I haven't paid attention before this) that FN has kept the familiar blockbuster hosts and CC gets the B-listers?

        1. Food Network is in the business of making money. Advertisers will pay more money for higher rated shows that bring in more viewers. You can't expect them to keep a host that isn't bringing in the bucks. And if the contests/reality TV shows bring in the viewers and the money, you can't blame them for adding more.
          As far as the addition of two new white women, Trish and Ree. They both brought big audiences with them. Ree isn't that great on TV (IMHO) but she did bring a massive rabid audience from her blog. Numbers make money. I'm guessing if Beyonce knocked on their door and wanted to do a cooking show with her fans she'd be on as long as she'd like. Obviously there are some regular faces on those shows that aren't exactly white male and southern white female, such as Aaron Sanchez who has been around quite some time on Chopped and some silly heat seaking show, Marcus Samuel, Morimoto, to name a few just off the top of my head.
          Until they find an ethnic chef that is compelling as a stand and stir (and stand and stirs seem to be fading on FN), I wouldn't expect them to have one.
          They've certainly tried in the past.
          Personally, I'll watch Ming Tsai on PBS every chance I find him on, because he's a) engaging b) cooks food I want to eat and c) isn't just a boring stand and stir .. he mixes it up with a lot of guests.
          Personally, I don't pick a show because of the color of the host's skin. I pick a show because of the food and the entertainment value.

          1. FN needs a manga+cooking show.
            .
            EDIT: I just realized that most of the "good stuff," and nearly all of the "ethnic stuff" is on YouTube.

            Maybe FN should do a MST3000 show using YouTube?

            7 Replies
            1. re: Kris in Beijing

              Off topic but there are Twitter characters that belong in this project. Watching Surly Giada, Angry Bobby Flay and Drunk Ina Garten commenting on Sandra's tablescapes would take up all of my free entertainment time.

              1. re: Kris in Beijing

                I would love a MST3k of Food Network. I'd have to go buy adult diapers because I would anticipate peeing myself repeatedly as there is so much to snark on. Someone should pass this idea on to Rifftrax

                1. re: Firegoat

                  SOMEONE might be ripe for a milder version the idea, since Restaurant Impossible's are being reframed with little comments at the bottom.

                  1. re: Kris in Beijing

                    ooo haven't caught that. Sounds amusing!

                    1. re: Firegoat

                      No, not amusing*
                      More like:
                      Tom had to work an extra 6 hours to strip the paint off the bar that Robert didn't like.

                      *if anyone has seen Flushed Away, join me in a chuckle about the misuse of "amusing" vs. "diverting."

              2. While I don't necessarily disagree with the author - I think that part of the problem is by keeping the blinders on food tv strictly limited to Food Network. The Cooking Channel and PBS challenge her point. International cooking shows that can be accessed via various mediums challenge that point of view. And YouTube is a very diverse place for all sorts of perspectives on cooking (i.e. right now there's a kickstarter to try and fund a show called 'Cooking with Drag Queens').

                Now if the point is about how most people watching cooking shows just flip through Food Network and call it a day, so wouldn't it be nice if Food Network had more 'stand and stir' diversity - then sure. But I think the article would have been stronger if it had called on viewers to challenge themselves to look beyond the obvious. If Cooking with Drag Queens, Judy Joo, or any other cooking show, blog, YouTube channel gets huge viewership/followers - then that's something to get FN's attention.

                1. Giada is beautiful. I wish could watch everything she does.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: jpc8015

                    One unchangeable fact we can all count on with FN. The (cough) executives will never cease putting on shows that are worse than the previous ones.
                    They are in their own parallel universe hell bent on winning the 'race to the bottom'.
                    Give them credit. They are winning.
                    I hear FN has a new show coming in the fall: 'Dog The Bounty Hunter' and Robert Irvine are going to do a 'road-trip' together looking for diners with the smallest walk-ins. Robert will then take a sledge hammer to them while the 'Dog' handcuffs the illegal alien line cooks for unpaid traffic tickets.
                    "Win-Win" as the FN executives phrase it.

                    1. re: Puffin3

                      Will Giada be involved? If not I won't watch it.

                      1. re: jpc8015

                        Ina can take them down to Walmart to shop.

                    2. re: jpc8015

                      My GF recently commented that she'd rather eat Giada than her food. Personally, she's not my type -- and I'm not familiar with her food.

                    3. The author lists Gina and Patrick McNeely, Aaron McCargo, and Sunny Anderson as the ONLY black chefs with cooking shows on the network. What about Simply Baking, Siba's Table, Rev Run's Sunday Supper, Road Trip with G. Garvin, and Robert Rainford? However, I agree that with the African American population making up 12% of the U.S. population, you would expect to see about 12% of the cooking shows with African American hosts.

                      However, if you include all the non-Caucasian hosts on the Food Network/Cooking Channel shows, the two channels do considerably better.

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: gfr1111

                        Given the diversity that is apparent on the Cooking Channel - the article really should just have been a call for people to start watching the Cooking Channel and reward the diversity present on that channel.

                        1. re: cresyd

                          I don't reward diversity. I reward talent and skill with my time. You can be any color, sex, or gender you want.

                          1. re: Firegoat

                            Fair enough - but my point was that the article would have had more impact if instead of having hand wringing about why there's no diversity on Food Network it had instead said "hey - instead of just watching Food Network check out these great cooking shows not on Food Network that also happen to represent diversity".

                            Personally, I don't watch any 'stand and stir' cooking shows anymore. But I used to. It was part of my "just got home for work and want to unwind/shut off my brain for a bit" Food Network routine. So if at the end of the article there was a part that said - hey Judy Joo's show on the Cooking Channel is awesome for xyz awesome reasons, then that would have impacted me more.

                            Instead the article came off as whiny (why are there only white folks on stand and stir shows on Food Network, no fair!) to me. FN has its current line-up for the same reason they fired Paula Deen and Travel Channel fired Adam Richman - the relationship between ratings, sponsors and money.

                            If the author feels there's a minority cooking show personality who should have more viewers - advocate for that show. If the author feels that channels that have a more diverse line-up should be supported - advocate for that channel. Whether those are values that match your own or not - so be it - but I wanted to see the author advocate for something meaningful and not just complain.

                            Regarding entertainment targeting African Americans in the US - there is a debate whether to watch certain movies/tv shows that are of a low quality. On one hand, there's the point of saying "it's not good - so I won't support it". On the other, there's the point of "if the movies/tv shows that are out don't do well then production companies can justify not making content with a heavy African American perspective/cast because they don't make money". Personally I don't think the answers are cut and dry. But those kinds of questions and thought pieces are more interesting than just bemoaning a lack of diversity on one network.

                        2. re: gfr1111

                          The Cooking Channel is not a mainstream tv station. Most of my friends don't get it without paying apremium fee. I have no idea what is on "The Cooking Channel," but if there are any persons of color on TVFN regularly now, I haven't seen them lately.

                          1. re: ChefJune

                            On the FN website, one of the 'Featured Chefs' is Sunny Anderson. She is currently one of the co-hosts on The Kitchen.

                            Another co-host is Marcela Valadolide, a native of Tijuana.

                            The other names from the full list include Aaron McCargo, Aaron Sanchez, Aarti Sequeira, Daisy Martinez, George Duran (Venezuela), Ingrid Hoffmann, Marcus Samuelsson, Masaharu Morimoto, Patrick and Gina Neely, Roger Mooking, Jose Garces, Maneet Chauhan, Jet Tila

                            1. re: paulj

                              None of these are chefs who currently have 'stand and stir' shows on FN.

                        3. How many LGBT hosts have shows on Food Network? How many of retirement age or beyond?

                          The article partially opens up a Pandora's Box. It's perfectly okay to pander to your audience which drives ratings and advertising dollars, as long as it isn't done in a way which is discriminatory.

                          There's absolutely nothing holding back anyone of any sex, creed, color, age or sexual preference from entering the Next Food Network Star competition and proving their talents and audience appeal which are worthy to have a show of their own.

                          Paula Deen began her TV career as a shy middle-aged woman on the old Doorknock Dinners show. Had someone else struck a chord with viewers, and had a marketable cooking POV, I'm absolutely positive that Gordon Elliott would have been all over them to sign them onto a contract with his production company.

                          47 Replies
                          1. re: RelishPDX

                            Actually probably more than we know. Anne at least who I am a huge fan of. But she doesn't wave that in our face, and frankly... I don't give a rip about my host's gender.

                                1. re: Firegoat

                                  Ted Allen, Brian Boitano, the Beekmans, Elizabeth Falkner (although not strictly speaking a show host, she's been on the network tons).

                                    1. re: ennuisans

                                      Bob Tuschman too. He's certainly been on the air often enough.

                                      1. re: ennuisans

                                        and back in the early FN days, Susan Feniger.

                                        Competitors on shows like Chopped and Cutthroat seem to be a diverse lot.

                                  1. re: Firegoat

                                    Perhaps my post was misunderstood, as I wasn't advocating anyone waving anything in anyone's face.

                                    The rhetorical part of my question addressed the POV of the author of the piece in Salon that the color of the host should resemble the origin or appeal of the food presented.

                                    The author even claims that "... it is an egregious oversight on the part of the higher-ups at Food Network to feed us a steady diet of TV shows hosted by heterosexual white men and Southern white ladies."

                                    I particularly looked at the sentence, "I slowly started to come around to the idea that perhaps I should not give so much time and money to a network that clearly didn’t think black people cooked," with a blank stare.

                                    Those are pretty strong words and ideas to present. 'Egregious' means "shocking, appalling, atrocious, outrageous, abhorrent", etc. Is that POV valid?

                                    One of the most acclaimed Thai restaurants in the U.S. was founded by a middle-aged heterosexual white guy, Andy Ricker. Is that egregious? Was it egregious for Anthony Bourdain to have Andy host his recent trip to Thailand to present Thai food, instead of a "real Thai person"?

                                    I asked what I asked in my post because I didn't see any replies which addressed the author's POV or the OP's comment that they weren't sure they disagreed. Some of the replies did point out that the Cooking Channel had more "diversity" if that's what one desired, but nothing directly challenging the point the author was attempting to make.

                                    1. re: RelishPDX

                                      My perspectives on the author's POV that I mentioned upthread is that her article would have carried more weight if she challenged herself on what else to watch. If the author thinks "I should not give so much time and money to a network that clearly didn't black people cooked" - then is what she's offering to watch no food television or does she have an alternative. To me it feels like an article half-baked.

                                      If the FN is abhorrent, then are other channels that show cooking shows? If American television is abhorrent, should a viewer look internationally? If television itself is the problem - what about YouTube/private channel content?

                                      I personally agree with the OP/POV that the situation that has resulted is due to a racist system. But not where the FN itself is racist and thus culpable. I don't think this is a situation where calling a company racist will change anything. However, drawing people's attention to the disparity and then advocating for alternative behavior (rather than just abstaining from all cooking tv) is more interesting to me.

                                      1. re: RelishPDX

                                        So should only Mexican people be allowed to cook in Mexican restaurants? Should only Chinese people be allowed to work in Chinese restaurants? I be that the author of that article agrees with that deep down inside. I would say that is ignorant and bigoted.

                                        1. re: jpc8015

                                          I would highly disagree with that. Wanting to see diversity of nurtured talent is not the same as saying "Only Chinese people can work in Chinese restaurants". The author doesn't say "only X people can cook X food" - rather it would be great to have the chance to see X people cook X food and the fact that no X people are cooking X food is problematic.

                                          1. re: cresyd

                                            I was specifically getting at this paragraph from Relish's post:

                                            One of the most acclaimed Thai restaurants in the U.S. was founded by a middle-aged heterosexual white guy, Andy Ricker. Is that egregious? Was it egregious for Anthony Bourdain to have Andy host his recent trip to Thailand to present Thai food, instead of a "real Thai person"?

                                            1. re: jpc8015

                                              Fair enough - but that's not an example from the author's article. Her perspective had nothing to do with "Only X have the authority to comment on X-related food".

                                              I feel that in the specific Bourdain example (which the author never mentioned and which this is just my reading of the author's view) - the author might say that Bourdain is not contributing to this problem because while in the specific Thai case a white man was brought on as the expert - Bourdain's experts during the course of his show range in terms of gender, age, and place of origin. Sometimes they're educated enthusiasts, sometimes locals.

                                              BUT - what I would think would be more in line with the author's complaints would be that pre-Bourdain to CNN, Travel Channel's primary food-travel personalities were all white men. That would be the problem (with Travel Channel - if that's even correct, I'm not super up on that channel) the author has, not one specific case of relying on an expert.

                                              1. re: cresyd

                                                All 3 of them - Tony, Andrew, Adam

                                                1. re: paulj

                                                  That's what I thought - but I wouldn't have been surprised if I was wrong.

                                                2. re: cresyd

                                                  «Her perspective had nothing to do with "Only X have the authority to comment on X-related food".»

                                                  I could be wrong, but I do believe that's exactly what she's advocating.

                                                  Again quoting from the article:

                                                  «And herein lies the conundrum. In all things, race continues to matter. Even how we cook.»

                                                  Her closing paragraph and conclusion:

                                                  «The old adage is true. We are what we eat. This is what makes us animals. And simultaneously cultural cannibals. But as nations go, we should aspire to be more than this. And this starts with caring a little less about the food we eat and far more about the livelihoods and possibilities of those who have prepared it.»

                                                  What the author seems to be advocating is that regardless of their immediate popularity and resulting bump in ratings from known celebrity cooks preparing dishes from whatever source or culture, FN should be developing personalities more closely related racially with the food being prepared.

                                                  Is that FN's responsibility? Noble cause, yes, sustainable, who knows.

                                                  1. re: RelishPDX

                                                    Personally I think it's a matter of interpretation, and where this author's argument in particular gets whiney - as I've said in most of my comments on this thread - is the ending.

                                                    I agree that caring about livelihoods and the possibilities of those who prepare food is valuable. I personally believe that diversity is valuable. I also believe that the reason that all of the current most visible "food network stars" on FN are white is not because they happen to be the most talented.

                                                    But as a concluding point to an article that paragraph adds up to a pile of who knows what. What is a cultural cannibal?? Someone who consumes their "own" culture (and what exactly is that)? If we're aspiring to be more than consumers of "our own culture" that means we consume what, how, and from where?

                                                    From my first post on this thread, that has been my problem with this specific article. If the point was "stop watching only white stand and stir shows on FN - cause XYZ are killing it over on network JKL and they should have higher ratings" - fair enough. If the point was "I know that Chopped is viewing crack - but FN doesn't represent minorities on enough other shows - so let's stop watching FN and start watching network MNO that does represent minorities", I respect that too. But the ending to this article was pure a Salon op-ed throw away.

                                                    At no point does the author give any clear indication what she wants to see happen from readers or society (either at large or speaking to a specific in-group). We can interpret to degrees, but unless someone shows me a pure definition of what a cultural cannibal is - the conclusion, it's all speculation.

                                                    1. re: cresyd

                                                      «We can interpret to degrees, but unless someone shows me a pure definition of what a cultural cannibal is - the conclusion, it's all speculation.»

                                                      I've always casually interpreted cultural cannibalism as a fancy way to express the idea of fusion in this context, as in one culture's food habits taking on another's, such as the ever-popular asian fusion movement. Thinking about it, I also believe that it can represent the popular desires of one culture wanting to incorporate features of another culture into their own. An example of the latter could be represented by street food transforming into regional replicas of the American fast food formula. That goes both ways—I believe that the food truck movement replicates hawker food centers in a way, too.

                                                      Then I googled the term. It happens to be a fairly useful term first defined in Brazil nearly 100 years ago:

                                                      http://www.npr.org/2012/02/22/1471981...

                                                      1. re: RelishPDX

                                                        The NPR mention of cultural cannibalism as the notion of digesting one culture to make something new I think is a fascinating concept and a very interesting read. However, in the way used by the Salon author, I don't think it's properly contextualized. In the Salon article, the author implies cultural cannibalism as a negative (IMO), "But as nations go, we should aspire to be more than this." In the NPR article, it's mentioned as a positive. So apparently it is not inherently positive or negative.

                                                        In terms of food in America - discussing what cultural cannibalism means (I think that the Asian fusion and food trucks are good examples related to the NPR definition) requires more than a throw away sentence that has no operationalization in how the author is using it (aside from negatively).

                                                        Personally I'm a big Salon reader. I read a lot of their stuff, and I agree with a lot of their politics. So overall I am the choir they preach too. However, I feel that Salon has a tendency to publish op-edy pieces that get a bit overly personal and weak at the end.

                                                        1. re: cresyd

                                                          The way I read it was that the Salon author took cultural cannibalism as inevitable, so we should aspire to make it as inclusive as possible.

                                                          It's just that she's expecting for-profit companies to be out there putting aside profits to do so. Therein lies the quandary, if FN wasn't successful in getting food awareness in front of the public by making it into a profitable venture, would cultural cannibalism as she defined it even be an issue?

                                                          Look at how the selections in our supermarkets changed nearly overnight as show after show on FN introduced new foods and techniques. But without bankable presenters, it wouldn't have gotten off the ground.

                                                          1. re: RelishPDX

                                                            I think it's fair to challenge a for-profit company to think beyond immediate profits (i.e. invest in some unknown raw minority talent) for long term potential/profits. However, I still think her point was weak to simply call out FN. Advocating for that kind of change both requires calling out corporations to say "if you properly invested in these talents they will gather an audience" - but it also requires mobilizing an audience of more conscious consumers.

                                                            If after this article the only result is for people to go back to Chopped and Cutthroat Kitchen and think, why are the hosts of both of these shows men - then it hasn't changed anything. The author is fighting against the laziness of the network and the laziness of viewers (who may otherwise agree with her worldview), it's unfortunate to feel as though she's participating in that laziness.

                                                            1. re: cresyd

                                                              I'm not absolutely certain but I think in some cases CC costs more to obtain than FN, on a higher cable bracket or whatever you call it. In which case it would be entirely fair to single out FN as representative of what is basically available, just as it is/would be fair to call out NBC nightly news and not mention CNBC or MSNBC.

                                                              Nor is it fair to say that a FN viewer should find other avenues. A complaint about FN is what it is, and "other people" don't make them a better network.

                                                              1. re: ennuisans

                                                                With that logic, then you could single out PBS since its even more basically available and cheaper than all of them. They seem to be doing fine with lots of people of various colors and ethnicities

                                                                1. re: Firegoat

                                                                  I'm not sure what you mean by "by that logic". By my logic I could single out the food shows available on basic PBS compared to Create, which takes more effort/money to watch in many cases. My local PBS has nothing but white folks.

                                                                2. re: ennuisans

                                                                  I think that this is where being a conscious consumer is relevant. If the culture (or food) to consume that is the cheapest is "bad" (however that's defined) - then part of the advocacy battle is encouraging people why it's worth more money to seek out "better" or "good" culture.

                                                                  Making a rough example - before the FDA, meat basically had no standard and monitoring in the US. Point being, if people were willing to buy/eat spoiled meat - then let them. A decision was ultimately made by the government that even if people were willing to eat "bad" meat - that laws should be in place to prevent that.

                                                                  Fast forward to today, there are advocates who believe that the current regulations are enough and meat that is sold should be free from antibiotics or grass raised, etc. Whether or not there will be any government regulation for that - part of their efforts are to advocate for a) government to change policy and then b) for people to recognize the value of spending more money on meat to avoid xyz "bad" elements.

                                                                  I see this as no different.

                                                                3. re: cresyd

                                                                  «I think it's fair to challenge a for-profit company to think beyond immediate profits (i.e. invest in some unknown raw minority talent) for long term potential/profits.»

                                                                  Doesn't FN already do that with the Next FN Star? It's open for anyone to apply for, and most of all, if you lack the basic talent as a bankable personality, you can sure as heck learn a LOT about what you'll need from watching and studying the program. It's almost like a university on the air for how to host a successful cooking show.

                                                                  Yeah, everyone needs a break somewhere in life, someone to take a chance on them and give them a start, but there's a lot to be said about preparing yourself to be selected for that break as well.

                                                                  It was pretty savvy of FN to monetize that process for their benefit—turning a learning experience into something that would attract an audience in itself.

                                                                  I believe in benevolence as much as the next guy, and believe it's an essential part of maintaining a healthy society, but we also have to realize that not everyone is qualified for every job right out of the gate, nor is there a market for every niche.

                                                                  1. re: RelishPDX

                                                                    I'd disagree about FN Star as being a genuine opportunity. Aside from Guy Fieri no one's really succeeded on FN after that show (though some are still around on CC). Not to mention, I have read about how some contestants on FN Star are given contracts to ensure them to at least make top 6 - meaning that they playing field isn't level for all contestants at the start.

                                                                    This isn't even to mention how new shows like Rewrapped and Kitchen Casino (whatever you may think of their quality....) and shows like Trisha Yearwood's and the Pioneer Woman are hosted by talents FN has found/nurtured elsewhere. Four shows, four white "talents". And in particular based on what the host for Kitchen Casino brought to the table - I have a hard time believing he was truly the best candidate for the job.

                                                                    1. re: cresyd

                                                                      «I have read about how some contestants on FN Star are given contracts to ensure them to at least make top 6 - meaning that they playing field isn't level for all contestants at the start.»

                                                                      Hmm, that's very interesting.

                                                                      Still, I don't think it takes away from the point I made that if you really study the Next FN Star series, and apply what may be learned from it, you can mine a lot of valuable background about what skills you need to hone if you wanted to break into the business. Even if your start is by creating YouTube videos to express your cooking POV.

                                                                      I'd even gather that with some real effort, there are plenty of people out there who could do better in front of the camera than the professionals did in the early days of FN.

                                                                      Where else in the world could you get such training?

                                                                      1. re: RelishPDX

                                                                        I don't know anything about how tv is made and how talent is developed. So whether or not FN Star gives someone legitimate skills and capability to become a success- all I can point to is their success rate. Which isn't very high in regards to FN particularly with the success rate improving a bit if you include CC.

                                                                        Here's the link that includes the anecdote of contestants on FN Star being guaranteed a certain spot finish. http://jezebel.com/the-13-worst-fucki...

                                                                        1. re: cresyd

                                                                          «all I can point to is their success rate»

                                                                          You can lead a horse to water ... ;)

                                                                4. re: RelishPDX

                                                                  Cultural cannibalism is totally becoming a case where you hear something once and then hear it everywhere. Today's case - who's using/copying/stealing/immitating who's language - black women or white gay men.

                                                                  1. re: cresyd

                                                                    I'm not sure I understand your reply. I was inferring in my post that you have to look beyond the success rate of the shows which came about due to Next FN Star in your previous reply.

                                                                    If people don't use the knowledge handed to them on a silver platter, you can't necessarily fault the instructor.

                                                                    1. re: RelishPDX

                                                                      My most recent response was just a response to the term "cultural cannibalism" and how now I'm hearing it being used in other contexts. Definitely a bit off topic and not a direct response at all to the 'lead a horse to water' comment.

                                                                      1. re: cresyd

                                                                        Ah, gotcha. It did leave me scratching my head a bit because your posts always seem well thought out and lucid, but now I see where you're coming from.

                                                                        As with another recent thread here, every time I see someone use 'flavor profile' in place of something like 'taste', a little buzzer goes off in my brain. :)

                                                    2. re: cresyd

                                                      This kind of reminds me of the Tony Bourdain episode in which he emphasizes that Mexicans and Central Americans cook most of the food in NYC restaurants, including his old haunt, Les Halles.

                                                      1. re: junescook

                                                        I learned more and better Spanish working in restaurant kitchens than I did in any classroom.

                                                        1. re: junescook

                                                          Yup - which I have to say, when Latin cooks from Mexico/Central America appear on Chopped and Aaron Sanchez criticizes them from not 'bringing in some of their culture - the heat, the chili' - it bugs me.

                                                          Why should they be encouraged to make the food of their hometown and not the food they have spent their professional careers perfecting? If a cook from x-where USA that features in hot dish, tuna casserole and burgers - they don't ask the cook to highlight that background. Bah.

                                                          1. re: cresyd

                                                            "...and Aaron Sanchez criticizes them from not 'bringing in some of their culture - the heat, the chili' - it bugs me. "

                                                            Oh, yeah, that bugs me silly. Maybe someone has a Latin appearance or a Latin name, but they were raised entirely in...oh, I don't know...Iceland? Australia?

                                                            Bigotry goes in all sorts of directions.

                                                            1. re: sandylc

                                                              Chopped is one of the few FN shows that I watch regularly, and I can't recall any specific instances where Aaron has criticized contestants for not putting enough of the Hispanic background into the dish. May be he has. But when I try to remember his reactions to Latino contestants, what comes to mind is: 'I like how you added some heat, or used this ingredient ...'. My impression is that he encourages but does not insist on including a background to the cooking.

                                                              Nor do I recall any case where someone was chopped based on some sort of omission like this. Judges may make comments about liking or disliking aspects of a dish, without those playing a significant role in the judging. Nearly always judging is based on technical flaws in the dish, not style and theme issues.

                                                              1. re: paulj

                                                                In no way do I remember specific episodes - but I do recall that happening specifically from Aaron in providing commentary. Sometimes it's phrased directly as "add some more chili" (as opposed to just saying this dish is bland and could use some more seasoning, acid or heat) and other times he says things like "we want to see more of you in the dish". Which does not get directed just to Latino contestants but rather contestants that have a heritage that is not directly reflected in their food.

                                                                Tje only case leaping to mind without doing some deep Chopped research was an amateur mothers episode where one of the contestants was I believe Thai. In her judging rounds all the judges called her out for not using Thai flavors/dishes in her food. In the interview she said the reason was because real Thai food couldn't be made in 20-30 minutes, but American food was fast.

                                                                1. re: paulj

                                                                  I reason I related to this comment from cresyd is because I have seen Aaron making these types of remarks. He appears to mean well; it's like he's doing some sort of, "we're members of the same club" thing. But maybe those he's spoken to in this fashion don't have the background that he assumes they do. Maybe they're from Ohio, and so are their parents...

                                                                2. re: sandylc

                                                                  They should be asking Marcus about his watermelon, collards, and friiied chicken, then.

                                                                    1. re: Kris in Beijing

                                                                      You are confusing your stereotypes. He should be asked whether he prefers injera or lefse. :)

                                                        2. re: Firegoat

                                                          Yes, Anne, And Ina is retirement age.

                                                        3. re: RelishPDX

                                                          And don't forget The Hearty Boys- the first NFNS winners.

                                                        4. have you ever watched Siba Mtongana ? I adore her. She is on the cooking channel which i do consider FN's smarter cousin