Tag Archives: Food Network Star

Wait for it

It’s summer, and that means a lot of reality show competitions have been added to the TV schedule.

Food Network Star has been cookin’ with gas on Sunday evenings for several weeks already, and my beloved Project Runway got underway this past Thursday.

I never realize how much I miss them until they come back on they air, and then, when they do —

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Location, location

I’m watching Food Network Star right now, which has been in Las Vegas for the past couple of weeks.

But it certainly doesn’t look like Vegas.

food network star vegasEvery time Bobby, Alton or Giada — the show’s three hallowed hosts — stand before this season’s contestants to set up a challenge, it looks like they are shooting the episode in an empty room. Or vacant parking lot.

Food Network goes to such great lengths to clear out the ‘normal folk’ during production, Vegas looks nothing like the manic city I have experienced every time I’ve had the chance to visit.

Why go to the expense of using Vegas as your backdrop if you’re going to make it sterile and still?  You might as well fake the whole thing at the Food Network studios here in New York City.

The show’s producers must have heard me.  They just announced this week’s survivors are coming to Manhattan for the remainder of the season.

That will probably look like Cleveland.

 

 

No beans about it

I’m watching 24 in 24Sandwich King Jeff Mauro’s new show on Food Network.

(It’s kinda like the $40 a Day series that Rachael Ray did way back when, but with less scratch.)

He’s in Cleveland in tonight’s episode, and he’s eating chili for lunch.

Now I love chili, and today’s dramatic drop in temperatures makes it sound especially good.  I don’t have any chili on me, but I am really enjoying watch him eat chicken chili from Palookaville Chili in Cleveland.

But he made a curious claim during the program.

He said chili is usually the “B-film of food.”  It’s canned stuff.  It goes on hot dogs.  It’s not the star.

I love the Sandwich King, but I consider chili to be at the top of the soup chain.  At the top of the stew chain.  At the top of Rachael Ray’s ‘stoup’ chain (combo soup/stew).

Chili is king.  And was king long before Jeff won Food Network Star.

Let’s show it a little respect.

Alone again

Sunday, bloody Sunday.

You’ve been my favorite night of television all summer.

But last night The Glee Project wrapped, with Damian and Samuel winning the right to a seven-episode arc on the prime time version of Glee.

In true gleek fashion, the Irish import and the Christian rocker prevailed to share the crown.  The other two runners-up also received  two-episode stints on the show.

Even Cameron, who left the competition early because he didn’t ‘fit in,’ was voted fan favorite.

Everyone’s a winner on The Glee Project.

And last Sunday, Food Network Star also came to a close, with fan favorite — and my choice from early on — Jeff Mauro the Sandwich King getting his own show.

The first episode aired yesterday morning, and it was pretty slick, thanks to the Food Network production team.  I think Jeff should settle in quite nicely.  (As he pointed out himself, he is ‘kinda cuddly.’)

So now Sunday nights are left to only the critters and crazies on True Blood.

Granted, there is enough insanity on that one show alone to carry Sunday night.  But I will kinda miss all the DVR juggling — and Twitter avoidance — I had to manage to watch all three programs without having outcomes or plot twists spoiled.  It made the vast wasteland that is the Monday-thru-Friday’s-of-summer a little easier to bear.

Everyone who’s psyched for premiere week, raise your werepanther!

Bittersweet

I have watched a lot of Food Network shows in my day, especially the competition formats.

Iron Chef.  Food Network Star.  Last Cake Standing.

But they are all child’s play compared to the Meilleurs Ouvriers de France (Best Craftsman in France) competition featured in Kings of Pastry, which  I discovered quite by accident last night on HBO OnDemand.

The 2010 documentary was directed by D A Pennebacker and Chris Hegebus, who brought us the Oscar-nominated documentary The War Room, about the 1992 presidential campaign of President Bill Clinton.

Surprisingly, Kings of Pastry is just as griping, tense and dramatic as any political campaign — maybe more so.

Becoming a M.O.F. is the pinnacle of a French pastry chef’s career, and the three-day competition is a grueling test for even the finest artisan.  The film follows Jacquy Pfeiffer, an award-winning French chef and instructor at Chicago’s highly regarded French Pastry School, as he prepares for and completes the competition.

The directors also filmed two other finalists preparing for the M.O.F.:  French chefs Regis Lazard — there for the second time after dropping his sugar sculpture and being eliminated during his first attempt — and Philippe Rigollot, the pastry chef at the renowned restaurant, Maison Pic.

The stress that the M.O.F. puts on the chefs and their families is immense.  To say there were a few tears shed is an understatement, especially by the competition judges, who seemed to live each success and failure of the 16 chefs involved.

Their final work is exacting and beautiful to behold — but I would argue the process is the true art.



Full up

I’ve started seeing a lot of promos lately for the new seasons of “The Next Food Network Star” and “Top Chef.”  In fact, the first episode of “Food Network Star” aired last night.

(I know this because my DVR taped it while I was at the movies.)

All these would-be TV chefs vying for their own shows on Food Network and Bravo just look….blah to me.  Which made me realize — it’s finally happened.

I have had my fill of reality food television.

I mean, I still watch certain shows on Food Network…and goodness knows Rory watches the channel all the time when I’m not at home.  But the food chef competitions themselves may be on the way down, at least with me.

And really, have they produced any personalities with longevity besides Guy Fieri?  Can you even name any other “Food Network Star” winner from past seasons?  I certainly can’t.  They may still be around, but they are infinitely forgettable.  Same thing for “Top Chef.”

“Food Network Star” knows it, too.  They brought in a contestant ‘mentor’ this year in Giada De Laurentiis.  I guess they are hoping she will distract you from the beginning of the end.

So, enjoy this season.  It maybe the last course.

Food tube

I’m headed to the New York Wine and Food Festival today. It’s the second annual event, and my second time attending.

Last year I watched Bobby Flay prepare Thanksgiving dinner, and Paula Deen — well, she got carried away talking to the audience and really didn’t cook much of anything…but she was damn entertaining.  I had a blast.

This year I have tickets for food demos by Guy Fieri — “Food Network Star” winner and host of “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” — and Jamie and Bobby Deen, Paula’s two sons.  One of them is a cook, and the other one works more on the business side of the family restaurant, I think.  But does it really matter? They’re funny like their mother and will put on a good show.

I bet a lot of Food Network viewers feel like I do, and maybe the programming bigwigs should take note.  Sure, we expect their TV personalities to be part of the food industry, but how they connect with the audience is their main selling point.

Every year during the finals of “Food Network Star,” the judges get all hyper about the credibility of the winner.  Will the viewers think they are legit chefs?  Does their food taste good?  And then sometimes they end up crowning the less TV-worthy cook.  (Guy Fieri is a big ol’ exception to that rule.)

Here’s a clue, Food Network — we can’t taste the food they are preparing on TV at home.  (Heck, they don’t even feed us at the festival because of insurance reasons.)  So the relationship they form with us via their TV show and live appearances is what makes them legitimate with us.

Look at Rachael Ray.  She’s not a chef; she’s the first to tell you that she’s a cook.  But most importantly, she has the gift of gab — sometimes more than we want to hear — and that gift made her a success more than any cooking credentials.

I bought my tickets to the festival to have a good time, not to read chef bios. And I use my remote control the exact same way.