Sunday, June 9, 2013

Why I've given up "food" television.

There was a short span of time when I was hooked on cooking, or food related, shows.  I was a big fan of Top Chef, had a year or three where I watched the original Iron Chef (subtitled) religiously (although I never could quite bridge the gap to Iron Chef America) and I even fell in for Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares, Gordon Ramsay's F-word, Hell's Kitchen and Food Network Star (for the first two seasons).

Now, out of all of those shows, I'm only still watching Hell's Kitchen, and I rarely make it through an entire season of that.  Last night the wife and I watched a re-broadcast of the premier episode of Food Network Star and I won't be watching any more of that either.  I never have made it through an entire season of MasterChef and based on the first few episodes this season I won't be finishing it up either.

The thing is, I still like to eat, I still enjoy watching some reality TV (Amazing Race is still my favorite show on TV and I've watched every episode of The Voice this year) and I enjoy it.  I'll even admit to being a fan of Dancing with the Stars (granted, my level of interest wanes if neither Peta, Sharna or Karina are still dancing).  But for various reasons I'm just done with food reality television.  I think it's ran its course and here's why:

"I live for food" - There is nothing more annoying, to me, than hearing one contestant after another tell us how important food is to them and their lives.  It's either this or "I've been working my whole life for this".  No you haven't.  In most cases the show is not even a decade old and many of you have been around for much longer than that.  And we ALL live for food from some perspective.  Certainly we all need to eat it to live.

This answer is the food equivalent to "I don't know" when the contestant is asked why they should stay.  "Uhh..I live for food" isn't an answer, it's a cop out, but the producers love it because they think it shows passion in some warped way.

The superior chef mentality - If anything has given the professional chef a bad name, it's professional chef reality TV.  Listen up cookie, there's nothing in the ability to be able to craft a good sauce that makes you superior to anyone else.  Just like there's nothing in my ability to turn a phrase or (professionally) instruct you on the finer points of accounting as it relates to the oil and gas industry that makes me a better person either.  Neither is your taste superior to anyone else.  Taste is a very personal thing.  I like Brussels sprouts, my wife is not a fan.  My wife likes steamed vegetables while I prefer them steamed but topped with some Cholula hot sauce.  Neither of this is right (or wrong), it's just food.  The attitude of these wanna-be superstar chefs have gotten so bad (possibly a put on for TV) that I can't help but wonder if the wife and I are getting bad-mouthed for daring to mention that she's Celiac?

Lack of creativity - Let's face it, we've run out of challenge ideas.  The only thing left is to take away all of the food and ask the chefs to make stone soup.  Even that's probably been tried though, I just missed it.

The talent pool is only so deep - And I'm starting to wonder if we've hit the bottom of it.  There comes a point when you can't force-feed the nation a star and you just have to let it grow organically.  Almost every season of "Food Network Star" has been evidence of this.  Outside of Guy Fieri and Vince Vegas (who didn't win, probably because he was just a bald, muscular Guy Fieri) Star hasn't produced any TV personality of note.  Yes, I blame part of this on Bob Tuschman and Sarah Fogleman, who are two of the least relatable personalities on TV.  Five minutes listening to the pair of them drone on and you realize why Food Network has lost it's fast-ball. 

But there's also a talent question, and we seem to be cutting pretty deep into the stack at this point in an effort to force a new face onto TV screens.  Besides, Food Network already has better staff in place to fill this hour, and an Alton Brown road-trip piece is way overdo.

Why do I not watch any of the food television shows that I used to?  Mainly because they've forgotten their original mission and have stopped providing useful cooking information.  In it's place they've brought me rock jock wanna-be TV chef's with an overinflated sense of self who "live for food" despite not having the slightest idea what to do with it.

Thank God for Chopped, where they're not supposed to know what to do with it and that's half the fun.

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