Five Burning Questions About the Food Network
by Allison Waldman, posted Apr 5th 2010 2:08PM
Whether it's 'The Barefoot Contessa' or 'Tyler's Ultimate,' there's a wide variety of food, cooking, chefs and experts on The Food Network. For the most part, the diversity is great and if you're a food fan -- a foodie -- you can watch FN for hours on end and be entertained. However, if you do watch for more than a few hours, especially the 'in the kitchen' programming which is all about creating dishes, there are some things that stand out -- five burning questions about the Food Network.
1. What's with the hygiene?
On nearly every cooking show, the food preparers -- whether they're an American Iron Chef like Bobby Flay or a restaurant owner/home cook like Paula Deen -- are obsessive about washing their hands. Any time they touch meat or chicken, there's a camera following them to the sink to wash hands with soap.
Invariably, we're reminded to switch the cutting board to avoid any cross contamination. Excellent! This is a good public service. However, how come nobody wears a hairnet? Oh sure, if that was me at home, I wouldn't be wearing a hairnet either, but have you ever been served a dish with a hair in it? It's gross. It would probably be a little weird to see actual hats or caps, but maybe Giada could opt for a pony tail?
2. Do we need that much salt and pepper?
Not a day or dish goes by on Food Network without the generous handful of salt and a few cranks of the pepper mill. Seriously, how come there's such an emphasis on salt and pepper? Flavor is important, that's understood. But overdoing salt isn't good for your health. And pepper is one of those things you can do without and never miss it. Every cook on Food Network is dedicated to the salt bowl. You know, if you took a shot every time a Food Network personality reached for the salt and pepper, you'd have a heck of a drinking game...
3. How does it taste?
When Graham Kerr used to do 'The Galloping Gourmet,' back in the 1970s, he'd end the show by bringing up an audience members to taste the food. If it wasn't good, you could see it. Well, most of the shows on Food Network don't have an audience, but the cooks themselves don't necessarily taste their dishes. Some do.
You'll often hear Guy Fieri talk about something being 'money,' but Sandra Lee seems to avoid sampling her fare (except for her cocktails). To me, when a dish is done, don't you want to see the star really taste it and show us how good it is? Haven't we been watching to see that 'yum' shot? Giada De Laurentiis is really great at the reaction shot. She loves her dishes!
4. Who's cleaning up?
Okay, it's a given that nobody wants to watch pot-washing. In fact, the punishment KP on Fox's 'Hell's Kitchen' is bad television. However, the folks on Food Network never clean up after themselves. And while that's okay, how come they're using so much equipment?
Really, these folks use every pot and pan known to man. Food processor, cutting boards, mixing bowls, food mills, pressure cookers, cast iron skillets, stove top grills... Have you ever tried to scrub a grill pan after teriyaki sauce was burned into the grooves? Alton Brown, tell me how to get that clean, will you? Just once it would be great to see a Food Network personality acknowledge the dark side of cooking is... cleaning up.
5. How much does that cost?
It's great to see Food Network shows where they use a hunk of Chateaubriand, heirloom tomatoes and truffle oil. Oh, to be able to buy a wedge of Italian cheese without thinking about the price. The high-end pantry items in a show like 'The Barefoot Contessa' are enough to make you drool. The chocolates, the liquor, the spices. And every show seems to have the herbs of all types, no matter the price.
Oh, sure, there are the cheap eat shows, the budget minded Sandra Lee and Melissa D'arbian's dinners for $10. But most programs don't mince on the expensive stuff. If you've ever tried to follow one of the Food Network recipes, you have to be well-heeled when you go to the Mega-mart.