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April 19, 2014

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Five Burning Questions About the Food Network

by Allison Waldman, posted Apr 5th 2010 2:08PM
ina_garten_the_barefoot_contessa_food_network
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.

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Are You Ready For Another Gordon Ramsay Cooking Competition Show?

by Bob Sassone, posted Mar 26th 2010 2:04PM
Gordon RamsayDo we really need another food competition show on television? And do we need another show that stars chef Gordon Ramsay? Neither of those questions matter because we're getting one anyway.

'Masterchef' premieres on FOX July 29. Ramsay will be the head judge on this show, along with restaurateur/wine expert Joe Bastianich and chef Graham Elliot Bowles, who will also coach the contestants. This show will feature amateur chefs who have to go through a series of challenges, with one of them becoming the winner of the competition. I know, that description could be cut and pasted into a post about seven other food competition shows on the air right now, but if something isn't broken...etc, etc.

The press release uses phrases like "follow their dream" and "unique platform" and "passion and excitement," but I don't see anything about what the exact prize will be, whether it's cash or a position at a restaurant or a set of cookware. Unless the prize is knowing that three food and wine experts declare you the winner.

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CBS Wants to Know if You Can 'Beat the Chefs'

by Bob Sassone, posted Mar 18th 2010 5:02PM
CBSFood competition shows seem to be popular with everyone (not just Food Network) and now CBS is getting into the act. The Tiffany Network has ordered 'Beat The Chefs,' a new reality/game show that will pit amateur cooks and their families against veteran chefs. Both will make the signature dish of the amateur and a panel of judges will decide who made it better. It sounds a little like 'Throwdown with Bobby Flay' only on a bigger scale. Winner gets a bunch of $$$$$.

I wonder if the signature dishes of these amateurs could be canned soup? What if these cooks only know how to open a can of Campbell's Chunky Soup and a package of Ritz crackers? Then the chefs could try to make soup and crackers that are better than Campbell's and Ritz but they won't be able to because they know that Campbell's and Ritz products are AWESOME and the chefs will be embarrassed on national television because they lost to supermarket products.

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Gordon Ramsay Cuts Finger on 'Ellen' But Doesn't Yell at Himself

by Bob Sassone, posted Feb 25th 2010 5:11PM
I'm surprised this doesn't happen more often when there is a chef giving a cooking demo on a talk show. Gordon Ramsay was chopping food on 'Ellen' and actually cut his finger. The moment a guest on my talk show cuts his finger, that's when we stop taping, clean up the area, give him a Band-Aid and a glove and have him start the demonstration over. Even then I'd hesitate in eating it.

I once cut my finger slicing linguica on a slicer and had to go to the emergency room. Don't worry if you ate pizza at Valentino's in the mid-'80s, I threw it out.

Can you imagine if one of the contestants on 'Hell's Kitchen' had cut his finger during a challenge or during dinner service? You can imagine what Ramsay would say: "Oh, bollocks! What is wrong with you? What a donkey? Get the f**k out of my kitchen! Close it down!"

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I love Sandra Lee but not her new show

by Bob Sassone, posted Jan 25th 2010 5:27PM
Sandra LeeBefore I go any further I want to say that this isn't another one of those Sandra Lee-bashing articles. I actually like her. Semi-Homemade Cooking is one of my favorite Food Network shows. Having said that, I have a lot of problems with her new (or should I say new-ish) show Money Saving Meals.

I mean, seriously, does this show need to exist? I know times are tough for a lot of families right now, but I don't think that we need to figure out our meals to the point where we know how much each serving costs when we cook the meal for our family. She's always talking about how each serving "only cost $1.07" or "if you buy this you'll save 22 cents!"

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Jennifer Garner is no friend of Ina Garten's

by Bob Sassone, posted Jan 4th 2010 5:04PM
Ina GartenSo Jennifer Garner contacted the people at The Barefoot Contessa, saying she was a big fan and she'd like to be on the show. And they turned her down!

Ina Garten says that she won't have the former Alias star on the show because she only has real friends on the show with her. I actually have to admire that. A lot of shows would jump at the chance to have any sort of TV or movie celebrity on, just to get some buzz or ratings or celebrity gravitas. It's refreshing that Garten sees the phoniness behind that and actually has people on the show that she knows. I guess Garner has to get to know her first and then they can make soup together.

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Here's what worries me about Worst Cooks in America

by Bob Sassone, posted Jan 3rd 2010 3:00PM
Worst Cooks in AmericaTonight at 10, Food Network's 10,000th food competition show debuts. It's called The Worst Cooks in America, and it's hosted by Anne Burrell and Beau MacMillan. I have a big problem with it, and it's not just that it's the 10,000th food competition show on Food Network (OK, maybe I have two problems with it).

Here's the set-up: ten horrible cooks compete in a ten week "boot camp," and whoever improves the most gets $25,000. That sounds like a lot of fun, right? We all know people who can't cook, and if they're trying to cook something a little bit more complex than canned soup, it could be entertaining.

But here's my question: what's to stop these people from lying?

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What You Missed Last Night: Jimmy, Martha, and the Croquembouche

by Bob Sassone, posted Dec 22nd 2009 3:04PM
No, that's not something dirty, it's a holiday dish that Martha Stewart cooked last night on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. You might know it as "that cookie thing that's shaped like a tree and has sticky stuff on it."

[Watch clips and episodes of Late Night and other shows at SlashControl.]

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Review: Two and a Half Men - Warning. It's Dirty.

by Allison Waldman, posted Dec 15th 2009 6:55AM
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(S07E11)
The holidays are a time for family and reflection and cheer. Unless you're the Harper family and gathering in Malibu becomes a test to see who can screw up each others' life more. This was an interesting Christmas get together, especially with the guest visit from Marty Pepper, sitcom king. Was it the ultimate inside joke that everything passing before Marty's eyes was fodder for a TV show? Yes, I think so. At the end of the show, the final credit was "A Marty Pepper Production."

For more on Marty and Charlie's trouble making antics, read on.

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Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares: The Runaway Girl (season premiere) - open thread

by Bob Sassone, posted Dec 3rd 2009 3:30PM
Gordon RamsayTV viewers who only know Kitchen Nightmares from the FOX version might be surprised by the original UK version. Sure, he gets ticked off and swears in the UK version (and some of the swears are unbleeped!), but it's also a quieter, more serious show than the FOX version. Ramsay narrates himself, unlike the FOX version which uses a Hell's Kitchen-like narrator and approach that is more loud and abrasive.

Last night was the season premiereon BBC America. What did you think?

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Oprah's favorite chef bringing comfort to TLC

by Allison Waldman, posted Nov 23rd 2009 4:29PM
art_smith_bravoHmm... it seems like every network is expanding at the waistline. That is, a bunch of them are getting into food in a big way. Like Fine Living becoming the Cooking Channel. TLC is also adding more yum yum to the schedule. And the latest has an Oprah angle. Perhaps it's a coincidence, but just about everyone connected to Oprah Winfrey is getting a TV show these days... Dr. Oz, Dr. Phil, Nate Berkus. And now chef Art Smith has landed a show on TLC. Smith is well-known as Oprah's personal chef.

Art Smith was on Bravo's Top Chef Masters last summer -- that was his audition -- and he showed himself as a homey, pleasant, unpretentious cook. For TLC, he's going to host Craving Comfort, with the emphasis on Southern comfort food.

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The Next Iron Chef: Season Finale - open thread

by Bob Sassone, posted Nov 23rd 2009 12:27PM
Next Iron ChefSo last night was the big battle between Chef Garces and Chef Mehta, the two finalists on Food Network's Next Iron Chef with two very different cooking styles. I didn't watch much of this season, but judging from last night's episode I wish I had. Jeffrey Steingarten is one of my favorite judges, and it's interesting to see other iron chefs in the judging chairs.

Did the right chef win?

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Review: Top Chef - Culinary Olympics

by Allison Waldman, posted Nov 19th 2009 1:05AM
tom_padma_top_chef(S06E12) When I saw that the title of tonight's episode was "Culinary Olympics," I didn't really imagine what the chefs would be going through. Were they going to be pole vaulting into the kitchen, did they have to prepare a meal on an ice skating rink? What could be the Olympian angle? Well, apparently there's a culinary competition that's as intense as the Olympics -- and it's not held in a kitchen stadium with Alton Brown doing play by play.

That said, this may have been one of the toughest assignments ever on Top Chef. I tried to envision how past season winners -- let alone the runners up -- would have done in the same circumstances that these final five faced. I can't say for sure that I can think of one that would have aced it ... and for how this five did, read on.

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OK, maybe that Martha Stewart/Rachael Ray feud is real

by Bob Sassone, posted Nov 18th 2009 6:00PM
Rachael, MarthaI watched Martha Stewart on Rachael Ray last week and then Rachael on Martha the following day, and both shows were interesting. I noticed that Rachael had Martha sit down and talk and take questions, but Martha got Rachael in the kitchen baking right away with little small talk. The funniest moment came from Rachael's show: when both came out of the elevator, Rachael tried to grab Martha's hand but Martha pulled it away quickly. Ha!

Anyway, they talked about the so-called "feud" that had been reported everywhere, and both dismissed it. I don't know how you can dismiss something that Martha herself said on her own show (among other things) but they said there was no truth to any feud rumors. I wonder what they'll say after Martha's appearance on Nightline tomorrow night.

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If you're a bad cook then you'll love Food Network's new show

by Bob Sassone, posted Nov 10th 2009 4:00PM
Food Network logoIt was just a matter of time before Food Network showcased people who actually can't cook. On January 3, the new food competition show Worst Cooks in America will debut. The winner gets $25,000!

Just so we're clear, the winner doesn't get $25,000 for making worse food than their competitors. No, the show will put the contestants through a boot camp where they will learn to take their skills (which probably consist of boiling water for pasta and microwaving Boston Market frozen dinners) and actually become better cooks. The food will be judged by a panel of food experts (of course) and whoever is the most improved wins. The two chefs leading the teams will be Anne Burrell and Beau MacMillan.

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