Friday, November 30
Still, I'm getting so sick of one thing: his need to continuously bash the Food Network in an attempt to garner publicity for himself, his Travel Channel show, and whatever else he may be promoting.
Somehow it’s become the “cool” thing to say Food Network is less relevant, less entertaining, and less everything it used to be simply because its original focus on instructional-based cooking shows (hosted by professional chefs with little to no personality) has shifted. You're fine if you bash the chefs and shows (because that must show you're a food professional and care so much about cooking, right?) but criticized if you actually acknowledge you like the network (and the new shows that go with it). It seems like the people who constantly talk about just how bad the network has become must be watching a lot of Food Network. Odd, huh?
Holier-than-thou foodies write him and leave comments on his blogs about the “decline” of the Food Network and praise him for saying things like: “Minimally talented wannabe cooks of negligable [sic] to moderate experience compete to become ‘Celebrity Chefs’ based on a focus group-like criteria of ‘likeability’ while food and cooking ability (such as it is) take a distant back seat” in regards to last season’s cast of The Next Food Network Star.
But here’s the thing: nowhere in “Food Network” does it imply “instruction-based cooking shows.” That’s not the name of the network. Simply assuming that because the network was founded around that simple concept it must continue down that path and never stray is foolish. That’s not how television networks work.
If so many die-hard fans are so deeply troubled by the current state of the Food Network, why don’t they start their own network?! Anthony Bourdain can be CEO and SVP of programming & production. Then, he can program 24 full hours of instruction-based cooking programs to the delight of people like this Washington Post commenter in Arlington, Va., who asked Tony: “Is there anything worth watching in the way of cooking shows these days (in your opinion)? (I mean real shows where people actually cook, a la the great Julia Childs.)”
It’s this whole “real show” vs. “fake show” mentality that irritates me. Nothing about Julia Child’s (that’s singular ‘Child,’ Arlington. You must not have loved her show that much.) show was more “real” than Rachael’s. They’re both cooking shows on television! The ingredients and style may differ, but isn’t that to be expected?
It’s kind of ironic that Bourdain is bashing the network so much for its focus on “entertainment-based” and travel shows, when his Food Network show WAS an entertainment-based travel show!
And don’t get me wrong—I realize “food” is in the title of the network. Food should never take a backseat to what we’re watching. It should always look beautiful, inspire you and make your mouth water. That’s indisputable.
But what the network’s done (sometimes well, sometimes not) is highlight the multitude of ways we as people experience food, and that’s not something you can do by just having a fancy chef cook in a kitchen. Food is about life and living and cultures.
Anthony Bourdain is wrong. Food Network isn’t doing a disservice to its viewers by showcasing food and cooking in a variety of ways; it’s actually quite the opposite. The real disservice would be to simply promote food to an elite group of chefs and foodies.
Luckily, I don’t think the Food Network is ever going back.