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Wednesday, May 21

Mary Nolan's Chic & Easy Neither Chic Nor Terribly Easy (To Stomach)

If I was Simon Cowell and sitting in front of Mary Nolan while she taped her first episode of her new Food Network show Chic & Easy, I would have had to say:

"Well, you didn't do yourself any favors there...sore-ey!"


(I guess the laptop in the corner there is the "chic" part?)

Either that, or, "Mary, that was a disaster."

I hate to shatter the hopes of a sweet Iowan (we Midwesterners gotta stick together!), but the first show was just bad.

She was nervous, couldn't stand still, spoke uncomfortably, dropped a spatula and didn't pick it up, and just seemed overly amateur. This shouldn't come as a surprise, though, since she's just that--an amateur! And that can work in certain situations, don't get me wrong.

I guess I was under the assumption that if the execs. somehow saw enough in Mary Nolan to have her bypass The Next Food Network Star and skip right to the cooking show part, then this first episode would totally blow me away. I was thinking she'd be like the Mozart of the Food Network. Instead, she was more like the Milli Vanilli.

And I'm not denying the fact that hosting a cooking show is hard--it is. But it's the job of the people in charge to find people who can do it well, make it look easy, and all that gooey stuff of wonderment and puppies that goes into finding a good host.

I won't even go into the food now. I know some people were turned off by her talking about meeting and feeding the chickens at a farm before she ate them, but if you've truly "got it," you can talk about anything while cooking an old shoe... and people will still watch. (I think Rachael Ray has actually done this before.)

So get it together, Mary! I like rooting for people. It helps me pretend that I'm a nice person. I'll give you one more week and if I see no improvement...


...I'd pack your suitcase.

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44 Comments:

At 5/21/2008 5:01 PM , Anonymous jackiecat said...

If you've seen early Giada or Mario shows you'll know that the first episodes don't necessarily show the potential. I wish there was an "off network" place where future TV chefs could get comfortable before being on national television.

 
At 5/21/2008 5:23 PM , Blogger Ali said...

Yep, she seemed nervous, but, may I applaud her for not going bananas a la flailing arms, scary facial expressions and using cutesy phrases, like Rayray? (And I like Rayray, but she's on crack sometimes.)

I thought she was adorable, and I hope she gets better so the show can stick around.

 
At 5/21/2008 6:17 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I LOVED this show! Mary Nolan was full of great ideas and seems like a natural behind the camera. I hope this show takes off. It's just what the Food Network needs. I also love the idea of entertaining on a budget. I can't wait for more from Mary Nolan!

 
At 5/21/2008 9:37 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mary is certainly attractive but I don't see why Food Network has given her her own show, unless it's all (and only) about pulchritude. The combination of youth and inexperience was painful - it reminded me of watching a high school home ec demonstration. I know that Giada was awkward in the beginning, as people always point out, but she also had a Cordon Bleu diploma and she seemed more knowledgeable (and interesting) even when she was having trouble opening a can.

More exciting is the news that Ann Burrell, Mario Batali's sous chef on Iron Chef (she of the blond spikey hair), will have a crack at her own show in late June. That could be fun - and informative. I would get up on a Sunday morning to see Ann cook - don't think I will again for Mary.

 
At 5/21/2008 10:02 PM , Blogger Mrs. U said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 5/21/2008 10:03 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ugh. I didn't even make it through the first 5 minutes of the show. I will watch it ONE more time and after that, she'll no longer be welcome on my DVR (like the Neelys and Sunny).

Heidi

 
At 5/22/2008 1:12 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

It doesn't surprise me that this show sucked! ALL of the new and "new and improved" shows suck! Where's the real chefs? Oh, that's right, FN fires them! Psssh!

 
At 5/22/2008 1:38 AM , Anonymous CSB said...

You did yourself no favors with that one. Sorry!

 
At 5/22/2008 1:39 AM , Blogger Alex Lopez said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 5/22/2008 1:47 AM , Blogger Alex Lopez said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 5/22/2008 3:33 AM , Blogger Mark said...

Is it that bad? Now I have to watch it...

 
At 5/22/2008 9:31 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

How can you take anyone seriously as a "professional" who has that much hair and swings it around while she's cooking? Good grief.

 
At 5/22/2008 11:50 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess anyone can have a show on food network

 
At 5/22/2008 1:12 PM , Anonymous dan said...

yipes! I didnt think she was THAT bad especially compared to the awful shows FN has been coming out with week after week. yea she was nervous, but the actual quality of cooking was way better then the neelys danny boom ingrid hoffman, amy finley and sunny anderson. i also liked that she was talking about the whole free range and organic food movements (i think that was the chic part? haha)

 
At 5/22/2008 1:20 PM , Anonymous Alec Smart said...

Hey Jake,

Maybe you can slip Chef Alex Lopez' resume at Tuschman when you see him again.
Get her the front of the line treatment Mary Nolan got.

As for real Mexican cooking shows, Rick Bayless does a pretty good job over at PBS with his show. I do think FN could benefit from an authentic Mexican show though, but knowing them they would try and fit in Fee 'Useless as the host.

 
At 5/22/2008 3:03 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

The pacing is way off. I couldn't really concentrate on the recipes becasue of how quicklyshe speaks. She is getting panned on the food network recipe review pages.

 
At 5/22/2008 5:22 PM , Blogger Alex Lopez said...

Hi Alec,
Thanks for spreading the word. I greatly appreciate it. I am a huge fan of the work that Chef Rick Bayless puts out. I had the pleasure of cooking with him. He has such respect for the Mexican culture and cuisine. I want to bring that to Food Network with a young, modern everyday approach. Think of "Everyday Italian" but with Mexican food with your host The Food Diva!
Have a great weekend!

 
At 5/23/2008 10:18 AM , Anonymous Alec Smart said...

You would think that with the growing Latino population, FN would dedicate more time to this segment. I mean Ingrid Hoffman in her idyllic Miami world ain't exactly Mexican. It's a start though.

Hate to be a realist here Chef Alec, but it will help immensely if you do possess Ingrid Hoffman types looks, because apparently that is a FN priority to getting you on the air.

If Mary Ann Esposito tried out for a FN slot, I am sure they would pass on her, as she isn't exactly easy on the eyes.

Now if and when you get your shot with FN, what is this show going to be known as ?

 
At 5/23/2008 1:58 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

The flailing arms were very distracting. Worse than RR

 
At 5/23/2008 2:41 PM , Anonymous Andrew said...

I don't understand why Food Network doesn't just change their name to the "Amateur Cook Channel."

 
At 5/23/2008 5:12 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is a certain amount of spin with Food Network (actually, a lot), and one thing that makes people uneasy about Mary Nolan is that her appeal isn't obvious. Giada: famous Italian movie family. Rachel: brassy working class New Yorker (ok, upstate New York but still...). Sandra: Throwback to the 1950's. Mary's image as an Iowa farm girl isn't working because she wasn't one in reality. What she is (or until very recently was) is a young single woman working for a magazine in Manhattan, with her nose pressed against the glass. That is a veritable stereotype (and to some an icon) these days - why not go with that? The Devil Wears Pasta? Sex and the Citron?

 
At 5/23/2008 9:05 PM , Blogger Alex Lopez said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 5/25/2008 10:04 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Alex Lopez, your famewhoring spam of this blog proves, if nothing else, that you are PERFECT for the Food Network.

 
At 5/25/2008 10:06 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just watched the second show and there doesn't seem to be much of a learning curve. I felt as though I were watching a Saturday Night Live parody with Ana Gasteyer. Picking up the carrot from the hot grill was too long and too painful. By the time she approached the hot marina with an immersion blender you wanted to shout "No!" Aside from that the food looked ponderous, not "chic,
as did the food in the first episode.

 
At 5/25/2008 1:33 PM , Blogger vmflanders said...

Chic & Easy is Hard to Watch

After watching the first episode of Chic & Easy with Mary Nolan, I thought it was horrible, especially when she dropped the spoon on the floor and did not pick it up. Oh, the horror! But of course, being me, I like to give people the benefit of the doubt and one more chance to redeem themselves. So I watched the second episode.

The second episode was just ridiculous. Her meal was pasta and marinara sauce with ricotta cheese on top of the serving and grilled Italian sausage on the side, salad, some prosciutto wrapped around a pencil thin breadstick, an ice cream sundae and popcorn she added stuff to. It was basically a meal that I could make in my sleep without twitching an eye. This was truly disappointing. It was easy (read lazy), but there was nothing chic about it. The pasta was ordinary, the salad, comme ci, comme ca, the sundae, blah. And the sweet and smoky popcorn would have had no sweet without the kettle corn popcorn; even though the host said you didn’t have to use kettle corn.

To add to this train wreck is her personality which is as flat as a glass of soda left on a countertop in New Orleans in the middle of summer for three days. There is nothing chic about her food, attire, makeup or hairstyle and her movements are so awkward and voice so annoying that I feel sorry for her just watching the show. So I am left wondering why she has a show on Food Network. I would have understood if she was a winner on Next Food Network Star. Instead, she was just added to the roster and she’s just so…ordinary, painfully so.

Sorry Food Network, but this one belongs on the toss pile.

 
At 5/25/2008 1:39 PM , Blogger Alex Lopez said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 5/26/2008 11:23 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think your comments are tremendously harsh! This is a PILOT series! That means she probably filmed these episodes in a week under huge time constraints with little experience. I think the core content of this show is fantastic. Mary really seems to know what she's talking about. I love watching her and hope to see more of her. I have made some of her recipes and they're great! Try spending less time on the computer and more time in the kitchen.

 
At 5/27/2008 2:06 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you kidding me!! She is soooooooo nervous, a big mess in the kitchen..She is not at ease..has she ever cooked in front of people before? Don't even get me started on her crappy knife skills. She's giving herself a cramp by the way she hacks into her poor food. Not knowledgeable, I can't relate to her..not chic..just a big 'ol mess!! NEXT!!

 
At 5/27/2008 4:03 PM , Blogger Fi said...

When I watched the first episode I hadn't realized it was a new show so I was completely shocked that it was on the network and actually thought it was a really old episode from when it was just getting started or something. Then I read this post and saw it was new and decided to give it another chance.

Overall I thought the second episode was much better, I actually enjoyed most of it. I kind of see her as an in-between semi-homemade and RR type but not in a bad way. Her food looked fairly good at the end, though I didn't quite understand the whole bread stick thing and sort of missed where the sausage came into play but I was working on something at the same time. The one big thing that irked me was the way she held her knife, with her index finger not only on top of the blade but so rigid, she made it look extremely difficult to cut that onion in the sense that the onion itself was hard to get the knife through.

I'll probably watch the next episode and see if anything changes in any major way and then decide if I feel like it's worth recording every week lol. :)

 
At 6/03/2008 2:29 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do not enjoy this show AT ALL. Her personality seemed oddly grating to me, and the thing that bugged me most was how she kept touching her long hair, tucking it behind her ear, pushing it out of her face...and then sticking her hands back in the food! At the very least, can't she pull it back in a clip or something? It really grosses me out and is very distracting.

I know FN is trying out new things, but I'm with previous posters on this one: there is nothing chic about spaghetti or popcorn.

This show should never have seen the light of day, and now that it has...please send it packing with The Gourmet Next Door.

 
At 6/04/2008 3:37 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

You people are a bunch of snob jerks! I'll bet you cannot do any better and that your cooking sucks1

 
At 6/04/2008 9:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I liked the show, but I have known Mary since she was a baby. Mary is really that full of energy. Sure she may have been a little jittery, but who would'nt? She had to shoot all 6 episodes in just a few days. She does have long hair, but how many of you tie up your hair at home? She would definately put her hair back if she was cooking at a restaurant. Her show is definately for the younger crowd. I can also say that all her little stories are true. She has learned most of her skills from her mother Patricia, who has to be one of the best cooks I have ever known. It is always a pleasure and adventure to dine with Mary and her family.

 
At 6/08/2008 10:04 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

This show is TERRIBLE. Her food has been done before and her personality sucks.

I'll watch almost anything on the food network, except Chic and Easy

 
At 6/22/2008 9:49 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

She is horrible. This is the first time I have seen her and first time that I actually felt like making a comment because she is THAT bad. She talks waaaay too fast and doesn't know where her utensils are in her own kitchen. Get her off. I jus can't watch this train wreck.

 
At 6/27/2008 3:38 PM , Anonymous Nancy said...

Hey ~I am older & brand new to the food network. I watched Mary right after Bobby Flay and I thought she was great. I was writing furiously. Even though I am an experienced cook, I learned a few good tricks. I was amazed that she could make it look so easy! Good Luck, Mary, you can do this!!

 
At 10/11/2009 2:22 AM , Blogger Stuart Reb Donald said...

This show blew; that's why it got canceled.

 
At 8/27/2010 4:55 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! How annoying is she??!! She just doesn't slow down and breath. She just talks nonstop and it drives me crazy!! She talks like she's on speed.

 
At 12/24/2010 4:53 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

She is still nervous and extremely uncoordinated. Why is she on tv? And gross her hair is almost hanging into the food she's making.

 
At 12/24/2010 5:01 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's a reason why she's the last show before the infomercials start...

 
At 1/04/2011 2:42 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let me just be sure...her show got canned right? I don't know why they are showing it if they only got like a few episodes of it.

Honestly, she's pretty, but sooo awkward, and I actually was entertained, so I do hope she makes another appearance.

 
At 1/07/2011 5:03 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I. Hated. Her.

 
At 3/11/2011 5:03 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

So glad I found this. I just saw this show for the first time, and had never heard of it. I had to look it up, because she made me a nervous wreck just watching her. My anxiety was so high that I was afraid of having a panic attack. Nice women, but not at ease in front of the camera on these shows at all. Whew I'm a mess now!

 
At 3/26/2011 3:31 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just stumbled upon Chic & Easy recently and I would say I love that show. Was actually surprised to see all the negative comments here.

I watch a lot of shows on FN and other cooking channels and Mary Nolan comes across as someone I could relate to, someone different than those seasoned chefs that you see everywhere. I like her style and I like the way she presents her food. Maybe she just polarizing and just appeals to a select group of people like young professionals who are trying to learn how to cook/entertain and who lives in a condominium or townhouse in a big city.

 
At 4/17/2011 2:59 PM , Blogger Tim said...

A complete train wreck and subsequent episodes equally as bad ...but ....it is actually hilarious because it is so bad. It's akin to looking at an accident because you cannot stop your self. She talks faster than a 16 year old on speed, and bumbles around the kitchen like a circus clown. She has negligible "food chops" but strangly I cannot wait for the next show!

 

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