Sunday, April 5
No, those aren't the Yorkshire Puddings that Claire Robinson made in yesterday's premiere episode of 5 Ingredient Fix, but with the way FN hawked 'em (Pillsbury "Savorings") during every commercial break, I can see how you might be confused.
Seeing how it's recessionpalooza right now, it must be somewhat discombobulating to see a TV host attempt to persuade us to make doughy, puffy balls of dripping pudding from scratch one minute and then see commercial after commercial for pre-made "savorings" and the like that may or may not cost less than the needed ingredients for the host's own recipes (plus, you get all those yummy preservatives and space food-like substances in the Pillsbury kind). Obviously cooking from scratch is the smarter alternative, but when you only got a dollar to spend, those packages are mighty tempting.
I'm not sure what I'm saying here. I just have been getting a lot of mixed message from Food Network lately... like this:
I don't get... well, never mind. I don't have the energy this Sunday.
Obviously, 5 Ingredient Fix is popping up on the Food Network landscape right now to capitalize upon the vast amount of people who are cooking at home (although if you lost your job, you might be cooking Ramen) and looking to save money. Now, not only are the recipes FAST (think Rachael Ray), but you don't need an entire garbage bowl full of ingredients to make them! In case you didn't catch that, there are only 5 ingredients or fewer in each one of Claire's recipes, a point they reinforce with not-needed graphics:
... and a "ding" sound effect, for added measure. I'm hoping these graphics are just showing up in the early episodes. I think Claire herself might throw a rib roast if she had to hear that damn "ding" the hundredth time she added olive oil to a recipe.
One thing that did work for me was the set design and overall look of the show. While I do love Anne Burrell's and Sunny Anderson's over the top, colorful, rarely attainable in New York City, are we watching a rerun of Friends kitchens, Claire's set design is simple, clean and roomy. And she even has a regular refrigerator!
(I say "regular" here, as many of my friends in NYC have those tiny euro-style fridges and not some Sub Zero, clear front, so big it's almost a walk-in that have been showing up on a lot of Food Network shows lately.)
It's not excessive, which is nice to see on a new show; it's a bit more reflective of the real world.
And speaking of reflections, is someone trying to pull a Rachael?
Maybe, maybe not. But I do know that Rachael isn't getting any less busy. I haven't heard anything about new deals since her 2-year one was announced in late 2007, and I wouldn't be surprised if after the crop of 120 new 30 Minute Meals episodes she's obligated to do get shot, we won't be seeing any more cooking shows hosted by Rachael. Expect more travel shows (with voiceovers and less actual travel) and more producing credits from Ms. Ray. Just my guess.
Anyhow, that leads me to believe Food Network is trying its hardest to find a new Rachael—one that will resonate with housewives and husbands, singles and seniors alike. If that was their goal with Claire, I think the network missed the mark.
While Rachael seemed like the bubbly, friendly, kinda dorky girl next door from upstate New York when she burst onto the scene, Claire seems like the tough girl from the Bronx who could cut you with her serrated knife if you tried to cross her. I don't think she'll get the same kind of "let's be friends!" following that Rachael did.
Still, like I always say, there is hope. This is just experience #1 with Claire Robinson and 5 Ingredient Fix. The food looked good (she is trained, according to her bio) and she's pretty good on camera. But just like the small number of ingredients in each one of her recipes, Claire's got a small number of episodes to make an impact. Let's see what happens.