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Tuesday, May 12

"I never came out of the closet, I came out of the armoire." -- Next Food Network Star Contestant Michael Proietti

I've been checking out a few Next Food Network Star videos on the YouTube page to try to get to know the contestants a bit, and was amused by what contestant Michael Proietti had to say about coming out when he was 14:

The show has had a sprinkling of gay contestants before. Season one winners Dan & Steve were publicly out, but I don't think they ever said that in so many words on Food Network. Did they?

With season two runnerup Reggie Southerland, well... we just assumed.

Paul McCullough from season 3 announces he recently got married to his longtime partner Jeremy in his "Where are they Now?" video. Congrats, but I don't remember Paul being that upfront during the show.

From my vantage point, we haven't had anyone just say it from the beginning: "I'm gay, and I want to be the next Food Network star." Is the world of food TV just as hesitant to say it as Hollywood still appears to be? Are producers still hesitant? Hell, even the biggest reality show in America, American Idol, can't get its obvious front-runner, Adam Lambert, to just say it.

And so for just saying it, Michael Proietti, I commend you. I hope that armoire comment makes it into the first episode and that it wasn't just a Web-only tidbit that'll hit the cutting room floor.


I know people are going to say "why should it matter if he's gay or not." Like what the author of the EW article I reference above writes, it shouldn't matter. But unlike, say, Aaron McCargo Jr., who spoke openly about the wife and kids he was missing and how he was competing for them, some gay contestants feel they can't disclose similar info, either for personal or strategic reasons—worries that straight contestants rarely face.

So........ I'll be interested to see how far Michael gets on the show. Bob Tuschman writes in his blog that Michael wasn't even in the top 10 originally. Another contestant dropped out, and Michael was put back in to be on the show.

Giving us his first impression of each contestant, Bob indicates Michael's negatives were "bitchy" and "too over the top", adding: "I wonder if his 'I’m so outrageous' act will get old, and if he’ll be able to find depth underneath it to avoid becoming a cliché?"

So that means the non-bitchy, not too over the top Guy Fieri has avoided becoming a cliche? Hmm.....

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At 5/12/2009 11:43 PM , Blogger Chris said...

If I remember correctly, Paul did admit he was gay in the first episode because it was a wedding cake challenge with Duff; he put two men on top of the cake and said he did so because he was gay and he wanted to represent who he was

At 5/13/2009 6:34 AM , Anonymous lemespi said...

The spectacle of admitting you're gay on AI is much, much bigger than admitting it on FN.

As far as I know, it's not so much that Adam refuses to publicly declare that he's gay (which seems redundant when the info is already out there one google search away), but he doesn't want his sexuality to be the main topic discussed about him. He wants it to be about the show.

At 5/13/2009 9:03 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

touché, Jacob.

At 5/13/2009 10:12 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually Dan & Steve did admit they were gay during Season 1. I don't remember the exact words (and am not at home to look at the dvds I made of the first season right now) but they wanted to be the first gay cooking show hosts or something to that effect.

At 5/13/2009 10:17 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gay or straight -- bitchy and over the top don't play out well, so why focus on who someone loves.

Let's face it, Ol' Aaron was trying for the sympathy vote, rather than having sympathy for those who had to eat his food. If NFNS would actually bring forward semi-professionals with some chops, it would be 90% better than most of the shows they've got in their lineup right now. Would Pauler Deen have made it through the competition? Talk about bitchy and over the top!

At 5/13/2009 12:06 PM , Anonymous Nik T. said...

I think there should be an all-gay cooking show! We would LOVE that!

At 5/13/2009 12:08 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gay is so boring now. Men are bored with the whining, and women are starting to realize that most gay men are actually misogynists (hint, imitation of but disgust at the biology...).

At 5/13/2009 1:28 PM , Blogger Lana said...

I'm put in mind of Team Rainbow on Top Chef ....

There *are* industries where it's (ahem) cool to be gay. or lesbian. Chefery (is that a made-up word?) is one of them. The fashion industry another. :-D

I'm not seeing sexual preference being much of an issue one way or another with NFNS. Cross dressing, on the other hand, may be fodder for skepticism and ridicule.

At 5/13/2009 2:24 PM , Blogger jacob said...

Thanks for the refreshers. I actually couldn't remember. Basically, it still doesn't seem like there's a good climate for a gay person to say "I want to be the next Food Network star" and actually talk freely about it. Most of the time it just felt hinted at. We never saw those kind of lovey-dovey moments Giada and her husband have with Dan & Steve, etc.

At 5/13/2009 2:32 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous 12:08, let's not paint all gay men with the same brush. There are plenty of beer-swilling, belching gay men who like sports and don't think girls have the cooties. Grow up.

As for Michael's video, I was charmed. He's definitely rough around the edges but he's already a big personality, which is what television requires, and we'll see if he knows food.

NFNS isn't about finding a television chef at ALL. It's about finding a brand they can market. It's about finding a competent chef who looks good on television who has the killer instinct to sell him/herself into the ground: See Giada, Guy, Paula, Rachael. The fact that Ina is such a huge star and does it at her own pace is a marvel.

Chefs who have appeared on FN and also do their own thing apart from the network -- Martha, Mario, Nigella, Jamie Oliver -- don't get high priority.

Look for the chef/cook this season who has the killer instinct for branding. Lisa Garza would have taken the whole thing last season if she could have tempered her abrasive personality.

At 5/13/2009 4:17 PM , Blogger Lord of Light AZ said...

I could care less if they are gay. I want cooking skill or food appreciation. A nice rack is good too, LOL.

Oh yeah they should be able to speak understandable english.

At 5/13/2009 6:41 PM , Blogger Lana said...

Agree with Anon 2:32 100%. Not only Ina, but Alton too. I don't see him ALL over the branded food circuit, nor is he a chef, and yet he is a culinary star on almost all counts. Not to mention a James Beard Award winner.

I hope that whoever wins NFNS shines on camera and at least comes across as knowledgeable and interesting (a.k.a. watchable). And I hope that the majority of other personality issues (sexual preference, skin color, U.S. region of origin) are superfluous considerations entirely.

At 5/14/2009 9:32 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

@Lana - So I take it you haven't seen Alton in those repetitive, annoying Welch's commercials? ;)

At 5/14/2009 8:09 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dan and Steve: As I recall it came out that one was gay and one was married (straight). I believe that it was one of their shows or something that showed the married one with his wife and mentioned that the other had a partner.


At 5/15/2009 9:22 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now who do you think chooses a profession as a chef? Chefs are not very intelligent people very few have finishe high school let alone college. As far as the gay tyhing....hey we have to keep the Queen Tischman happy.

At 5/15/2009 3:33 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dan and Steve are a couple.

At 5/20/2009 12:47 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is Duff and Paula's sons Gay?


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