Saturday, June 5, 2010
Things I've learned from Food Network and Top Chef
There are some universal cooking truths that I've picked up from watching all of the various programs on the Food Network, and Bravo's Top Chef. While I'm no master cook, these sort of tips aren't really about my own cooking anyway - More of a reflection of the shows themselves. On to the list, in no particular order:
1) The Food Network has so many random shows that nobody ever suspects that they're on Throwdown. I've probably seen at least 20 episodes of this show, and nobody ever says, "Wow, since when has the Food Network had a show about the best hot dogs produced by pregnant Middle Eastern women?"
I have a lurking suspicion that it is because the Food Network has so many shows that are actually shows that do not sound like shows. You know, like the one about people making high-end cakes, or the various competitions they show from across the states, or the one where the fat guy with the bleach blonde hair eats greasy diner food and shockingly always likes it. Oh, and they always had an awesome Japanese cooking game show that they turned into a lousy American version, and also, a show where they specifically looked for the worst cooks in America.
At this point, if Food Network knocked on my door and said they were giving me a show, I wouldn't doubt them. "Oh, you're trying to get that important low-paid, mid-20s demographic? Sure, let me just dust off my recipe for lamb shanks in Keystone Light..."
2) The cooking ability of a female Food Network chef is inversely proportional to her hotness. Giada De Laurentiis? I didn't even know she was a cook until seeing her show a couple of times. At that point, I noticed that she did indeed have a spice rack underneath her rack. Likewise, Rachel Ray and Sandra Lee are varying degrees of "easy on the eyes" but clearly inferior cooks to others on the channel. However, there is a corollary to this...
3) Hotness matters not on Top Chef for ladies, but it helps if you're a dude. The greatest proof I can offer is that Tiffany (season one) and Casey (season three) both made the finals. However, it invariably seems like the dreamier Top Chef men make the final rounds at a higher percentage. The best example of this was Sam, who just made me turn a little gay as I thought about him. (Sorry for that TMI.) But there was also Fabio of the glorious accent, and the stoic cool of season one's Harold.
4) In any cooking competition, it is a bad idea to do rice or a risotto. Every single season, someone gets eliminated from Top Chef or Top Chef Ripoff (the Food Network star show) because they do a shitty rice or risotto. If you are on one of these shows, please don't attempt a rice or risotto.
In the past, dessert also fit into this category. However, the contestants wizened up to this, as some of the challenges specifically called for making desserts, and the cooks and judges on the various shows acknowledged that people had troubles making desserts.
The picture of Giada is from here. The Flay picture is from this blog.