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Watching Food T.V.

Watching Food T.V.

Dan | Foodproof.com

We like to watch food T.V. at my house. We go on and off with watching the Food Network, but recently we really haven’t been watching it at all. There are currently three food shows that are on a weekly rotation on my TiVo:

• Hell’s Kitchen (Gordon Ramsay/FOX)

Last Restaurant Standing (BBCA)

Top Chef (Bravo)

I like each of these shows for a different reason, and I have some theories about the state of food television.

Hell’s Kitchen

We have been watching Gordon Ramsay for years now. He tends to have two distinctly different types of shows. In one type (typically on the BBC), he will be rude and abrasive, but not overly so. He tends to actually exhibit good leadership qualities, but more important that this is how endearing he is. In the other type (typically the American FOX shows), he plays completely to the abrasive side and is hardly endearing at all. The latter American shows are enjoyable for reality-type television in which you just want to laugh. He is a funny guy. The British versions are really enjoyable because you get to see really why he is as successful as he is. Also, he really brings across how people live, and eat and really interact in his homeland.

Last Restaurant Standing

This is really a sleeper show. We saw no promos for it at all, I just happened to come across the title and the fact that it was airing on BBCA. Turns out the show is based around a famous French chef Raymond Blanc, and ten couples, either married, friends, or family members who are given a restaurant and must prove they can brand/run/profit from said restaurant. Notably, none of the couples are professional chefs in any way. Each week one couple gets kicked off by Raymond until finally, one couple remains and gets to run this restaurant somehow tied to Raymond.

Top Chef

This is one of the big Bravo reality hits (à la Project Runway). A number of (mostly trained and highly experienced) chefs compete week to week, every week someone goes home, at the end someone wins a bunch of ridiculous prizes. Despite this less than stellar description, this is currently my favorite of the three.

Some Opinions and Theories

I am really not tied to the food industry at all, so everything I am saying is really just a non educated guess. However, over the last few years I have watched numerous shows start and disappear. I cant really back this up with show names and run dates, I mean, I think I probably could but I really don’t want to go digging around for all the facts. But I am imagining VPs and execs coming and going at the Food Network, trying to decide which approach is going to work. Do we put on shows with inexperienced but entertaining people? Or do we put on shows with people who know what they are doing but are dull, unattractive or just not entertaining.

I think this is probably somewhat of a legitimate concern. I kind of liken it to the radio shows who try to parlay their act into some late night television, and it has never worked. Radio people, just are not meant for television. Is the same true for chefs and culinary experts? I’m really just not sure. But I do know that their lack of consistency is killing their credibility.

So, have I answered anything here? No, definitely not. But maybe one that someone who has influence will someday read this that viewers of culinary television programming aren’t dumb. We see what you are doing, we see that you are struggling.