The Food Network is still one of the channels I turn to first when I am looking for something to watch, although I am really starting to wonder why. Yes, Alton Brown still teaches technique better, and in a more amusing fashion, than almost anyone, and Iron Chef still allows the viewer insight into how great chefs play with food in a quirky and entertaining fashion, but there are fewer shows worth watching these days. Sunny Anderson is appealing, and the “Next Food Network Star” is one of the few watchable “reality” shows on TV, but that is about it. I certainly don’t want anyone to win it all because then I have to watch the show that is their prize.
There was a time when I could turn on the TV and watch for hours. Hours that made me a better cook. Now I can watch if for days and not learn a damn thing. Okay, that’s a lie, I can’t watch it for days, because much of what they show is extremely unwatchable. There was always the occasional Marc Summers show that drove me out of the room, but that allowed me to go into the kitchen and actually cook. Now so many of the shows suck that Summers is almost bearable. The same goes for Emeril. His show blows, but at least I know he can out-cook me.
The Network that used to let me get daily cooking lessons from Mario Batali now gives me Sandra Lee, a woman who could not cook if her life depended on it, but writes cookbooks for people who have no desire to actually cook anything, babbling about fucking FABULOUS tablescapes. Again, why am I still watching? Well, they did recently give both Ted Allen and Anne Burrell their own shows. That does not mean that all debts are paid for canceling “Molto Mario” while keeping “Semi-Homemade.” Not by a long shot. In fact, they are doing the bare minimum to keep me tuned in.
Recently, however, they came up with a pretty good idea; letting home cooks compete ala “Iron Chef” and “Next Food Network Star.” When I heard about it I thought, “Hey, that is a pretty good idea!” Granted, it isn’t as good of an idea as having real chefs teaching the rest of us how to be better cooks, but I am resigned to the fact that those days are likely gone. So I turned it on and promptly threw up a little in my mouth.
The star of the show is none other than alleged chef and food dude, Guy Fieri. This faux early 90’s edition hipster’s “off the hook” shtick makes Sandra Lee look appealing, and Paula Dean’s mutton-headed lard spawn look entertaining. His Billy Idol on steroids hairdo, and ridiculously overused and outdated taglines are enough to challenge Paul Shafer for his title as the world’s most annoying human. His saturation of a once great network is more than any real food lover can stand.
This freak hasn’t shown that he knows any more about food than your average “American Idol” viewer knows about music. In fact, that off-the-cuff analogy pretty much sums up the direction that the Food Network has taken. Then again, what do I know? MTV has done quite well by being a music network without any music. Maybe the Food Network has decided it doesn’t need food? If so, I’m sure that I will eventually watch it about as often as I watch MTV these days. Is that cute little Martha Quinn still on?