Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Mario Batali and PBS: The New Food Network?

I was flipping through my usual daily news today and came across an interesting story on Mario Batali. It seems that during contract negotiations, the Food Network had told Batli that they would no longer be airing his shows Molto Mario or Ciao America. What many people might not know though, is a new episode has not been recorded for Molto Mario since 2005, but that's a different story. So Batali told the Food Network that if his shows were no longer going to air, that he would no longer be part of Iron Chef America.

So there will no longer be a Mario Batali presence on the Food Network. One more professional chef bites the dust from the Food Network, who will surely fill the spot with some other lifestyle show, which seems to be their trend. This seems to explain the news item on about the new reality show on the Food Network entitled Next Iron Chef. That's all we need is yet another reality show on TV. Thank God they still have Emeril. Can't someone do a chef sitcom, oh wait Emeril tried that already, made ten episodes and only seven aired. Kitchen Confidential didn't last either, I think that aired three episodes and they just released a two dvd set which tells you how many episodes they actually made. America just wants reality shows, great.

Back to the Food Network is that they are becoming a channel that is as much about food as MTV is about music. Sure they talk about food and even Rachael, Giada and Paula Dean are cooking, but they are doing so in regular clothes and they are not cooking anything spectacular. They are cooking things that seem to be more intended to make life easier, not so much for the enjoyment of food. Don't me wrong, I still love the Food Network, I just wish they still had some of the shows that myself and many of my other culinary friends used to enjoy.

So if we want to watch cooking show done by real chefs where do we go? The Fine Living channel and Travel channel used to air Great Chefs of the World, they pulled the plug on that one. They still have Ming Tsai and Bobby Flay on Fine Living, late night a couple nights a week they have a show called Opening Soon as well which is a show about the process of opening a new restaurant. That used to be on often, now it is once a week at like 3 am. The original Iron Chef is only on one day a week as well at 3 am.

PBS seems to be the way to go however. Mario Batali has a new Spanish cooking show recording this fall for PBS. PBS (Boston, Channel 2) also likes to show The French Chef (Julia Child) from time-to-time, as well as the Culinary Institute of America's show, then there is:

America's Test Kitchen (Saturday, September 8, 3:00pm)
Bake, Decorate, Celebrate (Saturday, September 8, 7:00am)
Barbeque America (Wednesday, September 5, 1:00pm)
Barbecue University with Steven Raichlen (Wednesday, September 5, 5:00pm)
Chefs A' Field: Kids on the Farm (Sunday, September 9, 5:00pm)
Chef's Story (Saturday, September 8, 6:30pm, Bobby Flay is featured this week)
Christina Cooks (Saturday, September 8, 11:00am)
Cooking Under Fire (OK, they have a reality chef show too, bet you didn't know that though) Culinary Travels with David Eckert
Daisy Cooks, with Daisy Martinez (Monday, September 3, 6:00pm)
Endless Feasts (Sunday, September 9, 5:30pm)
Everyday Food, Food for the Ancestors
Food Trip with Todd English (Saturday, September 8, 2:00pm)
Gourmet's Diary of a Foodie (Saturday, September 8, 4:00pm)
Greatest Food (Friday, September 14, 7:00pm)
Jewish Cooking in America with Joan Nathan
Julia Child: Lessons with Master Chefs
Martin Yan's Chinatowns (Thursday, September 6, 6:00am)
The Meaning of Food
Simply Ming (Saturday, September 8, 2:30pm)
A Taste of Louisiana with Chef John Folse and Company
Tommy Tang's Let's Get Cooking (Thursday, September 6, 6:30am)

Now I know I missed some, and this is only the schedule for the next week, but it made me come to a realization, they moved the Food Network to channel 2 and renamed it PBS. If you check you local PBS website, the proper times and dates for your area will be on there, these are all for Boston. Great shows, actual cooking and learning about food, it seems PBS is the way to go perhaps they will get the rights to air Mario Batali's other shows as well.


Zachary said...

I miss quality food television quite a bit. There is a show hosted by an Chinese-English woman, and I believe it is on the Fine Living Channel. I think it's quite good, and actually when I think back a lot of food shows I liked were British.

It's interesting how Scripps Network has Food TV and Fine Living and how vastly different they are.

Check out Discovery Health as well. They have a small handful of food shows that are lower in budget, but aren't bad overall.

We Are Never Full said...

I know I'm late on this, but I just linked to this post. We've been writing about this issue on our blog for almost a year now. Like you kinda said, Food Network = not much cooking. I'm over being depressed by it b/c now that Mario and sara and (dare I say, cause I couldn't stand his show, but at least he had talent) Emeril are all off, it shows exactly what Mario was quoted to say about TFN, that it is pandering to the 'Walmart Crowd'... HA HA HA HA HA! He couldn't have hit the nail more on the head. Food Network is so boring to me, I'm not inspired by anything that's on there anymore. It's all quick meals made by people who don't really have a culinary background. I prob. watch 10 minutes a week of it now. They don't care though cause they're not targeting me when programming.

But PBS is where it's at and where it's always been at. They actually care about quality (except that horrible Martha Stewart "simply food" show... b-b-bad). They also feature people who consider themselves chefs first, not celebrities. With the budget PBS gets, there's no way they can care as much about the "personality and look" of their chefs. They are looking for COOKS... creative cooks. No BAM!! no EVOO! No massive cleavage poking viewers in the eye.

Oh and the woman the commenter before was talking about is Kylie Kwong from Australia. She's good, but the second I found out she couldn't speak a single word of Chinese (her heritage - grandmother was from China), her star kinda lowered in my opinion.

amy @

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