Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Kickin' It Down a Notch, Emeril Live No More

As I am a late night poster, I am far behind in the blog sphere on posting about the demise of Emeril Lagasse and the Food Network, but perhaps some of you have not heard about it. I will also give you my regular conspiracy theories which make reading my blog so much more interesting haha. So, for those of you that have not heard, an announcement has been made stating that Emeril Live will no longer be in production after December 11th. The Food Network states that Essence of Emeril will still be in production, but for any of you that watch on a regular basis, when was the last time you saw a new episode? I think it has been some time and this is another "feel good" ploy by the network that is hurting in the ratings department.

I will say that I am sad to see one of the final chefs left on the Food Network to leave, but worse yet, he is the chef that made the Food Network. However, Emeril Live has been playing five days a week, for 10 years in the prime time slot. That is an unheard of time for a prime time show. Quite honestly, how many more BAMS, Kick it up a notches, and Yeah Babies does he have left in his repertoire. I can't tell you the last time I've seen him cook Cajun or Creole food, which he is supposedly known for. His restaurant empire is pretty big now as well, so maybe it is time to give up the slot for some new blood. The problem with me is that the new blood could be one of these recent Next Food Network Stars (No offense to those of you on here that have been trying out for the spot), but it just isn't the same. Please tell me we aren't going to have Prime Time Rachael, I might just have to toss myself on my chef knife. Why aren't fresh faces from the restaurant industry being brought in like the Food Network used to?

What is interesting to me is the sudden succession of change on the Food Network. Since the Next Food Network Star and Iron Chef America shows started, there has been a massive shift for the Food Network to go from a cooking channel, to a "food lifestyle" show. Food lifestyle meaning, that although there is still food in the shows, there is little cooking emphasized in the show. If there is cooking in the show, it is not "other" cultural at all, but a homogeneous American image that hosts like Rachael Ray, Paula Deen , Giada De Lauentiis, Sandra Lee and the like. We still do have chefs, but as I have stated they are in the competition sphere or are wearing street clothes to play down their expertise.

So the Food Network is having issues with ratings over the last few years. So they toss in these reality shows, toss out the chefs and bring in the lifestyle shows. Is the formula working? I don't know, you tell me. I honestly rarely watch the channel, even when I am near a TV. There is not a single new show I have enjoyed. In fact I have found each new show more repugnant than the prior. Next Food Network Star is a catastrophe of a show, If the Next Iron Chef was not a loaded series with personal bias from day one I must be insane, these designing kitchen shows belong on the Fine Living channel or DIY or Home and Garden, not the Food Network.

One last comment I talk of both Mario Batali and Emeril Lagasse who are two chefs who helped to make the Food Network what it is. Both have stated that there are no hard feelings between them and the Food Network for not renewing their shows, but in the end these men are both fine in their careers, multiple restaurants, families, money, etc. The Food Network however could have handled both of these instances with more professionalism, making proper announcements and acknowledging the past commitment and contributions of these two chefs. The network also attempted to save face with their comment that Batali would remain on Iron Chef America, when in fact he has now stated he and the network had completely parted ways, what they had meant that was his episodes will play in rerun, hence his absence at the judging in The Next Iron Chef.

In the end I fault the Food Network for not just letting chefs down, but for letting the public down. They were at one time the energizer for the restaurant industry and gave many of us in the industry the possibility to work in an industry that they were promoting. Now with them turning their backs on the restaurant industry and chefs it seems, they may end up hurting our industry by promoting the fact that anyone can do what we do at home, and as a "home chef" you no longer need to go out and have a chef prepare a meal for you. Be like Rachael Ray, make it at home in 30 minutes, and if you need to go out on vacation, do it for under $40.00 a day.

I think I may follow this blog up sometime in the next week with a review of Emeril's restaurants as I have eaten at all of the, except for the restaurant in Atlanta and the Fish House in MS.


Stephanie said...

I think you're a little hard on DeLaurentis, who is a classically trained chef who has attended Le Cordon Bleu, and Deen, who clawed her way up from making sandwiches in brown bags to where she is now; both of them owned businesses and were working in the food industry before coming to the Food Network.

Sandra Lee is an aberration. She confuses the hell out of me; I mean, someone out there must watch her in a non-ironic fashion, but who? Rachael Ray...well. She cooked professionally, but not in a kitchen. She's fine for what she is, I suppose, which is like a miniature, more food-oriented Oprah. I don't watch her because nothing she does teaches me a damn thing, and if a food show doesn't teach me anything, what's the point?

All I know at this point is *if* I can convince the Food Network to put me on TNFNS, I will be a radical change from the caterers. I wonder if I would amuse them if I made a shirt that changed 'Joss Whedon' to 'Alton Brown'. Actually, now that I've thought of that, I think I want to make one anyways.

Chef Christopher Allen Tanner said...

Just because DeLaurentis went to Le Cordon Bleu, doesn't make her a chef. It just means she went to culinary school in order to develop her foodie profile for a lifestyle act. As much as I admire Deen's tenacity to make her way up the "food" chain as well, it again doesn't make her a joy to watch on TV. They are both personalities, they don't teach people all that much about cooking. They are there to entertain while your mind blanks out on the rest of the world. This is all just my cynical opinion of the Food Network as a whole though, so take it with a grain of salt.

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