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Jay Francis

Celebrity Chef's Products That Don't Deliver

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I generally shy away from celebrity branded products , but I have to admit that Im in LOVE with my Enameled cast iron Mario Batali Lasagna Pan which does double duty as a roasting and braising pan .

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I equate a celebs name or face on any packaging the same as that "As Seen On TV" logo. Huge red flag right there. Never ever will buy anything a celeb is paid for use of their likeness. Chances are they've never even used the product either.

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I see a lot of bashing of the Rachel Ray oval pans, saying it's a gimmick.....but Le Creuset has been making oval cast iron for years; my Julia Child cookbook from 1962 recommends the oval shape. I have a 5qt oval LC that I like because it doesn't take up as much space on my 30 inch range as a round pot with same capacity. Lots of oval "fish pans" out there, too, from All-Clad and Mauviel among other premium brands.

I picked up a Furi santuko, identical I think to the Rachel Ray though this one didn't have her name on it, at a discount store and I like the shape a lot. You can rock with it or use it to chop. Deep kullens good for slicing mozzerella or other sticky stuff, and dishwasher safe. It doesn't hold an edge as well as real Japanese knife steel....but then neither does a Wusthof or Henckels. I'm pretty happy with the value at $17, IIRC.

I haven't tried Emeril's food products but I've made his "essence" from the recipe at foodtv.com and it's pretty good stuff. I have a cookbook I bought in New Orleans that is pretty good, but annoyingly often calls for "Cajun blended seasoning" and the essence seems to fill the bill.

Emeril's anodized pans are pretty well made, thicker aluminum than Cuisinart and other brands. The stainless pans have thick disk bottoms and the sauce and saute pans look ok, though the skillet and chef's pan appear to have disks too small for thier diameter. Emeril's knives, by Wusthof, are crap. Cheap plastic handles, lousy balance, and don't hold an edge. I had the Santuko and sold it at a garage sale.

I bought a Wolfgang Puck saute a month ago but returned it unused when I found a larger and much better-made Tramontina at Costco for the same price ($30) immediately afterwards.

I like the looks of Alton Brown's salt cellar on TV, but balked at the price. In a local (San Francisco) asian housewares store I found similar products made of good heavy plastic....for under $2.

The regular Kershaw Shun Classic knives get universally good reviews but I wonder about "Alton's angle." The way I hold a knife, angling the handle that way seems the opposite of what I'd want ergonomically. But I've never used one.

MT

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In respect to attractiveness, I really like the look of the Mario Batalli product line, but it also is made by Copco and I am suspicious of it. Anyone have any experience with the Batalli endorsed product line?

I had been wanting to get a Le Creuset Dutch oven for a while to make soups and stews, but being on a limited budget, I couldn't bring myself to spend over $200 on something I would use maybe 4 or 5 times a year at most. The Mario Batali cast iron pot was a good compromise for me, and for only $100, I thought it was a good deal. It got mostly good reviews on amazon.com.

If you plan on using a cast iron pot a lot, then I would probably go for the Le Creuset model if you can afford one; for occasional users like me, the Mario Batali has worked out well. It is quite heavy, so you need to be careful when washing it, and the metal handles get really hot. The underside of the domed lid has "spikes" on it to help baste food in the pot. Everything that I've cooked in it has turned out really well.

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I like my Alton Brown salt Cellar too.

I also have the Mario Batali magnetic measuring spoons. They stay stacked together in my drawer and I can pull out one at a time instead of all the spoons on a ring.

The color is fug though. Avacado green.

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Love my Batali measuring prep bowls - very durable, have some weight to them, but not breakable at all.

I've also heard good things about his cast-iron cookware...

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We have the Emeril cookware; we bought it because <sigh> (long story warning) when my husband and I combined households, we had:

1. His stuff, which was cheap and I hated it.

2. My stuff, which was not quite as cheap, and I didn't like much better. I bought Calphalon in the early '80's, but the stuff was crap and didn't hold up (and it wasn't even endorsed by a celebrity!); to add insult to injury, the company made it clear they had no intention of standing behind their product. So I gave it away. I had begun acquiring various pieces, but couldn't afford the All-Clad I wanted. I was also doing research to make sure it was All-Clad that I did want, and not something else.

1. + 2. = way too many pots and pans.

So we got rid of everything, and purchased the Emeril set, not because it had Emeril's name on it, but because we could afford it and it was All-Clad, even if it wasn't "the" All-Clad. I figured it would likely hold up a few years until I could buy the All-Clad pieces I want.

I don't regret the purchase at all. The quality is more than decent, and in spite of the fact that it was a set, it actually does have the sizes we need. It's holding up really well, and I'm pleased with it.

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I hate my George Foreman grill and I can't even give the damn thing away. We call it the GF Hot Dog Maker because that's the only thing that we use it for.

I have a set of Wolfgang Puck stainless pans that my mom got me for Christmas about 7 years ago and I have no complaints about them. They clean up beautifully and seem to heat very evenly. The omlette pan didn't make it, but that's my husbands fault, not Wolfy's.

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The only celeb labelled item in my home is the AB salt cellar that the hubby insisted on, although I'm lusting after those tea cup shaped measuring cups that Nigella Lawson uses.

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Besides the George Foreman Grill I can't think of one endorsed product I own. I am saving up for some of these Shun Knives though.

Any one using them? Endorsed by Alton Brown.

*likes the grill BTW*

I have the 6" altons angle, love it, best anniversary present ever, I also bought the electric sharpener as well since some relative thought it went in the dishwasher and chipped it, all is better now though. I just wish I wouldn't have opened a bakery so I could use it more.

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The only celeb labelled item in my home is the AB salt cellar that the hubby insisted on, although I'm lusting after those tea cup shaped measuring cups that Nigella Lawson uses.

I thought about getting them, as well, but I don't see how they could be very good. The measuring line is below the rim of the cup. How do you level off a cup of flour?

Do a Google Image search for the cups to see what I'm talking about.

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While we're on the subject of Celeb Chefs products that don't deliver (like, maybe, books), did anyone happen to see the following letter to the editor of the Weekly Standard (I don't read it EITHER, but there's definitely something here):

<<Food Fight and more.

9/1/2007, Volume 012, Issue 48

FOOD FIGHT

VICTORINO MATUS's exploration of the cult of celebrity chefs ("Bam!" August 20 / August 27) deftly describes the decline in the number of cookbooks being published, which has been brought on by the availability of recipes for free on the web. It is even more disheartening that the gastro-celebs who actually get published now are receiving outrageous sums for books that they sometimes have nearly nothing to do with. On one hand (as a trained chef as well as food editor), I applaud Rachael Ray for getting her viewers back into the kitchen and interested in food again; using frozen onions is better than running out to the local fast food establishment. At the same time, I agree with chef Anthony Bourdain's quest for real food that hearkens back to the days of Child and Pépin, but the majority of the Food Network viewership just isn't going to "get" that.

When Johnny Carson went off the air, he was replaced by the Food Network; Rachael and Emeril and Giada are there neither to impart culinary wisdom nor their Nonna's recipes--they are there for strict entertainment value.

This is yet another nail in the coffin of the "family around the hearth" ideal; when that tradition is bolstered, however, a return to serious cookbook publishing and serious home cooking will happen as well. Until then, there's always the used bookstore. >>

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Has anyone tasted Rachel Rays EVOO?  Is it at least as good as say Vigo or Bertolli?  I just saw it in the store and the price was significantly more than average brands common in the grocery store.  I found the idea of her picture on the EVOO bottle humorous yet disturbing.

I have tasted the RR EVOO and it is good but not better than a multitude of others.

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The only celeb labelled item in my home is the AB salt cellar that the hubby insisted on, although I'm lusting after those tea cup shaped measuring cups that Nigella Lawson uses.

I have a wide range of measuring cups but tend to default to the OXO measuring cups where you can view the measures by looking down. I now own all of the sizes. They're wonderful.

I use my Pyrex when I am heating milk in the microwave to make yogurt, or roux or custard.

I also bought a set of metal measuring cups in 1/3, 1/2, 3/4 and 1 cup sizes which really are useful if doing a lot of mise en place for a recipe.

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While we're on the subject of Celeb Chefs products that don't deliver (like, maybe, books), did anyone happen to see the following letter to the editor of the Weekly Standard (I don't read it EITHER, but there's definitely something here):

<<Food Fight and more.

9/1/2007, Volume 012, Issue 48

FOOD FIGHT

VICTORINO MATUS's exploration of the cult of celebrity chefs ("Bam!" August 20 / August 27) deftly describes the decline in the number of cookbooks being published, which has been brought on by the availability of recipes for free on the web. It is even more disheartening that the gastro-celebs who actually get published now are receiving outrageous sums for books that they sometimes have nearly nothing to do with. On one hand (as a trained chef as well as food editor), I applaud Rachael Ray for getting her viewers back into the kitchen and interested in food again; using frozen onions is better than running out to the local fast food establishment. At the same time, I agree with chef Anthony Bourdain's quest for real food that hearkens back to the days of Child and Pépin, but the majority of the Food Network viewership just isn't going to "get" that.

When Johnny Carson went off the air, he was replaced by the Food Network; Rachael and Emeril and Giada are there neither to impart culinary wisdom nor their Nonna's recipes--they are there for strict entertainment value.

This is yet another nail in the coffin of the "family around the hearth" ideal; when that tradition is bolstered, however, a return to serious cookbook publishing and serious home cooking will happen as well. Until then, there's always the used bookstore. >>

Speaking of terrific cookbooks that are not by a Celebrity Chef (I agree with the above article), and slightly off topic for this discussion (sorry), I have been going through The Daily Soup cookbook (available at Amazon, used copies are available for not very much cash, $3 the last time I looked) and it is wonderful. Haven't had a dud recipe yet.

Back on topic though. As noted, I do agree with the article, caveat being de Laurentiis and Brown, both of whose books I find very worthwhile.


Edited by Jay Francis (log)

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When it comes to celeb products, I do believe that P.T. Barnum said it best when he proclaimed that there is a sucker born every minute.

But I am waiting for the Emeril Nose-hair trimmer to hit the market.

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But I am waiting for the Emeril Nose-hair trimmer to hit the market.

Ohhh! I love my Emeril Eyebrow Trimmer; aka a lawnmower.

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Sorry for all your bad experiences.

I love my Lincoln MKX! :wink:

(Okay, if you don't get it, click here)

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Has anyone tasted Rachel Rays EVOO?  Is it at least as good as say Vigo or Bertolli?  I just saw it in the store and the price was significantly more than average brands common in the grocery store.  I found the idea of her picture on the EVOO bottle humorous yet disturbing.

I have tasted the RR EVOO and it is good but not better than a multitude of others.

I have never liked Rachael Ray, she just bugs me for some reason. I don't care for her recipes either. As for any product she endorses besides the pasta I wouldn't buy it. I didn't buy the Triscuits and Wheat Thins she had her face all over around the holidays either.

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There are, of course, a variety of websites devoted to Rachel Ray bashing. Those of us who find her to be icky in so many ways have lots of company.

I own only one celebrity endorsed item, a Mario Batali rubber brush. I got so tired of finding straw bristlles embedded in my BBQ chicken that I impulsively bought it. I do like the color scheme, and altho using such a flabby object to paint my chicken is a little strange aesthetically, it does an okay job and at least the brush doesn't end up IN the food. I'm also hoping it will last at least as long as several bristle brushes.

Question about Mario's cast iron cookwear: I have a large Creuset baker I use for lasagne. It's maybe a little bigger in area but not quite so high-sided as his, but his weighs a lot more. Why? It isn't any thicker. It seems prohibitively heavy. Pretty, though.

I know this is off topic, but....I love my Creuset pans, especially for stews and soups, but the one thing I make that seems to turn out exactly the same whether I use enameled cast iron, ceramic, glass or even a thin, battered, funky old roasting pan is lasagne. If the cooking time varies it isn't by much, although I simply go by whether or not the top is browned and crunchy the way I like it. Anyone else find this to be the case?

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When I need something, I generally stay away from celebrity-branded items because I don't trust how they're made.  I have no reason for believing this.  That said ...

I absolutely love my Graham Kerr bash'n'chop.  :wub:

I just used mine to help scrape off stubborn wallpaper! Multitasker ...who knew?

:laugh:

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I got a question via the "Contact Us" link a few minutes ago asking if anyone here knew who the manufacturer of the David Burke line of cookware is -- anyone?

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