Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

weinoo

The "Evolution" of Food and Cooking on TV

Recommended Posts

It would be nice if there was a cooking show that taught people the basics, so they knew what goes into a bolognese sauce, for example. Psst, it's not green bell pepper and sugar as in this recipe nor is it Worcestershire sauce.

eG's resident curmudgeon

Mario's first show was a good example of that. Lidia B does a nice job on her show.

It doesn't have to be Italian.

It can be about anything.

I cringe when I see comments such as

Good God almighty, was that first omelette even cooked all the way through? Where are the diced onions? Mushrooms? Sliced tomatoes on the side? Instead of water, where was the cream to make it fluffy?

like one person did w/r/t a Youtube video of Julia making an omelette.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It would be nice if there was a cooking show that taught people the basics, so they knew what goes into a bolognese sauce, for example. Psst, it's not green bell pepper and sugar as in this recipe nor is it Worcestershire sauce.

eG's resident curmudgeon

Emeril had a show like that on Food Network when he first started. Even after he good big with "Emeril Live", he stil had a more straight up "how to" show without the audience and the band and the "Bam!" schtick.

Maybe there is something like this over on Cooking Channel? I dunno. I don't get that channel. I think the closest you may come to this right now is "America's Test Kitchen" on PBS.


Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"
jmeeker@eGullet.org

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We recently upgraded our cable and now get the cooking channel. IMO, Jamie Oliver is now about the best on TV. He's informal, explains things, has good knife skills and enjoys himself. Oh, and the stuff he produces looks eminently edible.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd also like to put in a request to any cooking show producers that might be listening.

Teach people not just how to cook (as in why boeuf bourguignon is the way it is and not glorified beef stew, for instance), but why things taste great, otherwise you'll continue to encounter bizarre combinations such as deep-fried goat cheese with SKIN-ON peach, honey and rock salt.*

edited to add I think the issue of taste is something else altogether, though tangentially related.

* A dessert at a restaurant called Joe Doe, in the East Village here in NYC.


Edited by SobaAddict70 (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Many, many years ago there was a pioneering cooking show on local television in the Chicago market. This was back in the day when stations were only 'on' for part of the day and with very limited schedules. Antoinette and Francois Pope had a program called 'Creative Cookery'. According to one source it ran from 1951 through about 1964. It aired daily in Chicago and was carried nationally on Saturdays on NBC. They also wrote a number of cookbooks. In Chicago, they gained fame, as well, for a cooking school on Michigan Avenue which they ran for some 40 to 50 years.

That was a remarkable show in a remarkable television era. I have dim memories of the show (Francois in chefs whites), which may have been my beginning interest in cooking. On the Epicurious site is an interesting article an in the comments section one of the Pope's sons Robert added very nice reminisces about their cookbooks, the school and the family.


"A cloud o' dust! Could be most anything. Even a whirling dervish.

That, gentlemen, is the whirlingest dervish of them all." - The Professionals by Richard Brooks

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So, I'm probably wrong, but let's say it started with James Beard. Then came teachers such as Julia, Graham Kerr, Jacque Pepin, Jeff Smith, Martin Yan and others I'm sure I'm forgetting.

Then along came the Food Network, with it's cooking shows that actually served the purpose of teaching people how to cook. Sarah, Curtis Aikens, David Rosengarten. Bobby, Mario and Emeril. They all taught us how to cook. They were cooking shows.

Then came the, in my opinion, pseudo cooking shows. Rachael, Alton, the Neelys, Iron Chef, Iron Chef America and others too numerous to mention - all on the Food Network.

Of course, other networks started getting into the act. Competition became the zeitgeist, if you will. Top Chef. Top Chef Masters. Top Chef All-Stars. Top Chef Losers. Top Chef - well, you get the picture. Restaurant Wars. America's Next Great Restaurant. Kitchen Nightmares. Ad nauseum.

My question: Where do we go from here?

My question: Where do we go from here?

Back to the kitchen? To the library? Out for a bike ride? Watch less tv and do stuff? Read internet forums?

Cooking shows were created for housewives who were home in the afternoon (before there was cable and VCRs) and were expected to cook. It's not too surprising that there are fewer of those shows as that demographic shrinks relative to the overall population. Now we have cable and DVRs and DVDs and video on demand and everything else: we can watch whatever we want, whenever we want. Everyone wants speed, convenience, entertainment, and vicarious thrills. It's on commercial tv, so it's driven by ads, which mostly means processed foods and family restaurants. They're not going to promote shows that say those things aren't needed. They want you to believe that cooking is best left to professionals and people in places you might never visit.

As someone who has had the wonderful opportunity to cook on local, (and live), television and on PBS (national), I have a measure of experience to draw upon when these questions arise. You can read about my adventures cooking on television, here. Yet I think we have to have a respect for the history and tradition of where cooking on television began in order to judge where it is leading in the future. When you reflect upon the history of cooking on television up to the present day, I think you gain a greater appreciation and respect for the foundation the early cooks like Julia built, yet at the same time you don't rue the huge impact that the Food Network has had on television cooking programming in more modern times.

Commercial television is a whole different ballgame than the cooking programs you see on PBS. As a traditionalist and a teacher, I of course find a comfortable home both cooking on and watching television programs on PBS. When the motivation is to teach first rather than be pushed by the rush to garner ratings points for advertisers, it allows for both the cook and the viewer to express their pure creativity and share the pleasure of food and cooking. Julia set that standard, and I should like to think the quality of her work lives on today in the minds of the cooks who appear on the cooking programming you see on PBS.

True, the audience for the early cooking programs on television were primarily women as they held the vast majority of the demographic that did the cooking in the home and, by turn, women were the target audience of the advertisers. The early network morning shows were often sponsored by, (or the cooking segements were sponsored by), a food-related product. Much like the "Texaco Star Theater," program hosted by Milton Berle, cooking segments may have been sponsored by one advertiser, say "Elsie the Cow and Borden Milk." A local segement in Portland, Oregon, may have been sponsored by Alpenrose Dairy.

The other fact to remember is that a number of the early cooking shows and segments appeared on the morning shows, which served as lead-ins to draw viewers to other programs on the networks. That basic format still follows today. The Today Show on NBC has a variety of lifestyle segments, including cooking, that are smattered throughout the show with news updates and interviews. But the primary format of the morning shows is to give a lure to the viewers to watch other NBC programming. For example you'll be given a two-minute tidbit on a consumer fraud story thinking you'll get more only to find Matt Lauer remind you to tune in at 9pm that evening for the full story on Dateline NBC. Of course, those early cooking shows on television were primarily geared toward selling a product, be it a cookbook, local event or coconut cream pie made with Elsie's condensed milk. The products are different today, but the format, selling something and using cooking as the vehicle, is the same as it was 50 years ago.

The advent of cable opened a whole new window for cooks in terms of the variety of cooking programs on television, and, whether serious home cooks choose to admit it or not, the Food Network is largely responsible for the continuing popularity of cooking programming. Yes, they introduced us to the inane, sophmoric grammar of Ms. Rachel Ray and the grating laugh of Ms. Deen. But at the same time, Food Network turned on a whole new audience to cooking "meals in 30 minutes" and "gooey butter cake." As Martha would say, "that's a good thing."

And then we evoled into another new world of cooking related media being sent via iPhones and YouTube--a "quick fix" if you will for a new generation of cooks whose patience doesn't allow waiting for, (and watching), a Saturday morning run of cooking programming on their local PBS Station. (Not to mention the suffering one endures during the annual Spring pledge break).

PBS doesn't live alone in the world of quality television cooking programs today. There are a number of quality cooking programs that are currently running on the Cooking Channel and other cable networks also have and will offer quality cooking programs geared toward serious cooks. "Cooking with Heart and Soul" featuring Kylie Kwong, (Style Network, 2003), was a television cooking program with the passion and educational benefits of a program on PBS, yet with up-close, highly defined camera work showcasing exotic ingredients and a cool vibe and contemporary music to accent the cooking. That's not the typical style you'll see on PBS but cable networks are pulling it together today.

And yes, we have Martha on Lifetime, in my view the leader of the pack in terms of the quality of what she teaches and how she teaches it. Her recipes are far less complicated than they were ten years ago, (not as many fussy dishes with foie gras and truffles), and her passion and fun in the kitchen shows through.

So here we are today--a bowl of something for everyone, with every type of lettuce, radish, onion, vinegar, salt and pepper tossed in the salad. And a delicious salad it is. A taste for every palate if you will. One can only wonder what the future holds, and far be it from me to even venture into offering a prediction. (I don't own a cell phone if that gives you a clue). For me personally, my viewers and the people who I know share the same passion and joy that comes from cooking, I think the old guard will still stand, (PBS and some cooking on local television), while the e-applications will take the forefront. Who knows, maybe we will see "Modernist Cuisine" with Nathan coming to a station near you soon. (And a mobile application).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

.....Maybe there is something like this over on Cooking Channel? I dunno. I don't get that channel. I think the closest you may come to this right now is "America's Test Kitchen" on PBS.

"Cooking Channel" actually has a pretty decent selection of shows that are fairly intelligent and actually teach the viewer things, rather than blather on about EVOO and "stoups" and how you can make chocolate mousse from Jello pudding and Cool Whip (I'm lookin' at you Sandra Lee...). I am rather loathe to admit this, since "Cooking Channel" is also home to the abomination that is "Bitchin' Kitchen", about which the less said, the better.

However, they have a French cooking show that I really, REALLY like, one called "Chuck's Day Off" with a restaurant chef who cooks for friends and family in the restaurant when it's closed, one from Viet Nam (!!!), one with Indian food, and as someone mentioned they show a couple of Jaime Oliver shows. And...AND....they show reruns of Julia. AND "The Two Fat Laides" !

And not a silly competition or cupcake show to be found. Nor do they offer air space to Guy Fieri. Although "Bitchin' Kitchen" is the female version of Mr. D-bag.


--Roberta--

"Let's slip out of these wet clothes, and into a dry Martini" - Robert Benchley

Pierogi's eG Foodblog

My *outside* blog, "A Pound Of Yeast"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

... And I'm not a producer, other than one of witty sarcasm :wink: ...

Witty sarcasm, eh ? I should give that a try sometime.

BTW If Wikioracle is to be believed, James Beard started in 1946 and Marguerite Patten in 1947, so that's the competition from the UK discounted. I can remember watching The Galloping Gourmet myself back in the early 70's / late 60's. He was good, though ol' Fanny Craddock had her moments too.

(ETA, Special for SobaAddict70: hey, what's with the hating on fuzzy peach ?)


Edited by Blether (log)

QUIET!  People are trying to pontificate.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

... Take the example of Guy Fieri. A lot of people don't take him seriously as a cook. Although on his cooking show he does indeed cook. But he is a great TV personality. The look, the schtick it works and the camera likes him...

Hi, Mike. I've always been intrigued by the expression "the camera loves [someone]". What does it mean, do you think ? Is it that someone is just very watchable and would be were it in the theatre, at another table in a restaurant, there in his home letting you watch him cook ? Or do you think it's some chemistry that's somehow specific to recorded images ? Or something else ?

David Ross, do you have a view on this ?


Edited by Blether (log)

QUIET!  People are trying to pontificate.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...