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Tyler Florence succumbs


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From what I've seen of TF, it sounds like Applebee's is a fine enough fit: it's not like the guy was doing la nueva cocina, classical French a l'Escoffier, or cutting-edge cuisine of any sort. There are a few FN stars that I could imagine working with Applebee's/Chili's/Cheddar's/TGIF/Ruby Tuesday's (can you really tell me that there's much of a difference between them all?) because that's already the sorts of stuff they do...

Edited by K_A_S (log)
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My guess is that Applebee's couldn't afford Rachael Ray. Tyler is a good fit out there for what they try to do, which is broad spectrum, "okay" food, in a rummage sale atmosphere. I love it when these chain places put a bunch of old stuff on the walls to try to give themselves some sense of permanence.

And if a guy can find a way to make a buck in the business, why fault him for that? He's never claimed to be fine dining. Even Cafeteria was just that, upscale comfort food. He's aiming right at the heart of the population who would consider Applebees a special event dinner. Florence has some culinary credibility, and he is not espousing ingredients that your average eater has never heard of. Let him make his money.

I'm reminded of Willie Nelson back in the early 90's when he went through his IRS issues. Willie has always been sort of above reproach when it came to his image. He had control over it, and he had respect in the music community (still does), especially in Austin. When he did the Taco Bell commercials because he needed the cash, everyone just sort of smiled and turned their head as if to say, "Go ahead and make your money. We understand."

Same thing here. Let the guy make a living.

Edited by FistFullaRoux (log)
Screw it. It's a Butterball.
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I saw the commercial and thought "its not like it could get worsE." Tyler is an alright guy who has made a couple of good things on his Ultimate Show.. The fried chicken is the first thing to come to mind.. Anyway, I am sure he is getting a lot of cash..Am I going to Applebees? Not a shot.

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I find it sad the amount of snobbishness that comes out at eGullet. I was excited when I saw Tyler Florence's commercial for Applebees. They've actually had a decent menu in the last few years showing that they are trying to promote more healthy eating. I enjoy their salads. I've enjoyed their weight watchers meals. If you paid attention to the commercial you would see that the TF meals all include healthy salads. I see nothing wrong with him trying to improve a menu for a normal family restaurant.

*rolls eyes at the snobs*

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I always thought that snobbishness was bad.

Having grown up in an uneducated family, in a small town, but having gotten myself some edumajacation, and read some books, and travelled around the world a bit, I realized that my initual, knee-jerk thought (that snobbishness was bad) was correct -- but far more importantly, I realized that there are a few things that are far worse.

On a scale, I'd rank 'em:

3) Snobbishness: Patronizing someone because you're better educated, read, travelled, intelligent, informed or whatnot... Yeah, those qualities are all good, and people should be encouraged to persue such things -- but if all you do with your "knowledge" and "insight" is to belittle people, you're harming the cause. This is the pompous, upperclass twit.

2) Provincial snobbery: Patronizing someone because you think that you know more than others (but are wrong about it). However pathetic and embarassing snobbery might be, provincial snobbery is worse. This is the world where The Emeror's New Clothes live. Provincial snobbery can easily be confused with genuine snobbery, if you grew up in the provinces.

1) Anti-Snobbery: Patronizing someone because you suspect that they might know more than you -- and accusing them of snobbery. This is by far the worst. This would be the world where the jock beats the nerd, except you don't even need to be a semi-successful jock to field this argument -- you can know nothing, and you can have achieved nothing -- yet, you can still, somehow offer this as a valid argument: "You're a snob!" This is the Jante Law. It is the worst.

It is important to have a good bullshit-detector. But calling snobbery on this thing, isn't right. Methinks there are perfectly valid arguments to be made for and against this thing, but accusing the detractors of snobbery -- of arrogance -- isn't right.

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From what I've seen of TF, it sounds like Applebee's is a fine enough fit: it's not like the guy was doing la nueva cocina, classical French a l'Escoffier, or cutting-edge cuisine of any sort. There are a few FN stars that I could imagine working with Applebee's/Chili's/Cheddar's/TGIF/Ruby Tuesday's (can you really tell me that there's much of a difference between them all?) because that's already the sorts of stuff they do...

totally agree. the only reason you could fault TF is if you thought he was "above it" in the first place. but in my estimation he has always sorta positioned himself as a very accessible down-to-earth chef. so, to me, no big deal. that said, applebee's is not my cup of tea

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I am in absolute agreement with you. I think you have caught the essence of the meaning of the word "Philistine" with all three of your snob classifications.

That being said, it seems to me Mr. Florence has proceeded beyond the pale here. He has sidled right up to and jumped over the fence. Simply because the money is deeper shade of green on the other side. This is only "good" for him.

He has several successful books out there - one with the esteemed Sandra Lee, and while I have no idea what TFN is paying now, I know 10 years ago they were paying 25K per show. In other words, he is financially "healthy," "healthier" than well over 99% of the people on the planet.

This is just about the working definition of the word "greed," my friend. In the money pit and grabbing with both hands.

The reasonable core of his supporters in this decision are basically saying, "Let him get as rich as he can. After all, it's the American way." If that is their belief, I won't take them to task here. Those who think there is some kind of quality food product involved here are just misguided. I've had a number of my graduates work the battery of microwaves in the kitchens at Applebees.

To paraphrase Alan Iverson, "Conscience? We're talking about conscience? It's just conscience."

I always thought that snobbishness was bad.

Having grown up in an uneducated family, in a small town, but having gotten myself some edumajacation, and read some books, and travelled around the world a bit, I realized that my initual, knee-jerk thought (that snobbishness was bad) was correct -- but far more importantly, I realized that there are a few things that are far worse.

On a scale, I'd rank 'em:

3) Snobbishness: Patronizing someone because you're better educated, read, travelled, intelligent, informed or whatnot... Yeah, those qualities are all good, and people should be encouraged to persue such things -- but if all you do with your "knowledge" and "insight" is to belittle people, you're harming the cause. This is the pompous, upperclass twit.

2) Provincial snobbery: Patronizing someone because you think that you know more than others (but are wrong about it). However pathetic and embarassing snobbery might be, provincial snobbery is worse. This is the world where The Emeror's New Clothes live. Provincial snobbery can easily be confused with genuine snobbery, if you grew up in the provinces.

1) Anti-Snobbery: Patronizing someone because you suspect that they might know more than you -- and accusing them of snobbery. This is by far the worst. This would be the world where the jock beats the nerd, except you don't even need to be a semi-successful jock to field this argument -- you can know nothing, and you can have achieved nothing -- yet, you can still, somehow offer this as a valid argument: "You're a snob!" This is the Jante Law. It is the worst.

It is important to have a good bullshit-detector. But calling snobbery on this thing, isn't right. Methinks there are perfectly valid arguments to be made for and against this thing, but accusing the detractors of snobbery -- of arrogance -- isn't right.

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That being said, it seems to me Mr. Florence has proceeded beyond the pale here. He has sidled right up to and jumped over the fence.

Or has he jumped the shark? Does this equate to Fonzie riding a shark in a 2-part cliffhanger in a last gasp for ratings? I agree with an earlier assessment that TF is not regarded as a top-tier Food Network star, let alone a celebrity chef. So it's more like Lenny & Squiggy wrestling a duct-taped alligator.

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It is important to have a good bullshit-detector. But calling snobbery on this thing, isn't right. Methinks there are perfectly valid arguments to be made for and against this thing, but accusing the detractors of snobbery -- of arrogance -- isn't right.

If the detractors have gone to Applebees and tried at least one of the entrees in question, then I agree with you. Otherwise it's pure, unadulterated snobbery...and pretty arrogant as well.

I say this after just returning from taking my dad to Applebees because he wanted to try one of the "Food TV entrees" (his words). I urge those who have trashed Tyler Florence and Applebees in this thread to actually try one of the two chicken entrees -- you might just be pleasantly surprised. And if not, well, at least you would have a legitimate reason for your criticisms.

For the record, I was pleasantly surprised...

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I always find it interesting when people criticize other people for not liking huge faceless chains that sell frozen, pre-fabed, mass produced food in a cookie cutter, impersonal, and contrived setting.. I dont need to go into a restaurant that doesn't take in to account anything about the setting or character of the local people and scene.

This is not snobbery on my part. Its snobbery on your part for thinking I am acting too cool to go there. Sorry, I just prefer to support local eateries and people who cook with care and love. Not someone who follows a lamanated flow chart.

This is a website dedicated to food. If everyone ate at the same chain store, there wouldn't be too much to talk about. This has nothing to do with price or social status. It has to do with the respect of your food and where and how it is made..

Edited by Daniel (log)
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This is not snobbery on my part.  Its snobbery on your part for thinking I am acting too cool to go there. Sorry, I just prefer to support local eateries and people who cook with care and love. Not someone who follows a lamanated flow chart.

And also, you don't need to visit these places to have some idea what the food is like. They show it on the TV ads; you can look and listen to the description and get a fairly good idea. If anything, it probably looks better on TV.

As it happens, I have been to Applebee's; I had a salad and while the lettuce was OK, the dressing was awful. It was also very expensive for what it was. The service wasn't very good either.

That said, I don't have a problem with someone like TF consulting them on the menu. Well, except that I do believe one always supports chains at the expense of locals, to some extent. However, this isn't like Bayless and Burger King. (I imagine Bayless knew he made a mistake; as I recall, he donated the money to his foundation in response to the criticism he was getting.)

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Sometimes I want food as art, and sometimes I want food as nourishment. I have been in many places where Applebees or the chain equivalent thereof was the best place to eat in town. Food choices depend on options, and not everyone lives in Manhattan, and not every local eatery cooks with care and love.

Regards,

Michael Lloyd

Mill Creek, Washington USA

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I am in absolute agreement with you. I think you have caught the essence of the meaning of the word "Philistine" with all three of your snob classifications.

That being said, it seems to me Mr. Florence has proceeded beyond the pale here. He has sidled right up to and jumped over the fence. Simply because the money is deeper shade of green on the other side. This is only "good" for him.

He has several successful books out there - one with the esteemed Sandra Lee, and while I have no idea what TFN is paying now, I know 10 years ago they were paying 25K per show. In other words, he is financially "healthy," "healthier" than well over 99% of the people on the planet.

This is just about the working definition of the word "greed," my friend. In the money pit and grabbing with both hands.

The reasonable core of his supporters in this decision are basically saying, "Let him get as rich as he can. After all, it's the American way." If that is their belief, I won't take them to task here. Those who think there is some kind of quality food product involved here are just misguided. I've had a number of my graduates work the battery of microwaves in the kitchens at Applebees.

To paraphrase Alan Iverson, "Conscience? We're talking about conscience? It's just conscience."

I always thought that snobbishness was bad.

Having grown up in an uneducated family, in a small town, but having gotten myself some edumajacation, and read some books, and travelled around the world a bit, I realized that my initual, knee-jerk thought (that snobbishness was bad) was correct -- but far more importantly, I realized that there are a few things that are far worse.

On a scale, I'd rank 'em:

3) Snobbishness: Patronizing someone because you're better educated, read, travelled, intelligent, informed or whatnot... Yeah, those qualities are all good, and people should be encouraged to persue such things -- but if all you do with your "knowledge" and "insight" is to belittle people, you're harming the cause. This is the pompous, upperclass twit.

2) Provincial snobbery: Patronizing someone because you think that you know more than others (but are wrong about it). However pathetic and embarassing snobbery might be, provincial snobbery is worse. This is the world where The Emeror's New Clothes live. Provincial snobbery can easily be confused with genuine snobbery, if you grew up in the provinces.

1) Anti-Snobbery: Patronizing someone because you suspect that they might know more than you -- and accusing them of snobbery. This is by far the worst. This would be the world where the jock beats the nerd, except you don't even need to be a semi-successful jock to field this argument -- you can know nothing, and you can have achieved nothing -- yet, you can still, somehow offer this as a valid argument: "You're a snob!" This is the Jante Law. It is the worst.

It is important to have a good bullshit-detector. But calling snobbery on this thing, isn't right. Methinks there are perfectly valid arguments to be made for and against this thing, but accusing the detractors of snobbery -- of arrogance -- isn't right.

You are kidding me right? 25K per show? not even close, try a number between 2 and 5!.....I love it when folks think that just because you are on TV you are rich.....that is so not the case....there are long contracts and you do not have the advantage when you negotiate....

People need to make a living, TV is not a living unless you are a huge celeb or do your best to reap any benefit from it, while keeping your ethichs and integrity intact as other attempt to smash it....

Nuff said, I gotta go film now...

Moo, Cluck, Oink.....they all taste good!

The Hungry Detective

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Sometimes I want food as art, and sometimes I want food as nourishment.  I have been in many places where Applebees or the chain equivalent thereof was the best place to eat in town.  Food choices depend on options, and not everyone lives in Manhattan, and not every local eatery cooks with care and love.

I hear what you are saying but in the past 2 years I have done 4 cross country trips, and driven from Florida to Canada.. We have not stopped once at a chain and although not all the food was made with love, it was easy to avoid the chains.

Edited by Daniel (log)
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OK, so you answered my question...you prefer to criticize the entrees in question without actually trying one of them. You think it is impossible for any chain, large or small, to develop quality entrees. I now know where you stand.

I'm not a fan of chain dining either, but I won't criticize their food without trying it first -- and on the flip side, I will give credit when they do something right, as Applebees might well have done here.

I say "might well" because ambitious (for a chain) entrees such as these require more skill on the part of the cook, and chains rarely hire cooks for their culinary skills. So the entrees can (and often do) vary greatly in quality from place to place, and it's why ambitious entrees rarely stick around very long on the menu. So I would be interested in others' experience with the new Applebees entrees.

This doesn't change the fact that the chicken entree I had yesterday at Applebees was as good as a similar entree at any local eatery cooked with care and love. It might well have been a lucky fluke experience, it might not. But there was no denying the quality of this particular entree, and if Tyler Florence was able to come up with a laminated flow chart to accomplish this, then he deserves a lot of credit...

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I say "might well" because ambitious (for a chain) entrees such as these require more skill on the part of the cook, and chains rarely hire cooks for their culinary skills. So the entrees can (and often do) vary greatly in quality from place to place, and it's why ambitious entrees rarely stick around very long on the menu. So I would be interested in others' experience with the new Applebees entrees.

I am going to disagree with this as well.. The whole point of chain food is to have food that will never vary from place to place.. Thats why most sauces are premade and come out of containers. All the ingredients require minimal to zero real cooking.. A Applebees in Chicago should taste exactly the same as the Applebees in Ohio.. Thats the chains goal..

Edited by Daniel (log)
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OK, so you answered my question...you prefer to criticize the entrees in question without actually trying one of them. You think it is impossible for any chain, large or small, to develop quality entrees. I now know where you stand.

I guess you don't see fit to argue with me, but I have been to Applebee's. As with any restaurant, chain or not, if the first experience is bad enough I don't think I need to give them another chance-- and more of my money. Does this really mean I can't criticize them?

This is what I don't get about the "snob" argument with regard to chains-- apart from the fast-food ones, at least. I have actually eaten at most chains in my area at least once, and some on the road too. I don't like to support chains but sometimes I'm with other people and I believe in choosing one's battles. And the thing about them is, they are generally very expensive! I almost always feel ripped off after eating at those places.

Now, I'm not going to criticize people for eating at those places. You've got kids; you've got older relatives; you're with a group from work. You like the food, even. But I don't understand the criticism of people who don't care to spend their money in that way.

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I can't believe that this discussion has come down to name-calling ("snobs!") and defending against being called names ("I'm not a snob!"). Give me a break: I suspect that every person here has at some point been to one of the chains, and since the professed charm of the chain is that there are never any surprises and a meal at one of the restaurants in the chain will predictibly taste like a meal at any other, a meal at one of them is pretty much going to be like a meal at any of them (by design).

Further, I would truly be amazed to find that those "defending" the quality of Applebee's and taking those who criticize Applebee's to task for snobism would actually opt for dinner at Applebee's over other restaurants in the same price range in their area. Dinner at Applebee's is not much less than some finer dining options, if you get some wine with your TF super chicken, and I would be hard pressed to imagine that most eGer's would ask to be taken out to Applebee's for a special meal than to a similarly priced restaurant.

Can you say "disingenuous?" I knew you could... :unsure:

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I say "might well" because ambitious (for a chain) entrees such as these require more skill on the part of the cook, and chains rarely hire cooks for their culinary skills. So the entrees can (and often do) vary greatly in quality from place to place, and it's why ambitious entrees rarely stick around very long on the menu. So I would be interested in others' experience with the new Applebees entrees.

I am going to disagree with this as well.. The whole point of chain food is to have food that will never vary from place to place.. Thats why most sauces are premade and come out of containers. All the ingredients require minimal to zero real cooking.. A Applebees in Chicago should taste exactly the same as the Applebees in Ohio.. Thats the chains goal..

Without intentionally trying to sound pedantic I would like to say that first, when you eat at a chain most of your money is sent out of the community. Second, most of the foodstuffs eaten at said restaurants comes from outside of the community. We pay for this perceived need for uniformity, or fear of the unknown, economically in that in this equation profits flow out and up. It is economically undemocratic. It is socially undemocratic in that it promotes conformity not individuality.

I drove around 5000 miles last summer and although I tried to eat locally, I found myself at the wrong off ramp from time to time or in a town on a Sunday when a lot of locally owned restaurants are closed (especially here in the south). That said, I ate at an Applebees in SC and the food was simply unremarkable. Did it make me ill, no. It was simply phoned in and not that inexpensive. Would I eat at Applebees again, yes, given similar circumstances. However, if the BBQ joint down the street from my motel had been open ........................

A month later I was heading South and was again trying to find a local joint that looked interesting and that was near he interstate. It was about 1:00 and I was starting to get peckish and a little cranky. Then before me was a sign: Stan's Restaurant and Country Store. Funky place – think chain restaurant with stuff on the walls that is actually old and honestly worn. Good BBQ with a nice well balanced slightly leaning toward tart sauce served on Cracklin’ Bread (a corn and crackling pancake - excellent). The greens and beans were also great and served with a grilled green onion. They also cure their own ham. I think the whole meal, with twenty percent tip, set me back a sawbuck. You won’t get that at Applebee’s.

My frustration (or snobbery if you like) is that people have become so conditioned into thinking that predictability equals merit that they are simply unwilling to TRY anything foreign. It is a kind of culinary xenophobia. If you taste something and do not like it, fine that’s honest. If you are unwilling even to sample something from an unfamiliar region or individual restaurant, that is closed mindedness at best and cowardice at worst. Through my recent travels I can urge the following: when in Northern Michigan try pasties, eat whitefish and lake trout, fresh and smoked, and enjoy the best cherries in North American if they are in season; when in Virginia eat crab cakes, peanut soup, and salty smokey ham; and when breezing through the South eat all of the regional BBQs, various grit dishes (real grits, not the paste- like “instant” variety), and please do yourself a favor and try the greens and field peas.

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I guess you don't see fit to argue with me, but I have been to Applebee's.  As with any restaurant, chain or not, if the first experience is bad enough I don't think I need to give them another chance-- and more of my money. Does this really mean I can't criticize them?

This is what I don't get about the "snob" argument with regard to chains-- apart from the fast-food ones, at least. I have actually eaten at most chains in my area at least once, and some on the road too. I don't like to support chains but sometimes I'm with other people and I believe in choosing one's battles. And the thing about them is, they are generally very expensive! I almost always feel ripped off after eating at those places.

Now, I'm not going to criticize people for eating at those places. You've got kids; you've got older relatives; you're with a group from work. You like the food, even. But I don't understand the criticism of people who don't care to spend their money in that way.

You're talking in generalities, I'm talking specifics...

I have no issues with your saying that you don't go to Applebees because you have been there before and didn't like it. And Tyler Florence is a celebrity, which makes him fair game for criticism, justified or otherwise.

But I do have issues with someone criticizing these specific entrees without trying them first. If a person has no intention of ever trying them but says they can't possibly be good, I can think of a few terms to describe such a person. In your case, your past experience would lead you to the conclusion that the new entrees are no different than any past promotion at Applebees. My one experience says that may not be the case. It's just one data point, and time will tell all. But it's a data point. And as I said above, I'm interested to hear of others' experiences with the new entrees to see whether my own concerns are justified.

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Say you're working hard @ whatever it is you do, and someone comes up to you one day and offers you a great opportunity to make more money.

Would you turn it down?

This said offer is in the same field that you're working in now....it'll offer you the opportunity to "get your name out there"....more recognition (possibly creating even more opportunites), more money, and the chance to make a difference....

Would YOU turn it down?

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I say "might well" because ambitious (for a chain) entrees such as these require more skill on the part of the cook, and chains rarely hire cooks for their culinary skills. So the entrees can (and often do) vary greatly in quality from place to place, and it's why ambitious entrees rarely stick around very long on the menu. So I would be interested in others' experience with the new Applebees entrees.

I am going to disagree with this as well.. The whole point of chain food is to have food that will never vary from place to place.. Thats why most sauces are premade and come out of containers. All the ingredients require minimal to zero real cooking.. A Applebees in Chicago should taste exactly the same as the Applebees in Ohio.. Thats the chains goal..

I agree with you, and that's my concern with these new entrees. The one I tried did not taste like typical chain food, and I'm sure it took some skill to do this, which likely doesn't exist at all Applebees locations. And that's why I wondered whether these entrees will remain on the menu for very long, because they seem to fly in the face of a chain's goal of consistency.

Then again, if Tyler Florence came up with a way to make these entrees as consistently good as the one I had, then as I said, he deserves a lot of credit. Otherwise, we'll see a new promotion at Applebees in a few months...

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Why, when I saw the commercial, a violent shudder of shock and dismay caused me to drop my whole bowl of TaterTots! thereby ruining my copy of People Magazine! :biggrin:

What does Appleby's need with Tyler Florence? I think he ought to mosey on over to IHOP: they need the help.

"She would of been a good woman," The Misfit said, "if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life."

--Flannery O'Connor, "A Good Man is Hard to Find"

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