"Waiting just to catch your eye…"

by Katie Pizzuto on April 22, 2010

in Food tv

Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company

So I’m sitting here at the computer with Thin Lizzy’s “Waiting For an Alibi” blaring on my iTunes, and thinking how apropos the lyrics are for a Food Network theme song, at a moment where its stench of desperation can be sensed from the bottom of a septic tank in East Bumfuck, Kansas.

Valentino’s in a cold sweat

Apparently, the folks who bring the non-cooking cooking shows to your living rooms each night are scrambling to regain some of the market share they’ve lost to TLC, Bravo and PBS by unleashing a new, spinoff Cooking Channel network on May 31st, which I’m sorry to say will replace the Fine Living Network. Commence the funeral dirges now.

Placed all his money on that last bet

This channel promises to offer what the Food Network doesn’t—a finger on the pulse of the foodie nation. Butter-hording Paula Deen will be replaced by the 3 hip “Food Jammers,” cocktail-toting Sandra Lee will be pushed aside to make room for bartender Darryl Robinson’s “Drink Up,” and amply cleavaged Giada De Laurentiis will be passed over in favor of Anjum Anand’s “Indian Food Made Easy.” And for all that I’ve ranted about the network’s fall from grace, their suicide-speed derailing from what was once great instructional cooking, and their need to cover something more than another competition where some 5-foot balancing act of food goes crashing to the ground, you’d think I’d be thrilled with the new endeavor—but I’m not.

‘Gainst all the odds he smokes another cigarette

Although the Food Network will tell you that they’ve put together this channel as an answer to naysayers who longed for a return to actual cooking, and shows centered around food rather than around personalities, the sad truth is that they’re probably doing it more as a desperate attempt to reclaim the market on food television shows, that they ignorantly thought they had cornered. With shows like “Top Chef” on Bravo and “Cake Boss” on TLC (not to mention Lidia Bastianich, Jacques Pepin, Ming Tsai, Rick Bayless, Mario Batali, and Charlie Trotter all being on PBS), Food Network has been put in a position of having to rethink its down-it-like-castor-oil approach to cooking.

Says it helps him to forget he’s a nervous wreck.

A great many of the shows that will air on the Cooking Channel are merely pick-ups of current Canadian shows, and broadcasting will also include vintage episodes of “The Galloping Gourmet” and old Julia Child shows, lest the company actually put a little blood, sweat and tears into building some original programming…perish the thought. What little originality there is will come by way of Mo Rocca hosting a new show called “Foodography” (if Ted Allen couldn’t successfully rip off Alton Brown, I’m not sure what makes them think Mo can), and internet personality Lisa Lillien will most likely be doing a show on light eating that flies in the face of everything dieters should be sticking to (uh, let me think…fresh, unprocessed food?!), instead favoring recipes that include ingredients like non-fat Pringles and Cool Whip. Sounds a shitload like Sandra Lee Lite to me.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Barbara @ VinoLuciStyle April 22, 2010

Seems I’ve been getting the Food Network for years with my Basic Cable lineup; a service call and I’m told how lucky I was but it’s no more.

At first I was upset then wondered why?
I hardly ever really watch it anymore, using it mostly for background noise when I”m cooking because it just seemed appropriate for some reason. But in reality fewer and fewer shows require my full attention and I’ve somehow survived unscathed!

It certainly helps that other networks are adding more food related series; including the new Emeril Lagasse show on ION television.

From my perspective…the down homey, cost cutting, barbeque making lineup was no longer my gig. I mean, I can do that, but I want to watch someone who will teach me something new or inspire me to cook something different and I can’t remember the last time that happened.

The only show I’ll miss? A new one featuring a local Denver couple who own my favorite spice shop. Would love to see that, but isn’t that what good neighbors are for? I’ll bring the wine.

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2 Katie Pizzuto April 22, 2010

The problem you described, Barbara, is exactly the dichotomy that Food Network created. While they managed to grab and hold the attention of people who basically want to be entertained (and learn a little about food) they lost the attention of foodies that were serious about cuisine, and that wanted to seriously hone their chops…we’ve all gone to PBS, LOL!

This is a poorly veiled attempt at trying to regain some of that audience, which in concept is laudable, but in execution is seemingly pathetic.

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3 Coupe 60 April 22, 2010

For the record, I have no real interest in cooking shows. I only watch them to spend some time with my wife. I will miss watching Giada’s cleavage…

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4 Coupe 60 April 22, 2010

I forgot to add that Men are pigs…

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5 Katie Pizzuto April 22, 2010

LMAO, Lou, you should still be getting Giada’s cleavage as long as they haven’t pulled Food Network from your cable lineup. The new “Cooking Channel” will take over Fine Living Network.

And yes, you’re pigs–smelly and fat but curable :)

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6 Linsey April 22, 2010

I first got into FN at Christmas when I was in USA, each morning I would lay in bed, listening to a certain person snore and watch FN channel on the small bedroom tv. Then at new year the channel vanished, bollocks! I was stuck with the limited other stuff on the tv.

When I got home I was happy to find that the FN channel was hidden on my satellite tv channels too and have been watching Ina Garten, Chopped, Iron Chef and Challenge ever since … wow those cakes are incredible.

Granted some of it is a bit repetitive, think I have caught one Contessa three times now, but some of its great fun.

So what has happened to these shows – have they been killed off completely or they being picked up by other channels? Shame to lose them.

Only thing I really dont get – that Japanese guy on Iron Chef – what is with him!!!!!

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7 Don April 22, 2010

Katie, I agree the FN has lost its way. But it did innovate and should be applauded for that. Imagine a whole network dedicated to food, it was like when ESPN was first created! Very progressive. But like many who are first they rested on their laurels and now find themselves in a bad position. I wish they would just fix their network instead of creating yet another to wade through while I am looking for cleavage.

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8 Katie Pizzuto April 23, 2010

@Linsey….the channel you came to know will stay exactly as-is. This is a new endeavor…a sister channel…supposedly to placate the real foodies.

@Don…they TOTALLY were mavericks when they started out and I’ve lauded them repeatedly for what they started out doing, but it’s gone completely awry. I won’t really be able to say anything one way or the other on the new channel because I won’t get it.

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