"The Food Network once featured talented chefs from all walks of life preparing their own unique style of food and craft. Sadly, this style of programming has now been relegated to the pages of history. If you’re lucky enough to experience a chance encounter with a 4 a.m. re-run of Wolfgang Puck preparing his signature French-California fusion, you can delve into the past of the Food Network—at least before Vince and his Slap-Chop take over at 4:30.
"Interested in how to prepare classic Italian cuisine? Watch Molto Mario, hosted by world-renowned chef Mario Batali. Employing a no-nonsense approach (except for his signature orange clogs), he made Italian food not only accessible to the home viewer, but exciting too. His enthusiasm for a simple plate of Aglio e Olio was something the audience could not ignore.
"But this of course is a thing of the past. Want to know how to how to cook Italian food today? You are going to have to watch Giada De Laurentiis and we all know nobody watches her show for the food. Is her 30-minute show enjoyable? While wiping the drool off their chins, most guys would eagerly say "yes." Did you learn something about food while watching it? That is a much more difficult question.
"Of course, Giada is not alone in this radical and unfortunate transformation. Moving away from the chef and towards the cult of the "television personality," the genuine passion and dedication toward their food product has fallen by the wayside. Ming Tsai will no longer prepare his East-meets-West cuisine, but if you are lucky, you can watch Sandra Lee unlock the not-so-delicious possibilities of a can of cream-of-mushroom soup.
"Feeling lazy? Craving gazpacho? Then try her "Gazpacho Monterrey." Open a bag, empty a can, and you too can have a product one online reviewer described as "…the colour of mud, extremely acidic, and honestly tasted like something my grandkids randomly mixed together as a ‘potion’ while playing."
"Sacrificing taste for convenience, Sandra Lee and Food Network have gone all-in on the belief that everyone is content with poor food, as long as it comes at little cost or effort. Is using a bag of frozen vegetables, as she calls for in this recipe be easier? Of course. But in a dish where the vegetable flavors are so boldly displayed, it would be a shame to use anything less than the best. She also uses canned chicken broth in the recipe, and that is another problem all together.
"Where are our generation’s enlightened masters of food? Bona fide chefs like Julia Child once brought American housewives out of the freezer section and into the kitchen. But where have today’s gurus of Gruyere gone?
"Maybe it is just me, maybe I refuse to jump on the five-ingredients-or-less bandwagon, but I do not believe Wolfgang, Mario, Ming, or any of the chefs Food Network so casually discarded would dare serve a product like that. Let us hope that Andrew Cuomo, who is engaged to Sandra Lee, has a more discerning taste for state politics than for his fiance’s cooking.