Thursday, July 2, 2009

Anthony Bourdain's Look At Food Television

Here is Anthony Bourdain's Look At Food Television.

Rocco DiSpirito's The Restaurant:
It was a slow-motion car wreck, wasn't it? It could have been a great show. It was a great concept. But I think Rocco's hunger to be famous did not put him in a good light. It was painful to watch. Since that show, there's been a lot of ill-will toward Rocco. It might be out of proportion to his crimes; a lot of chefs have gone on TV and acted silly. I think Rocco's particular crime was that he was always such a talented cook. This is a guy who made really good food. A lot of us would have cut off a pinky to have that kind of natural talent and ability. We see him now as having wasted that talent. I think he's penalized for being so talented. But Rocco doesn't want to be a chef. He wants to be an entertainer. I was rooting for the guy on "Dancing With the Stars." Compared to Kim Kardashian, he's a fairly impressive guy. When he's not shilling something on "Top Chef," he's actually a thoughtful judge and offers constructive criticism. But I don't see him as a chef anymore, so I don't feel like beating up on him.

Ace of Cakes:
I like this show. It's kind of cool. I like Duff and the people he works with. That's the real world of cooking.

Bizarre Foods With Andrew Zimmern:
I don't know how he does it. I respect his stamina. Most of the food that he's been eating, I've had. I've got to hand it to the guy for being able to get up in the morning and face nothing but lizard parts and testicles, especially in some tropical climate without the benefit of alcohol. I honestly don't know how he does it. I would have hung myself in the shower stall.

Iron Chef America:
I have a soft spot in my heart for this show. But the judges, man. Have they had Richard Grieco on yet as a judge? I think they had Criss Angel on, for chrissakes. Who are these douchebags they put on there? Jeffrey Steingarten at least knows what he's talking about. The show gets really good chefs to go on there, and to have them judged by the likes of Mo Rocca makes me want to vomit in my mouth. I like Michael Symon, and I'm friends with all the Iron Chefs. I like all of those guys.

Kitchen Nightmares:
The British "Kitchen Nightmares" is wonderful. It's much closer to the real Gordon than anything we've seen on American television. The American version is pretty good, though. I enjoy watching it. That's the Gordon I know and have a lot of respect for. The guy worked hard and came up hard. He worked like a maniac for some of the best chefs in Europe and did, in fact, achieve remarkable things in England. I love his restaurants. I like him. I wish him well. If having to be a caricature of his former self is going to get him bazillions of dollars, then why not?

Hell's Kitchen:
Gordon doesn't get much love and respect in the States from his peers. No one really gives a damn about his restaurants here. This show is a freak show. It's a circus of cruelty, like shooting fish in a barrel with a cut-down 12-gauge shotgun. There's no cooking. It's just a bunch of dimwits -- the lame, the halt and the delusional -- and him pretending to be angry. There's no suspense. None of these idiots would be qualified to work a Fryolator at a Chuck E. Cheese much less ever work in any Gordon Ramsay restaurant. The whole concept of the show is ridiculous.
He would never hire these guys. Executive chef at one of his restaurants? I mean, please.

Emeril Lagasse:
I like Emeril a lot. We get along. We hang out. I love his work and restaurants. I love hanging out and drinking with the guy. But I've told him to his face many times, "I love you and respect you. I just hate your shows." I guess I'm not a guy who could handle a studio audience. Emeril's just so damned lovable. But compared to who's on Food Network now, he looks like Escoffier. In retrospect, that was pretty distinguished stuff compared to what that network's doing now.

Rachael Ray:
Rachael Ray now is a talk-show host. My wife watches her, I hate to admit it. She's America's little sister, because she's a likable person. I think people respond to her because of her personality and not her cooking, which is pretty damned awful. She's very nice, and I base this on no inside information: She's big now, like Oprah big; the sooner she stops cooking, the happier we'll both be.

The Next Food Network Star:
It's an interesting window into the cynical and terrifying real criteria of how they grow their own talent on Food Network. I mean, they're pretty straight-forward about what you've got to do and who you've got to please and what the real priorities are to get a show there. You see the shear naked ambition of these often minimally talented cooks with the maximum ambitions of being television. The way they're judged is unattractive but fascinating just the same. You really see the process though: Media training trumps cooking every time. I used to be on the Food Network, but I think I slipped under the wire. The network at that point used to be run by a cabal of people getting bored with their own programming. For whatever reason, they gave me two years of traveling wherever I wanted, doing pretty much what I've been doing on "No Reservations." After two years, they wanted me riding around on a pony in a parking lot doing chili cook-offs instead of going to foreign countries. My feeling was, "Let someone else do that."