Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Celebrity Chef-Branded Food - Is it worth it?

We see the celebrity chefs on TV, we feel we have gotten to know them, we trust them.

You see the smiling face of Emeril Lagasse on a jar of Emeril's Home Style Marinara ($3.88) and you give a sigh of relief knowing you are buying the best.

Well hold on, not so fast.
According to a new Consumer Reports taste test of celebrity-branded food products, Emeril's Home Style Marinara is worse than Ragu's tomato sauce, but it's a lot more expensive.
It only rated "good" in the magazine's survey of tomato sauces with celebrity names.
The magazine also tasted celebrity offerings of minestrone soups, tomato soups and salad dressings.

Emeril's tomato sauce wasn't the only one that underwhelmed.
Only three of the 26 products tested got the magazine's top rating, "excellent."
10 managed to earn "very good."
But the other half all got rating comparable to much cheaper products from major companies like Kraft.

None of the minestrone soups or salad dressings were rated "excellent."
The highest rated in those categories were, respectively, Wolfgang Puck, which got just a "good," and Rao's, which was called "very good."

That said, a few products did taste as excellent as their reputations would suggest.
Consumer Reports called Wolfgang Puck's Tomato Basil Soup, which costs $3.50 a can, "A soup to sip and savor." And two tomato sauces from Italian Food Network stars were called great.

Giada De Laurentiis' tomato basil sauce at $3 a jar is apparently only available at Target. It was praised for its "buttery richness."

And Mario Batali put out a "garlicky tomato-basil sauce" that won the taster's approval, but it's going to cost you $8.