Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The End of Emeril - It all seems inevitable

It seems I'll never stop complaining about the Food Network.

It's been all over the food blog world that Emeril Live is being cancelled. It feels like the end of an era.

Emeril was never my favorite FN chef. I felt the live show was a bit over the top and I found the recipes on it hard to follow (although they often looked delicious). The show crammed too many recipes in too little time. Even when I retrieved them from the website, I found them hard to make.

Something still drew me into the show though. Emeril's personality was a bit over-the-top and annoying, but it always seemed genuine to me. Unlike other FN personalities, Emeril really seemed to be having fun and was passionate about his food. He never came across as phony to me. He was also a much better showman than many of his FN peers. He could have been on TV without cooking if he wanted a career change. He comes alive on camera.

Of course the main reason why I mourn the loss of one of his shows is that another real chef is biting the dust. First Sara Moulton was gone. Then it was Mario Batali. Now it's Emeril - the man responsible for making the Food Network what is today. The Food Network is no longer about skilled people showing their craft. It's about personalities who happen to cook - and much of that cooking is bad, and quite frankly so are many of the personalities.

Whom are we left with? Bobby Flay? I don't hate him the way some people do, but his show is useless to me since I don't grill (apartment dweller). Paula Deen? She used to be fun and her fattening food looked good, but she has become a parody of herself with both her cooking and her schtick. Giada DeLaurentis? I like her recipes better than most of the other chefs, but she's not that great on camera and while her on-camera skills have improved, her recipes have gone downhill. She's more of a pretty face to attract male viewers (and I suspect with a baby coming she'll be shooting fewer shows anyway). Ina Garten? My anti-Hamptons prejudice aside, she's a good cook and presents her recipes well, although she's kind of dull on camera. I doubt she'll last much longer though. She's too old and too heavy. Guy Fieri? I want to like him since he does seem to have some cooking chops, but his recipes are Superbowl party fare raised to a slightly higher level and his personality is grating as all get out. Apparently he also appeals to the young male demographic. Tyler Florence? Good recipes, still looks good, so he stands a chance of staying, but then again you don't see as much of him anymore, so I wonder if he'll still stick around. Rachael Ray? Don't even get me started! She might as well own the network. Then no matter how much people complain, they still retain Sandra Lee!

At least they are keeping the Essence show. I find many of those recipes to be very doable and Emeril actually teaches you things on it because he's not trying to entertain a live audience. There is still a chef or two on the network for now.

Someone needs to start a new Food Network that's actually about food. If you want to make a network that teaches assembly-line recipes for these busy, white, unadventurous Middle-American moms and frat boys who love fattening foods and boobs, then make a network just for that. Let's have a network for those of us who really want to improve our cooking skills.

I wonder what they will do with Emeril's studio kitchen. That thing must have cost millions of dollars to build. What a waste!


Food Snob said...

Bravo! I couldn't agree with you more. I am constantly complaining to my husband that the network has dumbed down to the lowest common denominator; people want fast crap from overbearing hacks who've bought into their own hype. When Ray, Deen or Lee, and now that Hoffman woman appear, I can't grab my remote fast enough.
I think the network owes Emeril a large dept of gratitude: he really brought the network into mainstream tv. Talent means nothing. Cleavage and hype prevail. Thanks for an interesting piece.

Sue said...

I so understand what you're saying about Emeril. I don't why, but his recipes never have appealed to me, but I like HIM. I have no idea if it's an act or not, but his enthusiasm seems real AND kind. In so many ways, the Food Network really sucks. They're getting rid of the quality and bringing in the bling. Hmmm... kinda like the way the rest of popular cultcha is...Maybe we get the television chefs we deserve...