Food TV

Why do the British always have such brilliant TV show ideas?  I’ve never watched it (honest!), but they had American Idol first.  They had The Office first.  They had Gordon Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares.  And now, they have Last Restaurant Standing.

I love this show.  The title is exactly the premise — 10 couples (2 people, not necessarily married/dating) — have the chance to open a restaurant with Raymond Blanc, world renown and two-Michelin star chef.

In the 2 hour second season opener, these 10 couples had to create dishes that would show their vision of their restaurant and prove to Blanc and the other two judges, that they should move on to the next round and open a restaurant. 

Then 9 couples get keys to restaurants in various locations, but all relatively the same size, and they have 1 week to open.  You follow their trials and tribulations (one restaurant had a gas leak so they couldn’t even open!).  Then the other two judges (inspectors and industry experts Sarah Willingham and David Moore) go and see how opening night is working for each restaurant.  They report back and then one of the couples, gets their keys taken away.

The last restaurant standing wins money and support from Blanc.  Absolutely a brilliant show concept and it’s fascinating.  I think it gives folks a wonderful peak at what it’s really like to be “in” the restaurant business.  Love this show!

I watched it last week (or was it two weeks ago?) and have meant to blog about it, but I haven’t had a chance…until now.

I was catching up on HBO’s Big Love to remind myself about what happened last season, when I caught the trailer for a new documentary called Le Cirque: A Table in Heaven

Well, you know I was excited to watch it — and it didn’t disappoint (althought it is a little too long).  Without going over too much about the show, you watch Le Cirque founder Sirio Maccioni and his family re-open Le Cirque. 

First, the documentary gives you an overview of Maccioni and how he became a very well-known NY maitre d’.  You see the celebrities, political figures, and other famous people eating in his restaurant. 

Then you learn that the restaurant has to move due to a leasing issue.  There was an option between two locations and Maccionidecides to go with the Bloomberg Building on 58th between Lexington and 3rd. 

The documentary takes you through the building and development of the restaurant, menu, atmosphere, attire, etc. 

And then, Frank Bruni, the New York Times restaurant critic enters the picture. 

I won’t spoil the ending (in case you don’t know it already).  But suffice to say, it was entertaining.  I found myself at times irritated with all the characters (except Egidiana, his wife) and other times rooting for the Maccioni family.  I also found I was drooling at the pictures of the food.  And when the review by Bruni came out, well…

Overall, I definitely recommend catching this documentary if you love food and are interested in the restaurant business.  For those who have never been in the restaurant business, it is eye-opening.  For those who have been, you already know the story.  And if you are thinking of opening up a restaurant, this may change your mind. 

 Have you seen it?  What did you think of the show?

I caught a commercial on Travel Channel for At the Table with Anthony Bourdain.  I love the idea and am looking forward to watching it on Monday, October 20th at 10 PM EST. 

I suppose imitation really is the sincerest form of flattery since it’s exactly like After Hours with Daniel Boulud.  And yes, Bourdain was a guest on After Hours so he can’t pretend like he didn’t know!

But I (heart) Bourdain for his sarcasm, no-holds bar attitude, and wicked sense of humor so I guarantee I’ll Tivo this!  No word on if this will be a reoccurring series, but I hope it is!

I don’t remember how or why I started watching BBC’s You Are What You Eat, but I find it to be a very entertaining show.

Here’s the deal — someone nominates a person who is overweight.  Then this holistic nutritionist, Gillian McKeith comes in and detoxes that person. 

But since some of the people don’t think they really are overweight, she uses “shock” treatment to snap them into reality.  This means showing the person a table of everything they’ve eaten — and let me tell you, wow.  It’s quite shocking (and I didn’t eat it!).

Then she gets a poo sample to see where the person is deficient in vitamins and minerals.  Eww.

Then the person starts on the detox diet.  She gives them 8 weeks of recipes and exercise plans.  Oh, and they refer to the person as X stones, which means 14 lbs. 

While I find the show entertaining, I’m not a fan of her veggie drink she makes people drink.  Gross.  At the same time, I realize she trying to change the behaviors of people who haven’t eaten a vegetable or fruit in years.  But, I don’t think healthy food has to taste bad either! 

I like the show and find it motivating to keep healthy!  And they also offer a “how healthy are you” quiz

McKeith is a tough cookie and she can definitely be a bit harsh to folks.  But is it just me or does “You are fat” sound better with a British accent than no accent? 

The show airs on BBC America weekdays at 4 PM EST.  I hope they plan on bringing this show to the US soon!

I was “surfing” the Food Network TV show list and happened to find some of the new shows they’re offering.  Here are a few that I’m planning on recording!

One of the new Food Network TV shows is called, “The Chef Jeff Project.” It’ll be airing running from October 5th 12th to November 9th, 2008 at 10 PM EST.

In a groundbreaking, docu-reality series from Food Network, six troubled, at-risk teens are desperately seeking a second chance at life. Chef Jeff Henderson is giving them one—just like the one he got…

Jeff is the executive chef of the famed Café Bellagio in Las Vegas. But before that, he spent 20 years in prison for selling drugs. While incarcerated, Jeff discovered the transformative power of cooking. Now he’s paying it forward by hiring these troubled youths to help launch his new Los Angeles catering business. 

Another show is called “How’d That Get on My Plate?”  The show will start 7/7 at 9:30 PM EST:

Food Network prides itself on providing viewers with VIP access to what goes on behind the kitchen doors.  How’d That Get On My Plate? takes a step back to tell the story from farm to table. Each week, viewers follow a fascinating journey of food—from field and seas to supermarket shelves and restaurant tables.  In the tradition of Unwrapped, this premiere series will give gastronomic-curious viewers the answers to How’d That Get On My Plate ?

Another show is “Adventures in Eating.”

Viewers will need their passports when we join famed chef Alex Guarnaschelli of New York hotspot, Butter, as she traverses the continent and the globe in the Food Network series, Adventures in Eating.

Through food-colored glasses, Guaranschelli seeks out everything from quintessential American fare to exceptional and eclectic foreign cuisine. The world is her oyster and she is ready to chow down! 

The last one one I wanted to highlight is this one called “Secrets of a Restaurant Chef” with Anne Burrell and airs on Sundays (starting 7/6) at 9:30 PM EST.

Acclaimed NYC chef Anne Burrell is bringing her insider cooking secrets from professional restaurant kitchens to the kitchen table.

In each episode of Secrets of a Restaurant Chef, Anne shares tips and techniques to maximize flavor, and reduce the time it takes to prepare a delicious, restaurant-caliber meal at home.

Interested in learning more about the other shows they’re offering?  Check it out here!

I was excited when I realized Food Network was re-airing some of Anthony Bourdain’s A Cook’s Tour.  But when I caught the Brazil episode, I realized I had seen this before.  It had been aired on No Reservations! 

I recognized the opening scene when he’s in the Confeitaria Colombo (coffee shop with the pastries and there’s no one there) and then when he meets his carioca who is going to teach him how to live the carioca lifestyle. 

Alright, so it’s no like I solved the JFK murder mystery, but it was an interesting observation.

Emeril Lagasse is looking for people in DC to cook with for his new show on Discovery Channel’s Planet Green Channel.  But they’re also looking for people around the country. 

From an email I received:

Planet Green is currently casting enthusiastic and fun people with creative and interesting cooking challenges for EMERIL GREEN, which will air on Planet Green beginning in June. This could be your friend or family member’s chance to receive cooking tips and recipes tailored specifically to their needs by America’s most beloved chef!

If you know someone in the Washington, D.C. area interested in participating, please have them email their basic information (name, address, age and occupation), their culinary challenge and a recent picture to Planet Green is actively searching for real people with real cooking dilemmas, so have them submit their information today!

Participants must provide their own transportation and be available for 2-3 days of filming in the D.C.-metro area.

For more information, visit here:

So the fourth season of Top Chef Chicago just had their second episode last week and the second season of Take Home Chef is now re-running their episodes.

I figure I can now talk about these two new seasons, right?  Plus, I want to find out what do you think about them. 

First, Top Chef:

  • Thankfully, they didn’t change much about the show — it’s still tough with great challenges and judges!
  • I was surprised, as I’m sure you were as well, that they allowed a couple on the show…I wonder how that’s going to play out in this season!  Add a little drama I’m sure.
  • So far, I agree with the people they’ve kicked off.
  • Yay to more female chefs! 
  • Who do you not like? 
  • And who do you think will be some of the last chefs standing?  I’m thinking Dale, Mark, and Antonio.   

Now, Take Home Chef:

  • I used to love this show — it was fun to see people surprised in the grocery store
  • I don’t like it anymore — it feels so set-up and fake now (boo!) 
  • Some good recipes though still and of course, Curtis Stone is still dreamy.
  • Perhaps he’s out grown this show and needs to get a new show…do you agree?  Disagree?

I continue to DVR food TV shows that aren’t on Food Network to see what else is out there.  I think there are some definite gems, but also some true duds.  Sometimes they’re such huge duds I don’t waste my time reviewing them.

But I digress. 

I recorded Totally Vegetarian on PBS and thought it was mildly entertaining.  I couldn’t help but think she was like Alton Brown but without all the props and guest speakers. 

The episode I watched, she was talking about one dish wonders — and her first vegetable was eggplant.  She explained about how to pick the “perfect” eggplant and then what the next steps are. 

While I’m still about 18 hours behind on my DVR, I’ll skip recording this show.  But I would check out some of her recipes because they do look pretty good.

Readers, I’m not going to lie.  I like reading the gossip columns.  There’s something entertaining about them — and at the very least, they are good conversation fillers.  Like me, you may find yourself sitting in an airport with a client for 6 hours and you’ve run out of non-controversial things to talk about.  Celebrities always provide that non-controversial fodder for your conversations (because really, who’s going to argue Brittany Spears deserves “Mother of the Year” Award?).

So I was reading Page Six and caught that we may have all been lied to about Rachael Ray’s syndicated TV show.  Apparently, it isn’t as popular as we were led to believe!

They’re saying her show may be ending in 2010 (when her contract expires) and Marie Osmond may take over as a talk show host.    

Oh well, Rachael still has her 30 Minute Meals (uhh note Page Six, it’s not 30 Minutes a Day), Rachael Ray’s Tasty Travels, and Every Day with Rachael to keep her busy.

**Update — Here’s Jossip’s take on the news (and they have comments from RR’s publicists!)**

I just saw a commercial for Top Chef Chicago — it’s coming back on Bravo on March 12th at 10 PM EST

For a list of the  contestants, visit here.  And if you like spoilers, visit here

Well, you knew Robert Irvine’s days were numbered when this story came out.  But Food Network just announced they “will not renew his contract.”  OK, so maybe it’s not a flat out firing, but it does mean it’s over for Irvine with Food Network.

If he was in politics, they would have said, “He decided to resign so he could spend more time with his family.” 

See, you just shouldn’t lie in your resume.  Not a good idea…

And according to this story, one of his last episodes will be him cooking Japanese food, a cuisine he knows nothing about, for the Pink Tie party, the kickoff fundraiser for the National Cherry Blossom Festival.

Yeah, again — I’m late to Everyday Food, but it’s pretty good.  According to their Web site, “The Everyday Food television show cast consists of five home-grown talents from the kitchens of Martha Stewart Living: Sarah Carey, Allie Lewis, Margot Olshan, Emma Feigenbaum, and Lucinda Scala Quinn.” 

Here’s what I like — it’s about ingredients you probably have in your fridge, none of the hosts are annoyingly perky, and the recipes are pretty healthy. 

Plus, check out the ridiculous number of recipes they posted on their Web site.  Nice, I like it. 

Right now, my DVR has only about 10 hours left so I’ll probably skip recording it.  But I will bookmark their Web site for their recipes!

I was catching up on my After Hours show and heard one of the best lines.  Of course, I can’t remember who said it (or what episode it was).

Anyway, the line was on the difference between chefs in the kitchen and pastry chefs.  The guy said, “Chefs have ADD while pasty chefs have OCD.” 

It makes sense to me…do you think it’s true? 

Now here’s a show right up my ally — a way to get a peak into an Embassy (and Ambassador’s residence) in DC and learn about a country’s culture and cuisine.

I caught the Australian one with grilled kangaroo.  Each episode also offers the recipes which is great (though I don’t know where in DC you’d find kangaroo). 

And — there’s even an Embassy Chefs series where you pay a nominal fee for a private group cooking demonstration with an Embassy chef.   

To check when it’ll be on next, click here.

**Update 2/29/08 — Irvine was fired from Food Network.  Read all about it here.**

I like Food Network’s Dinner Impossible, I think Chef Robert Irvine is fun.  Plus, the premise of the show is entertaining.

But apparently, he’s not who he says he is — mainly he never really actually helped create Prince Charles and Princess Di’s wedding cake (among other things).  The St. Petersburg Times dug up this dirt on him because he’s opening up a new restaurant in their area and a lot of people are unhappy about his business actions.

Now in the age of the Internet, why would you think you could make up something like this?  What makes you think people wouldn’t find out? 

Hmm, not such a fan anymore…

Now this is a fun show on MojoHD.  The premise of the show is this — Chef Ralph Pagano is suddenly dropped into an unknown location in the world, then he’s told where he is and the set number of hours he has in that location.  In the amount of time he’s there, he has to make enough money so he can go home.  The “trick” is that he has to do crazy “off-the-cuff” cooking.   

If he doesn’t make the money, then he has a challenge.  In the episode I watched in Wyoming, if he didn’t succeed, he’d have to eat Rocky Mountain Oysters.

His show Web site offers recipes and some video highlights from the show.  He’s somewhat entertaining, but not in the Anthony Bourdain kind of way.  It’s more in the Food Network Mission Impossible kind of way.

The show is on Sundays at 9:30 PM EST.

If you’re like me, you want to eat healthy but hate that “healthy” taste.  Come on, you know what I’m talking about.   It’s the chalky, whole wheat flavor.  Yuck.

But, I caught Healthy Decadence with Devin Alexander, which airs on Thursdays at 4 PM and 4:30 PM and may have just found a few new healthy recipes site.

The show I watched was on pizza and I have to say, her recipe looked pretty tasty.  She also has healthy recipes for mac & cheese, brownies, chicken Parmesan, hand-cut fries, and many more.

I’m definitely going to have to try to make her low-fat brownies and low-fat pizza sometime!  While she’s a decent host, I think I’ll skip adding her show to my DVR list, but I will bookmark her recipe page.

Wow, can you imagine this?  A TV channel asks you to go around the world and report on the culture’s drinking customs.  And they pay your travel, food, and drinks. 

Umm, nice.

Comedian Zane Lamprey is that guy whose show is Three Sheets on Wednesdays at 9 PM EST on MOJOHD.   

I caught his show in Costa Rica.  Now I’ve actually been to CR (more than nine years ago) and absolutely loved it.  It was amazing.  Now Lamprey went drinking through the country while I went eating mangos and drinking coffee.  So our experiences were a little different in CR.

But either way, he has a pretty entertaining show and you can learn a few things about a country’s drinking culture. 

I think I’ve found my new favorite food show.  It’s call After Hours with Daniel Boulud on MOJOHD.  Apparently, MOJO is a channel for men, but whatever because this is brilliant.  If you don’t get the channel, it’s available on Joost.

Here’s the premise — Chef Daniel Boulud goes behind the scenes of a popular restaurant, after the restaurant closes and cooks an amazing meal with the chef of that restaurant for a bunch of friends.

So in the episode I saw, he worked with Sang Yoon, the chef of Your Father’s Office and created an amazing multi-course meal for Gabrielle Reese, Peter Greenberg, Ronald Guttman, Sherry Yard, Michael McCarty, and Sal Marino

At one point in the conversation, Reese asks why there weren’t more women head chefs (you may remember this posting on that issue).  The chefs around the table say that there are and how it’s changed over the last 30 years.  Then Yard tells the story how when she was starting out at the Rainbow Room, she was asked slice apples every night using this slicer and standing on this glass stool thing.  She thought she was asked to slice because she was really good at it and was faster than the others.  She didn’t realize was that the guys *ahem* asked her to do because of the view.  They continued to say that women just don’t want to put up with the crap so they choose to get out of the business.

I really like this show because it’s a great way to hear more stories like this about chefs and their experiences.  You don’t get any recipe tips (and their Web site doesn’t offer any either), but the conversation is a lot of fun.   

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