A Showdown!

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Can I just tell you how much I love DVRs? You know, those big sleek boxes that sit on top of your television that record hours upon hours of television programming, allowing you to watch things you never really cared to watch before but hey, now you can? I've never watched as much television as I have in the past 2 years, thanks to my little slice of technological heaven.

Having my Digital Video Recorder (yes, like everyone else I seem to refer to it as "TIVO" even though Tivo is a brand but I'll leave the marketing lessons to my brilliant friend Olivier) has let me finally reacquaint myself with the Food Network and every investigative reporting-style show ever broadcast. But that's not always a good thing. I've come to the conclusion that with the exception of Alton Brown the Food Network exists to create and exercise their use of puns. It's food programming taken down to its lowest common denominator, blanched out and pan fried till it's salty, crispy and unidentifiable. All the history, difficulty and mental nutritional value has been removed. To think there's a "Food Network" that doesn't travel the globe, interview the movers and shakers of the food world nor show where food comes from is beyond frustrating to me. I honestly believe they can do better. Sure, they've showed me how twinkies get their injection of frosting and where red vines and m&ms come from, but please people, give me a break. I want some real food, damnit.

(Did I wake up on the wrong side of the bed or something? Geez, Matt!)

I've accepted the fact that I should not expect too much from food television programming now. I've seen a few episodes of Bravo's Top Chef and probably won't be watching it again. Food and Reality don't seem to mix too well in my book, and that's ok. I mean, I want it to work, I really do. It's just sometimes it's a bit lackluster.

However, I must say I am looking forward to NBC's Celebrity Cooking Showdown. Finally, a show that won't pretend to be anything else but what it is: a showdown. God I love that word. Showdown. But here's the premise: celebrities will be paired with famous chefs, have a culinary "boot camp", then prepare a meal under strenuous conditions. How can you not love that? Besides, the show stars Govind Armstrong of LA's Table 8, one of my favorite places in town. And he's one hell of a great guy. What's more, according to my secret source at NBC, the competition heats up and one celebrity ends up needing stitches! INJURY! BLOOD! SHOWDOWN! There are a few other tidbits I'd love to reveal right now, but this is a food blog, not a gossip blog. Some times are better left unsaid.

So needless to say I might just actually skip my DVR and watch, real-time.

If I remember how to do that.

6 Responses to “A Showdown!”

  1. Anonymous Christiane 

    I'm hopelessly addicted to my DVR. I agree with you - it gives you an excuse to watch more crap tv than you ever wanted to.
    And now, I can barely watch a show in real time and make it through the commercials.
    It's a sickness.

  2. Anonymous melissamcgee 

    matt - thank you for sharing my undying love for alton brown! good eats is the only show i really ever watch on the food network anymore; something about knowing the scientific basis behind aged beef, i guess. i love knowing the wherefor and why of things, and i also love food. alton brown puts the two of them together beautifully.

    i love alton brown! and i'm looking forward to showdown!

  3. Anonymous John 

    Thou shalt not watch "Unwrapped" or anything of that sort on the Food Network. Just long advertisements for crap that you wouldn't eat anyway. I seriously don't understand why they keep it running, unless Scripps is being paid. The Food Network can produce decent cooking shows, so "Unwrapped" and "The Secret Life of ....." are just ridiculous filler.

    Alton Brown, George Duran, Dave Lieberman, Tyler Florence... all cute and fun. And even Bobby Flay is starting to grow on me.

    I so wish I could get my favorite British cooking shows (UKTV Food) here. I became addicted while visiting a friend in London. Far better than most of what we get to see here, although I have a weakness for British food anyway. Plus the queen (Reza) who specializes in Indian food is a riot.

  4. Anonymous olivier 

    TFN could definitely use more investigative reports dealing with the dynamics of growing, shipping and supplying food to various parts of the world to news about the food industry), but I guess that advertisers go where the viewers go, and if the vast majority of viewers go for the vanilla stuff, execs who don't have a genuine vision for their network and its future won't venture too far beyond what advertisers ask for.

    My ideas for cool shows that nobody would watch:

    - Feeding The World: How the hell do we manage to feed 6+ billion people? (seriously, where does our food come from, how does it get to our shelves, and why is it that so many people starve to death every year?)
    - Food News: News about... food
    - Historic Dishes: Where dishes come from - Like Cassoulet's origins during the Siege of Carcassonne, for example, or George Washington's favorite salad. It might sound stupid, but I'd watch it. What was Louis XVI's last meal? Or Stalin's favorite dessert? Where was the first pie baked, and what was in it? (I know you think I'm joking.)


    - Le Guide Michelin USA: Let's bring the Guide over to the US and follow a crew of obnoxious critics as they visit restaurants across the country to give them the big thumbs-down.
    - Or how about this: "Fresh" - We could follow the adventures of a guy whose job it is to travel the world to track down the freshest and best ingredients or pastry recipes for some A-list restaurants.

  5. Anonymous David Schloss 

    Totally love AB on Food Network. I also watch Molto Mario, a three-or-four season (I forget now) cooking show where the overly massive Batalli prepares simple stuff while waxing poetic on Italy.

    Having eaten at most of his restaurants, I'm always thrilled by his simple, simple preparations of good food. He's a big redheaded goof, and I love that.

    All else on Food Network sucks.

    Here's a nice TiVo/DVR tip for those not too into recording shows that air on a network multiple times a day. Set the season pass to keep at most 3 or 4 episodes. i can't watch more than 2 cooking shows at a time, for example, I'm too inspired to go cook. So I keep 3 episodes of Molto Mario and 3 of Good Eats. I always have a batch without my TiVo going nuts keeping 100 reruns.

    I've also grown addicted to Top Chef on Bravo, which I rave about here. http://davidjschloss.typepad.com/add/2006/03/pack_your_knive.html

    I truly root for some of the contestants, and want to beat the shit out of others. Watch it, you'll see which ones.

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About me

  • I'm Matt Armendariz
  • From Los Angeles, California
  • A man with a passion for good food and a wonderful life with a dash of irreverence. Read at your own risk. Advertising director by day, wino by night. All photos on this site by Matt Armendariz.
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