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Favorite cooking shows (lately)

Favorite cooking shows (lately)
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  • Post #211 - August 1st, 2022, 8:51 pm
    Post #211 - August 1st, 2022, 8:51 pm Post #211 - August 1st, 2022, 8:51 pm
    IMO, "The Bear" is a train wreck...too awful to look at but you keep sneaking peeks anyway.
    Sure, the star is eye candy for some...restaurant in transition, but no servers???....$6 Walmart can opener..?.so many other inaccurate details I have to wonder.
    Small pieces of bottom round lovingly braised in home size baking pans. Nobody informs the chef we're out of beef at shift's end? Scratch baked rolls in a small/ medium volume outlet? I have to wonder what planet the "technical advisors" are from???

    Veal bones used for gravy in a beef joint? BTW, a full 22 qt Cambro holds 44# liquid, so it's perched precariously on top of the shelving?

    Sorry, this show is make believe dreck.s
    If you aren't tasting, you aren't cooking.
  • Post #212 - August 2nd, 2022, 11:32 am
    Post #212 - August 2nd, 2022, 11:32 am Post #212 - August 2nd, 2022, 11:32 am
    Evil Ronnie wrote:IMO, "The Bear" is a train wreck...too awful to look at but you keep sneaking peeks anyway.
    Sure, the star is eye candy for some...restaurant in transition, but no servers???....$6 Walmart can opener..?.so many other inaccurate details I have to wonder.
    Small pieces of bottom round lovingly braised in home size baking pans. Nobody informs the chef we're out of beef at shift's end? Scratch baked rolls in a small/ medium volume outlet? I have to wonder what planet the "technical advisors" are from???

    Veal bones used for gravy in a beef joint? BTW, a full 22 qt Cambro holds 44# liquid, so it's perched precariously on top of the shelving?

    Sorry, this show is make believe dreck.s

    lol, it's fiction so for most viewers the details you mention are completely irrelevant. They watch for the drama, narrative, humor, etc and don't care or even know about cambros or whatever.

    There were many restaurant people involved in the show's inception and production. Half the episodes were produced by Matty Matheson (also plays Fak), the former executive chef at Parts & Labour, which was a pretty popular place in Toronto (not another planet) that closed in 2019. He still runs a few places in the Toronto area and also has a youtube channel with over a million followers. so, he's hardly a newcomer or outsider when it come to restaurants or entertainment.

    making fictional content means making choices that balance reality with entertainment. Seems unlikely that 'satisfy bitter old chefs' was on the checklist. If u want bare bones reality, maybe a documentary is more your speed. :wink:
  • Post #213 - August 2nd, 2022, 11:36 am
    Post #213 - August 2nd, 2022, 11:36 am Post #213 - August 2nd, 2022, 11:36 am
    Best new TV show I've seen all year and I watch a lot of TV. Character development, dialogue, flashbacks all work for me as well as a killer musical score. The live Wilco song "Spiders (Kidsmoke)" being played in the background during the stressful 2nd to last episode (someone get me a sharpie that works!) was a masterclass.
  • Post #214 - August 2nd, 2022, 6:32 pm
    Post #214 - August 2nd, 2022, 6:32 pm Post #214 - August 2nd, 2022, 6:32 pm
    HonestMan wrote:Best new TV show I've seen all year and I watch a lot of TV. Character development, dialogue, flashbacks all work for me as well as a killer musical score. The live Wilco song "Spiders (Kidsmoke)" being played in the background during the stressful 2nd to last episode (someone get me a sharpie that works!) was a masterclass.

    In general, their music cues were all impeccable. They also used Wilco's Impossible Germany which has one of the most haunting guitar solos out there, Andrew Bird's Sisyphus, and a very cool demo version of Sufjan Steven's Chicago. All they needed was some Big Black.
    https://www.thetealmango.com/entertainm ... -the-show/
    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang
  • Post #215 - August 2nd, 2022, 6:36 pm
    Post #215 - August 2nd, 2022, 6:36 pm Post #215 - August 2nd, 2022, 6:36 pm
    JoelF wrote:
    HonestMan wrote:Best new TV show I've seen all year and I watch a lot of TV. Character development, dialogue, flashbacks all work for me as well as a killer musical score. The live Wilco song "Spiders (Kidsmoke)" being played in the background during the stressful 2nd to last episode (someone get me a sharpie that works!) was a masterclass.

    In general, their music cues were all impeccable. They also used Wilco's Impossible Germany which has one of the most haunting guitar solos out there, Andrew Bird's Sisyphus, and a very cool demo version of Sufjan Steven's Chicago. All they needed was some Big Black.
    https://www.thetealmango.com/entertainm ... -the-show/

    Agreed on the music. Masterful and original choices that worked extremely well with the scenes in which they were used. That Impossible Germany sequence was especially on point.

    =R=
    Same planet, different world
  • Post #216 - August 4th, 2022, 9:09 pm
    Post #216 - August 4th, 2022, 9:09 pm Post #216 - August 4th, 2022, 9:09 pm
    munch wrote:
    Evil Ronnie wrote:IMO, "The Bear" is a train wreck...too awful to look at but you keep sneaking peeks anyway.
    Sure, the star is eye candy for some...restaurant in transition, but no servers???....$6 Walmart can opener..?.so many other inaccurate details I have to wonder.
    Small pieces of bottom round lovingly braised in home size baking pans. Nobody informs the chef we're out of beef at shift's end? Scratch baked rolls in a small/ medium volume outlet? I have to wonder what planet the "technical advisors" are from???

    Veal bones used for gravy in a beef joint? BTW, a full 22 qt Cambro holds 44# liquid, so it's perched precariously on top of the shelving?

    Sorry, this show is make believe dreck.s

    "lol, it's fiction so for most viewers the details you mention are completely irrelevant."

    I disagree with this statement. Not realistic! Who is bitter now? Completely irrelevant? Sez who?

    "They watch for the drama, narrative, humor, etc and don't care or even know about cambros or whatever."

    You mean like Lemmings?

    "There were many restaurant people involved in the show's inception and production. Half the episodes were produced by Matty Matheson (also plays Fak), the former executive chef at Parts & Labour, which was a pretty popular place in Toronto (not another planet) that closed in 2019. He still runs a few places in the Toronto area and also has a youtube channel with over a million followers. so, he's hardly a newcomer or outsider when it come to restaurants or entertainment."

    Should I be impressed? How many people exactly?

    ""making fictional content means making choices that balance reality with entertainment."

    Entertainment?

    "Seems unlikely that 'satisfy bitter old chefs' was on the checklist."

    Ouch! Who is bitter now?

    "If u want bare bones reality, maybe a documentary is more your speed. :wink:


    Rim shot...another zinger!!! Actually, I prefer good acting, casting, plot and and authenticity. More anger from the "expert."

    Sure, I'm bitter at times...but I refuse to be sucked into your weak tirade. Lose the kool aid! Yes, I'm 72...anything wrong with that? I enjoyed a 18 year career in 4&5 star hotels, followed by 22 years in the most exclusive private clubs in Chicago, Palm Beach and Dallas, which I'd do all over again if physically able to.
    If you aren't tasting, you aren't cooking.
  • Post #217 - August 5th, 2022, 9:07 am
    Post #217 - August 5th, 2022, 9:07 am Post #217 - August 5th, 2022, 9:07 am
    Evil Ronnie wrote:More anger from the "expert."

    omg, dude. You're the 'expert' lol. I'm just the one who took 2 minutes to look up some basic facts about the bear that you were too lazy to bother with before you posted your uninformed opinion. but why let the facts get in the way, right?
  • Post #218 - August 5th, 2022, 9:12 am
    Post #218 - August 5th, 2022, 9:12 am Post #218 - August 5th, 2022, 9:12 am
    AMF
    If you aren't tasting, you aren't cooking.
  • Post #219 - August 5th, 2022, 10:03 am
    Post #219 - August 5th, 2022, 10:03 am Post #219 - August 5th, 2022, 10:03 am
    Couple more favorable reviews of/takes on the 'The Bear' . . .

    @nytimes.com, Carina Chocano wrote:“The Bear” is compelling not because of how it recreates a kitchen but because it captures something about modern work in general.

    How ‘The Bear’ Captures the Panic of Modern Work

    Also . . .

    @newyorker.com, Helen Rosner wrote:The excellent new FX show “The Bear” takes place in a type of restaurant that only exists in Chicago. Not quite a diner, not quite a deli, not quite a fast-food joint, it is a storefront establishment with big plate-glass windows, grubby in a reassuring way, with illuminated signs that advertise Italian beef or gyros. The color scheme is brown and beige; the diverse, largely blue-collar clientele who line up for lunch every day are a glad-handing politician’s dream; the menus rarely stray from short-order classics and local specialties. I can summon in an instant the sense memory of stepping inside the doors of Johnnie’s Beef or Al’s on Taylor, and the newborn-like heft of a warm, paper-wrapped beef sandwich. (I get mine “sweet and hot, dipped”—both kinds of peppers, plus a full-sandwich dunk in the beefy broth in which the meat has braised for hours.) There’s a smell these restaurants share that’s found in no other place on earth: a layered, rough, masculine perfume of meat and garlic and fryer oil and Formica laminate and sweet, yeasty bread. It’s the aroma that would be pumped into a Smell-O-Vision showing of “The Bear,” which is about a decorated fine-dining chef who returns to Chicago to take over his family’s Italian-beef shop, and to try to save it from disaster.

    @newyorker.com, Helen Rosner wrote:“The Bear” has rightly been praised for its uncannily realistic depiction of restaurant life. Kitchen work has rarely been portrayed this convincingly onscreen. The creator of “The Bear,” Christopher Storer, is best known for his documentaries, including the 2013 film “Sense of Urgency,” about the illustrious chef Thomas Keller, and it’s clear that he knows how to capture the way restaurants really work. Little touches help the Beef’s back-of-house rhythms ring true: cooks drinking ice water out of quart containers, a general shortage of working Sharpies, the walk-in fridge used as a place of solitude and recovery, the back office cluttered with bottles of Fernet and Pepto-Bismol, Carmy’s insistence that the green painter’s tape used to label bins and containers always have sharp, scissor-cut edges, never raggedly torn ones. The show was shot in an actual Italian-beef restaurant in Chicago, so the space, and the way that people move around and against one another, feels genuinely functional and claustrophobic. There are a few false notes, by my judgment — can giardiniera, a pickled mix of vegetables, really be whipped up à la minute? Can an Italian-beef joint a few hundred grand in the hole really justify a full-time dedicated pastry cook?—but the over-all impression feels strikingly true to life.

    “The Bear” Is a Gritty Fairy Tale of Cooking and Grief

    =R=
    Same planet, different world
  • Post #220 - August 5th, 2022, 10:33 am
    Post #220 - August 5th, 2022, 10:33 am Post #220 - August 5th, 2022, 10:33 am
    I'll just say that I loved "The Bear". The joy was in the acting, the characters, and storylines. I don't get hung up on compromises or departures from reality in the service of show.
  • Post #221 - August 5th, 2022, 12:13 pm
    Post #221 - August 5th, 2022, 12:13 pm Post #221 - August 5th, 2022, 12:13 pm
    Two things.

    One: I have not seen The Bear, I pay Xfinity a ridiculous amount of money every month and refuse to be held hostage for an additional premium channel just to see The Bear.

    Two: I am working in a restaurant as I type this. A restaurant is not a TV show and, conversely, a TV show is not a restaurant.

    Fiction. Fiction. Fiction. If one enjoys The Bear, god bless. I hope to see it one of these days.
    Hold my beer . . .

    Low & Slow
  • Post #222 - August 5th, 2022, 12:31 pm
    Post #222 - August 5th, 2022, 12:31 pm Post #222 - August 5th, 2022, 12:31 pm
    Just a gentle reminder that this thread was about cooking shows until someone poked the bear. Hope we can get back to the original topic eventually.
    "Your swimming suit matches your eyes, you hold your nose before diving, loving you has made me bananas!"
  • Post #223 - August 5th, 2022, 12:49 pm
    Post #223 - August 5th, 2022, 12:49 pm Post #223 - August 5th, 2022, 12:49 pm
    There’s quite a bit of cooking in The Bear. Feel free to post about any thing else you’d like, of course.
  • Post #224 - August 5th, 2022, 12:51 pm
    Post #224 - August 5th, 2022, 12:51 pm Post #224 - August 5th, 2022, 12:51 pm
    Right now I'm watching Chris Kimball on Milk Street demonstrate an entire dish (bucatini w fresh cherry tomato sauce and fresh sage) done in a multicooker (Instant Pot). This is the first time I've seen a tv show demonstrate a recipe using an IP, something for which I think there must be high viewer demand. Have to give Milk Street credit for getting ahead of the curve on that.
    "Your swimming suit matches your eyes, you hold your nose before diving, loving you has made me bananas!"
  • Post #225 - August 5th, 2022, 1:06 pm
    Post #225 - August 5th, 2022, 1:06 pm Post #225 - August 5th, 2022, 1:06 pm
    I agree, Darren. I guess what I meant is that the thread previously addressed conventional instructional-type cooking shows (and a little reality TV cooking like A Chef's Life and travelogue like Somebody Feed Phil). Food-centric fictional movies and TV shows such as, say, Midnight Diner, and The Bear, are usually discussed in their own threads. NOT (nobody jump on me about this, please) that I'm trying to police what people post here or anywhere. It was, as I said, just a gentle reminder about what this thread was originally about.

    As an aside ... there's a saying about relationships that in arguments, you start out arguing about something, and pretty soon, you're arguing about how you're arguing. I also suggested hopefully in the original post that this thread might be a bash-free zone for information exchange about cooking shows. I look forward to a return to that too.

    NOT, as I'll say again, that I aspire to police what people post here or anywhere. Just saying I personally quietly hope for a return to some positivity and tips on good cooking shows.
    "Your swimming suit matches your eyes, you hold your nose before diving, loving you has made me bananas!"
  • Post #226 - August 6th, 2022, 9:46 pm
    Post #226 - August 6th, 2022, 9:46 pm Post #226 - August 6th, 2022, 9:46 pm
    Not a regular cooking show but rather a feature of another show -- What's Eating Dan is associated with America's Test Kitchen -- but it's a the kind of combination of food history, food science, and just plain good food that I always enjoy. Here's an episode he just did on tomatoes, as it's peak tomato season right now. Definitely inspiration to at least buy some tomatoes, and some fun ideas for cooking -- especially for folks who grow their own and have far too many. https://youtu.be/I0kr15DYHNU
    "All great change in America begins at the dinner table." Ronald Reagan

    http://midwestmaize.wordpress.com
  • Post #227 - August 8th, 2022, 10:49 pm
    Post #227 - August 8th, 2022, 10:49 pm Post #227 - August 8th, 2022, 10:49 pm
    With apologies to Katie, I'm fascinated by the continuous flow of interesting, informed and informative writing that The Bear has inspired. I thought this guest opinion essay at nytimes.com, written by Saru Jayaraman -- a woman who's spent a few decades in and around the industry -- was particularly interesting . . . (Warning: possible spoilers)
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    at nytimes.com, Saru Jayaraman wrote:There’s so much in “The Bear” that’s relatable for anyone who has worked in restaurants: small details like the plastic quart tub that Carmy drinks water from; banter with co-workers on smoke breaks; comparing scars from accidents and burns. The show also accurately depicts the relentless pressure that drives some restaurant workers to addiction or injury; the screaming, harassment, toxic masculinity and overwork that they often endure for very little pay; and the pride in their work that brings them back day after day.

    After 20 years of organizing restaurant workers to demand higher wages and more equitable working conditions, I watched “The Bear” with some trepidation: It focuses on the struggles of the young white male chef, with only glimpses into the lives of the workers of color in the restaurant. Even so, I found the show to be a strikingly accurate depiction of the joys, challenges and inequities of restaurant life.

    Hulu’s ‘The Bear’ and the Restaurant Industry’s Long Overdue Reckoning

    =R=
    Same planet, different world
  • Post #228 - August 10th, 2022, 11:04 am
    Post #228 - August 10th, 2022, 11:04 am Post #228 - August 10th, 2022, 11:04 am
    This The Bear tangent made me smile . . .

    Demand for Italian Beef Is Booming. Thank ‘The Bear.’

    at nytimes.com, Rachel Sherman wrote:Last month, Dan Michaels, an owner of Gino’s East of Chicago in Los Angeles, watched as orders for Italian beef — the classic Chicago sandwich of thinly sliced roast beef and tangy giardiniera piled on a roll — suddenly soared to 300 a day, from 150 a day in June.

    “The Bear” had struck again.

    The cross-talking, anxiety-inducing series from FX about a struggling Chicago beef sandwich shop and its harried kitchen brigade has drawn acclaim from food media and restaurant veterans, propelled a slew of “Yes, Chef!” memes gushing over the lead actor, Jeremy Allen White, and energized a collective lust for sweaty line cooks.

    The show has also spurred instant demand for the delectably sloppy Italian beef sandwiches at the center of the plot’s chaos. Search interest on Google, according to Google Trends, nearly doubled after the show was released on Hulu on June 23, and Chicago-style restaurants across the country are feeling the effects in person.

    =R=
    Same planet, different world
  • Post #229 - August 15th, 2022, 12:56 pm
    Post #229 - August 15th, 2022, 12:56 pm Post #229 - August 15th, 2022, 12:56 pm
    The surprisingly good "Street Food" series is back for a third series on Netflix. They're focusing on the US this time (bypassing Chicago). Haven't watched yet but Asia and South America were both really well done.
  • Post #230 - August 15th, 2022, 4:59 pm
    Post #230 - August 15th, 2022, 4:59 pm Post #230 - August 15th, 2022, 4:59 pm
    Has anybody else been watching the Great American Recipe on PBS? It was an eight part cooking competition with home chefs. They had the finale this weekend, and there were three finalists competing. The person that won it got congratulated by the other two finalists, and one of the finalists said that he thought she had a chance of winning it, because she put love into all of her recipes. It was so refreshing to see a cooking show where the contestants were hospitable to one another, and hugged somebody when they got eliminated. The judges were super too. They just came out with a cookbook from the show. Hope this helps, Nancy
  • Post #231 - August 16th, 2022, 6:50 am
    Post #231 - August 16th, 2022, 6:50 am Post #231 - August 16th, 2022, 6:50 am
    spinynorman99 wrote:The surprisingly good "Street Food" series is back for a third series on Netflix. They're focusing on the US this time (bypassing Chicago). Haven't watched yet but Asia and South America were both really well done.


    Watched the LA episode. It was a little thin on food content but had a human interest thread running through the episode about a family's struggle and ultimate success in their taco stand business. Very well done but I would have preferred more food porn.
  • Post #232 - August 16th, 2022, 6:53 am
    Post #232 - August 16th, 2022, 6:53 am Post #232 - August 16th, 2022, 6:53 am
    ok late to this party but i was really wowed by the creativity of chef Sohla in this episode; maybe you will be too! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4zDZV-jGJ6w
  • Post #233 - August 16th, 2022, 8:07 am
    Post #233 - August 16th, 2022, 8:07 am Post #233 - August 16th, 2022, 8:07 am
    NFriday wrote:Has anybody else been watching the Great American Recipe on PBS? It was an eight part cooking competition with home chefs. They had the finale this weekend, and there were three finalists competing. The person that won it got congratulated by the other two finalists, and one of the finalists said that he thought she had a chance of winning it, because she put love into all of her recipes. It was so refreshing to see a cooking show where the contestants were hospitable to one another, and hugged somebody when they got eliminated. The judges were super too. They just came out with a cookbook from the show. Hope this helps, Nancy

    I really liked the family-and-friends-centric themes to the different cooks.

    One of my favorite episodes was when these cooks cooked another contestant's recipe. Sylvia, who primarily cooked Mexican food, was given Cacio e Pepe from a cook who pretty much made Italian food exclusively. Sylvia never knew of or tasted Cacio e Pepe, so while it was well executed technically she held back on the pepper.

    This episode inspired a lunch of Cacio e Pepe at my home. I never made before and knew not to hold back on the pepper.

    I appreciated that every person who competed was a solid cook. I recall the first American version of the Great American Bake-Off, there were people whose baking skills were not up to par. Diversity for diversity's sake makes no sense when they do not really know how to cook or bake.

    Since I spend some time chasing down family heirloom recipes, this program was right up my alley.

    What was the prize for all this? I saw the large wood recipe box, but really was not sure if it was nothing more symbollic than that.

    Regards,
    CAthy2
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #234 - August 16th, 2022, 3:49 pm
    Post #234 - August 16th, 2022, 3:49 pm Post #234 - August 16th, 2022, 3:49 pm
    The Great American Recipe is coming back for season 2. They are going to start filming this fall, but the show is going to start airing next summer. They are bringing back the same judgers and host. The show reminded me of the Great British Baking show, because all the contestants were excellent cooks, but they all got along with the rest of the contestants, and all the judges were civil to the contestants. It was not like one of Gordon Ramsey's shows, where he is screaming all the time.

    I wonder myself what the winner actually wins. I just looked at the bios of the competitors, and none of them are professionally trained, but one of the contestants has a meal delivery service, and another contestant bottles his own sauce and rubs, which he then sells. The show is filmed somewhere in Virginia. I assume they film episodes a day or two apart, since it would not be practical for everyone to go home and come back in a week to film again like they do in the Great British Making Show.

    I heard that America's Test Kitchen is also coming out with a cooking competition show too, but I don't know what channel it will be on. It sounds like it will be comprised of amateur cooks too. Hope this helps, Nancy
  • Post #235 - August 16th, 2022, 10:57 pm
    Post #235 - August 16th, 2022, 10:57 pm Post #235 - August 16th, 2022, 10:57 pm
    I just found out that ATK's new cooking competition is going to be on freevee which is part of Amazon. I do not know if you have to be a Prime member to see it or not. I think it is going to be shown sometime next winter.
  • Post #236 - August 17th, 2022, 7:09 am
    Post #236 - August 17th, 2022, 7:09 am Post #236 - August 17th, 2022, 7:09 am
    NFriday wrote:I just found out that ATK's new cooking competition is going to be on freevee which is part of Amazon. I do not know if you have to be a Prime member to see it or not. I think it is going to be shown sometime next winter.

    Freevee is, I think, free to all. It has ads, but not egregiously so.
    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang
  • Post #237 - August 17th, 2022, 7:54 am
    Post #237 - August 17th, 2022, 7:54 am Post #237 - August 17th, 2022, 7:54 am
    JoelF wrote:
    NFriday wrote:I just found out that ATK's new cooking competition is going to be on freevee which is part of Amazon. I do not know if you have to be a Prime member to see it or not. I think it is going to be shown sometime next winter.

    Freevee is, I think, free to all. It has ads, but not egregiously so.

    Freevee is a rebranding of IMdB channel and yes it is free.

    This channel also features the new Judge Judy show now called Judy Justice. In addition to a deputy, there is a court recorder and Judy's granddaughter as her law clerk. You may find it interesting.

    Regards,
    Cathy2
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #238 - August 17th, 2022, 1:54 pm
    Post #238 - August 17th, 2022, 1:54 pm Post #238 - August 17th, 2022, 1:54 pm
    My newest favorite is James May: Oh Cook! on Amazon Prime. Just one season (so far; don't know if more are coming). The cooking is basic but well done and very entertaining, thanks to his quick wit and erudition. Pantry elf/home economist Nicki provides good coaching, and the two get along well. If you like James May (of Top Gear fame) as much as I do, you'll also want to find him on Amazon Prime in James May: Our Man in Japan and James May: Our Man in Italy. Those are both food/travel shows.
    "Your swimming suit matches your eyes, you hold your nose before diving, loving you has made me bananas!"
  • Post #239 - August 22nd, 2022, 9:53 pm
    Post #239 - August 22nd, 2022, 9:53 pm Post #239 - August 22nd, 2022, 9:53 pm
    Hi,

    Just finished watching the Junior Baking Show on Netflix. The two kids I thought would be toe-to-toe early on were terrific. One had to win, though both understood it could have been the other, too.

    Most annoying person is this comedian Harry, who just was a beastly fly buzzing around. Just as the kids were at a height of their efforts, he would show up to zap their energy. A few kids simply smiled and kept working.

    I hope they show us more of the earlier competitions.

    Regards,
    Cathy2
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #240 - August 25th, 2022, 12:31 am
    Post #240 - August 25th, 2022, 12:31 am Post #240 - August 25th, 2022, 12:31 am
    Regarding The Great American Recipe, I think there's a whole lot to dislike about the show. Overall, it's kind of awful. But I'm a completionist, so in spite of myself, this didn't prevent me from watching the entire first season via the PBS app over the past week.

    Wow. The show really could have just as easily been called The Great American Recipe That Can Be Cooked With A Pressure Cooker. Far too often, because of the seemingly unnecessary, arbitrary time constraints for each challenge -- usually just 60 or 90 minutes -- contestants had to abridge the range of dishes they could prepare. The exceptions came, almost always, via the use of instant pots.

    There's nothing wrong with that -- many of us use our ip's regularly -- but here, it led to some less-than-"Great" preparations (bbq ribs in the ip?!) and a dull sameness across many of the dishes and preparations. And it made it clear, repeatedly, that the cooks were making Plan B versions of their dishes. That's a silly, self-defeating choice by the producers.

    The unfortunate sameness was exacerbated by the repetitive themes of the challenges. There was a ton of overlap, which did not help the contestants distinguish themselves or their dishes. So overall, I didn't think the show did a very good job of allowing these talented home cooks to show their ranges. That was a huge missed bet and a serious flaw in the structure of the show.

    On the 'talent' side, the show under-delivered, as well. While she seemed nice enough, the host was a bland, smarmy, one-note talking head who seemed completely devoid of any actual personality. A little more genuineness would have gone a long way here. Her schtick made it seem like she could have been hosting any season of any reality show. She was just a context-ignoring cheerleader stuffed into a big nothing burger.

    As for the judges, Graham Elliot came off as the most constructive and knowledgeable of the group, providing comments and feedback that were usually insightful and only occasionally seemed unnecessary or 'chef-splainy.' On the other end of that range was Leah Cohen who, given her accomplishments, came off as remarkably insecure. She seemed absolutely incapable of not telling the contestants how she would prepare a given dish. Her repeated impulse to do this was only made worse via her apparent rewarding of contestants (and dishes) that heeded her guidance. In more than one instance, contestants altered their dishes per her 'suggestions' and then seemed to be rewarded during judging for having done so. And in a very odd moment during the judging in the final episode -- one that seemed to remove any doubt about the randomness of such moments -- Ms. Cohen managed to make her assessment of a contestant's dish all about her (I'd be more specific but I don't want to spoil anything for those who haven't watched). Maybe she should have traded in her microphone for an apron and joined the contestants?

    Yes, there were some equipment failures/shortcomings that seem to be part of every cooking competition but WTF was up with those food processors? They failed so frequently, it was actually a thing. When I first saw them, I thought that with their hinged lids, they looked like low-end garbage and apparently, they were. Anyone know what brand they were? I'd love to know, just so I can be sure to avoid them (or ever recommending them) in the future.

    And yet, for all its flaws, in the end, it's hard to argue that the cooks who made it to the final weren't the best of the lot or that the winner wasn't deserving. For me, the fact that the show under-showcased its participants didn't diminish the result at all. These were some talented folks, cooking in a seriously challenging environment. Their sheer, unbridled sense of accomplishment was well earned and in spite of some bizarre editorial choices, the undisputed bright spot of the show.

    =R=
    Same planet, different world

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