Thursday, April 29, 2010

The One Where I Get Deep About a TV Network

I found this article yesterday from the New York Times on Scripps Networks' newest venture- the Cooking Channel- and thought I would share.

Personally, I am very excited. My love for Food Network is fairly obvious around here and I am excited to have another source to feed my addiction. I've known this was coming for awhile- I attended a marketing seminar back in December on the state of the cable industry in which the Senior Vice President of Sales for The Food Network was a speaker. Naturally, I went to hunt her down resume in-hand speak with her after the presentation. During our conversation she told me that the Cooking Channel was being created to go back to the roots that I can only assume FN started with.

I read a lot of food blogs and it seems like there are quite a few people out there that enjoy voicing their negative opinions on what Food Network has become. I'm all for everyone expressing their opinion, but I personally don't get this. I will agree that, at times, the food takes a backseat to the entertainment, but without the entertainment aspect of it, it's highly doubtful that FN would have ever come close to the success they have today. I strongly believe that whether you hate FN or love it, you must admit that they are a significant part of what brought the culinary world to a whole different level. Never has there been this much focus on food in mainstream media. Which in turn, drastically effects our everyday lives.

Food in mainstream media increases our exposure. We see ingredients that we wouldn't otherwise, we see techniques that we wouldn't otherwise, and it takes the intimidation factor out of cooking. Exposure drives curiosity which drives experimentation. You can talk to any person a few generations older and they will tell you that the selection you see in grocery stores today is vastly different than it was 30 years ago. And yes, unfortunately the selection of processed crap* has grown probably twice as fast as the "good stuff", but you know what-- I'll take it if it means that I can find amazing cuts of meat, ginger root, and exotic peppers within walking distance of my house. The demand for these products is obviously coming from somewhere, and you can't deny the FN influence.

Not to mention the social impact of things like Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution. I can't comment on the specifics of this first-hand since I haven't watched it, but I have heard a lot about it. I applaud him for taking the initiative to try to do something about the childhood obesity epidemic. It truly frightens me to think that there are children that go to school every day with nothing but bags of chips and candy in their lunchboxes.

If there is one complaint I would have about the network, it would be the plethora of culinary smack-down type shows (I know that's probably surprising since, ya know, I tried out for one), but to me it's all about learning something that I didn't know before. I feel like I get a lot more out of watching renowned chefs show me how to make carefully selected recipes than I do watching someone frantically run around the kitchen trying to make something impressive out of garbanzo beans, mangos, cognac, and nutella-- in 15 minutes. Just not my thing. Classic FN has been, and continues to be, my culinary training wheels, and I sincerely appreciate that.

According to the NYT article, the Cooking Channel "is lining up low-key programs targeted at a hipper crowd interested in the grass roots of food culture". That I can definitely get on board with.

No kitchen stadiums, just real food.

May 31st can't come soon enough.

*Processed Crap technically includes these. But c'mon.... everyone needs a little dose of high fructose corn syrup in their diet, right? Right?!?

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