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View Full Version : BAM! Kick it up a notch! (Let's Talk Food Personalities!)


Gwrrrk
03-05-2010, 08:44 AM
I've noticed a few different name drops of different celebrity chefs, food authors, and general personalities and decided to create a thread to discuss them!

Personally I'm a fan of Anthony Bourdain's books:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v87/Spencish/Bourdain.jpg

I find his T.V. show pretty cheesy sometimes. His writing is honest and enjoyable (He's a pretty hard ass chef from New York!). However his television show "No Reservations" tends to beef up his machismo levels while he adds what I think are some unnecessary commentary (the show I watched when he visited Sweden he wouldn't shut up about Abba).

It's funny now that I look at this picture he kind of looks like a foodie David Bowie.

Anyways, please talk about more of these kinds of people!

TheSL
03-05-2010, 08:49 AM
You know who's the worst "food personality"? Bobby Flay. What a dick.

Kirin
03-05-2010, 08:50 AM
It's true.

Also, Alton Brown is the best.

Dampe
03-05-2010, 08:51 AM
TheSL beat me to it.

NevznachaY
03-05-2010, 08:52 AM
I was planning to start a thread just like that! I'm slow.

The UK Tyrants will probably laugh at me, then eat me, then laugh at me while digesting my remains, but I still think that Jamie Oliver's amazing.

You know who's really fascinating though? Heston Blumenthal. I honestly think that, one of these days, I'm gonna start doing food chemistry.

EDIT: also, this thread should be called "Bang! Kick it up a notch!"

Gwrrrk
03-05-2010, 08:55 AM
You know who's the worst "food personality"? Bobby Flay. What a dick.

Agreed!

I like Alton Brown on his own show.

also, this thread should be called "Bang! Kick it up a notch!"

YEAH OKAY

Dadgum Roi
03-05-2010, 09:02 AM
I find his T.V. show pretty cheesy sometimes. His writing is honest and enjoyable (He's a pretty hard ass chef from New York!). However his television show "No Reservations" tends to beef up his machismo levels while he adds what I think are some unnecessary commentary (the show I watched when he visited Sweden he wouldn't shut up about Abba).

The quality of No Reservations varies wildly. The shows where Bourdain isn't personally having fun tend to be pretty bad- the Scandinavian ones, South Carolina spring to mind. Pretty much anything in Asia is great. Spain and Sardinia were both really great.

Pseudonym
03-05-2010, 09:15 AM
You know who's the worst "food personality"? Bobby Flay. What a dick.

It's true.

Also, Alton Brown is the best.

I like to watch Good Eats from the On Demand menu on my cable when I have time to kill. But sometimes it won't dish it up, so I resort to Iron Chef America because some Alton Brown is better than none. It leaves me conflicted. I love Alton Brown, but Bobby Flay is a dick! But then I get all distracted by the American counterpart of Chairman Kaga being so damn bland. Come on man! Bite a pepper! Ride a damn horse around the kitchen! That's how a chairman should act!

Ethan
03-05-2010, 09:18 AM
I love Mark Bittman, Anthony Bourdain, and Mario Batali. Alton Brown is okay as well. I also like the America's Test Kitchen crew, mostly because it's fun to pretend that their production is fraught with paralyzing sexual tension between all participants. And Julia Child is, of course, immortally awesome.

I used to devote a lot of thought to how much I disliked various lame cooking TV personalities, but then I stopped having cable and those people just no longer come to mind. I don't even know what Rachel Ray looks like.

TheSL
03-05-2010, 09:20 AM
I still can't believe they even let Bobby Flay be an Iron Chef America after he disgraced himself by standing on his cutting boards and yelling like a jackass (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CLPbNjBYZ64&feature=related) before they'd even done the judging.

Don't even get me started on "Throwdown!" which pretty much always boils down to "I'm Bobby Flay and you suck" regardless of whether he actually wins.

taidan
03-05-2010, 09:30 AM
My brother is an Alton Brown fanatic, and I've borrowed some of his cookbooks as a result (he gave me one for Christmas as well). I like the guy overall, but he can and will drive me bonkers at times. His approach to cooking involves science, which is nice, but his claims of simplicity don't always add up. Yeah, he might be proponent of using a few good tools in the kitchen, but everything else in the process can be long and involved in such a way that I don't have the time or resources for. I pick and choose, and that works well enough for now.

Dadgum Roi
03-05-2010, 09:34 AM
I still can't believe they even let Bobby Flay be an Iron Chef America after he disgraced himself by standing on his cutting boards and yelling like a jackass (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CLPbNjBYZ64&feature=related) before they'd even done the judging.

I always loved Morimoto's reaction to that, which was basically,

"Boruby Fulay stood on his cutting board! Outrageous! He should go and commit seppuku."


Don't even get me started on "Throwdown!" which pretty much always boils down to "I'm Bobby Flay and you suck" regardless of whether he actually wins.

Yeah, I fucking hate the premise of that show- "I'm going to come into your town and cook your local specialty better than you, cuz I'm so fucking awesome". Although I lolled when they came to Raleigh and challenged Ed Mitchell- Flay pussed out and they made it into a rib cook-off, even though Mitchell is famous for whole hog barbecue. Ribs are practically unheard of in NC barbecue restaurants.

Willm
03-05-2010, 09:59 AM
I'm in 100% agreement that Alton Brown is amazing and Bobby Flay is a complete asshat. Not to mention the fact that Alton's recipes have made me look amazing when I cook for dates. Hell, just a month ago I made his pork wellington for a date, and it went really well.

As for other personalities...

http://i115.photobucket.com/albums/n309/coloneltomato/andrew_zimmern1251835401.jpg

I really like Andrew Zimmern. Bizarre Foods is one of my favorites on television, and I love how he describes some of the more interesting foods. "Phenomenally disgusting" being my personal favorite.

Ethan
03-05-2010, 10:15 AM
Oh god... I like the premise of Bizarre Foods but I hate Andrew Zimmern so much. He is the quintessential Ugly American, going to faraway places and literally yelling at the top of his lungs about how this food is "SO GROSS, OH MY GOD! OHHHH WOW, LOOK AT THAT! I CAN'T BELIEVE I'M GOING TO EAT THAT! OH, YUM, THAT IS SO GOOD! OH! CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT WHILE WE THINK THIS IS DISGUSTING, THESE PEOPLE EAT THIS EVERY DAY? OH, WOW, I LOVE IT." Such an unbelievable loudmouth tourist. He's the anti-Bourdain.

Garrison
03-05-2010, 10:20 AM
Is it a problem if I really like both Zimmern and Bourdain? I don't think I really need a reason to back up my love of Tony, but any time Zimmern goes hunting is just television gold to me. That dude doesn't seem like he fits in anywhere but is completely oblivious to it, and for that I love him. Plus I like how open minded he is about food, he's like the polar opposite of me and I can't help but feel a little jealous.

Ethan
03-05-2010, 10:30 AM
Isn't it the exact opposite of open-mindedness to call your show "bizarre foods" and make blaringly loud comments about how the stuff brown people eat is weird? Yes, I know Zimmern always ends up enjoying the food in the end (which he also yells about), but it seems so insensitive to me – a distillation of what so many people in the world hate about whiteys from the suburbs going to [exotic locale] to experience "the real [exotic locale]". It's just straight-up obnoxious to go to someone else's land and talk about how parts of their day-to-day life are weird when they are sitting right in front of you.
Wow, I am apparently filled with rage.
(Bourdain also makes comments about odd things he eats, but only in quiet asides – he never disrespects the locals he's eating with, even when that takes immense effort.)

Gwrrrk
03-05-2010, 10:32 AM
Does the American version of the food channel get Martin Picard's show? or is that Canada only. I haven't seen too much of him but I think I like him.

Edit: Couldn't find it on foodnetwork.com! I guess it is too french!

Willm
03-05-2010, 11:03 AM
Wow, I am apparently filled with rage.

Yeah...you might want to calm down a bit.

As far as I've seen, Zimmern isn't at all like you've described. I don't think I've ever heard him yell/scream/whatever, and when he doesn't enjoy something (a rarity - even the foods he describes as odd he likes) he makes comments to the locals that, while it's too much for him, he understands that it's a delicacy in their own culture. He seems rather respectful and open to different things, honestly. I thought it was obvious the "Wow, this is really odd" descriptions is more for the benefit of his audience who may have no idea that something was even edible.

Dadgum Roi
03-05-2010, 11:16 AM
Oh god... I like the premise of Bizarre Foods but I hate Andrew Zimmern so much. He is the quintessential Ugly American, going to faraway places and literally yelling at the top of his lungs about how this food is "SO GROSS, OH MY GOD! OHHHH WOW, LOOK AT THAT! I CAN'T BELIEVE I'M GOING TO EAT THAT! OH, YUM, THAT IS SO GOOD! OH! CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT WHILE WE THINK THIS IS DISGUSTING, THESE PEOPLE EAT THIS EVERY DAY? OH, WOW, I LOVE IT." Such an unbelievable loudmouth tourist. He's the anti-Bourdain.

Yeah, pretty much. I can't stand him.

Willm
03-05-2010, 11:23 AM
Huh, I never realized people didn't like him until now. I always thought he was a fairly harmless guy, not some horrible, horrible person. Interesting!

Ethan
03-05-2010, 11:28 AM
I can understand seeing it that way, and I'm sure that's the rationale of the producers of the show, but... if it were me cooking that food, I'd feel marginalized when he talked about the strangeness of my cuisine, and then patronized when he started going on about how he loved it (and/or he understands that my culture loves it). Those feelings, combined with my knowledge that this guy and his network are getting way more mileage out of this than I am, would make me feel pretty crummy. In a situation like that, I just think it's much nicer for the person in the tourist role to lay low about it and behave as if he were a guest at my table and nothing more – regardless of the TV cameras. That's what Bourdain does, which makes me less uncomfortable and actually teaches me more about the cuisine.

Zimmern doesn't yell intentionally (I don't think), but his natural voice is absolutely booming in a way that worsens this grievance.

I can say one positive thing about him, though: he's not the guy from Man v. Food. That guy is even louder, and he's eating food that is abjectly uninteresting and dumpy. "I CAN'T BELIEVE I'M GOING TO EAT A FOUR-FOOT HOT DOG COVERED WITH TEN POUNDS OF CHEESE AND WRAPPED IN BACON WITH AN XXXL SIDE ORDER OF CHILI ONION RINGS! OH MY GOD, THIS IS SO AWESOME! ONLY IN [rust belt town in incredible economic duress]!"

http://i.usatoday.net/communitymanager/_photos/pop-candy/2009/08/03/manfoodx-large.jpg
The worst.

Mr. J
03-05-2010, 11:52 AM
The quality of No Reservations varies wildly. The shows where Bourdain isn't personally having fun tend to be pretty bad- the Scandinavian ones, South Carolina spring to mind. Pretty much anything in Asia is great. Spain and Sardinia were both really great.

That Spain episode was awesome, I want one of those eggs. His shows do very wildly, but its about the best food/travel show on T.V. right now so I'll live with it.

Alton Brown is amazing!

Dadgum Roi
03-05-2010, 12:05 PM
That Spain episode was awesome, I want one of those eggs.

My favorite part was Asador Extebarri- the place where the cook is an ex-forest ranger who cooks everything over hardwood coals, often using special utensils of his own design.

Dadgum Roi
03-05-2010, 12:07 PM
I can say one positive thing about him, though: he's not the guy from Man v. Food. That guy is even louder, and he's eating food that is abjectly uninteresting and dumpy. "I CAN'T BELIEVE I'M GOING TO EAT A FOUR-FOOT HOT DOG COVERED WITH TEN POUNDS OF CHEESE AND WRAPPED IN BACON WITH AN XXXL SIDE ORDER OF CHILI ONION RINGS! OH MY GOD, THIS IS SO AWESOME! ONLY IN [rust belt town in incredible economic duress]!"

The worst.

Man, you are dialed in today- I agree completely. I have to say though, I would really like to see a show that covers the US with the intelligence of No Reservations, but without its prejudices.

TheSL
03-05-2010, 12:13 PM
Man vs Food is a guilty pleasure of mine because so much of what he eats is totally ridiculous. Plus, the guy is from Jersey so he's got an excuse for being a bit loud and obnoxious.

Garrison
03-05-2010, 12:15 PM
Man vs Food guy is pretty much everything I don't like about people rolled up into one food destroying fiend.

Willm
03-05-2010, 12:20 PM
Yeah, the popularity of Man vs. Food among my friends confuses me deeply.

What we've learned today: Alton Brown is the only food personality out there that everyone can agree on. I'm okay with that.

Sven
03-05-2010, 12:21 PM
Yeah, I fucking hate the premise of that show- "I'm going to come into your town and cook your local specialty better than you, cuz I'm so fucking awesome". Although I lolled when they came to Raleigh and challenged Ed Mitchell- Flay pussed out and they made it into a rib cook-off, even though Mitchell is famous for whole hog barbecue. Ribs are practically unheard of in NC barbecue restaurants.

Bourdain has a theory - it's still up somewhere on Ruhlman's blog - that Throwdown was a way for Food Network to basically shut Flay up and get him to play nice in contract negotiations, because you could tell that even he hated that damn show. It's quite typical Food Network US - Iron Chef was a hit, so even after they'd made their own version they made thirty variants on the theme to water down the impact.

I've gotten off my utter hate of Flay now that he's stopped making identical menus every week on Iron Chef ("... so we tried something different and did a breakfast course..." YOU DO THAT EVERY SINGLE TIME!). He's now merely annoying.

Tom Collichio from Top Chef is one of my favourites, obviously. He's getting up there with UK Gordon Ramsay (a distinction made necessary by the horrible Fox shows, which I've been informed by his Canadian book agent that even Gordon fully knows how bad they make him look) and AB.

For Canadian chefs, Michael Smith is a good guy. Feenie annoys me, although I miss his show now that they've cancelled it.

The shows where Bourdain isn't personally having fun tend to be pretty bad- the Scandinavian ones,

Iceland is totally saved by the episode where they did a DVD commentary over top of it just RIPPING the show's awfulness.

This year's been very solid thus far, especially the scene in the Hudson Valley episode of Bourdain hawking expired condoms to CIA students.

Willm
03-05-2010, 12:32 PM
UK Gordon Ramsay (a distinction made necessary by the horrible Fox shows, which I've been informed by his Canadian book agent that even Gordon fully knows how bad they make him look) and AB.

I'll fully admit that I hated Gordon Ramsay until I watched his UK shows, and now he's one of my favorites. The difference is amazing.

Embarrassing admission: I've never actually watched No Reservations or anything with Anthony Bourdain. For whatever reason (maybe how smug he looks on the cover of the book in the OP) I always wrote him off. Anywhere I should start, or should I just dive in?

Sven
03-05-2010, 12:41 PM
Just dive in, there's not much in the way of running jokes that you have to worry about. Personal favourite episodes are Quebec (obvious reasons), the Decoding Ferran Adria special (for the HOLY FUCKBALLS factor of the whole thing, including the revelation of Adria's favourite restaurant), the Chicago episode from last year, and of course the legendary Iceland commentary episode. Singapore and several of the recent South American episodes are awesome from a food perspective. Panama, in particular, was great, since Tony got to burn something like sixty million dollars of cocaine in the middle of the episode.

The Paris one where he gets hopped up on Absinthe is also quite good.

I'd have to flip through my directory on the HD to recommend some more thoroughly. But even a bad episode - the legendarily awful Romania episode - can be very fun, because bitter Tony = funny Tony.


I'll fully admit that I hated Gordon Ramsay until I watched his UK shows, and now he's one of my favorites. The difference is amazing.

To this day, I don't know why he agreed to do the Fox version of Nightrmares. His BA was my best friend's wife's maid of honor, so I should just ask her the next time we're in the same room.

Apparently they air in much more normal form in the UK, but I don't think even Gordon doing voiceovers instead of the horrible Fox narrator can save the fundamentally bad structure of the shows.

Meanwhile, the latest season of the F Word was the best food show I've seen since the first time I saw Iron Chef.

Gwrrrk
03-05-2010, 12:59 PM
For Canadian chefs, Michael Smith is a good guy.

I like Michael Smith. Especially his approach to cooking, Chef at Home generally encourages people to explore different ingredients and flavours in home made food.

He's also fun to watch because he's literally a giant. On his traveling show where he went to japan it was hard not to giggle when he was walking through some Tokyo side streets among among all the other pedestrians.

Ethan
03-05-2010, 01:06 PM
What are some names of Gordon Ramsay shows from the UK? I watched a few episodes from the most recent season of Hell's Kitchen, and while it was doing all the same bogus things that every reality show does, I did think to myself that I want to see that guy in a situation where he's not playing an outlandish character, because he does seem to have a lot of experience.

That Singapore episode of No Reservations filled me with the deepest frustration possible. I want to be there so bad. Why can I not be there? Same deal with the Indonesia episode. So good.

I had a similar feeling watching Spain: On The Road Again, the PBS series where Mark Bittman, Mario Batali, Gwyneth Paltrow, and the mindbendingly gorgeous Spanish actress Claudia Bassols prance around the Spanish countryside in fine European cars and live the good life while eating insanely awesome food. Most people seem to hate that show, since it's basically about watching the elite bask in their elitism, but I'm into it. There are scenes where Bittman and Bassols are hanging out in a Mercedes, and I can't decide which of them I'd rather be.

Dadgum Roi
03-05-2010, 01:19 PM
This year's been very solid thus far, especially the scene in the Hudson Valley episode of Bourdain hawking expired condoms to CIA students.

It's been kind of hit or miss for me, and I've missed several of the more recent ones. I probably nitpicked the Ecuador show a little too much because I lived there, but I disliked the heavy focus on Zimmern-esque "bizarre" dishes like tronquito and fetus soup which you hardly ever actually see on a menu.

Sven
03-05-2010, 01:27 PM
What are some names of Gordon Ramsay shows from the UK?

The UK Kitchen Nightmares is the best food show ever produced - the American one, only with BRUTAL HONESTY instead of Fox's sappy happy endings. It's usually indexed as "Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares" online. It's also notable for having a really good soundtrack.

The F Word is... well, Top Gear, but with food. That's the only way I can put it quickly. It's a bit of a mix of a competition and food magazine show.

There's two nigh-legendary documentaries that are still up on YouTube, Boiling Point and Beyond Boiling Point (which is a bit more... gawkish... than the former, and a step down as a result), which were about Ramsay's setting up his first solo restaurant and constant pressure to get a third Michelin star. The same team did a really good episode of the business documentary series "Trouble at the Top."

There apparently was a UK version of Hell's Kitchen, but I heard it was even worse than the US version since it was a British celeb show. The US Hell's Kitchen wasn't that bad the first couple of years - one of the runners-up, Ralph Pagano, made a good accounting of himself on ICA - but since then Fox has insisted on basically putting functional retards into the kitchen and amusing themselves with the disasters that happen. I've heard many people theorise that it's a satire of reality shows now.

Ethan
03-05-2010, 01:36 PM
The best satire of a reality show would be a show called "I'm Not Here To Make Friends", in which every contestant is assigned a specific reality show archetype to imitate, and they get voted off if the others think they didn't live up to the archetype properly.

Sven
03-05-2010, 02:13 PM
The best satire of a reality show would be a show called "I'm Not Here To Make Friends", in which every contestant is assigned a specific reality show archetype to imitate, and they get voted off if the others think they didn't live up to the archetype properly.

Well, Superstar USA actually pulled it off, but that's another thread. Joe Schmo, too.

Ethan
03-05-2010, 02:25 PM
Yeah, I remember Joe Schmo. It was awesome how the entire show premise crumbled in the end when the "star" broke down weeping when he found out his new friends were actually actors paid to make a mockery of him. But yes, another thread.

Do we hate Emeril? I used to totally hate him, because of the silly junk food he makes and the way he panders to his audience of middle-American stay-at-home moms, but I've since heard (via Bourdain) that he's a super nice guy who actually paid his dues in the restaurant industry, which makes me not want to hate him so much.

Eirikr
03-05-2010, 03:03 PM
In my heart, there is only one.

http://media.giantbomb.com/uploads/3/31815/1291761-prudhomme.jpg

Dom DeLuise.

ArugulaZ
03-07-2010, 12:11 AM
Isn't it the exact opposite of open-mindedness to call your show "bizarre foods" and make blaringly loud comments about how the stuff brown people eat is weird? Yes, I know Zimmern always ends up enjoying the food in the end (which he also yells about), but it seems so insensitive to me – a distillation of what so many people in the world hate about whiteys from the suburbs going to [exotic locale] to experience "the real [exotic locale]". It's just straight-up obnoxious to go to someone else's land and talk about how parts of their day-to-day life are weird when they are sitting right in front of you.

I remember one episode, set in Africa, where Zimmern was going on about how awful his goat intestines on a stick were, right to the face of his native travel companion. I just imagined the guy shouting back, "Oh, is our meager daily sustenance just not good enough for you, Mr. High and Mighty White Man? Maybe we should bring you roast pheasant and fresh-picked grapes, served on the backs of our most beautiful women! And when you're done, maybe we can find the softest leaves from the forest to wipe your bottom clean when you have a bowel movement! Would that be to your SATISFACTION?!"

Instead, he just said "Can I have it?" and stuffed his mouth with goat innards.

A few episodes later, he went to the Appalachians to make fun of redneck food, hoping to mask the show's racially insensitive overtones but completely missing the point of why people would resent him for treating their long-held customs and traditions as though they came from the minds of savage, godless freaks. Maybe some people would consider ground-up chicken beaks and rectums, fried in artery-clogging oil and eaten in packs of fifty until your heart explodes like in an old episode of Max Headroom to be a pretty disgusting food, too. It sure hasn't done much for our waistlines.

estragon
03-07-2010, 01:18 AM
I can say one positive thing about him, though: he's not the guy from Man v. Food. That guy is even louder, and he's eating food that is abjectly uninteresting and dumpy. "I CAN'T BELIEVE I'M GOING TO EAT A FOUR-FOOT HOT DOG COVERED WITH TEN POUNDS OF CHEESE AND WRAPPED IN BACON WITH AN XXXL SIDE ORDER OF CHILI ONION RINGS! OH MY GOD, THIS IS SO AWESOME! ONLY IN [rust belt town in incredible economic duress]!"

Replace that with giant sushi rolls or curry or something eaten by c/d-list "comedians" and you have just described a large percentage of Japanese tv.

Daikaiju
03-07-2010, 06:07 AM
I like Marc Summers on Unwrapped. Plus the show really makes you think about the effort involved in making some of our favorite foodstuffs.

Dizzy
03-07-2010, 06:53 AM
It was stupid how G. Ramsay tested one of the restaurants in the first episode of The F word by having one his spies say to the waitress that they can only be there for an hour. Who does that? Who sits down at a restaurant and says, "Oh, I can only be here for an hour so please get my meal here faster than everyone else!" Pffft. Of course the overworked chef is gonna come out of the kitchen and interrogate the customer as if she was a mental reject.

Willm
03-07-2010, 05:21 PM
Okay, I'll admit that I haven't seen every episode of Bizarre Foods. Far from it! But either I've never seen the more insensitive ones described here, or I just chose to ignore it while focuisng on the different foods he was eating. Eh.

Either way, I began watching No Reservations today, and I feel bad that I waited so long to see it.

Sven
03-07-2010, 08:01 PM
It was stupid how G. Ramsay tested one of the restaurants in the first episode of The F word by having one his spies say to the waitress that they can only be there for an hour. Who does that? Who sits down at a restaurant and says, "Oh, I can only be here for an hour so please get my meal here faster than everyone else!" Pffft.

Welcome to every business lunch in Toronto, New York, or any other large city. The assumption that a generous tip is forthcoming for said service goes unsaid.

Dizzy
03-07-2010, 08:37 PM
Hm. Well his spy was a British lady tagging along with one dude, not a team of business people so the command was even more stupid.

Every other test Ramsay used was stupid too now that I think about it. One spy wanted to strike up a conversation with the waiter about nothing important and was upset he wasn't attentive enough even though he was clearly busy. She didn't ask for another drink or napkin, she just wanted to talk about how authentic the restaurant was or some such. Another one said to the manager (after she failed to communicate properly with the waiter) that her mashed potatoes were slightly undercooked, but she'll deal w/ it anyways after being offered another scoop. First, the spy was testing how the manager would react and she reacted well enough, but then she fucks it up and ends up looking like an idiot wasting the manager's time. I guess that's what happens when you take Ramsay's instruction to complain about the food even if it's excellent way too seriously. Not only does he need better tests but better spies too. This is restaurant sleuthing? Yikes.

Sven
03-07-2010, 08:50 PM
Hm. Well his spy was a British lady tagging along with one dude, not a team of business people so the command was even more stupid.

True, but it's still pretty common - a pre-show dinner, etc. Of course, even aside from the tip, the waiter's job is usually to say 'fine, but you probably can't order these dishes and expect to get out on time.'

I think the point wasn't to find flaws, but to just make sure that the restaurants didn't screw things up after the exposure from the TV show (the entire series was done in pretty close to real time, I believe).

It was pretty idiotic to cut two restaurants just based on those tests, though. The dinner for 30 guests was a much tougher test, but it didn't seem like it played much into the scoring.

The semifinal round as a whole was pretty screwy, come to think of it - it was a marked departure from the style of both the prelims and the finals. I don't know why they didn't just advance four restaurants to the semis instead of six and just done the eliminations the normal way.

Ample Vigour
03-08-2010, 11:28 AM
Q: What's the difference between me and Anthony Bourdain?

A: I never ripped off my mother to buy crack.

Bourdain sells an identity just as much as Barefoot Contessa or Rachel Ray, except he sells it to bohos in their early 30s instead of the stifled housewives that Ray targets.

Ethan
03-08-2010, 11:39 AM
Every single person in show business sells an identity. What's your point?

Balrog
03-08-2010, 11:40 AM
I didn't know til I googled him just now but Justin Wilson the Cajun Chef died in 2001. Way to bum me out, internet search.

Dadgum Roi
03-08-2010, 12:13 PM
I didn't know til I googled him just now but Justin Wilson the Cajun Chef died in 2001. Way to bum me out, internet search.

I know, it sucks. I wonder if any of his stuff is on Youtube.

Tock
03-08-2010, 03:36 PM
Andrew Zimmern

Here's what I hate about that guy: he goes on and on about the joys of eating mule dick or whatever, but the guy loathes eating fruit. Hell no.

I also like the America's Test Kitchen crew, mostly because it's fun to pretend that their production is fraught with paralyzing sexual tension between all participants.

As someone currently dating a former, early-season ATK cast member, this is kind of hilarious.

ArugulaZ
03-08-2010, 08:44 PM
I just received a letter from that Kimball guy! Not an E-mail, but an actual letter letter! (Not from him him, but his Cooks organization. Apparently there are some valuable coupons or some crap in it)

Ample Vigour
03-08-2010, 09:00 PM
Every single person in show business sells an identity. What's your point?

His identity isn't what he's selling. What he's selling is an identity built from appreciating his viewpoint in a way that no one except you (and everyone else with a cable connection) can. There's a deep cynicism behind the marketing of that product that I find disturbing in way that hacks like Guy Fieri or that bowtie-clad Marfan's patient on America's Test Kitchen can never be.

e:As someone currently dating a former, early-season ATK cast member, this is kind of hilarious.

Talk.

Tock
03-09-2010, 09:19 AM
Talk.

Nothing juicy, unfortunately--she insists that personal drama during her time there was pretty minimal, and her stories are generally heavy on the Test Kitchen aspect. It was just funny to me, for example, to think of a few chefs taste-testing eight different kinds of red wine vinegar out of paper cups, while shooting each other smoldering glances.

Ethan
03-09-2010, 10:47 AM
What he's selling is an identity built from appreciating his viewpoint in a way that no one except you (and everyone else with a cable connection) can.

So you think he's selling a vicarious sense of smug exclusivity. I guess I could see that, if you don't share his worldview going into it. But what if you do? I think you're underestimating how common it is for someone to have those same viewpoints without knowing who Anthony Bourdain is. His agenda is basically to be an authenticity-seeking, food-obsessed tourist, while simultaneously finding the whole idea of tourism crass and inherently inauthentic, and making self-deprecating jokes about this contradiction. I don't want to sound like I'm tooting my own horn here, but I have had the opportunity to go on some relatively brief faraway travels before, and I found that I went into those experiences with the exact same goals, got hung up on the exact same dilemmas, and coped with them in the exact same ways. (And in talking to other travelers, I now realize that this experience is in no way unique.) I had no idea who Bourdain was at the time. The whole reason I found out about No Reservations is because I was talking about recent travel with some friends, and one of them commented about how I'd probably really like this one TV show because it's all about the same feelings that I was discussing. So it's not about me buying into this (arguably) cynical worldview; it's about me appreciating that there's a show that largely supports my worldview, which is pretty damn unusual for this type of TV programming.

Dadgum Roi
03-09-2010, 10:56 AM
Yeah, I started watching Bourdain because the ethos of the show was fairly close to my own when I was still traveling abroad. So watching Bourdain go somewhere that I hadn't was inherently more interesting than watching Rick Steves go the same place. If you don't share the same POV that's fine, but I don't see how it makes Bourdain's shtick uniquely cynical. It's just more niche than most travel show hosts.

Edit: Although I disagree with the whole "inauthenticity of tourism" thing that destro mentions. Screw that noise- I just had fun and did what I wanted to. I don't really pick up on this in No Reservations, either. Mostly it's just a travel show with a heavy focus on street foods and heritage foods.

Ethan
03-09-2010, 11:16 AM
Try to follow me on this confusing thought. Whenever he visits places that he really loves, there's always this underlying sense of regret about how the very things he loves about those places place will eventually be ruined by people like him falling in love with places like that. He enjoys places that have not yet lost their uniqueness to globalization, and in enjoying them, he is the force of globalization. I've definitely felt this before. It's not something that can spoil my fun, not by a longshot, but it's still a little bit bittersweet. It's kind of like how you need to cast light on a painting to appreciate it, even though that light is slowly destroying the painting. There's a kind of illogical desire for everything that you love in life to never go away, so it will always be there for you (and others) to experience again, but this is impossible because that's not how life works, so sometimes you ponder this and say, "ah." Bourdain seems to get this, and that's why I watch his show. It's unfamiliar places I want to see + food I want to eat + the transitory nature of life + occasional jokes.

Ample Vigour
03-09-2010, 11:55 AM
So you think he's selling a vicarious sense of smug exclusivity.

Not at all. Bourdain does smug sometimes; it's a character that he plays well when he feels it'll have impact. We think he (or, more likely, his paymaster) is selling the same thing, actually. And you were kind enough to detail exactly what it is!

I don't want to sound like I'm tooting my own horn here, but I have had the opportunity to go on some relatively brief faraway travels before, and I found that I went into those experiences with the exact same goals, got hung up on the exact same dilemmas, and coped with them in the exact same ways.

And now does everyone else who watches the show, regardless of whether they've ever parked their asses in any restaurant that wasn't owned by Yum! Brands, Inc. Bourdain the character is irrelevant (I find his personality distasteful, but you'll get that anywhere you go); the real disturbing thing is that the show distills, packages and delivers authenticity with all the mechanical efficiency you'd expect from, say, cheese singles.

This is largely symptomatic of the ever-growing sense of horror our culture produces in me these days. Also, disagreeing with you and Grant gives me a raging erection. (You could cut steel with it.)

Dadgum Roi
03-09-2010, 12:18 PM
Try to follow me on this confusing thought. Whenever he visits places that he really loves, there's always this underlying sense of regret about how the very things he loves about those places place will eventually be ruined by people like him falling in love with places like that. He enjoys places that have not yet lost their uniqueness to globalization, and in enjoying them, he is the force of globalization.

I guess I get that sometimes from the show, but I don't agree. Ma and Pa Kettle are not going to fly to Ecuador and eat a bunch of grilled street chitlins no matter how many TV shows you make.

Ethan
03-09-2010, 12:28 PM
First of all, I don't think you can really call his worldview a creation of his "paymaster", as you put it, because the attitude of the show is the exact same attitude that came across in Kitchen Confidential, and I frankly doubt he even had a "paymaster" a decade ago when he was a restaurant journeyman and unsuccessful novelist whose name was known by nobody. I guess you're free to hypothesize that his entire personality over the entire time that he's been a public figure has been one big fabrication, but you'd be pulling that out of thin air.

And I also think it's wrong to assume that said worldview or attitude is something that never existed in the world before he (or his handlers) introduced it to the world, to which people only now relate because he told them that it's cool. The fact is that the themes of his show are not unique to him in the slightest, and he's not even a particularly well-known guy. Your point about how he's delivering convenient packets of authenticity to lame middle-Americans would hold a lot more water if lame middle-Americans even knew who he was. As far as I can tell, they don't. His fanbase is basically the This American Life set – conscientious, sociopolitically-attuned lefties who previously avoided travel TV because they couldn't relate to any of it.

Dadgum Roi
03-09-2010, 12:44 PM
Bourdain the character is irrelevant (I find his personality distasteful, but you'll get that anywhere you go); the real disturbing thing is that the show distills, packages and delivers authenticity with all the mechanical efficiency you'd expect from, say, cheese singles.


You're getting overcute with your analogies here. You could argue that processed goods like your cheese singles put people off traditional, more authentic foods, but this doesn't really work in the case of a travel show. I highly doubt anyone is foregoing a trip to Vietnam because they can just watch in on No Reservations instead. You watch travel shows because you can't travel, not in lieu of traveling.

Ample Vigour
03-09-2010, 02:06 PM
I'm getting too far afield here, and I'm not doing a very good job of getting my idea across.

But hey that Sandra Lee, she sure does some bad food! :B

Pajaro Pete
03-09-2010, 02:26 PM
Sandy may make godawful good, but Bourdain is insufferable.

Sven
03-09-2010, 02:37 PM
Sandy may make godawful good, but Bourdain is insufferable.

Which is why most everyone likes him. That's the whole gimmick.

Pajaro Pete
03-09-2010, 02:46 PM
How can you say it's a gimmick? There's absolutely no way that his public persona was created to be marketed. It's just who he is, man.

Sven
03-09-2010, 03:31 PM
How can you say it's a gimmick? There's absolutely no way that his public persona was created to be marketed. It's just who he is, man.

The maintenance of the image is the gimmick - the dude's married with a kid. Hell, most of Kitchen Confirential was talking about a Tony that had gone away years before the writing of that book.

It's like how Shawn Michaels may be a god-fearing born-again Christian, but he still comes out to the same entrance music that talks about how every woman in the world wants to sleep with him.

(again, if you want to understand entertainment psychology, you need to understand pro wrestling first.)

There's no sense maturing a gimmick that works even when the underlying performer is pretty different.

Ruik
03-09-2010, 03:42 PM
Alton Brown is a favorite. Only did a cursory glance through the thread, but I didn't see anyone mention Brian Boitano. He's pretty endearing, and his show is entertaining.

Dadgum Roi
03-09-2010, 05:26 PM
How can you say it's a gimmick? There's absolutely no way that his public persona was created to be marketed. It's just who he is, man.

I can think of better, more surefire ways to fame and riches than writing a nonfiction book on the inner workings of restaurant kitchens.

jeditanuki
03-09-2010, 06:27 PM
If it were not for Bourdain, I would never have gone to St.John's in London, Bouchon or the Boneyard in Vegas, and the Pascal Pinaud bakery in Paris. Say what you will about him, he's improved my travel experiences remarkably.

Someone mentioned Rick Steves above. I enjoy his writing more than his shows, but I guess if you combined him and Bourdain into one person, that'd be my go-to travel and food guy.

Reinforcements
03-10-2010, 06:23 AM
Alton Brown is my favorite man.

Bobby Flay is vaguely annoying.

Guy Fieri is incredibly grating but Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives is awesome.

Geof is my favorite person on Ace of Cakes, which is my second favorite show.

Robert Irvine is badass.

Rachel Ray should fall in a well.

Mark Summers is adorable.

Gwrrrk
03-12-2010, 11:41 AM
Alton Brown is my favorite man.

Bobby Flay is vaguely annoying.

Guy Fieri is incredibly grating but Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives is awesome.

Geof is my favorite person on Ace of Cakes, which is my second favorite show.

Robert Irvine is badass.

Rachel Ray should fall in a well.

Mark Summers is adorable.

Robert Irvine looks like he would be able to kick you through a brick wall!

Guy Fieri is extremely grating! I dislike staring at his kitchen!

And I'm going to agree with what everyone else here says about Bobby Flay. It seems like every time I see him I can't shake the feeling that he probably houses a hugely inflated ego.

Sven
03-12-2010, 12:01 PM
Robert Irvine looks like he would be able to kick you through a brick wall!

And forge a resume for you while he's doing it!

Psyael
03-19-2010, 03:07 AM
I don't like Bourdain because his show is on Travel Channel instead of TLC. Once upon a time the Travel Channel could run shows on things like a train tour across France, but now it appears that the only time someone travels to anywhere that isn't a theme park it's to eat a lot of food when not playing poker.

I like Ramsay as a media personality but not so much on the cooking shows. When being interviewed by Jonathan Ross or Chris Moyles he's really good and it's pretty clear that what Simon Cowell does as a gimmick is who Gordon actually is as a person. His cooking shows turn me off, though. Hell's Kitchen confirmed what numerous visits to truck stops made me suspicious of for a long time: an unusual majority of cooks are heavy smokers (wash your hands, people!) and also it's generally more about drama than food. I actually liked Nightmares USA but I feel that show is more intended for drama since the premise is Absolutely Horrible Restaurants and not Allegedly Decent Cooks.

The F Word, well, I watched an episode one day while sitting down to eat and watched a rancher witness her cattle's execution at a slaughterhouse, with the camera damn near catching the shot in it's head and then a full exposure of it's body being ripped open while blood and intestines pour out all over the floor. I lost my appetite and then haven't seen it in the listings since.

America's Test Kitchen is quite alright, Alton Brown is okay. Does Wolfgang Puck count as a personality? I like him for having so many different restaurants in our town (I mean boutiques and not chain cafes), some of which I can afford to eat at and at many I find several things appealing on the menu. Emeril has a few things here but you can tell his organization is not really putting in any effort in their outposts even though he only has three. And the only time anyone ever asked Ramsay about Vegas he reacted like we were far beneath him.

Luana
11-24-2010, 02:55 PM
I'm going to resurrect this because, well, I can.

Lor's been spending the snow days watching Andrew Zimmern's show. That show is... boring. I don't know how else to put it! Maybe it's just because I've seen the shows from Southeast Asia, and their foodstuffs don't really weird me out all that much. There's also something about his demeanor that's just off-putting. I wish I could put my finger on it, but I can't.

I love Christopher Kimball and America's Test Kitchen so hard. He's right up there with Alton Brown and Gordon Ramsay (UK version, obviously) as far as favorite guys to watch.

I have a soft spot for Anthony Bourdain because his No Reservations episode on the Philippines really highlighted what it's like to be an outsider within your own race/ethnic group. It hit home to me in many ways, and the fact that the (mouthwateringly delicious-looking) food was more of a backdrop to this one guy's story was moving for me.

shivam
11-24-2010, 03:23 PM
man, don't hate. i love zimmern's bizarre foods. he's such a fun host to watch, even when i've been to the places he describes. I guess his food's only scary to middle america, but still, it scratches my itch for food and views.

Bourdain just makes me wish i could eat the food he does, even though whenever i smell pork it makes me want to vomit.

Luana
11-24-2010, 04:05 PM
man, don't hate. i love zimmern's bizarre foods. he's such a fun host to watch, even when i've been to the places he describes. I guess his food's only scary to middle america, but still, it scratches my itch for food and views.

Kids are freaked out by it too, apparently! However, it doesn't keep her from watching, and it's by and far a better show than her usual fare (funniest home videos? euuuugh).

Karzac
11-25-2010, 05:59 PM
Guy Fieri is incredibly grating but Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives is awesome

Guy Fieri is awesome in a weird way. Sure, he's big and annoying, but so lovable. And his show is great.

Alton Brown is cool too, but the way he talks can be annoying sometimes.

I like the idea behind Michael Smith's show, but he puts on such a TV show host voice that I can't always stand to watch it. Show some humanity, man!

Büge
11-26-2010, 08:25 AM
I like Nigella Lawson.

Lucas
11-26-2010, 11:38 AM
I like Nadia G (http://www.foodnetwork.ca/ontv/shows/Bitchin-Kitchen/video.html?titleid=248313).

Ethan
11-26-2010, 08:25 PM
I think I posted a long rant about how much I hate Andrew Zimmern in some thread, or perhaps earlier in this one. Yep, this one! Still feel the same.

I need to re-watch Bourdain's Hanoi episode now that I live here. I wonder what neighborhoods he was hanging in.