I am not sure how, but it seems I have unintentionally launched a crusade on Quora against The Food Network and mainstream cooking shows. I promise you that I have no hidden agenda and by no means am on a personal mission to defame their public image. The reason I am so eager to chime in on these type of questions is because these television “chefs” and cooking shows are severely misleading people on something I am very passionate about. It’s not that I am jealous of any of these celebrity chefs and attempt to move the spotlight off of them. If you found a way to make millions of dollars cooking spin-offs of chicken parmesan while recording terrible punch lines, all the power to you.
The reason I feel the need to expose them for what they really are is that there are so many people who are watching these 30-minute shows and forming beliefs off of them that are rooted in a lie. I have said it slightly more eloquently in other answers but I am going to just flat out say here:
The shows you see on Food Network are bull$hit and the “chefs” who lead these shows are hacks.
Before mainstream media experienced the culinary revolution that it did in the not so distant past, most people formulated their beliefs on cooking from their families. They saw the mother gardening outside for many days, the grandmother in the kitchen for countless hours, and the collective cleaning effort taken place after meals were finished. This is the reality of cooking. It takes time, effort, and passion.
Today we can tune in to Food Network and see Rachael Ray make her “30 Minute Meals”. Rachael Ray is a sweetheart. I’ve met her more than once and I assure you her real-life personality is identical to her sweet television personality. That being said, do you know what type of culinary ninja she would have to be to crank out these meals in 30 minutes? Chefs have far superior knife skills, much more kitchen experience, and much more overall speed than Rachael Ray and we could never cook some of these 30 minute miracles. If a professional chef can’t, how could the average home cook with the limited resources in their home kitchens ever pull these dishes off?
They can’t, that’s how. Yet the millions of people who watch her joyful show will walk away from it thinking they can. They are ultimately getting set up for failure and ensuring a negative outlook on what they believe to be real cooking. Food Network certainly does not want you to know this. Their rebuttal is, “You may have learned certain techniques from the show, but you need to purchase the book to get a full grasp of just how to do what Rachael does.” Without a reliable source to turn to, you go out and buy this worthless book. “The television show and the book have thoroughly prepared you to cook just like Rachel ….
Congratulations. You are now ready to really execute these dishes, just like her. Your pots and pans are far too inferior, though. Now that you have learned all that is needed to be learned, it is time to acquire the tools needed to cook like Rachael. We recommend this Rachael Ray 12-Piece Set.”
Perhaps the orange handles are good luck?
Are you beginning to see what I am saying and understand why I feel the need to continuously speak out against it? If I had only one question I could ask to an all-knowing all-wise guru it would be this: “Why is Rachael Ray’s 4 quart bowl better than the 4 quart bowl I bought from Target?”
It doesn’t hold more quarts than mine does, clearly. Is it the color? The shape? Is there some cutting-edge design that allows a person to whisk mixtures in it with only one hand? No? Then why are millions of people paying $40 for it?! They are paying for the story and the ideas behind it.
I worked at The Food Network when I was 19. Everything you see is smoke and mirrors. When filming Anne Burrell’s “Secrets of a Restaurant Chef”, it would take from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. just to film one 30-minute episode. There would be replicas of the same dish she was “cooking” being shuffled over from the test kitchens to the studio where the shows are filmed. They strive to acquire those optimal shots by replenishing each dish with fresh samples. After a long day of shooting the same “scenes” multiple times, repeating the same punchlines more times than I would ever want to hear again, and shuffling through God knows how many versions of that “one dish” viewers are seeing, everything is thrown out. There is no respect for the food they waste or the audience they are misleading. Sometimes, those on the set will ask if they can have it for “family meal”. Nobody ever has a problem with that, so long as somebody takes a cut in the middle to check if the protein is actually cooked through first. I believe that speaks volumes of their intentions.