Friday, November 16, 2007

Nevermind about that whole Food Network Star Thing

Earlier today I went down to Macy's where Dave Lieberman from the Food Network was doing an in store appearance. The food he served was all geared towards being Autumnal - but not Thanksgiving. Close to, but not traditional Thanksgiving! He made a Pumpkin and Chipotle Chowder, Onion and Marmalade Toasts with Parmesan and Creamy Chicken Thighs and Mushrooms over Gemelli, all available from his book Dave's Dinner's or from the Macy's Great Gatherings. The corn chowder was Meh, served with a parsley garnish, when my give away recipe clearly calls for cilantro. It was like stewed squash with an unexpected burning in the back of the throat finished with some grass clippings. The little toasts were tasty, but Andy already makes a better version and the thighs were remarkably like my Faux Pheasant recipe. If he'd served it over wild rice, we might have had a bit of a dispute on our hands.
Watching him was fun, though... First of all, he's wee and compact, like my people. He seems like a genuinely nice enough guy, but oy, what a job! The crowd sat there silent and smiling. Everyone was politely waiting for their free sample. He was only asked a couple of questions. One was, "Who is your favorite chef." He pondered for a long time before answering.
"Mario. I like Mario Batali's food... and you know... his restaurants are good. I don't really have a favorite chef, though. If you want an endorsement of someone, I guess it would be him."
Again, he's only got so much to work with here, but do you think we're all sitting here waiting to run out to worship whatever chef you recommend? I mean, I don't even know where they shuffled his show off to on the network. It's easier to find Guy Fieri's face than poor Dave's on any Food Network schedule. And trust me, I know. I was home sick for the past three days and the order of appearances is Rachel Ray (at one point she was on NBC, Food Network AND I had her magazine on the coffee table. Define over exposure.) Paula Dean, That Kooky Sandra Lee and Guy Fieri. Dave's show is on at like the crack of dawn on Sunday's, I think.
I guess part of the reason I had such a sour reaction, is the very next thing out of the little guy's mouth was, "Who's you're favorite chef?"
In my mind I answered, "Oh! It's YOU David Leiberman! You're the greatest EVER."
Meanwhile, he's got a bunch of raw chicken in a pan that he suggests we all just imagine it as browned off. Then dump some onions. In theory, you'd let them sweat. Dump in some flour, stir. Bowl of whole button mushrooms and a splat of cream. Oh, yeah, looks great. Is he on a timer or something? Why is he demo-ing food when all he's doing it pouring ingredients into a pan and then desperately asking for questions. Cook something for the love of God! I would have been much more likely to launch into a silent rant had I not just spotted a lovely lady coming towards me with my free sample. The chicken thigh recipe was delicious, again finished with the grass, but not bad - hell great, considering the price.
He put the raw chicken to the side and said he was now available for anyone wanting to get their copy of his new book signed.
I watched him as I was spooning free pasta into my mouth from a tissue paper. Ladies all hugging him awkwardly, making him pose with a "Miss YOU!!!" sign. What is he, some kind of a monkey? What a terrible gig! The whole deal is supposed to be about food, but this was about manufactured celebrity and the desperate buck generated from it.
If I could read minds, my guess would be that Dave was just praying to get the hell out of the Midwest and back to New York. Is that what amounts to being a celebrity chef? That blows! I'd rather continue to pound my keyboard in obscure mediocrity than try to convince housewives from Edina to buy a $200 pot I'm endorsing by saying, "look! Holes to drain the pasta! I always forget to get the collander out, don't you?"
I'd rather play the overtly cheesey infomercial side-kicks. "You just set it... and forget it!"
"Oh, really, now! You're fooling me! It can't be THAT easy!"

Well, I still got a free meal out of it. And have you tried one of those rotisserie things?! They're genius.


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