Has anyone else been watching the Next Food Network Star and thought, “hell, I could do that”! Oh, everyone? Ok. Well that’s because the Next Food Network Star is a culinary competition in which culinary prowess, knowledge, or experience are not required. What do you need to win? A Culinary Point of View™ and some guidance from one of the Food Network’s top-notch mentors, Iron Chef and probable adulterer Bobby Flay, rumored nymphomaniac and real-life bobble-head Giada De Laurentiis , and my favorite crabapple, Alton Brown.
But as we’ve seen from season after season of the show, finding your own Culinary Point of View™ isn’t that easy. Because your Culinary Point of View™ has to simultaneously reflect your “true voice” and be “responsive to criticism” from Bob and the Sooze. And what Bob and the Sooze want depends on the week, the season, and possibly whatever chemicals are laced in their self-tanner.
For example, while Bob and the Sooze loved Ippy’s authentic Hawaiian style at the beginning of the season, now they’ve decided that he’s too “laid-back”. Isn’t that like accusing someone from Minnesota as being too nice? That’s what Hawaii is about, guys. That’s called Hawaiian style. Oh, you want him to be his authentic self, but in a more frenetic way? That’s helpful, thanks.
Or how about when they eliminated previous favorite Emily for having a mediocre week and kept Giada’s “fiery hot Latina” Martita? The same Martita who finished her promo 30 seconds early and instead of trying to fill the time smiled wide-eyed at the judges for 30 Seconds. Of. Dead. Air. Oh, you didn’t want them to even try to do the challenge this week, Bob and the Sooze? I’m sure if you had told Emily what you wanted she could stand in awkward and confused silence for even longer than 30 seconds!
The rampant discrepancies and conspiracy-like eliminations are almost making me think that winners and losers are decided by a complicated calculus of Network need, focus groups, demographic pull, and the aforementioned toxic self-tanner, instead of the actual challenges themselves. There, I’ve said it. The Next Food Network Star may be rigged.
This isn’t going to stop me from applying for next season. As some of you already know, I like to cook. I make salad dressing from scratch! And bread! And I soak my own beans! In Food Network parlance, I’m not a occasionally better than average home cook- I’m self-taught with a unique Culinary Point of View™. And the fact that I can’t tell you the difference between a hollandaise and béarnaise doesn’t matter. Because my ignorance is relatable! Who wants to learn how to cook from someone who knows interesting information about food when I can add a pouch of powdered ranch dressing to a casserole and tell stories about my Nan? That’s right, nobody.
The following are real questions from the Next Food Network Star application. I can’t make this stuff up.
Complete this sentence: If I were an ingredient, I would be…….
How can I answer this without it becoming a sexual innuendo? Um, salt? Because it’s in everything? Damn it, that doesn’t work. Okay, how about tomatoes? Because of the way their taut skin bursts in your mouth? Never mind. Breadcrumbs? Because they are getting old? They make everything crunchy when submerged in hot oil? Ugh, I give up.
Is there a non-perverted way to answer this question? People aren’t food, after all.
Unless……if I were an ingredient I would be Soylent Green. Because Soylent Green IS PEOPLE! IT’S PEOPLE! And there’s nothing sexy about that.
What is your unique Culinary Point of View™?
I’m not sure what to put here. I’m guessing that my real Culinary Point of View™, food that your kids won’t want to eat isn’t going to fly with the Food Network. And shows about Healthy! Delicious! Organic! Foods! That your kids WILL eat! are often a joke. (Case in point, when Nikki served a “kid-friendly Kale smoothie” to a group of gagging 10 year olds.) Kids are crazy. Some things they like, some things they don’t. Sure they are often more picky than many adults, but their list of likes and dislikes are impossible to generalize. My son loves Kale chips and hates pizza. My daughter could eat Fettuccini Alfredo for every single meal of her life but will not drink a glass of chocolate milk. She likes cashews, he likes almonds. See what I mean? It’s a boring show idea, because there is no “kid food” and that’s why these contestants never win.
Okay, here’s another idea for a Culinary Point of View™. How about The Boozy Chef? I’ll focus exclusively on recipes requiring the hard stuff and drink the leftovers as I cook. How about Grand Marnier French Toast, or Hooch strawberry salad dressing? Or what about potatoes two ways? I’ll just put some potatoes in the oven to roast and drink some vodka. I have a feeling the Sooze is going to love this one.
Unfortunately, I drank so much prepping my recipes that I can’t pull it together to fill out all ELEVEN pages of the application. So nobody will ever know what kind of role I generally play in groups, what topics are off limits to me at a dinner party, or other highly relevant food-related information. Maybe I’ll work on finding my adaptable authentic voice in the meantime.
What’s your unique Culinary Point of View™?