New Cheflebrity Marcela Valladolid
Though Bobby Flay remains ever in the spotlight at the Food Network the other two founding chefleberities, Mario Batali and Emeril Legasse have been pushed to the background. It could simply be about ratings. Just as likely it has to do with the rumored dissatisfaction many chefs now have with the network’s Disneyesque image. The execs at Chelsae Market try to weave a squeaky clean web around their stars but the reality is that chefs, by nature, are lustful rogues. Bourdain is the norm, Sara Moulton is the deviant.
For years now the Food Network has been under fire for programming that is personality-driven rather than chef-driven, fluff rather than serious cooking shows (I know, oxymoron). Parent company Scripps has plans to address the network’s desire to retain its core audience while building a new one, namely reinventing the Fine Living Network as the Cooking Channel. In the meantime Food Network has compromised by returning to the formula that built that core audience – chefs who have personality.
Enter Marcela Valladolid.
She has the personality pedigree. Valladolid was a member of the cast of The Apprentice: Martha Stewart back in 2005 where she finished fourth. She also bares an uncanny resemblance to cover girl Kristin Kreuk the starlet famous for playing Clark Kent’s high school sweetheart Lana Lang on Smallville. And of course she has the mandatory celebrity Twitter presence.
Chef Marcela has the chops as well. She matriculated at both the Los Angeles Culinary Institute and the Ritz Escoffier Cooking School in Paris where she graduated as a pastry chef. She appeared on the Food Network 12 years ago on the old “In Food Today” with David Rosengarten. Since then she has worked as an editor at Bon Appetit Magazine, run a catering company, hosted a cooking show for Discovery en Espanol and last summer she published her first cookbook, Fresh Mexico: 100 Simple Recipes for True Mexican Flavor (Clarkson Potter).
But before all of the hoi polloi of Reality TV and big time publishing, Valladolid learned to cook as a child. Her father was a respected chef in Mexico and her aunt opened one of the first cooking schools in Tijuana. It is that authentic Mexican food of her childhood that she is prepared to teach on her new Food Network show Mexican Made Easy. MME is directed at the busy mom who wants to put out fast, healthy food with a Latin flair. It premieres Saturday January 23 at 9:30am ET/PT. As proof of her dedication to the true flavors of Mexico she proclaims, “there is no yellow cheese in real Mexican cooking.”