Review: Crave with Troy Johnson

Let’s set the stage.  Here is how the Food Network web site describes its new food/travel series Crave with Troy Johnson:

Hosted by food critic and journalist Troy Johnson, Crave takes viewers on a cross-country journey for the most perfect versions of the foods he craves. Enthralled by the culinary wonders surrounding him, Troy will travel anywhere and try anything in pursuit of his obsession. Whether it’s pizza and pork or fried chicken and ice cream, Troy is on a quest to discover foods that make his mouth water while taking viewers on his nation-wide expedition to indulge in his food fascinations.

For those unfamiliar with Johnson he started off life as a music journalist but somewhere along the way became a food critic.  Having found his niche his star began to take off.  In 2007 he became the Troy Johnson Cravesenior editor of Modern Luxury’s Riviera magazine.  It wasn’t long after that the accolades came rolling in.  He has since branched out into broadcast media as a regular guest as a food and drink expert for KPBS radio in San Diego.

Food Network broke Troy in slowly by having him guest on shows like The Best Thing I Ever Ate before handing him the keys to Chelsea Market.  And no doubt the Network is banking on Crave to help fill the void caused by the court ordered stoppage of Diners, Drive-in & Dives.  Although the suit was settled last week and taping should resume soon it may be a while before new episodes hit the air.   Thus the nine episode deal for Crave.

His every-man style should make for a perfect host for a show like Crave.  And as a writer, Johnson knows the value of research.  Check out this gem he once gave a web site, “The Romans invented the cheese wheel and used to roll them along with everything else when they were doing battle.  They think this is why the Romans were able to kick everyone’s asses in Europe. Since cheese doesn’t spoil very easily, they always had a hunk of protein-and-fat-jammed energy source tucked up their man-skirts. Other armies’ food would spoil, leaving them weak and hungry. The cheese-eating Romans kicked their ass.”

So now you know the back story, it’s time for my take on what Johnson calls a, “series of unauthorized biographies of our favorite foods.”  The first thing that comes across is just how natural Johnson is on camera.  Not bad for a guy who has spent most of his career expressing himself in the written word.  It is not an easy transition to make.  His schtick of dropping one-liners steeped in pop culture or obscure historical references is reminiscent of Dennis Miller or Robin Williams.

As far as the show itself, Crave has many of the best elements of previous food/travel shows like Unwrapped, The Secret Life Of and yes Triple D.  It will also appeal to fans of nerdy (for lack of a better word) shows like Food Detectives and the recently mothballed Good Eats.  That is where Johnson’s pension for meticulous research pays off for the viewer.  He covers each episode’s theme from both a historical and a scientific perspective.  And best of all he does it with an irreverent (dare I say raunchy) sense of humor not scene on the Food Network since Anthony Bourdain.

I really liked Crave a lot.  I like the host and I like the way they handle the subject matter.  Visually it is shot well and seems to flow extremely well.  I kept thinking, “A commercial already?”

Crave airs Mondays at 8:30pm/7:30c on the Food Network.

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Stuart in 80 Words or Less
Stuart is a celebrity chef, food activist and award-winning food writer. He penned the cookbooks Third Coast Cuisine: Recipes of the Gulf of Mexico, No Sides Needed: 34 Recipes To Simplify Life and Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor." His recipes have been featured in Current, Lagniappe, Southern Tailgater, The Kitchen Hotline and on the Cooking Channel.

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Stuart’s Honors & Awards
2015 1st Place Luck of the Irish Cook-off
2015 4th Place Downtown Cajun Cook-off
2015 2nd Place Fins' Wings & Chili Cook-off
2014 2015 4th Place LA Gumbo Cook-off
2012 Taste Award nominee for best chef (web)
2012 Finalist in the Safeway Next Chef Contest
2011 Taste Award Nominee for Little Grill Big Flavor
2011, 12 Member: Council of Media Tastemakers
2011 Judge: 29th Chef's of the Coast Cook-off
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Wing Cook-off
2011 Cooking Channel Perfect 3 Recipe Finalist
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Gumbo Cook-off
2011 Culinary Hall of Fame Member
2010 Tasty Awards Judge
2010 Judge: Bayou La Batre Gumbo Cook-off
2010 Gourmand World Cookbook Award Nominee
2010 Chef2Chef Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2010 Denay's Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2009 2nd Place Bay Area Food Bank Chef Challenge
2008 Tava: Discovery Contest Runner-up
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