graham kerr

Review: Not My Mama’s Meals

Follow Productions is the brainchild of host/producer Gordon Elliot and under his leadership has produced some of the most successful food programming in history.  Elliot hosted one of my favorite shoes, Follow That Food as well as Door Knock Dinners.  He also made celebrities out of everyday people like master sommelier Andrea Immer Robinson, BBQ enthusiasts Pat and Gina Neely and of course restauranteur Paula Deen.

Follow Productions is the force behind hit shows like Paula’s Best Dishes, Road Tasted and the Chew.  With a history of producing shows who’s menus tip towards extravagant ingredients and colossal calorie counts the time has come for a show with a more health conscious treatment.  Enter Not My Mama’s Meals.

Not My Mama's MealsMama’s stars my favorite member of the Deen clan, Bobby Deen.  Where his brother Jamie inherited their mother’s bigger-than-life personality the youngest Deen has always seemed like a down to earth guy that you’d like to hang out with.  Although his schtick isn’t as large as the rest of his family, Bobby still has the same on-camera charm.

In this series, Bobby takes his mother’s recipes and transforms her Southern comfort food into lighter, lean, yet still delicious dishes. Each week, the camera follows Bobby as he tries to recreate one of his Mama’s famous meals with healthy substitutes that cut down on calories and fat, but still deliver on taste.

The timing of the show is perfect as recently Paula Deen revealed that she suffers from Diabetes.  If I had to guess I’d say she and Bobby have been working on her diet for a while now and the result of their efforts fuels the recipes for the new show.  But that is just my own speculation.

In the most recent episode I viewed, Bobby was joined in his NYC loft by friend and fellow healthy eating guru Daphne Oz (co-host of the Chew and daughter of Dr. Oz).  The stunning blond helped out as Deen streamlined his mother’s shrimp and grits into shrimp and polenta then cut 600 plus calories from her fried apple pies.  Each episode ends with Mama trying her son’s reboots of her recipes and casting her critique upon them.

I have to say that Not My Mama’s Meals is one of the best shows to come from one of the top production companies of food programming.  Deen’s recipes are packed with flavor despite the reduction in fat and calories of those that inspire them.  This show is a winner.

For two decades now Food Network, Cooking Channel and other networks have heard cries from viewers that they want a show about healthy eating.  The problem is that whenever one hits the airwaves those same people who whined about healthy food shows never watch them.  Ever since the old Graham Kerr show of the early 90’s cable networks have struggled to find another healthy food show that people will actually watch.  Not My Mama’s Meals may just be that show.

Not My Mama’s Meals airs Sundays at 12:30pm ET on the Cooking Channel.

Good Eats Canceled?

Good bye, Good Eats

In the annals of food television there have been five shows that have stood out from the rest by virtue of their importance to the genre.  The first four, I Love to Eat (James Beard), The French Chef (Julia Child), The Galloping Gourmet (Graham Kerr) and Emeril Live (Emeril Legasse) each made their indelible marks on food television by enticing people into their kitchens.

Cheflebrities Stuart Reb Donald and Alton Brown at Dauphin Island Gumbo Cook-offThe fifth show, Good Eats, made its mark by teaching burgeoning home gourmets what to do in their new-found playground.  Alton Brown created, wrote, produced and starred in, “a smart and entertaining food show that blends wit with wisdom, history with pop culture, and science with common cooking sense.”  His words not mine.

Recently I heard a rumor that Food Network had canceled Good Eats so I started tugging on various grapevines to see what would shake loose.  My original sources were pretty reliable but I wanted to double-check before reporting something like “Good Eats Canceled.”

I contacted Alton’s publicist, Beau Benton and asked straight out if the rumor was true.  The answer?  No. . . and yes.

No.  Food Network did not cancel Good Eats.

Yes.  The show will soon be ceasing production for good.

The decision was Alton’s.  When I inquired about a press release or official statement Benton said, “He announced it on Twitter.”

Sure enough, “G.E. fans, I’ve decided to cut the half hour series at 249 eps. There will be 3 new 1 hour eps this year and that’s it. But mourn not. New things brew on the horizon…”good” things.”

I was lucky enough to spend an afternoon with Alton a few weeks ago.  We were both taking part in a fund-raiser in tiny Dauphin Island, Alabama.  Of all of the communities effected by the Oil Spill, Dauphin Island’s economy suffered the most losing 66% of its projected revenue for the summer of 2010 which included cancelling the world’s largest deep-sea fishing rodeo for the first time ever.  Camille, Frederick, Katrina, and Ivan couldn’t do that.  Alton gave of his time to help attract a record crowd to the island’s annual gumbo cook-off.

This is sure to leave Food Network fans feeling shell shocked.  Especially considering the May law suit that has halted production of another long standing hit series Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.  If things do not work out in court that means that two of the network’s most popular shows would no longer be a part of their line-up.

Brown will still be on Iron Chef and there are hints of other projects in the works.  Recently, Alton and I got to speak a good bit about, well, everything and he was kind enough to answer 7 Questions. READ HERE.

I saw this Tweet from Tyler Florence to Alton.  It’s hysterical:

[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/#!/TylerFlorence/status/72821165185441792″]

Review: Fresh Food Fast with Emeril Lagasse

Emeril Legasse

I finally got a little more quality time with the Cooking Channel so I am attempting to review several of the shows I have not seen.  This time around Fresh Food Fast with Emeril Lagasse.

There are four kingpins that are responsible for the success of food-based television – James Beard, Julia Child, Graham Kerr (check out my interview with Kerr HERE) and Emeril Legasse.  Legasse was one of the chefs who formed the core of the Food Network’s early days and it was his show Emeril Live that made Food Network.  Without Legasse’s energy, humor and every-guy appeal the network probably looks different today if it survived at all.

Unfortunately, the catch phrases and schtick on Emeril Live eventually became its downfall.  The show had become a charecature of itself.  A few years back FN took it’s marquee show off the air.  For a while it moved over to the Fine Living Network in hopes that Legasse could kick up FLN’s ratings a notch.  It wasn’t enough.  Last year FLN became the Cooking Channel.  The change has proven a wise one.

There’s room on Cooking Channel for Legasse and it is not having to re-create the Emeril of old.  Fresh Food Fast is Emeril in a kitchen (a real kitchen not a set) putting together amazing recipes. Gone are the cries of BAM! and Pork Fat Rules! This Emeril is more under control, his recipes are healthier, most likely a byproduct of his Planet Green series dedicated to healthy, organic and sustainable food, Emeril Green.

While Emeril Green seemed like Legasse was being stuffed into a world that didn’t quite suit him, it did help him to find a happy medium between the calorically challenged recipes of Emeril Live and the über-wholesomeness of the recipes of Emeril GreenFresh Food Fast is that happy medium.  Sure the food is healthier than his old FN days but not as uninspired as the Planet Green show.

Best of all it is Emeril being Emeril.  He is congenial and entertaining without being over the top.  He’s doing a show for foodies again – people who don’t have to have a danceable beat and repetitive lyrics so they can blurt the chorus after just two listenings.  It’s a serious cooking show by one of the master’s of the genre.

Graham Kerr the Galloping Gardener?

Some 20 years ago, having learned that his high fat, high calorie cooking style was killing his wife Graham Kerr changed his approach.  Known to the world as the Galloping Gourmet, Kerr was famous for making classic French cuisine layered in butter, cream and fatty cuts of red meat.  Weight Watchers actually declared him public enemy #1, an amazing display of hypocrisy when you consider the toxicity of their diet food.

A Year in the Life of My First Kitchen GardenIn 1993, he published Graham Kerr’s Minimax Cookbook and in the blink of an eye invented something brand new – healthy food that also tasted good.  Prior to that people were faced with either enjoying their food or enduring it.  Kerr refused to believe that low fat, low calorie food had to be low flavor as well.  “Minimax” quite simply means minimize the fat and calories and maximize the flavor.

Two decades and two dozen books later, Chef Kerr has created a craze.  He is almost single-handedly responsible for the popularity of extra virgin olive oil in this country.  And a legion of talented chefs have followed in his footsteps like Nathan Lyon, Jamie Oliver and Susan Irby to further explore the world of healthy, tasty food.

However, Chef Kerr has not ceased his own explorations.  With the ever deteriorating food system in this country thanks to factory farming and genetically modified foods the next logical step would being growing his own food.  These days the fictional world of Mad Max doesn’t seem as far fetched as it once did.  It only makes sense to safeguard oneself against the tribulations of hyper-inflation or the fall of western civilization.

More and more people are starting their own gardens.  Count Graham Kerr among the lot.  “Why?” you may ask.  In Kerr’s own words:

In my long career as a gourmet/nutrition teacher I have cooked just about everything that grows, but I’ve never grown a thing I’ve cooked.  So I got to thinking about the earth-to-table process.  I decided to go back to the starting line and run the whole race from the beginning.

Kerr’s newest work Growing at the Speed of Life: A Year in the Life of My First Kitchen Garden is an instruction manual to taking what you eat back from a corrupt government and the agribusiness giants that control it.  Though it contains a hundred recipes it is not a cookbook.

Growing at the Speed of Life shows you with great detail and illustration exactly what Kerr did to construct a garden that is brilliant in its design.  The garden is a model of sustainable, organic efficiency.  Kerr describes what he did and eloquently explains why he did it.

Additionally Kerr has compiled an extensive catalog of virtually every edible botanical on the planet.  He not only describes its flavor and nutritional value but he also suggests pairings and preparation techniques.  This is also where the recipes come in; they demonstrate the variety of flavors available to someone with a proper garden.  I’ve never scene such a comprehensive guide to fruits and vegetables.

I have been highly impressed by the attention to detail in this book.  Each process is described so that you can understand not only how to do something a certain way but why that way works.  It has inspired me to try and start my own garden this spring.  If I can grown my own produce between that, the fish in the creek and the squirrels in the trees I should be okay should the Mayan prophecies prove true.

If you haven’t already be sure to check put my exclusive interview with Chef Kerr from last fall HERE.

Follow Stuart via “the Online”

Sip & Chew with Mike and Stu

Add to Google

addtomyyahoo4

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.

Stu’s Latest Kindle Single is Just $2.99

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

Archives

Subscribe to this blog

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

ISO 9000 Culinary Arts Certification