ina garten

Rachael Ray Leaves Her Publisher

From the WSJ:

New Recipe for Rachael Ray
Cookbook Author Switches Publishers
to Improve Reach on Digital Devices

Rachael Ray, the TV personality and best-selling cookbook author, has struck a new publishing deal she hopes will improve her reach with the growing number of people turning to digital devices for help in the kitchen.

Best known for her daytime talk show, “Rachael Ray,” as well as the magazine “Every Day with Rachael Ray,” Ms. Ray said Friday that she has left Random House imprint Clarkson Potter after publishing nine titles, and signed a new, three-book deal with Atria Books, an imprint of CBS Corp.’s Simon & Schuster Inc.

Rachael Ray
Clarkson Potter is the traditional publisher for Food Network/Cooking Channel stars including Ina Garten, Martha Stewart, Giada DeLaurentiis, Anne Burrell, David Rocco, Mario Batali, well you get it.  So is this a game changer?

Not really Simon & Schuster already publishes  Michael Ruhlman, Aaron Sanchez, Bobby Flay and Paula Deen.  Both of he latter also started with Clarkson Potter.  It’s just business.  But hey, Clarkson Potter, if you are looking for someone to fill RaRay’s void give me holler.

Seriously.

Review: The Pioneer Woman

I have been really excited about one of Food Network’s newest shows, The Pioneer Woman with fellow food blogger Ree Drummond.  Like millions I have Ree Drummondbeen a fan of Ree’s uber-popular blog also entitled The Pioneer Woman.  Ree’s tale is about how she made the switch from, “spoiled city girl to domestic country wife.”

Sure her story is interesting.  Her early days were spent enjoying a cosmopolitan lifestyle – high-end restaurants, boutiques and day spas.  But then she met a cowboy.

Now when I say she met a cowboy it’s not a euphemism for fella and I certainly don’t mean she hooked up with some Yankee who relocated to Texas because that’s where all the jobs are.   Ladd Drummond is an honest to goodness hat wearing, boot sporting, horse riding, gun toting cowboy.  That in and of itself makes the show worth a watch but that wasn’t what drew me to it.

Being filmed in the middle of Oklahoma miles from the nearest town of any size and considerably further from any town of perceived consequence is refreshing.  Most cooking shows are produced in cities with access to virtually any ingredient one can imagine.  Guess what – you’re not likely to find durian or harissa paste in Wichita, Kansas.  It makes for a nice change of pace but that’s not why I was excited about The Pioneer Woman either.

No, my interest was predicated on the fact that Ree is not a chef lucky enough to live within a cab ride of Chelsea Market.  Nor is she a pampered New England socialite who’s only credential is being Martha Stewart’s pal.  Ree is a food blogger from middle America.  Food Network is finally starting to get the picture that cyberspace is a largely untapped Eden of foodie talent.

The Pioneer WomanAs I’ve said before – mainstream viewers would much rather watch the comical antics of Average Betty’s Sara O’Donnell as opposed to the butter battered butter deep fried in butter of Paula Deen if only given the chance.  They can learn far more about food from the brilliant Jadan Hair of Steamy Kitchen than they will the culinary atrocity that is Extreme Chef.  There’s more genuine cooking going on in a single episode of Food Wishes than in an entire season of Semi-Homemade.  And the best part of all – this online talent have established brands with built-in fan bases.

The Pioneer Woman wholly captures what it is like to be a foodie.  I know those who do not follow food on the net may think to themselves, “who does that?” whenever Ree pauses to take pictures of each meal she prepares.  The answer is I do, Sara does, Jaden does, Aarti does, Aida does, Chef John does and as we know Ree does.  I love that the show offers a glimpse of what being a professional foodie is like.  I also like that it shows that TV execs are starting to get the picture that the future of food TV is already established on the web.

After years of shows shot in New York or LA it’s nice to have one that is shot miles from Suburbia.  Now if they could film a show in a midsize town (like say Mobile, AL) that would be perfect.  The Pioneer Woman is great food porn with ample teaching moments.  It also airs Saturday mornings at 11:30 Eastern Time/10:30 Central time on Food Network.

Ina Garten – The Heartless Contessa?

I never understood the hullabaloo Food Network threw over Robert Irvine slightly fudging on his resume.  After all none of what he listed was false just exaggerated; still he was suspended.  JAG was pulled from the finale of NFNS 4 for the same thing although his “exaggerations” were a bit more exaggerated.  Worst Cooks in America host Beau MacMilan had a minor traffic violation that resulted in his job being pulled, ironically he was replaced by Irvine.

On the grand scheme of things these are not serious infractions.  Not in the least but it does make one wonder how Food Network and parent company Scripps Networks will handle the recent actions of Barefoot Contessa hostess Ina Garten.  After all, punching up your resume or rolling through a stop sign are nothing compared to telling a dying child you’re too busy to meet them.

Apparently that is exactly what Garten did.  On March 25th TMZ and about three dozen other media sources reported that she repeatedly snubbed the dying wish of a terminal Leukemia victim.  Here’s an excerpt from TMZ’s report:

… a little boy named Enzo was approached by the (Make-A-Wish) organization after he was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia three years ago.

Enzo told Make-A-Wish … he really wanted to cook with the “Barefoot Contessa” host because he would often watch the show with his mother while resting in bed.

M.A.W. approached Garten with the wish last year … but at the time, she was unable to meet with Enzo due to a book tour.  The organization urged Enzo to pick another wish, but he told them he wanted to wait until she becomes available.

We’re told the organization went back to Ina this year … but her team responded with a “definite no” … once again, citing scheduling conflicts.

A member of Enzo’s family says the 6-year-old is heartbroken … and asked parents, “Why doesn’t she want to meet me?”

Now I have acknowledged that I think Garten’s food and creativity are quite good but I’ve also gone on record as not being a fan of the Barefoot Contessa program.  To me it is one of the most boring cooking shows around.  I am not alone in my belief that if Ina Garten were not Martha Stewart’s best friend no one would know who she was.  She damned sure wouldn’t have a nationally televised cooking show.  That being said, she does score exceptionally well in one demographic – well-to-do housewives from the Hamptons.

However, I don’t see that trend remaining after telling a dying child they aren’t important enough to meet her.  It sounds like someone is taking their “Contessa” title a little too seriously doesn’t it?  It would appear Garten thinks she is something more than just another well-to-do housewife from the Hamptons.

I might could swallow the “scheduling conflicts” excuse but who has a year worth of scheduling conflicts?  I’ll tell who wouldn’t – Bobby Flay.  Flay is an actual chef who runs nearly a dozen restaurants from Vegas to Nassau, owns a production company, makes countless personal appearances and stars in four TV series.  That certainly demands more time than just shooting one TV show from your home and doing the occasional book signing but I’m willing to bet that had Make-A-Wish called Flay would have been on the next flight out.

Since the story has hit the public spotlight, Garten has miraculously found a little time in her busy stay-at-home schedule to honor Enzo with her presence.  For his part Enzo says he no longer cares to spend his last few days on earth cooking scones with her royal highness.  His new last wish is to go swimming with dolphins.  Good for him.

I cannot help but contrast Garten’s callousness with what I witnessed firsthand in tiny Dauphin Island, Alabama.  Dauphin Island is a resort town of 1300 people on the Gulf of Mexico that has two industries – tourism and fishing.  Both of those were eliminated a year ago when the Deepwater Horizon oil spill struck.  Both BP and the White House have essentially Contessa’d the Gulf Coast but Good Eats host Alton Brown managed to spend an entire weekend of his time helping the Island rebound from an ecological, economic and bureaucratic nightmare.

Now if saying you cooked an entire meal for the Royals when it was only dessert results in one year of TV exile and saying you were stationed on the Afghan-front when you were actually stationed at a support facility miles from the action means you don’t ever get a cooking show at all then anything short of Food Network pulling all affiliation with Garten is unacceptable.  She’ll be okay, she still has her pal Martha Stewart to prop her “career” up.  I understand that celebrities cannot honor every single request for their time but when a dying six-year-old says that their last wish is to spend a few minutes cooking with you how do you say “no” and still sleep at night?

Food Network’s St. Patrick’s Day Line-up

Food Network's St. Paddy's Day Line-up

In Ireland St. Patrick’s Day is a solemn, religious affair; one of the few days in Ireland where drinking is actually frowned upon and there is no corned beef to be found.  You can learn more about that by reading Corned Beef & Other Irish Myths.

St. Patrick's Day Recipes on Food NetworkSt. Patrick’s Day was first celebrated in the New World in Boston in the year 1737 and it has since spread across the country.  In Chicago they dye the river green.  In New York they have a parade.  New Orleans has a parade as well, Mardi Gras style where the throws of beads and doubloons are replaced with potatoes and cabbages.  But you don’t have to head downtown to enjoy the ‘wearing O’ the green.’

Food Network has a plethora of programs to make you shout erin go bragh!  They also have dozens of great recipes on their site that touch on the tradition of the holiday and celebrate the innovation of 21st Century Irish Cuisine.  They have offerings from Alton Brown, Sunny Anderson, Ina Garten, Tyler Florence and more with recipes like Beer-Battered Broccoli, Spinach-Pesto Ravioli, Irish Grilled Cheese (pictured), Emerald Eggs and Avocado Hummus

The crux of FN’s St. Paddy’s Day programming is to send their resident Ginger, Bobby Flay, back to the home of his ancestors for a culinary tour that is second to none.  Here’s a sneak peak as Bobby visits Ireland’s most famous culinarian, Darina Allen:

Corned Beef & Other Irish Myths

Irish Blessing: “May you be half an hour in Heaven before the Devil knows you’re dead.”

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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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