Review: Everyday Exotic

I finally got a little quality time with the Cooking Channel so I am attempting to review several of the shows I have not seen.  This time around I’ll take a look at Everyday Exotic.

I really like the premise of this show, “Chef and musician Roger Mooking gets bored easily. Bored of the same old everyday meals we all end up making time and time again. His mission? To give everyday weekday meals a fantastic exotic twist with one new ingredient.”  Mooking calls the key element his “obedient ingredient.”

Everyday Exotic is another Food Network: Canada import just like David Rocco’s Dolce Vita.  It is exactly the kind of show that Food Network (the original) has forgotten how to do – the kind that teaches and inspires.  And Mooking is exactly the kind of host I enjoy watching.

Roger Mooking on WannabeTVchef.comRoger Mooking seems like the kind of guy I would like to hang out with, fun loving and energetic.  He is also quite knowledgeable and that I can respect.  Perhaps it is because we have a lot in common.  He’s a musician (check), a chef (check), professes to having a very loud laugh (check) and creating things for people to enjoy (check).  He is a true Renaissance man.  Mooking lives life rather than enduring it.

Musically he is quite gifted having won a Juno Award (the Canadian equivalent of a Grammy) and three Much Music Video Awards.  He also performs the theme song to the show, a nice little touch.  It’s the best cooking show theme since the hot guitar riff on Boy Meets Grill.  I can dig that he is always singing while he cooks.  I also love his spice rack – each container holds about a pound (not ounces) of dry spices.  I asked Roger where he got it and he replied, “It was custom built Stuart. One day its gonna be available. Everyone wants to cheap it out. I cant have that.”

The show as a package is a home run.  It teaches without coming across as a lecture, credit that to Mooking’s easy going style.  The cinematography is aces making for great food porn.  In fact, the production value is top notch in every regard.  It’s a shame that Scripps has relegated one of it’s best shows to it’s triple A networks.  Of course if the quality of the Cooking Channel’s programming maintains it may soon take over as the flagship property of the Scripps TV empire.  It is easily the best “stand and stir” food show on television right now.

Now dig the hip theme song.  It has replaced Katy Perry’s “Psycho Love” as the song I can’t get out of my head:

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 EasyMME 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.”


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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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