Travel Channel

Food Network Canceled?

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
04/01/12

POPULAR FOOD NETWORK TO CEASE PROGRAMMING AT MONTH’S END

Alton BrownNew York City – The E.W. Scripps Company announced today that after 19 years in production their popular Food Network will cease programming at the end of April. The move took many in assembly by surprise. The press conference was held at Chelsea Market on 75 9th Avenue, home of the Food Network Studios.

Milton Funderburk, Acting Assistant Vice-Chairman of Cable Programming for Scripps was asked why the media conglomerate was closing the doors on its most popular cable franchise, “The time is right. After all when we purchased TFN back in ’97 we thought it would fail miserably.  That was the plan.

“We acquired the Network as a tax right off. We never dreamed anyone would actually watch it. Our thought was why would anyone want to watch someone else cooking on TV? I mean if they wanted to see someone cook, they could just go cook something.  Apparently we under estimated the American public’s desire to live vicariously.”

Comments from Guy Fieri on Food Network’s pending demise.  Article continues below.

Since the Food Network began programming in 1993 viewership has continued to grow though it was shaky in the beginning.  Those first shows featured chefs who were virtual unknowns like Bobby Flay, Mario Batali and Emeril Legasse.  Now it is one of the most successful cable channels in television history which fueled more questions about why Scripps was giving TFN the axe.

Funderburk explained, “It wasn’t long after we took the Network over that we realized, we may have stumbled onto something here.  Viewership was growing exponentially and other vicariousity networks were springing up.  Not only were viewers watching people cooking instead of cooking themselves but they were watching the Travel Channel instead of going on vacation, eschewing exercise for the Fitness Channel and watching HGTV in living rooms that were literally falling apart around them.  I’ve heard that Time Warner is actually planning on unveiling the Sleeping Channel for people who are too lazy to fall asleep for themselves.

“The trend even crossed over into mainstream media.  Instead of keeping up with politics America was watching The West Wing.  There was no reason to invite the annoying neighbor over when you could tune into Jay Leno.  Why watch fact-based news programming when there was MSNBC?”

When asked about the future of Food Network Canada Funderburk replied, “That’s toast, too.  Not that anyone will notice, it’s Canada.  I know it’s the largest state in the US but hardly anyone lives there.  Let’s be honest if it wasn’t for the band Rush America would have never bought Canada from the Alaskans.”

The ultimate reason Funderburk offered for 86’ing their most popular holding was it’s very popularity.  The demand for food programming is so high that not only have other cable channels like Bravo and TLC entered the market but so have mainstream networks NBC and FOX.

Funderburk, noticeably angry, proclaimed, “If there is one thing I can’t stand it is being copied.  If everyone is going to dabble with food programming then we’ll just wash our hands of the whole thing.  It doesn’t matter to us.  We’ve always got our newspaper division.  That’s not going anywhere.”

MORE ON THIS STORY

Our thought was why would anyone want to watch someone cook.  I mean if they wanted to see that, they could just go cook something.

Is the Brick Pit the Best Que in the South?

In a state that is a veritable melting pot of BBQ styles there is a joint that just may out shine the best in the nation.  While the north end of the state has a style similar to Memphis the east trends towards the high vinegar sauces of the Carolinas.  Of course there is also that unique “Alabama White” sauce made famous by Big Bob Gibson’s.

Now in South Alabama most folks are drawn to the Kansas City style of barbecue imploring well smoked meats with a sweet/smokey tomato based sauce and there is one place that does it better than the rest, The Brick Pit.

The “Pit” is just blocks from the campus of the University of South Alabama and it BBQ Spare Ribslooks like a BBQ joint should.  In a word, shabby.  Uneven floor, wobbly tables and the walls, corner posts and even the ceiling is covered with graffiti.  It is a custom to sign the walls whenever you visit.  The walls are also adorned with awards, national write-ups and pictures of all the of football players and coaches that frequent the week of the Senior Bowl.

The Brick Pit is on virtually every “Top 100″ lists out there and they have been profiled on national TV numerous times.  The menu is simple: pulled pork, brisket, chicken and Mobile’s favorite ribs.  They are tender from smoking not from boiling, steaming or roasting.  Low and slow just like they’re supposed to be.  The sides are the usual suspects – slaw, potato salad and baked beans.  Que is available dry or with a helping of their classic KC style sauce.  The Brick Pit may not be the best BBQ joint in the country but it is definitely on the short list.

Check out this clip from the Travel Channel’s Man vs Food Nation hosted by Adam Richman.

Countdown to the TASTYs

Six or seven years ago I decided that all of my life’s experiences had been preparing me for one thing – to be a TV chef.  The problem was I wasn’t a professional chef and I didn’t live in a large media market.  So I started changing my stars.  I began to write about food, I got out of my cubical and back into commercial kitchens, I started a web site and I bought a video camera.

Since then I have written two cookbooks (one has been nominated for a Gourmand World Cookbook Award), worked as a chef for a multitude of restaurants, appeared on several different TV shows, been the subject of a handful of interviews, I’ve talked shop with Bobby Flay, Ted Allen, Michael Symon, the list goes on and this site is currently ranked by Chef2Chef as one of the top 10 food sites on “the Online.”

My journey isn’t yet complete but at least I can see my destination on the horizon.  Next week I take another step, possibly the most important one so far.  A few months ago I was chosen to be a judge for the TASTY Awards which celebrate the best in food, fashion and lifestyle programming.  Next 2010 TASTY Awardsweek I leave the casual pace of the Deep South and dive head first into the big leagues, Hollywood.

I am attending the TASTYs in person.  I get to meet up with some of my foodie pals IRL like Sara O’Donnel (Average Betty), Manouschka Guerrier (Private Chefs of Beverly Hills) and Susan Irby (The Bikini Chef).  Susan has been chosen as the TASTY Awards Red Carpet Ambassador.  She is giving me the bumpkin-friendly tour of LA.  Irby is originally from Georgia and will keep me from looking like a stereotype – I hope.  It won’t be easy though as I have quite the “todo” list:

1. Ask a Mariachi band to play Freebird.
2. Make snarky comment about Malibu being the poor man’s Biloxi.
3. Go to a Vegan restaurant and yell, “Salad is murder, too!”
4. Check flirtatious girls for Adam’s Apples.
5. Visit a medical marijuana dispensary to see if bunions qualify.
6. Spray paint “SEC Football Rules” on the Hollywood sign.
7. Go to Beverly Hills and ask directions to Walmart.

The TASTYs will be presented January 13th at a Red Carpet Awards Show at Hollywood’s legendary Egyptian Theater with live streaming at Hulu.com.  A few of the scheduled nominees and presenters include Gordon Ramsay (BBC, Fox), Candice Kumai (Lifetime Television, TLC), Luciene Salomone (WE tv), Ryan Seacrest (E!, Fox), Jeannie Mai (Style Network), Aida Mollenkamp (Food Network, The Cooking Channel), Manouschka Guerrier (Food Network), Guy Fieri (Food Network, NBC), Mario Batali (Food Network), Melissa and Joan Rivers (E!), Alton Brown (Food Network), Martha Stewart and the event will be hosted by Travel Channel’s resident funny man Zane Lamphrey.

Sara O’Donnel

“Cupcake Wars” Premieres

Are you serious?  A series about competitive cupcake making?

In case you are lost, what I am talking about the Food Network is premiering a new series about, get this now, competitive cupcake making called Cupcake Wars.  As if elevendy-gazillion cake decorating contests (and none of them good) are not enough now they are going to have miniature cake decorating contests.  I don’t know if there is a market for televised cupcake bakers.  Then again I never dreamed that a glorified karaoke night would ever shatter television records like American Idol has.

Apparently cupcake bakers (cupcakesters?) are very territorial as the original concept for Cupcake Wars was a documentary about their often heated turf wars.  Now the idea of cupcakesters rumbling like the kids in an S.E. Hinton novel has a certain appeal – provided they do battle with rolling pins.  But after some discussion, Super Delicious (the production company responsible for Cupcake Wars as well as Manswers and The Assistant) morphed it into a weekly no-holds-barred, loser-leave-town cupcake battle royal.

What makes Cupcake Wars even more unfathomable to me is that the host’s name is, hold your hat, Justin Kredible.  He fancies himself a magician. For his first trick, I hope he makes this show not suck.

The pilot episode features blogger Natalie Slater (Bake and Destroy) as well as cupcaksters Candace Nelson of Sprinkles Cupcakes and Jane Lockhart of Sweet Lady Jane as judges.  Slater is a tattooed pocket hottie who doesn’t own a bakery but describes herself as being, “obsessed with cake.”  Nelson’s Spinkles Cupcakes is a critically acclaimed bakery in Beverly Hills.  Lockhart opened LA-based Sweet Lady Jane 20 years ago because she felt most commercial desserts were “too sweet.”

The contestantsfor the first episode were Whodidily Cupcakes, Sweet E’s, Hotcakes Bakes and Two Parts Sugar.  Cupcake Wars airs Sundays at 10 p.m. ET on the Food Network.

So I watched and HERE is my review.

Check out my exclusive interview with judge Natalie Slater HERE.

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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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