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Review: Food(ography)

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 Food(ography).

This is another rehashing of a tried and true formula – the food documentary.  It is much in the vein of Food Tech and Unwrapped, though decidedly better than either since it does not promote the mechanization of food as a positive development.

Food(ography) on WannabeTVchef.comThe show is hosted by comedian Mo Rocca (more on him later) and a handful of food writers, food anthropologists, professors and other learned people.  In an episode entitled “Outdoor” one of these great food thinkers, Frances Lam of salon.com, gave one of the best quotes ever about our fast food nation, “You go to your fast food place and you go through the drive-thru and you know what?  It’s never any faster than if you just park the car, walk inside and ask for your cheeseburger to go.”  Lamb continues, “It’s a perversion of the beauty of the drive-in.  The drive-thru is enslavement; the drive-in was freedom.”

There is a reason that Rocca has never been more than a B-list entertainer; it’s the same reason he is only serviceable as a the host of Food(ography) – his voice is terrible.  It’s a shame really because he possesses a dry, quick wit.  He drops a few great one-liners each episode but after a while his voice starts to grate.  I think that is why the producers intertwine so much footage of the aforementioned food experts, to give the viewers’ ears a break.

From a production stand point Food(ography) doesn’t particularly stand out as it uses a ton of stock footage.  Some of it good, some of it not so much.  But it does pack a lot of great information into 60 minutes from a plethora of knowledgeable experts like Lam, Dr. Krishnendu Ray (Professor, Food Studies, NYU) and Southern Folkways Alliance director, the esteemed food writer John T. Edge.

Food(ography) is a very informative show that is entertaining with a ton of upside.  I can easily see killing a rainy day with a Food(ography) marathon.

Ted Allen – the Thinking Man’s Foodie

Originally posted at Paper Palate on August 19, 2008.

Ted AllenThough some of Ted Allen’s fans may remember him from his days as the restaurant critic for Chicago magazine, most of us know him from stints on Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, Iron Chef: America, and Food Detectives. But Allen has been a nationally respected food and wine expert since joining the editorial staff of Esquire magazine eleven years ago.

Ted studied psychology at Purdue University, where he received a B.A. He also has an M.A. in journalism from New York University, as well as an advanced certificate from NYU’s Science and Environmental Reporting Program.  His 2000 Esquire article “This Man Survived Breast Cancer” was a finalist for the National Magazine Award, the magazine equivalent to the Pulitzer Prize.

Allen’s culinary talents and literary acumen have never been better emulsified than in his 2005 Clarkson Potter book The Food You Want to Eat: From Créme Brulee to Cocktails: Delicious Recipes for Entertaining and Everyday.  In The Food You Want to Eat, Ted rethinks calssic recipes like Old School Caesar Salad and Mustardy Barbecued Spareribs. One must-try among the 100+ recipes is the Pan-Roasted Salmon with Tomato Vinaigrette and Thai Green Chicken Curry with Vegetables.

Allen’s book has a number of fans, too: check out some of the star-studded reviews:

The Food You Want to Eat is the book you need to own. Ted Allen is your personal guide to easy entertaining, from thirst-quenching cocktails to classic desserts with a twist, and everything in between.” —Bobby Flay

The Food You Want to Eat is a great first cookbook for anyone and everyone. Ted knows his stuff—which are the best ingredients and what are the smartest, simplest, and tastiest ways to prepare them. More important is his friendliness—he demystifies the daunting mysteries of good cooking, wine pairing and fine dining.”  —Sara Moulton

“When I first picked up Ted’s book, I thought, ‘Ha! How can this man possibly know what I want to eat?’ Then I read it … OK, so he does know what I want to eat, but I bet he can’t make it the way I like it. Then I cooked from the book and … OK, somehow he does know. Accessible, tasty, educational and effortlessly elegant (think Carey Grant), this is the kind of kitchen guide you’ll want to give to all your friends. Just never lend out your own copy.” —Alton Brown

Ted recently answered a few questions for Paper Palate:

Paper Palate: You have worked in both Chicago and New York – how do the restaurant scenes differ?

Ted Allen: New York is the big stage, the biggest stage in America for a chef.  It is a tough market to succeed in because of the competition.  Chicago has a lot of important restaurants and the national press is finally catching on.

PP: What currently has your attention, culinarily speaking?

TA: Barry (Barry Rice, Ted’s Partner) and I have been really getting into the food at this Senegalese restaurant nearby.  I can’t think of the name, but it is very exciting.

PP: You are a renowned food and wine expert, your partner is an accomplished interior designer, and your list of associates includes Padma Lakshmi, Alton Brown, and Carson Kressley – what are your dinner parties like?

TA: Very casual.  We do lots of braises, roasts, and BBQ.  I try to do as much advance work as I can so I can have fun.  Our guests are usually nice, diverse, crazy, funny, and quirky.

PP: Do you have another book on the way?

TA: I just had a meeting this morning to discuss some future projects.  I have a few irons in the fire.

Photo courtesy of chicagobusiness.com.

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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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