The Power of the Food Network

In Television on December 5, 2011 at 1:34 pm

by:  Mary Coan


It started innocently. An hour here or there, maybe a few minutes before a quick dessert with Rachael (Ray) before I started my homework. Before I get any more mysterious or creepy, I’m going to admit that I’m talking about my burgeoning obsession with the Food Network. Beginning shortly after my parents finally caved and got satellite service when I was in middle school (if only you could have heard my brother and I shriek for joy when we got the news), I discovered this mystical channel called the Food Network. It had shiny new kitchens, unchipped dishes, and clean ovens. It wasn’t long before I fell in love.

But what is it exactly about the Food Network that presents itself as a siren song to my potentially productive self? It’s hard for me to pinpoint my favorite Food Network host, nevermind the best thing about then entire network. Here’s the condensed list:

  1. It’s accessible. Who can’t turn on the TV and find Food Network? Yes, smarty pants, if your cable or satellite package doesn’t include it (my condolences), good luck finding it. Not only is the actual network accessible, but many of the hosts and their recipes are simple, can-do dishes. Some, not so much. Ina Garten, bless her heart, uses ingredients like truffle butter and crème fraiche. Mind you, I had to Google crème fraiche to make sure I was spelling it right. I don’t really have much of a clue what it is. Ina loves it, though, that’s the good news (and yes, I consider myself on a first name basis with the Barefoot Contessa). Ina’s sophisticated palette doesn’t make her inaccessible: it just provides fodder for my wild dreams of living in the Hamptons with a renovated barn-turned-cooking-show-kitchen-slash-entertainment-space. Even when her ingredients get a bit pricey or extravagant, she goes “back to the basics: barefoot style” and revamps classic dishes like mac n cheese and a million ways to make chicken. And as she would say, “How fabulous is that?”
  2. It’s relatable. Okay, so maybe I’m not a former White House employee or a gourmet food shop owner like  Ina Garten (fun fact: Ina used to work on the nuclear energy policy!), but I do find her style and many other chefs very relatable. “Who has time to make their own chicken stock?” they all say, knowing that I’m not a woman with a lot of time on my hands. Then they teach me how to make time to make my own chicken stock, because the Coq Au Vin just won’t have the same depth of flavor if I don’t. And I believe them! On the whole, isn’t the world just looking for something new and easy to try for dinner? Food Network has got our backs, and to boot, they’ve got a beautifully stocked website that is the stuff of dreams.


And don’t get me started on how often I dream that all the Food Network hosts and I become best friends and have the most delicious parties in existence. Anne Burrell, host of Secrets of a Restaurant Chef, and Alton Brown, host of Good Eats and Iron Chef America commentator, both have great on-air personalities. Anne’s ongoing dialogue with the camera and her cute and quirky little descriptors for her dishes make her audience feel like they’re sitting on the other side of the kitchen counter, watching her concoct her masterpieces (and boy do they look like masterpieces, mmm). Alton brings fresh, clear, scientific explanations to his methods with a Bill-Nye-reminiscent manner that is like watching a mouth-watering science fair. I’ve watched the man make flour tortillas and stash boat-loads in his fridge (and aren’t they one of the cheapest things on your grocery list?) and I am constantly impressed with how thorough he is and his immaculate attention to detail. Alton’s “I’ll do it myself” attitude is endearing and plays greatly to my “Hey, I could do that!” exclamations (I’ll blame that on Martha Stewart, but that’s another story).

  1. It’s delicious. Comedian Jim Gaffigan calls Food Network porn when you’re hungry and I completely agree. What better way to spend my afternoon than snacking in front of the TV? If I choose another channel, I may chance the drama of Judge Judy or the violence of CSI; but if I hang tight with Food Network, I know I can rely on a mouth-watering experience. And for me, there may be nothing more lovely, especially after a long day.



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