Friday, June 2, 2006

What's On TV: Throwdown

There is a new show coming this summer on Food Network: Throwdown with Bobby Flay. As with all shows involving Chef Flay (Food Nation with Bobby Flay, Hot of the Grill with Bobby Flay, Iron Chef: Insulting Master Sushi Chef Morimoto with Bobby Flay), this one has to include his name in the title. If I were to judge the entire series by last night's performance, I would say this is the premise of the show: Bobby Flay challenges an "amateur", who just happens to be one of the best at what they do, to a cooking showdown, only to get his butt kicked. Now, I'm not sure where he got his definition of "amateur"; contestant number one had a stack of BBQ trophies taller than Flay himself, and number two was judged in Italy to be the second best pizza chef in the world.

But wait, there's more! Each chef has no idea that they're about to be challenged. They think the camera crew is there to build a Food Network profile. Little do they know that a Celebrity Chef (TM) is about to show up at their family function and start causing trouble. They have no idea that the food that they've just been cooking on camera is about to go up against an accredited chef that has studied them extensively, has been perfecting his recipes in the Food Network kitchens, has been getting a play-by-play of the competition's dishes and techniques, and is allowed to bring whatever equipment he wants to the competition. Isn't that fun? And somehow, despite the huge advantages that Bobby brings to the table, he still loses!

Really, it's not as bad as you think. It is a friendly competition, and both "amateurs" were excited just to meet Flay, and apparently honored that he would "challenge" them in the first place. The BBQ guy kept telling everyone in his family to hug Bobby. Talk about friendly! I had fun just watching people have fun. If you don't mind the documentary narrative that's come to become a standard in All Shows with Bobby Flay, and don't mind the cheesy bicycle courrier who drops off the "challenge" to Bobby (and who looks to my Utah eyes like he's about to go paintballing), then you might want to check it out.

Now, if I were a Professional Food Writer, with "people who know people", I might already have the press release for the upcoming episodes of Iron Chef America, and might even have seen the sneak preview. But I'm not, so I'm going off the commercials for this one. Because there weren't enough Celebrity Chefs (TM) on ICA, and well, Mario Batali seems to be losing ground in the sex appeal categeory, there is an upcoming episode featuring two of the Iron Chefs going head to head, with Giada DeLaurentiis (Everyday Hottie Italian) and Rachael Ray (master of the 30-Minute Meal) as sous chefs. Personally, I'm pretty excited. While I don't care for the actual style used in filming Everyday Italian, Giada does know her stuff, and she did spend some time working for former Iron Chef Wolfgang Puck in the Hollywood Spago location. And I do watch Rachael almost every day when I get home from work, and as far as I'm concerned, she could cook circles around Emeril Lagasse.

And for those of you who are also fans of my patron saint Alton Brown, Good Eats has recently embarked on yet another fabulous season. There will be a new episode, House of the Rising Bun, airing next Wednesday. I'm pretty excited about this episode, because an animation in it is said to include the face of Mikemenn, webmaster of the Good Eats Fan Page. A past episode, Stuff It, also features Mikemenn, along with Flowerchick and Holly from the GEFP Message Board, as "average American cooks".

Alton has also been filming Feasting on Asphalt, a show that he's particularly excited about, as am I. He will be driving across the country on his motorcycle, sampling the local food as he goes. Apparently, he plans to be stopping in Utah, if he hasn't already, though his press release does not say where. The show premiers on July 29, thankfully just after I get home from my upcoming trip to Las Vegas, and will be a 4-part mini-series.


  1. The standard definition for Amateur is "not professional", where a professional is someone who makes a profession of it (gets paid to do it). It is not necessarily the case that a given professional is better than a given amateur, and in fact sometimes the amatuers really whip the pros.

    Generally speaking, the majority of pros are better than the majority of amateurs just because they do it all the time and as we know practice makes permanent.

  2. You know, that's what I thought. And it makes sense to call that BBQ guy an amateur, since he really just competes as a hobby. But didn't that pizza guy run his own restaurant? Wouldn't that make him a professional? Just thoughts.

  3. It was a decent show, but could definitely be done better. I was extremely impressed by that guys ability to throw pizza though!

    "Imagine the gluten on those suckers..."

    As for the courier, he did look ready for paintball. What bicycle courier in NYC is going to ride around in Urban Camo?! Sure, I'd love a pair, but in his situation, I'd kinda like to get noticed.


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