Posts Tagged ‘Shinichiro Ohta’

The Foodie 13 – TV Shows

If anyone’s been wondering, running a semi-successful food blog can be exhausting.  I have no shortage of inspiration and ideas to write about, but finding the time to get it all down on virtual paper can be a bit of a challenge.  Plus I impose deadlines on myself (like posting a new Foodie 13 every 2 weeks or so) to try and ensure I’m keeping things fresh and relevant for followers from the internest.  With that in mind, I give you our next installment of the Foodie 13

There’s nothing I love more than foodie TV.  Growing up I could sit and watch cooking shows for hours on end, always captivated and entertained by what was happening onscreen.  When the Food Network finally came to Canada, it was one of the first times I felt like there were other people out there who were just like me.  There’s something so magical (and perverse) about the seeming perfection that’s portrayed on food television that I can’t get enough of, even though like most media, it upholds an unrealistic and mostly unattainable ideal.  As an adult, I find it’s almost the only television I bother with anymore, except for the occasional movie, infomercial (for laughs) or gameshow (Supermarket Sweep anyone?).  So, in no particular order, an ode to some of my favorite TV pleasures both new and old, beloved and reviled.

1- Iron Chef (Japan) - Plenty of people hate this show and think it’s terribly gimmicky, but it’s exactly that kitschiness that I love.  From the bad dubbing and voice-overs, to the cardboard cutout-like poses of each of the chefs, it’s so over the top that you can’t look away.  A few things I especially loved about this program were the Prince of Pasta’s rising out of the floor second-rate intro, the floor reporter always calling for Fukui-san (which to this day I still think of as squeegee-san), and the papi (grandfather-like) Japanese chef Rokusaburo Michiba.  Attempting to watch the American version proves that it literally pales in comparison, and as I’ve noted before, I can’t even be bothered to watch unless Jeffrey Steingarten is on.

2- The Urban Peasant - Watching reruns of this show today is proof that the sands of time can soften memories.  When I was younger I was transfixed by James Barber drunkenly cooking up a storm, but when you revisit the show now, you realize how unappetizing and unsanitary his food and preparation are.  I liken that time in food TV to the wild west; an era where people did not know better, or necessarily realize what would make good TV.  It was definitely the polar opposite of the hyper-stylized completely pre-prepared Rachel Ray type shows we have today, and for that reason alone, it makes it on my list.  Plus, you can’t deny that he always looked like he was having a rollicking good time!

3- Good Eats - Long before Alton Brown became the affable, American version of Shinichiro Ohta, there was (and still is) Good Eats.  A show for the food geek in all of us, Alton managed to combine science, cooking and some unique comic performances into one tight and tasty package.  Always informative, the show specialized in not only teaching you the recipe, but explaining the why behind the recipe too.  I value Alton Brown’s opinion so much that when I once saw a $200 blender on one episode, I ordered it the very next day.  And while the RPM turned out to be nothing more than a flashy kitchen gadget with a tachometer, the show’s cooking advice has never steered me wrong.

4- Cook Like A Chef - I’m almost positive this show never aired outside of Canada, but I couldn’t help but include this small piece of Canadiana.  The premise behind Cook Like A Chef was a revolving cast of great Canadian chefs, showcasing their unique talents for the world to a cool, jazzy tune with lots of 360* shots.  Typically each episode consisted of 2 or 3 segments of the chefs preparing tasting portions of their signature dishes.  Notable names attached to the project included Ned Bell, Michael Bonacini and Carolyn McCann Bizjak, most of whom are probably unknown outside of the Great White North anyway.  While the show originally aired in 2001 shortly after the Food Network’s Canadian inception, it’s been enjoying somewhat of a renaissance now that the Food Network has put a greater focus on Canadian content again.

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