The Food Network Delusion

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No, you are not a star and probably never will be. And that’s okay.

I don’t subscribe to Food Network Magazine – someone pointed out the March 2014 “Bacon Edition” to me, and especially the caption above the pictures? It pretty much leapt out at me.

“Cook Like A Star!” is the declaration. Okay, Food Network, listen up. First, you are sensationalists. You’re not journalists. You’re the National Enquirer with a stove. You will alter, adjust and manipulate the truth; you’ll take words on a story angle and soft-soap it, over-embellish it and even lie in order to sell a few magazines. Your programming is an exercise on how to delude a nation into thinking everyone can be a world-class chef and have their own cooking show. Nice try.

Friends, I’ve cooked in restaurants and commercial kitchens. There is absolutely no glamour in this. It’s work. Hard, hard, hard work. I’m disgusted that Food Network continues to try to swindle its viewers and readers into believing this. Restaurant kitchens are hot, dangerous places. Every week, without fail, you WILL bleed when you get cut or knicked up. You WILL get burned on your hands and arms. You WILL sweat a river down your backside and you WILL smell like the inside of an old fisherman’s boot. Your body will retain and emit the telltale scent of fried oils for weeks; even long soapy showers won’t rid you of the odor.

I worked in kitchens years ago not because I wanted my own television show, but because I get my kicks working with food everyday and I love taking scraps and turning them into delicious food.

Memo to Food Network and whomever thinks this is a glamour biz: THE FOOD IS THE STAR! NOT YOU! THE FOOD WILL ALWAYS BE THE STAR!

For anyone to posture that they are the star in the kitchen is both delusional and dishonest. There are very few Brillat-Savarains among you; the visions of a Paul Bocuse would look like a hieroglyph to the mind that thinks Giada De-whatever is the Second Coming. Sauteeing zucchini blossoms does not a cooking genius make. The real, true food masters come along only once in a very great while. Most likely you are not that person. Neither am I.

The Le Cordon Bleu Cooking School TV commercials postulate the same thing Food Network does: That being a chef is a glamorous occupation. There is nothing glamorous or star-reaching about graduating from cooking school $50,000 in debt and getting to work for peanuts in a sweltering kitchen prepping veggies and cutting squid; you’re not only super tired at the end of each day, you’re stuck in the naked realization that it’ll take you the better part of a decade or more paying off your student debt on $10 per hour.

But hey, good luck with that. Take my advice – if you want to cook for a living, the first rule is: You’re not a star. And you certainly don’t need the Food Network for direction or inspiration and there are much better and cheaper options than Le Cordon Bleu.

Bon appetit’, y’all.

-Dirty Jack


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