In an effort to keep your voracious appetite for my culinary musings satisfied, I’ve decided to start a new feature on this blog, cleverly titled “Amuse Boosh!“.  It features mini-diatribes which will be published in-between my usual long-ass diatribes.  You’re very welcome.  That’ll be ten bucks.

Food Network moved in when Rahm Emanuel moved to D.C.

Food Network moved in when Rahm Emanuel relocated to D.C.

As you are no doubt unaware, Food Network recently concluded its fifth season of The Next Food Network Star.  And I think I speak for all of us when I say: it’s about time!  America was clamoring for a new culinary master to adopt the mantle of “middling cook who makes food like every other housewife on the planet.”  Think of the things we’ll learn!  The myriad ways to make breaded chicken breast!  How to peel garlic by smashing it with the side of your knife!  How to make Kwanzaa Cake!  In case you never knew this show existed, let’s revisit the past winners and their invaluable contributions to The Network, shall we?

  • Dan Smith and Steve McDonagh.  According to Wikipedia, they still host a show called Party Line with the Hearty Boys, which no one has ever seen.  It airs right after The New Adventures of Old Christine.
  • Guy Fieri.  The poster boy for The Next Food Network Star.  He wears his sunglasses on the back of his head when indoors, and makes his signature cocktail with Axe Body Spray and a garnish of man rings.
  • Amy Finley.  Her show lasted six episodes.  For those of you keeping track, that’s five fewer episodes than the run of Cop Rock.
  • Aaron McCargo, Jr.  Hosts the show Big Daddy’s House when not winning James Beard Awards and assuming his executive chef duties at both Le Bernardin and The French Laundry.  Wears large hoop earrings, and makes Emmit Smith sound erudite.

Pretty stellar list, no?  I’m sorry, let me try that last sentence again: “Pretty stellar list?  No.”  Although, I guess that when you start out with a dozen-or-so contestants whose culinary points of view are some derivation of “I want to make gourmet food accessible,” regardless of the fact that they’ve never cooked gourmet food to begin with, you’re not exactly going to get the next Wylie Dufresne.

And, true to form, the Food Network decided to select yet another housewife to teach us invaluable skills which will allow us to make the same food ten other housewives on the Food Network are making, all in the hopes of getting us to never watch the Food Network again.  Melissa d’Arabian  emerged as the show’s victor, a few months ago, based on her show’s concept, which cast her in the role of the “Rescue Chef.”  Which would have been awesome, had it consisted of her covertly recovering hostages, rather than turning typical pantry ingredients into typical, boring meals.  An interesting thing happened on the way to inevitable first season cancellation, though: instead of Melissa’s original concept of helping out confused home cooks, Food Network was all, “Fuck this cooking shit – people hate to cook!  Let’s give ’em hints on how to cook as little as possible!,” and re-packaged the show as Ten Dollar Dinners.  I’m not sure if she cooks a dinner for ten bucks, or if she cooks ten dinners for a dollar, each, but either way, you can count me the fuck out.  I’m not saying you can’t cook something good for less than a ten-spot, but – and stop me if I’m repeating myself, here – the fact that a network ostensibly based on the glory and beauty of food is hamstringing someone’s ability to cook based on taste, rather than on time or pecuniary concerns, is kind of obscene.  Not “Sasha Grey” obscene, unfortunately, but obscene, nonetheless.

Ten Dollar Dinners: come for the carrots and embroidered tops, stay for the contrivance and banality.

Ten Dollar Dinners: come for the carrots and embroidered tops, stay for the contrivance and banality.