Okay, the gloves are coming off. Before I continue, let me say I respect anyone who can get on camera and project himself as anything other than a blithering idiot. I have had some embarrassing moments on TV and I know it's weird to speak in front of a camera. It must be incredibly challenging to cook, be articulate and charming, and tape a show. It's a TALENT, a GIFT. Few people have the magic and here's my two cents on who's got it - and who doesn't - on the new Cooking Channel:
"Chuck's Day Off" is still leading the pack as the only new cooking show I would record. I owe Chuck for that tip about the oven fries, and from the hits that post (What I'm Learning from Cooking Channel) gets on this blog, others appreciate it too. I would not only go to Chuck's restaurant, but I'd also buy him a beer. Chuck seems like a nice guy who wants you to learn something from his show.
"French Food at Home" makes me want to stick an ice pick in my eye. The host does not come across as likable. This woman rivals Martha Stewart and Madonna in the affected and deliberate enunciation of all syllables, which I could tolerate if the show wasn't a good substitute for Ambien. The shoobie, doobie, do music is so annoying I would rather watch the show muted. Because I feel the need to say something nice, I think she has a lovely French accent. This show might actually be better if she taped it in French.
Now, on to Giada. I love Giada but I don't love her enough to watch her flashing those perfect teeth a gazillion times a day. Cooking Channel goes so far as to put her on in the morning and give her an afternoon double feature. Is this really necessary? Give someone else a crack at the Nutella. My favorite "Everyday Italian" episodes feature Giada cooking with her feisty aunt.
"Spice Goddess" may be a winner. I've only watched it once, last weekend, and the host seems pleasant and interesting. I love trying new spices and she could teach me a few things - no, make that everything -about cooking Indian food. I don't see myself making crunchy lentil cookies but I'll watch her do it.
I also caught an episode of "My Country, My Kitchen," which featured the Brennan family, of New Orleans. This show provides some insight into regional cuisine. I like the way it zeroes in on the subject's favorite places in his hometown. This weekend's edition will feature Eric Ripert touring the mountains of Andorra.
"Nigella Express," another resurrected oldie, is entertaining because Nigella loves to eat. Adorned in a silky robe, she is constantly shown raiding the fridge in the middle of the night. I am convinced the production team has her cooking breakfast all the time to keep her slinking around in that robe. In fact, I recall an episode of "Top Chef" in which the cheftestants served breakfast in bed to pajama-clad Nigella and Padma. I am sure the male viewership spiked, as well as parts of the male anatomy. Anyway, it's fun to watch Nigella indulge without apology.
I would like to "Ask Aida" to leave Food Network, Cooking Channel and all broadcast media. She is okay, but we don't need to see her geeky sidekick reading off his computer screen, posing lame cooking questions. Someone please tell the producers this is not cutting-edge material.
"Simply Delicioso" host Ingrid Hoffman can be entertaining but I saw her once on the worst Food Network show ever, "Paula's Party," and she commandeered Paula Deen, which I found obnoxious. This faux pas remains implanted in my mind's eye and I can't watch her objectively.
Although "Paula's Party" is not on Cooking Channel - and I pray it will remain buried in the cooking show graveyard - I must interject that whoever told Paula to flirt with the male guests and pepper the show with double entendres was severely misguided. Paula, please stick to hoecakes and grits, Granny's pound cake and fried green tomatoes. And here's a suggestion: Instead of plastering your kids' mugs all over your show, how about cooking with well-known Southern cooks and chefs? There are enough great cooks in Georgia alone to keep you going for a coon's age.
Last and perhaps least - "Bill's Holiday." Australia is not known for its cuisine and Bill isn't going to help much. Bill and the "French Food" host should go off into the outback together, and take the long nap they seem to crave. It's almost as if they bore themselves. I have yet to make it through a full "Holiday."
Julia, Mario and Sara rule. They are Cooking Channel's talent trifecta, and they are hard to beat.
Have you watched any of these shows? Let me know what you think. Send me some comments.