Cutthroat Kitchen – “Chopped” with Math
If you have read any of my posts about the “Whoosh” silliness of Iron Chef America or the all-around craziness of Chopped, you know that although I’m fond of the Food Network, I feel that whoever’s in charge has lost his mind. That is, if he ever had one.
Let me explain.
I discovered the Food Network years ago when Emeril was just beginning and was at his prime on the network. Alton Brown was giving incredibly scientific and educational cooking tips on “Good Eats,” and Mario Batali had an audience of three/four people on his “Molto Mario” show. That’s where I learned how to properly pronounce “Gnocchi,” as a matter of fact!
My my my. How things have changed.
For a very brief period of time, for instance, Food Network had Iron Chef America exactly right. Based on the Japanese program Iron Chef (very badly dubbed, but entertaining nonetheless), it took a season or two for it to hit its stride, and for a few years was the quintessential cooking program. I could easily imagine chefs figuring out what to do with a particular ingredient for their menus, and this was the show that showcased that. Then somebody – a “suit” who doesn’t cook, no doubt – thought that “The Chairman” was more important than he ever should have been and started incorporating “whooshes” in everything he did. Turning his head is a whoosh. Moving his arms is a whoosh. Looking at the camera is a whoosh. Next season, you will hear a whoosh when he blinks his eyes. Sheesh. So cheesy, and not in a good way.
But I digress.
Somebody thought that incorporating competitions and challenges was a good idea. Admittedly, for the most part it wasn’t too bad. I enjoyed the first season of the “Next Food Network Star,” which discovered my boy Guy Fieri, as well as the other shows based on cakes, cupcakes, and the next Iron Chef (which, after Michael Symon and Jose Garces, is another rant). All fun, but a nice distraction from the “serious” cooking shows that I had come to know and love.
Then they cancelled Emeril and somehow later incorporated Chopped.
I miss Emeril’s shows desperately because along with Doc, had an entertaining program filled with cooking tips and great fun. When he came to Vegas oh so many years ago, the Convention Center was packed and we cheered lustily as Emeril made glorious food and credited his staff for making him look good. (Paying attention, Martha Stewart?)
Then along came Chopped. Really?!? A program based on making something edible out of inedible ingredients? Somehow it took off, and I reluctantly admit that it’s one of my guilty pleasures. Somehow it has hit a chord with people and its popularity is undeniable.
And then we get to Cutthroat Kitchen and my idol and mentor, Alton Brown. I didn’t think it was possible, but this show makes the great Alton Brown, a self-deprecating, incredibly gifted, and spontaneous, intelligent chef, look like a jerk. He’s become the Chuck Barris of the Foodie set. His exquisite mind and talent has been denigrated to the position of lead a**hole because some suit thought that this type of show was a good idea. How can a show that’s vaguely like Chopped, with ONE judge, and involving Math (“Do you want to spend $$$$ out of your $$$$ to screw your competitor or not?”) possibly be fun? Why should I need a calculator when I’m just wanting to be entertained or educated? Is this a good idea?
Trust me, it’s not. It takes two minutes on the Cutthroat Kitchen site to find out that I’m not the only one who feels this way.
Ah Alton, me boy! What happened to ye?
While Chopped ended up being a cult favorite and a lot of fun (and the fact that Ted Allen looks like my friend John Curtas of Eating Las Vegas doesn’t hurt in my book), Cutthroat Kitchen is an embarrassment to Food Network. The suits in charge need to be fired and the network needs to to get back to its basics – cooking food. It worked for Julia Child, after all.
When it has gotten to the point that I DVR everything so that I can skip the annoying parts (i.e., Chairman’s Whooshes) or would rather watch anything else, then maybe they should be paying attention. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one. And when I talk to coworkers who say that they don’t even watch the Food Network any more because of the silliness, then maybe somebody needs to take heed.
But just like other rants and the Federal Government, the wishes of the people will be ignored. Let’s just cater to the lowest common denominator. That’s all that counts.
I said all of that to say this: in spite of the fact that it has a glorious host, Cutthroat Kitchen sucks. Big time. Worst show on TV. Not *ever,* but pretty damn close. It needs to go away.
There. I feel better. Hope it does some good.