The Clean Plate Club, Episode #14: Allen Salkin (Author “From Scratch: Inside The Food Network”)

So as many of you know, I spent a year hosting a web show for the Food Network that brought me face-to-face with some of its biggest stars: Rachael Ray, Bobby Flay, Alton Brown. I haven’t really talked about what I saw behind the scenes but in this week’s podcast, I open up with journalist Allen Salkin who just released a fascinating book called From Scratch: Inside The Food Network. Listen in and learn what Food Network culture’s really like, why their ratings are going down, how they handled the Paula Deen crisis and what they could do to save themselves. You can also listen in iTunes by clicking here.

Sandra Lee’s Fake Tan

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This is not an April Fool’s Joke. The other day I was at my friends’ Jim and Jess’s place and Jess was like, “Oh my God, you guys have to see this.” She loaded up an episode of Sandra Lee’s new show (the one where she recreates fancy restaurant dishes at home, if you consider a $69 hot dog from Serendipity a fancy restaurant dish) and froze the screen on the shot you see above. What became immediately clear is that Sandra Lee either has the same DNA as a black-and-white cookie or the fake tan she paid for earlier that day had only been applied to the backs of her arms and hands. When she turned her arms the other way they were stark white. The lesson here is obvious: if you fake tan before you cook (and who doesn’t?) be sure they spray you on all sides.

In Praise of Chopped

With The Taste launching on ABC and Top Chef enjoying its 74th season, I’d like to offer up a radical idea: the best cooking competition show on TV is Chopped.

These other cooking shows, with their high-stakes drama and interpersonal conflicts, are 30% cooking, 70% fluff. Chopped is 90% cooking, 10% fluff. Iron Chef comes the closest to that ratio, but Iron Chef insists on a level of theatrics (see: The Chairman) that detracts from the show’s authenticity. Chopped has a format that couldn’t be more straightforward. Round one: four contestants make an appetizer from a mystery basket, one is eliminated. Round two: the remaining three make an entree from a mystery basket, one is eliminated. In the final round, the remaining two duke it out over dessert.

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Lentils with Bacon

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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I really like Anne Burrell’s show on Food Network. I Tivo it and watch it each week, and more than other current Food Network show it inspires me to cook. I’ve made her deviled eggs, I’ve made her chicken liver mousse (which didn’t come out too well, so I don’t think I posted about it) and–this weekend–after seeing her serve grilled salmon on a bed of stewed lentils, I decided to get off my couch and recreate the picture on the screen (minus the salmon). The best part is I didn’t even have to go food shopping to do it.

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Food Tech #4

Doesn’t he look a little familiar? And why does he smell so much like wood?

[Ok, I’ll explain: when I hosted The FN Dish, I interviewed Ted Allen on the set of his show “Food Detectives.” They asked if I wanted to be a “food tech” and there I am! Not sure if this clip is online legitimately, so watch it before it’s taken down.]

Who Buys The Food for Food Network?

Meet Dave Mechlowicz….

If you’d like to get Dave’s recipe for Black Bass with Fennel and Blood Orange Salad or if you’d like to enter to win a package of Esposito’s sausage, click here.

And for those who watched Next Food Network Star, don’t miss my viewing party with Sunny Anderson… click here!

The Grilling Episode

You were probably wondering where the music was last week. Well, I had something up my sleeve: this week’s episode of the FN Dish (click here) features a song written and performed by yours truly. Again, this week is a quirkier Adam-like episode so hopefully fans of last week’s will enjoy this too. And if you love it, please link to it, e-mail it, embed it on your blog. Thanks!