So there’s this new trend of “celebrity chefs” that has been taking America by storm for the past decade. The spotlight and stakes are only getting more intense as the years, months, heck, even days pass…. Vulnerability/Insecurity revealed: Sadly, the Ulterior Epicure is a tad envious of these folks – especially the young ones who are really making a “splash” in kitchen t.v.’s and food columns all over the country. Take, for instance, Dave Lieberman, the newest hot thing to happen to the Food Network. Lieberman, who just landed his own show on the Food Network (“Good Deal with Dave Lieberman“), graduated two years ago from Yale undergraduate, where he received New York Times fame by cooking for his friends in his dorm! I did that! Nobody came knocking at my door. No newspapermen clambered for an interview with me. No local t.v. stations offered to air my charming face on a weekly food segment! Hmphrrrlllll… Now Lieberman’s even got his own cookbook and website!!! I don’t think any other Food Network figures have their own website except Alton Brown (but he deserves it – I love Alton cause he knows his stuff!)
Watching his debut show made me even more upset- he doesn’t cook anything particularly interesting or that creative. What’s the catch? What Lieberman “adds” to the Food Network repertoire is cooking on a “college budget.” Well, I don’t know about you, but anyone with half a wit when it comes to dollars and cents and knows something about market prices should be able to, and probably does, put together a decent meal for very little. I may be over-estimating the American public (that would be a sad observation, indeed), but anyone (and that should be the majority of Americans) who have had to watch their wallet at some point in their lives certainly knows how to scrimp and save on food. I have… yes, even me, whose only life indulgence is food.
So, perhaps these characters are able to provide something that others aren’t – whether it be sex appeal, charm, wit, or just some quarky connection (see : Alton Brown for me)… I mean, look at British food icons Jamie Oliver and Nigella Lawson. Neither cook anything particularly spectacular – heck, Nigella, if I put that much butter, cheese and cream in my food, it would taste and look good too! No… I’ll admit that what Oliver and Lawson can do very well is knock my socks off with their sexy charm…
This makes one wonder… does making yourself known as a media celebrity take a lot more looks than talent these days? I mean, excepting already famous chefs (like Batali, Puck, and Legasse), how receptive would the networks and audiences be the introduction of another Julia Child-like figure now? (Not that anyone could replace Julia Child, God rest her soul)
Sigh… so, I don’t want to love ‘em or hate ‘em – gosh, I wish I could just join e’m… Mr. Bruni, ready to retire yet?