Open Letter to TV Chefs Everywhere

Tomato and mozzarella salad

Dear TV Chefs

I’ve been unwell for several days and have not managed to do much more than decant myself from bed to couch in the morning, and then back up to bed at night. I have pretty much just watched the Food Network all day, in between bouts of napping, for several days. An odd choice of viewing perhaps when I’ve had no appetite, but having the time to watch so many lovely food shows was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.

I love your shows, I really do. However, having watched so many of them over the last few days, I have a few comments and requests…

1) When you are making bold statements like “You can cook this full three course meal in under 30 minutes!” please remember that we do not have someone in the background who has prepared all the ingredients, and laid them out nicely in little dishes on the counter ready for us.

2) Lead by example and practise good kitchen hygiene please. I see a whole lot of cross-contamination going on. I know most of the hand washing and cleaning happens off-camera because it doesn’t make for interesting viewing, but I’m sure you can find a way around that. Some TV chefs do. And if you have long hair, please tie it back, yeah?

3) I hate coriander/cilantro (note. coriander is the British word for cilantro). I wouldn’t mention this because of course we all have our likes and dislikes, except that this particular herb brings out extreme revulsion in a lot of people, read this if you want to know more. I accept that a lot of people do like it, but is it really necessary to include it in 4 out of 5 of your dishes?

4) It would be nice if you could show a little, just a little, restraint with your gushing self-praise about how delicious your dishes are when you taste them. It’s kind of embarrassing to watch sometimes. This is not helped by the fact that you are talking with your mouths full too.

5) I’m afraid I don’t own an oyster clamp. And I don’t own a set of 6 different sized double-depth hexagonal loose-bottomed non-stick fluted flan tins either (mine aren’t fluted). Nor a pierogi maker. Just sayin’.

I think that’s it. Overall you’re doing a great job, and if you’re looking for a TV Chef sidekick anytime, give me a call ok?

With fondest regards
Vanessa

photo credit: visualpanic via photopin cc

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105 responses to “Open Letter to TV Chefs Everywhere

  1. So coriander and cilantro are the same thing, eh? Well, I learned my new thing for the day.

    Get better my friend.

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  2. Sorry to hear that you aren’t feeling well. Food is the LAST thing on my mind when I’m under the weather. I got hooked on spy shows when I was recovering from surgery. That’s not good either… 😉

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  3. Hope you feel better soon! And maybe those chefs could prepare a few more dishes that wouldn’t add pounds and risk of heart attacks, strokes, and Type 2 diabetes to our lives?

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  4. Sorry to hear you’re not well. Nice post, even though you’ve had no taste for food. Most observant.

    Another thing I wish those chefs would NOT do is not WASTE so much food. Have you notice what they scape off the work counter? I’ve winched many a time. The waste alone would feed me for a couple of WEEKS.

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  5. I have to reblog this as soon as I can. This was great!

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  6. Ha! I would say the very same things in my letter. Oh, if only we had someone else to do all the prep work. Think how quickly we could get things done. And I, too, hate cilantro. Just can’t tolerate the taste. I’ll have to go click that link you provided.

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    • Oh, and by the way, hope you feel better soon. Sucks to be sick. 😦

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      • Cilantro definitely tastes like soap or detergent to us cilantro haters doesn’t it. I knew that at least one of my commenters would say they hated it too; it’s pretty common. Mexican restaurants are a particular problem aren’t they!

        And thank you for the good wishes. I very rarely get sick, but this has kind of wiped me out for 5 solid days now, it’s got to start easing up soon!

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  7. Those last two especially cracked me up. I didn’t know the coriander thing either. Neat!

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  8. I have had many of the same thoughts as you – good post – hope you start feeling better

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  9. Hahahaha! Hilarious! Loved it X

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  10. What’s an oyster clamp? Should I ask for one for Christmas?

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  11. Get better. Loved this letter. You hit all the points I’ve wondered about too.

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  12. Vanessa, you hit on one of my pet peeves for these shows…hygiene! I have seen chefs, wipe their noses with their hand while cooking, continue to cook and then serve the host of the show, never once washing their hands…gross, gross, gross! Where was the editor for that shot?

    Amazingly, I like coriander in small doses, occasionally. I once had a roomie who used large amounts daily. And, after a while the smell is pretty sickening.

    Love your critique…feel better!

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    • I know, and they stick their hands in all the food, and they taste something on a spoon and then put the spoon back into the dish. The other thing I don’t like is when they film chefs in real restaurant kitchens and they have sweat literally dripping off their foreheads while they’re leaning over the dishes, yuck – sometimes it’s best not to think about it all too much or we’d never eat out again!

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  13. I like watching Diners Drive In and Dives, just to see Guy Fierri find new ways to say that the food he’s trying is delicious.

    On a side note, Blue Oyster Clamps were popular in the 70’s, but you hardly see them anymore.

    Feel better!

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    • Oh yes, we get a lot of Diners Drive Ins and Dives on our UK Food Network too! He makes me laugh, he’s kind of the stereotype American – big, loud, huge personality, loves big portions of food! I like him, he’s very entertaining. I like how he asks the chefs how they make something, but then he doesn’t really let them speak, he describes it all, and they just get to say “Yes…that’s right….yes…”.

      Thanks for the info on the oyster clamps and the good wishes!

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  14. Giada drives me nuts when she says things like, “I’ll add a teaspoon of sugar to give it, to give it, to give it (this is Giada searching for the perfect word) to give it . . . a little sweetness.” Duh.

    Feel better! Shall I bring you a cup of tea?

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  15. Totally! And plus, do we need to have cleavage hanging out while we’re cooking? I hope you’re feeling better!

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  16. I hope you feel better, Vanessa! The hair and washing thing would definitely bother me. Good call there. They should know better, shouldn’t they, since they’re professionals and all!

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  17. I’m sorry you’re feeling unwell! 😦 I understand about watching food TV, though. Something about the simplicity of those programs makes them easy to watch: no high drama, you can just doze off to the sight of creaming butter.
    …But, oh, my gosh, the sanctimony of some of those hosts! Your points #2 (yuck!) and #4 (*rolls eyes*) get to me all the time. #3 makes me a little sad, though. I couldn’t imagine curry or beans-and-rice without that soapy herb. 🙂

    Hopefully, you’ll feel better soon! And, maybe one of two of those shows will jumpstart your appetite again. 🙂

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    • The other thing is, with the Food Network, I don’t have to worry about having to keep changing channels to find something I like – I basically like all the shows on there, to varying degrees, so I can just leave it on all day! I know that sounds lazy but when you’re not feeling well, even simple things can seem like too much effort can’t they! I had to write this blog post in about 5 sittings because I couldn’t concentrate on it for more than short bursts at a time!

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  18. Great post. I love the Food Network too. Although I’m like you, I don’t have half the equipment and less than a quarter of the ingredients (spices) they use. I am sorry but cilantro is a must for taco meat. Other than that, I’m with you.

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    • Well, I accept that it is deemed to be a must in certain things, but if I can’t stand it, I can’t stand it! It’s so annoying because I’m not a fussy eater at all, but with cilantro, even if there’s a really small bit, I can’t even eat it to be polite!

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  19. Firstly Venessa hope you get better soon… as for the Chefs I do like to watch the shows as well, but being sick would be a good time to watch as one is not keen to jump up and try to replicate some of what they make…
    But you know what I would love to see just one time.. is a Chef taste his own food… pull a face and say “Now where did I go wrong? I will have to start again”…

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  20. I’m sorry you’re feeling sick and I hope you’re better very soon!!! 🙂

    I ❤ Coriander! So much! Yum! You have raised some really great points here! Mind you, sometimes it's not just the chefs that gush (and you're right about the hand washing!) have you ever watched GMTV? I don't really but I sometimes come home from swimming to find Lorraine Kelly brightening up my living room with all her 'oohs' and 'ahhs'. I can't help but think that not everything she's trying is all that great…!

    I love cookery programmes. 🙂

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    • I think coriander is a definite love or hate item, there doesn’t seem to be much indifference towards it, it’s one or the other! I don’t mind the gushing too much in itself, it’s just when it’s about their own cooking! I think my favourite cookery programmes are the competition ones – the stress of it though, I could never enter one of those competitions!

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      • Yeah, you’re right. Mind you I think that celebrity chefs are really big on the ego front – you’ve only got to look to Mr Ramsey for confirmation on that! 😉

        I quite like the Celebrity Master Chef snippets that James Martin plays on Saturday Kitchen. 🙂

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  21. I have always wondered what coriander is! Thank you for solving one of life’s mysteries for me.

    Also, yesterday, they served scones at the staff “appreciation” breakfast. I ate one and thought of you. It tasted kind of cinnamony.

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    • Although, just to confuse matters, the seed of the plant which is used a lot in Indian cooking seems to be called coriander seed in the US, and it’s just the green leaves that they call cilantro, whereas in the UK, we say coriander and coriander seed. So if you hear an American chef referring to coriander, they are probably talking about the seed.

      Scones are pretty much like what you call biscuits, we don’t usually have them cinnamony though! But hey, as long as they made you think of me, that’s the main thing.

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      • I have to reply to the scones thing. They always sound so good! Some friend of mine talked once about scones and clotted cream – supposed to be Cornish, I think. Sounds heavenly! Ever hear of that?

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        • Yes that’s right, it’s all part of the famous ‘Cream teas’ that you get in Devon and Cornwall – A cream tea comprises of a pot of tea, scones served with strawberry jam and clotted cream. It is lovely! You can get cream teas outside of Devon and Cornwall of course, but they’re not the genuine article!

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          • OOh, I would definitely prefer Cream Teas over cilantro! But I guess I’ll have to weigh in on cilantro. Did you know it’s also called Chinese parsley? I bought some once and tried putting it in a salad, but I wasn’t thrilled. I don’t recall it tasted soapy, though. I live in the SW United States, so we have a lot of Mexican food, but I don’t eat authentic Mexican food very much, where a lot of cilantro is used. And now here is a paragraph from Wikipedia: “The leaves have a different taste from the seeds, with citrus overtones. However, many people experience an unpleasant “soapy” taste or a rank smell and avoid the leaves. The flavours have also been compared to those of the stink bug, and similar chemical groups are involved (aldehydes). There appears to be a genetic component to the detection of “soapy” versus “herby” tastes.”
            That’s like with the cruciform vegetables – broccoli, Brussels sprouts, etc. Some people are genetically wired to find them bitter or unpleasant and some people like them. I happen to like “bristle sprouts,” as they call them in the 28th century!

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            • That is fascinating info, Lorinda! Especially the genetic component. I don’t detect any sort of soapy taste or rank smell with cilantro. Now I guess I know why. I often urge people to try foods they don’t like, or think they don’t, and they can’t bring themselves to do it. I think now I’ll stop proselytizing and understand better. I for example, still would not eat a stink bug 🙂

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            • I had heard that before about Brussels sprouts too, that there was a genetic predisposition to not like them in some people! I don’t have that one though, I do like brussels sprouts, just not cilantro! I had forgotten that it is also called Chinese parsley, although I don’t ever remember coming across it in Chinese food before – Thai, Mexican and Indian yes, but not Chinese.

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  22. You’re hired! ….. and I love Food Network as well …. more importantly, i hope you’re feeling better.

    FYI: To all, when looking for a new TV in the stores with the wall of them on display, Food Network is a great channel to compare colors.

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  23. harperfaulkner

    This was worth the read just for your great use of “decant” in the first sentence! Well done. That’s what is known as good writing. That is what separates and defines. Again, loved it! HF

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  24. I’m sorry you’re sick, V. Too bad those chef shows don’t do chicken noodle soup. 🙂

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  25. I hope you’re feeling better. And, I hate coriander too. Horrible weed that some people seem to love. Never understood that at all. 🙂

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  26. I’m glad I read through all the comments first before making a complete fool of myself by being schoolmarmish (that’s American for insufferable). Because yes–coriander is a spice made from the seeds of the cilantro plant. Nice and lemony. Cilantro is the leaves of the plant, and it’s indispensable for making good salsa (unless you hate it). I can so relate to the TV “obsession”. When I first broke my ankle in late December, I was off work for about 10 days and watched the National Geographic Wild channel for hour after hour. So I can’t tell you anything about food (unless you want tips on catching it in the wild and eating it on the spot)! I hope by now that you are much improved and can diversify your TV watching again!

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    • Yes, I had forgotten actually when I wrote this post that in America they still call the seed coriander even though they call the leaves cilantro – when Sillyliss said that she had always wondered what coriander was, that made me realise that she must have been hearing the word in the States and then I remembered!

      I don’t mind the seed, that doesn’t have the taste that I hate from the leaves.

      At least National Geographic is pretty educational, so maybe less time wasting than hour after hour of the Food Network! Not that it’s not good to improve your cooking skills and learn new recipes, but…

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      • Not really Vanessa. Food Network is equally if not more educational. When you get better, you might remember enough to cook pasta with sun-dried tomatoes, and I still won’t be able to chase down and eat an antelope.

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  27. I had no idea coriander and cilantro were the same. Oddly, I really didn’t like cilantro as a kid, and now I love it (only fresh cilantro, though, none of the dried stuff). However, I hate raw onions, and some people just really love them. To each their own. 🙂

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  28. Pingback: April Fools Yuks, Courtesy of Vanessa-Jane and The Hook. | You've Been Hooked!

  29. A promise is a promise, lovely lady: you’ve been reblogged on You’ve Been Hooked!

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  30. I hate cardamon and tarragon – but love cilantro – so let’s switch it up in the recipes …. just sub tarragon for cilantro and I’ll do the opposite ~ 🙂

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  31. Hope you’re feeling better now, Vanessa! The thing is, you can’t really miss cooking shows on TV nowadays even if you really tried to!

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  32. Ashley Austrew

    The food tasting is so awkward. Giada is the worst. I think she thinks talking in full sentences with her mouth full makes her seem laidback and more like us common folk. It isn’t working.

    Feel better!

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  33. Roll off the chair funny – and so true!
    If it’s Mexican food – it’s loaded with cilantro (never knew it had another name)…and we throw it in most everything else….except my kid throws it back when visists…at least it’s easy to spot and pick out of salads.
    (skipped over from Hook – but was ambling your way.)

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  34. Love it, love it love !!!

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  35. It makes perfect sense to watch these shows when you are sick and don’t feel like eating. If you watch them when you are well, you get hungry and start eating through the show. You’d eat everything in site. Just like when you go to the grocery store hungry, you always buy things you wouldn’t if you weren’t hungry.

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  36. Hello Vanessa,

    The Hook held a gun to my head and here I am.

    I agree with all your points in this post.

    I’d planned on commenting about coriander seeds vs leaves, but found that you had that covered in your comments.

    As for you use of ‘decant’, I paused over your choice of word, but couldn’t get a proper visual (something I do when I read) because the handful of times over the past two decades that I’ve been in (wo)man down mode, I remember being not as lethargic as I felt. That’s probably because unlike you, my appetite was not affected. Hallelujah! 😉 Good to know you’re well on the mend now. 🙂

    You respond to every comment. Wow.

    Kate

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    • Thanks Kate, that Hook can be a real tyrant can’t he!

      I can’t remember the last time I was unwell like this, usually when bugs are going around they just pass me by, but this one really got me! It’s been a week and a half and even though I’m back at work, I’m still not 100%. But yes, I always respond to every person who comments – if I don’t, it’s because I’ve missed it!

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      • Hello again Vanessa,
        I typically do not comment to a comment. Know what I’m sayin’? But that’s what I like about life – ‘tis typically atypical! ‘Nyway, ‘nuff nattering.

        You said:

        >It’s been a week and a half and even though I’m back at work, I’m still not 100%
        – So I thought the following exchange between a friend of mine and myself *might* make you feel better.

        My Friend: I was sick, Kate. Never been hit so hard with a cold!

        Me: Two reasons spring to mind, Friend.

        i. I know bugs of all kinds have turned more virulent over the past decade to two decades even. I remember people (myself included) bouncing back from colds in a week’s time. But not-so-long ago, I noticed the sniffles (actually, they aren’t just the sniffles anymore) are quite vicious and knock us out for up to three weeks even. (I haven’t had a full blown cold in … can’t remember when because I get on the defensive with the slightest itch in my throat and the most feeble threat of nose drip.)

        ii. Stress is fuel for any sort of illness.

        >But yes, I always respond to every person who comments – if I don’t, it’s because I’ve missed it!
        – I’m not so much saying it’s a good thing because I completely understand people who choose not to or cannot respond.

        It’s more a ‘I like to respond to comment’s on my blog’ thing. And I like it when people with personal blogs respond to comments I leave. 🙂

        >Thanks Kate, that Hook can be a real tyrant can’t he!
        – *nodding head furiously because he’s glowering over my shoulder *

        Kate

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        • Thanks Kate, I don’t always comment on comments to comments, but as you took the time to write all that, I want to acknowledge it!

          The increasing viciousness of bugs is a worry indeed.

          I always feel like if I don’t respond to a comment then it’s as if I’m ignoring the person, and if they’ve taken the trouble to read the post and comment, then I want to acknowledge that. The interactions in the comments is one of the main pleasures of blogging for me.

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  37. Rohan 7 Things

    Haha, absolutely agree about number 4!! My god the faces and orgasmic groans they make are so over the top lol. I’m sure it tastes lovely and you really want to convey the yumminess but come on!

    Thanks for sharing 🙂 All the best!

    Rohan.

    Like

  38. Pingback: Pantsers, Outliners, And Chapter One Paralysis | The Write Transition

  39. Oh jeez, my husband is so with you on cilantro. It’s not that he doesn’t like it – I don’t think he’s ever tried it. To him, it personifies snobbish eating, so he can’t say the word without a sneer.

    Love how you cut out the mozzarella for your photo using your double-depth hexagonal loose-bottomed non-stick fluted flan tin.

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    • It’s not an anti-snobbish thing for me, I’m quite happy to eat snobby foods, oh yes, but cilantro just tastes of soapy poop! And well spotted on the mozzarella, I went to all that effort and you were the only one who noticed!

      Like

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