adventures in craft beer and real food

Friday, March 14, 2008

Prelude to pi

Happy pi day everyone!

Sorry for the tease yesterday, but the pie has some stage fright.

Actually I'm going to Chicago on Saturday and I need to wake up very early...  and the pie hasn't finished setting yet.  I'll give the pie a proper right-up tomorrow after I get back.

In the meantime, here's a picture of Ommegang Chocolate Indulgence Pie.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Thank you!

Thank you, Lisa, for adding a link to Pint and Fork from your blog Champaign Taste.

And welcome to any new readers!

Stay tuned for a special Friday pi day contribution! I'll be serving up a porter pie.

... or maybe a surprise!

Monday, March 03, 2008

Television notes: Dinner Impossible

Just after coming out with the Dinner Impossible cookbook, Mission Cook, the Food Network has decided to not renew Robert Irvine's contract. This has been all over the blogs and forums, so I don't want to rehash old news. But for those of you who haven't heard yet, he's been accused of embellishing his resume as follows:
• On Dinner Impossible, he says that he is a knight. In one news story, he claimed that he was a Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order -- the highest level of knighthood. An article in the Saint Petersburg Times quotes Buckingham Palace press officer as saying, "He is not a KCVO Knight Commander of the Victorian Order and he wasn't given a castle by the queen of England."
•On Dinner Impossible, he says that he cooked for the royal family. He says that he was in school when a cake was being made for Princess Diana. In the same article, he said that his role was "picking fruit and things like that."
•Robert Irvine's webpage said that he had a degree in food and nutrition from the University of Leeds. But Sarah Spiller, a press officer at the University of Leeds said that "we cannot find any connection in our records between Robert and the university."
In fairness, Robert Irvine issued a statement apologizing for unspecified "embellishments" to his resume. Despite that he has been much maligned on the internet for his predictable, traditional cooking, the fact of the matter is that Robert Irvine is a tasteful and competent chef. He's the kind of guy that you want around when you have to feed the 5000.

Still, the mind wonders what kind of hiring process the Food Network has. Do they even bother calling references?

This places the Food Network in a very odd position. As Project Runway Season 4 winds to a close this week, Bravo has been running advertisements for Top Chef Chicago that say flatly that it's the "#1 food show on cable." The Food Network must undoubtedly be sour that the "#1 food show on cable" isn't on their network. They even tried to copy the Top Chef model in the next Iron Chef competition, and it didn't even come close to the quality of Top Chef. Shows like Ace of Cakes, and – you guessed it – Dinner Impossible, are promising shows that offer a glimmer of hope about the future of the Food Network and food television in general. It won't be the "chop like this" show that's become entrenched from everyone between Julia Child and Rachel Ray. It'll be entertainment. Unlike older shows which require the elevation of the host to some level of celebrity status to be compelling, or more recently have some tacky quirk to them (I won't name names), these shows highlight hardworking and skilled professionals. The Food Network's "we don't need Emeril or Mario" attitude takes the network in a direction opposite the kind of food seriousness I expect. For the sake of the Food Network, I hope it embraces these shows and doesn't drive them from the temple.

The Food Network has announced that they would seek a new host for Dinner Impossible after the conclusion of the second season. Unfortunately, Robert Irvine's personality and manly derring-do is what makes the show worthwhile. It's really a show about time management and planning more than it is about cooking, and Irvine explains why he's making choices to meet the requirements of the challenge. It just wouldn't be the same to see some cleanly prepackaged made for tv persona like Bobby Flay take it over, for example (not that he would, but you know what I mean). I'm sure Flay could feed 2700 people in 8 hours, too, and maybe could create more creative dishes. But I think what makes Dinner Impossible so remarkable is that Robert Irvine, while being a skilled chef, isn't Bobby Flay. He's not some famous television personality, or known for being a master technician. But you get the sense that he's real, and somehow authentic. He's got a chef's temper. Hell, he doesn't even look like any other chef I've ever seen.

Since the Food Network needs Dinner Impossible, and since Dinner Impossible needs Robert Irvine, and since Robert Irvine has apologized for his actions, the Food Network should seriously consider renewing his contract for a third season.