My apologies to the three of you, but it’s been a rough school term the last few weeks which has been keeping me from my posting duties, and as I hurtle towards the end the work is piling up: multiple research papers due at nearly the same time, an entire ethnography on the Azande of the South Sudan to struggle through, and various other readings for final exams…
In the meantime, Chopped All-Stars has returned to Food Network and I have sat and stared at it with great trepidation – almost as much trepidation as I have had for the upcoming series of the New & Improved Next Food Network Star now not called The Next Food Network Star, a series I have now come to dread with each passing year because it has morphed into an insufferable parody of what it once was and makes me want to drink.
The current episode of Chopped All-Stars – called Prime Time v Day Time – which ran on Sunday, 15 April, as the second of the newest series and host to a face-off between Food Network Challenge Judge Keegan Gerhard, Marcela Valladolid of Cooking Channel’s Mexican Made Easy, Winner of Series Six of The Next Food Network Star and now host of her own Aarti Party, Aarti Sequeira, and Jeffrey Saad, Not the Winner of Series Five of The Next Food Network Star and host of United Tastes of America on The Cooking Channel.
I was always fundamentally annoyed by Jeffrey during the run of The Next Food Network Star in 2009, and after he made his lengthy, impassioned, cringe-worthy, painfully artificial and blatantly over-rehearsed ‘Choose Me Because’ speech on the finale, I’d pretty much had my fill of his grandiose gesticulations and ego-centric ramblings. I hate his programme on Cooking Channel and find it intolerable to sit through. His descriptions of food are often ridiculous, unappealing, and frequently border on the embarrassing.
And so it came as no surprise that when Amanda Freitag, in her capacity as a Judge, made the fatal error of asking Jeffrey to ‘Please tell us about your charity,’ that he went on a circuitous and emotive dissertation which soon had the polite smiles of everyone beginning to fail as their eyes glazed over with boredom.
What did surprise me was that the immaculate Ted Allen didn’t graciously intervene and explain to Jeffrey that Chopped only runs an hour and could he please just wrap it up because there was quite a bit of important cooking left to do.
It’s one thing to be confident about your abilities and proud of what you do. It is another thing entirely to be a pompous twat and crashing boor. Endlessly reminding the viewer of a now almost three-year-old failed Next Food Network Star concept of ‘Cooking Without Borders’ as if it was somehow still relevant to anyone but yourself and claiming that evidently every human on the planet still considers you to be ‘The Spice Guy’ whilst droning effusively on about the relative merits of the charity being played for and how you are deeply connected to it because you once cooked for them does nothing to endear yourself to an audience.
Smug is not the new cool. And anyway, shut the fuck up.
Gratingly, he won the top honours of the programme and will be in the final episode, competing (so far) against Iron Chef Michael Symon, winner of the first round.
Programme three, a flagrant bid for ratings and a desperate pandering to the lowest common demographic denominator, will air on Sunday and – like its train wreck of a predecessor on last year’s All-Star series – will pit an exasperating group of former Next Food Network Star losing contestants, this time all from series seven, against each other: Big Chris, Justin The Second, Fishmonger, the artist formerly known as Vic Vegas, and (need I say it?) Paul Stanley.
Hold on to your cornette, Sister Sixto…