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Eating The Competition: it's time for the judges to be judged



I admit it. I watch a lot of the Food Network's programming and do so not so much for the food but for the characters like Paula Deen whose secret ingredients in every recipe are butter and sugar. There's no amount of both that will do for this Southern lady and talk about running counter to modern eating trends, Paul keeps old school grub alive.

Then there's Giada De Laurentis who is my idea of the perfect Italian chef-attractive and I presume a great cook.

How about Sandra Lee? For years I labored under the illusion that her show was a parody of the culinary life of a 1950/60s perfect suburban housewife. It isn't.

On the male side, Bobby Flay oozes New York uber confidence and strut, a nice bit of sour to leaven the network's sweet.

When it comes to on-camera personality, Flay has nothing on the network's biggest star, which isn't the raspy voiced Rachel Ray but Guy Fieri. Northern California chef and restaurant owner Fieri won the Network's "Next Best Chef" contest a few years ago and bleached hair, tats, big rings, pierced body parts and all has become a one man cooking show juggernaut. He's also gotten the attention of the major networks and hosts a lame NBC game show program.

Fieri 's "Diners Drive-ins, and Dives" is easily the most entertaining show on the Food Network as he explores the gastronomic pleasures of places so aptly identified in the program's title. Places that serve food that make Paula Deen's cooking look like lean cuisine (might I suggest my local fav-the Pilot Butte Drive-In-for inclusion in the show?)

Triple D, as Fieri calls it, delivers heart-stopping, artery clogging food to die for - literally.

Fieri also serves as the emcee for a program called the "Ultimate Recipe Showdown" which pits four amateur chefs in a cooking contest to win $10,000.

I like this show because of its judges, the three of whom tend to be supportive of the chef's efforts and when they damn their dishes, they do so by way of faint praise.

That can't be said for another Food Network show called "Chopped" and others where the competing chefs are treated like scum by the judges.

Being a snot nosed jerk seems to come with the judging territory. Ooze elitism, snobbism and every bad "ism" possible and act as if you've never ever done anything so rash as to burn toast and you too can be a Food Network judge.

Watching the jerk/snobs judges got me to thinking that the Food Network ought to offer a payback show where the snobby foodies get their comeuppance. A show that features the oh-so-superior trying to prepare duck a l'orange in fifteen minutes.

In my dream payback show, the snobby judges get lambasted by amateur cooks to the point where they slouch off the set in tears to wail and moan over a glass of Chateau Lafite '63.

Of course, this show will never get the green light as snobby critics are a staple of Food Network and part of its franchise.

Maybe a better comeuppance would be to have the snobs host a segment of "Diner's Drive-ins and Dives" and see how they fare.

Chances are their delicate palates would revolt and their delicate sensibilities would be permanently damaged.

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