Today, one hundred million households can tune into the Food Network. There are stations in New York, Atlanta, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Detroit, and Knoxville. There are viewers in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Korea, Thailand, Singapore, Philippines, Monaco, Polynesia, and Great Britain. More people watch the Food Network than CNN. It no longer aims to teach cooking techniques or kitchen skills. Instead, it has lurched into the production of cooking shows featuring the assembly of store-bought components, and of cooking-competition shows that choose winners and losers. It also has an unfathomable addiction to cup cakes.
What is turning this huge audience on to all of it’s culinary idols, as featured on the Food Network though my impression is that Guy Fieri takes up 23 of the 24 hours a day. (Maybe many people like him?) Vast swaths of people appear to have the time to watch others cook and eat, and exclaim how good it all smells—but to have no time to cook for themselves.
Everything smells fabulous on the television screen. This phenomenon is frequently noted by Ina Garten, the “Barefoot Contessa,” who cooks for her well-heeled pals and punctuates every divine, “how easy is that?” moment with mirthless laughter. “Smells great” and the words “quick” and “easy” are well-known to the perpetually smiling and cleavage-revealing Giada and the lovely folk who come and go promising dinners that cost mere pennies and are quick and easy…and Oh Yes! Smells Great!!!
Breaking into the Food Media
The Emmy-nominated food-show producer and director Irene Wong offers some sound advice:
“If you want to be in front of the camera, my advice is to watch a lot of food programs. Get an idea of why each show works. Why is Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives among the most popular shows on the Food Network? Why is Rachael Ray so appealing? They’re giving the audience something they want. Figure out how you are going to deliver what you want to say about food, but also what the audience wants to hear. Find out what your food identity is, what your food voice is. Your brand. Make it stand out from everyone else. If you’re the only person who can deliver your brand, that will make you more attractive to television executives, because you will be irreplaceable.”
It also helps a lot to take a media training course. Performing in front of a camera is a lot harder than it looks.