Showing posts with label Gordon Ramsay. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gordon Ramsay. Show all posts

Friday, January 10, 2014

The Best Food Shows on TV and the Week in Reviews

[I review the movies "Saving Mr. Banks,"  "Last Love," "Tell No One," "Elysium," "Sightseers," and "I'm So Excited" and recommend a great cookbook].

But first

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you have probably already surmised that I like food and my TV, so it's no wonder that I consider myself a bit of an expert on food programs, not to be confused with "cooking shows."  I don't particularly like watching people cook, but I love watching people running around cooking in competition or traveling the world and eating food in exotic locales.


So here are
Rosy the Reviewer's picks for
The Best Food Shows on TV.



Top Chef


Top Chef is the granddaddy of the cooking show competitions. 

Well established chefs from well- known restaurants all over the U.S. compete for money, but mostly culinary props as "Top Chef." This is a slick show with no heavy handedness, though there is unabashed promotion of the City in which the competition takes place (though when they were in Seattle they shafted us by heading to Alaska after only a couple of episodes)The show is currently in New Orleans. 

The host is Padma Lakshmi, ex-wife of novelist Salmon Rushdie, and I am not really sure what her foodie credentials are.  She is a skinny bitch (pardon my French), who doesn't look like she really likes food, and her main roles on the show are to tell the chef's when they have only five minutes left, taste the food, and basically look good in her tight frocks.  But it's fun to hear her tell the loser "Please pack your knives and go" at the end of each show. 

 "Top Chef Masters" continues the "journey" as past, popular contestants compete alongside other well-known chefs for that highest honor. 

I have to brag that I have eaten at Art Smith's (Southern Art), Richard Blais's (The Spence), Hugh Acheson's (Empire State South) and Kevin Gillespie's (Woodfire Grill) restaurants in Atlanta (thanks to my daughter who lived there for a few years) - all major players in the "Top Chef" franchise. 

And here I am with Richard Blais at his restaurant. 
Yes, I also groupie for famous chefs!
 
Next stop:  Aragona, here in Seattle.  Chef Carrie Mashaney was just booted off "Top Chef" last week after a stellar showing.





The Taste


Think "The Voice" for food. 

Contestants for The Taste prepare one perfect bite of their dish for each judge to try in a blind taste test.  As in "The Voice," the judges choose the best tastes from a blind taste test, the winners become part of their team and the judges mentor them for the rest of the show.   

Marcus Samuelsson joins the judging team this year (it's on now).  He was born in Ethiopia and was adopted by a Swedish couple and he grew up in Sweden. He won "Top Chef Masters" in 2010, and I have had the privilege of eating at one of his restaurants in Stockholm (American Table Brasserie and Bar).  I have fond memories of the cute bartender.  But I digress. Samuelsson now runs a famous restaurant in NYC.  You can read about his life in "Yes Chef: A Memoir."




Anything with Gordon Ramsay


 
Gordon is really a pussy cat.

I know he yells, but from Hell's Kitchen to Kitchen Nightmares to Masterchef, I am a huge fan of Gordon Ramsay's.  Yes, Hell's Kitchen has some ridiculous contestants and, yes, Gordon yells a lot, but I love watching Gordon do his stuff. However, if you are not a fan of people who tell it like it is, you probably won't like Gordon or Tony (see below).  But being direct is also my credo, so I get them and appreciate their talents despite their sometimes jarring sensibilities. 

Read Marco Pierre White's book "The Devil in the Kitchen" if you want to find out why Gordon yells so much.  It's the kitchen culture he grew up with But if you want to see him get all warm and fuzzy, watch "Kitchen Nightmares" where he not only helps people get their restaurants solvent again, he imparts personal advice too.  He's a sort of foodie psychologist.


MasterChef


If you like "Top Chef," you will like Master Chef.

Yet another show we stole from the Brits. As one of the judges, Gordon Ramsay is actually a teddy bear in this one.  Similar to "Top Chef," but with amateur cooks, the contestants are thrown difficult food challenges using strange ingredients and with little time to prepare them.





Anything with Tony Bourdain


If you like food and travel, you will love Tony.

Tony's book "Kitchen Confidential," where he skewered the restaurant industry, brought him to the public's attention, but his TV shows "A Cook's Tour," "No Reservations," "The Layover" and "Parts Unknown" have made him a big star (he is also a judge on "The Taste.")  His shows are not just food shows, but travelogues.  He travels the world and eats, yes, but he also shows the viewer an interesting, unusual and personal side to the countries he visits.  "The Layover" is particularly fun as he shows us what to do in a particular city when we have a 24-48 hour layover.


2015 Update:  Tony came to town and we were able to see him and do a Meet and Greet.  He's a really nice guy!


Food Network Star

Want your own show on the Food Network? 

Contestants are put through their paces to see who has the personality and cooking and TV skills to host their own show.  Winners do actually get their own show and become a Food Network Star, in varying degrees. Guy Fieri and Melissa d'Arabian have been past winners.  Not sure if there will be a 2014 series, but you can find past shows on YouTube. 
(2015 update.  Yes, there was a 2015 series).






Check Please NW/Come Dine With Me


"Check Please" is a TV show that airs in various U.S. cities. 

Three people choose their favorite restaurants and all three eat there and then get together on camera to discuss what they thought.  Yours truly appeared on the show in July of 2012 and if you care to see my star turn, take a look.  "How To Cook a Wolf" was my restaurant.




Currently, you can find this show in Phoenix, Miami, San Francisco and Kansas City, in addition to Seattle.

"Come Dine with Me" is similar, except in this case 4 or 5 people gather at each other's homes to eat a meal prepared by the host.  At the end of the evening, they rate the meal and at the end of the week, the host with the most points wins money.  What makes this show fun is the narrator who tosses out snarky comments throughout.  I started watching this program on UK TV (and you can find it on YouTube), but this year, Lifetime picked up the Canadian version for a few episodes.  Fingers crossed that a U.S. version gets made because it's a great show if you are a foodie.

What are your favorite Foodie shows? 
 



***In Theatres Now***
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
The supposed true story of how Walt Disney secured the rights to make a movie of "Mary Poppins," despite the reluctance and downright irascibility of the author, P.L. Travers.
 
This film embodied what you expect from a Disney film.  It's thoroughly entertaining.  Tom Hanks embodies Walt Disney (it's been a good year for Tom) and Emma Thompson will surely be nominated for an Academy Award for her portrait of Travers, though one could say her performance was a bit on the one note side. 
 
Though I  enjoyed the film very much, my one complaint would be the script.  Throughout the film, I wanted to know why P.L. Travers turned out to be so bitter. In my mind, I couldn't make the leap from her childhood to the bitter middle-aged woman she became.  Yes, she had a traumatic childhood and there were some allusions to other aspects of her life, but the events of her life from childhood to middle age were left unexplainedBut other than that, Mary Poppins is a beloved figure and movie and people sitting near me were singing along with the tunes and smiling, remembering Mary Poppins and her movie and, no doubt, their childhoods, and I think Hubby was blubbering a bit.
 
Rosy the Reviewer says...fans of Mary Poppins and Disney films will love this.  The acting is first rate. Recommended.
 



***DVDS***
You Might Have Missed
And Some You Should Be Glad You Did
(I watch the bad ones so you don't have to)
 
 


Last Love (2013)

 
A grieving, widowed American philosophy professor living in Paris makes a connection with a wounded young French woman.
 
Michael Caine can do no wrong in my book, though why they made him an American, I don't know.  His accent is fine, but I like him better as a Brit.
 
Rosy the Reviewer says...If you liked "Amour (won Best Foreign Language film in 2012 and Emmanuelle Riva was nominated for Best Actress)," you will like this one. 
 
In fact, I loved this one. This one is less dark, utterly charming and captures the beauty of Paris and the French countryside.  Not to be missed. 




Tell No One (2006)

A French doctor is suspected of his wife's murder which happened eight years earlier.  He gets involved in trying to solve the case when he starts getting emails from his dead wife!
 
Hubby wanted to see this because he was reading a book about French parks and it said Parc Monseau, one of the parks in the book, figured prominently in this filmI was pleasantly surprised to see that one of my favorite French actors - Francois Cluzet - was in it.  I call him the French Dustin Hoffman, because they look so much alike. 
 
Am I not right?
 
 
 
You may have seen him in a more recent film, The Intouchables, where he played a paralyzed man, whose nurse tries to help him get the most out of life.
 
Rosy the Reviewer says...A fast paced mystery (you won't even notice the subtitles), photographed beautifully and well-acted.  If you are a Hitchcock fan, you will like how this unfolds. Highly recommended.






Elysium (2013)


It's 2154, the earth is a wreck and the wealthy have moved to a space station and left the poor to rot on earth. 

Matt tries to save the earth.

This is similar to "Upside Down" (2012), which I reviewed in an earlier blog and which I actually liked better.  Directed by Neill Blomkamp, who directed the excellent District 9, (which I highly recommend), this is bloody, fast-paced and has a great villain.  Speaking of bloody, Jodie Foster is bloody awful as the villainess Delacourt.  I couldn't figure out if she meant to play it campy or not.

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you like dystopian thrillers, you will enjoy this, but it's not in the same league as "District 9."





Sightseers (2012)



A dream caravan holiday turns into a killing spree.

Caravan is Brit speak for a trailer. Both of the stars are British stand-up comedians who perfected these characters in their routines and they are perfect for this. These characters are not nice people. This is a very dark, but humorous treatise on what it means to be a good English person from the viewpoint of a serial killer. Let's just say this guy has high standards and if you don't meet them, well...

The ending was reminiscent of "The War of the Roses." If you like dark, dark comedy and, if you like British humor, or should I say, humour, you will like this.  If not, proceed at your own peril.

Rosy the Reviewer says...Think gorgeous English countryside, quirckiness and lots of blood. If Ricky Gervais and Simon Pegg collaborated, this would be it.


 
 
I'm So Excited (2013)
 
 
 
 
A flight from Madrid to Mexico City encounters some problems and everyone on board must face the danger in their own way, and let's just say, much kinkiness ensues.
 
Almodavar! 
 
Nobody's movies look like his.  The colors are so vibrant and the characters so flamboyant. I have been a fan since his first big hit "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown" (1988).  Antonio Banderas and Penelope Cruz make cameo appearances here because Almodavar made them stars in Spain before they hit it big in the U.S.  When I saw Banderas in "Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down (1990)," I went...drool... and predicted he would become a big star, despite the controversy surrounding the film (see it and see what you think). I consider myself a feminist, but couldn't understand what all the sturm und drung was around that film. So there was some bondage and some forced sex.  Stuff happens.  Penelope was his muse in "All About My Mother" and the rest is history. 

Rosy the Reviewer says...after seeing this movie flying in a plane will never be the same.  Or movies, for that matterNo one makes movies like Almodavar.  But they are kinky, so if you are easily offended, perhaps his movies aren't for you.




***Book of the Week***
 


The New Midwestern Table: 200 Heartland Recipes by Amy Thielen (2013)
 
 
This ain't the food I ate growing up in the Midwest.

I don't remember "Sweet and sour potluck meatballs."  I remember Swedish meatballs.

I don't remember "Braunschweiger Mousse," I remember just plain old braunschweiger.

I don't remember "Fancy meatloaf with bacon, mushrooms and pistachios," I just remember plain old meatloaf, though my mother did use ground beef, pork and veal. Pistachios in meat loaf?

I don't remember "Wild Boar Sloppy Joes," I just remember plain old sloppy joes.  Are there wild boars in the Midwest?

And the Seven Layer Salad wasn't a Russian Seven Layer Salad.

But, hey, we all have to grow up sometime.

 
Rosy the Reviewer says...I love reading cookbooks and this one is fun. Create some new memories.


Check your local library for DVDs and books mentioned. 
Also Netflix is currently streaming "Sightseers."


That's it for this week. 

See you for Tuesday for
"The Year of the Baby Boomer."
 
Thanks for reading!
If you enjoyed this post, feel free to share it and/or email it to your friends.