Monday, August 1, 2016

Chef Tregaye Named Food Network Star - Longtime Viewers Shocked & Disappointed.

Well, as I tweeted several times last night, I don't know why I keep watching Food Network Star. It just seems that since winners like Arti  and Jeff Mauro, the show has become less about choosing a true "Food Network Star," and more about ... well, I don't know what. Chef Tregaye - who is clearly a talented chef and reasonably engaging person - won on the basis of "fleek" and "gettin things poppin'," and some unexplained focus on "food fusion," which I think I understand but never saw from her. But, clearly, there was an early bias from the judges - especially Bobby Flay - who obviously decided that he wanted Tregaye to win when he said, "This is yours to lose," while many viewers were still trying to figure out why Tregaye was even interesting. In fact, the pre-determined selection was so glaringly obvious that the Food Network gossip is already accusing Bobby Flay and Giada of "rigging the contest."

Of course, Chef Tregaye winning wasn't nearly as shocking as Chef Damiano Carrara being eliminated first. He was clearly the most talented of the chefs - though I will agree that Jenard can bring it. But, beyond that, Chef Carrara has the widest appeal. I mean, heck, the guy is a walking GQ cover - he is charming with that old world accent, and the women in his pilot were clearly infatuated as much with him as with his knowledge of pastries. I mean, come on, doesn't the Food Network need a smokin' hot chef?  Don't answer - they do. But beyond that, Damiano was just so consistently good and likable. While his camera presence wasn't always stellar (ie., he didn't have to phonily ham it up), he was always well-liked - there's just no downside to him. There are no obvious criticisms like many viewers would make of Tregaye's "Millennial tone and lingo" or Jenard's really uncomfortable "love" vibe? What does "Chef of Love" even really mean?

Now, granted, some viewers will argue that the choice of Chef Tregaye is intended to bring in a young, new audience that likes a casual gossipy "fleeky, poppin" show. But I don't really think that's a solid approach for the Food Network. The FN doesn't understand its audience - Tregaye should be an online feature and Damiano should be allowed to become a true Food Network "TV" Star. Tregaye can appeal to a group on YouTube videos, but she is nothing like Bobby or Tyler or Giada or Zakarian or even Guy. And, of course, the "Guy Fieri" problem is a big part of this issue. As I've noted before, the Food Network developed a hit with Triple-D, and now they have decided that Guy's style and show is the only thing people want to see. It is certainly just a "Food" network now, as opposed to a culinary and cooking network. Guy has a great show where he cooks - but that isn't on five times in a row. And, why have the last two seasons of pilots just been the finalists filming a Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives type of show? There's not even any specific skill to that. What ever happened to these aspiring chefs actually developing a Point of View and a show of their own? Now the Food Network just wants to mass produce Guy Fieri. That's a shame.

As far as the "rigged" accusation is concerned - that's not exactly fair. Bobby and Giada are the judges, and they decided that a young, "poppin," social media personality is where the Food Network needs to go - and they decided that a few weeks in. They wanted her, and they chose her. The "rigged" part is that despite Damiano's potential and success, he never had a chance because they wanted a social media, slangy, gossipy girlfiend type of show. That's not who Bobby is or Giada is or Tyler is .... or who Jeff and Geoffery used to be. And, their laughs and cheers for her "fleekiness" was just so staged and fake. That's not a Food Network Television Star.

So, whatever. Good for Tregaye. Hope this is a nice opportunity for her and her family. I won't be watching.

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