Friday, August 27, 2010

bobby flay: grim reaper of dreams


I give full and complete credit to Chip for this observation. He noticed it first and then totally ruined my bland disinterest by making a casual remark about Bobby Flay, darling of the Food Network and (apparently) Chef Extraordinaire.

About this: Bobby Flay, Iron Chef and quite possibly the only person that works at Food Network (because otherwise wouldn't they, like, restrain themselves from giving ALL the shows to Bobby Flay - at last count he has FOUR count 'em FOUR different shows in rotation on that network)... and I believe he also sold his soul to Wishbone Salad Dressing because he occupied an entire TV CHANNEL 24-7 for several weeks leading up to the Fourth of July. With recipes for SALAD DRESSING.

Anyway. My rant is about one particular show in the Bobby Flay empire: Showdown with Bobby Flay. If you haven't seen it, the basic concept is that Bobby Flay, renowned chef and television personality of the galaxy, "surprises" unsuspecting amateur foodies and small-time chefs by showing up and challenging them to a showdown featuring their signature dish (from chocolate chip cookies to coconut cake to fried chicken). Both Bobby Flay and the chef being showdowned then proceed to each make the dish while a few judges (arranged beforehand) eat the offerings and declare a winner.

Sounds innocuous, right? Well. That's what I used to think.

And then Chip comes along and points out the following:

1. First the obvious: Bobby Flay is a PROFESSIONAL CHEF. With a veritable SEA OF MINIONS (not the lovely creamy kind that I have, either). These are Minions of Cookdom - two are shown on-screen each episode, but I bet that there is a whole slew of scurrying Minions researching the dishes and cooking up various test options and doing their dastardly Minion behind-the-scenes work all the while Bobby Flay just lords it over everyone with his supposed charm and good behavior and VAST KNOWLEDGE OF ALL THINGS RELATED TO FOOD.

2. Whereas the cook being challenged is, like, USUALLY A HOME-TOWN, HOME-TAUGHT COOK. No Minions to speak of. Maybe a hapless kitchen helper or friend standing by wringing their hands and trying to appear competent as the army of Food Network cameras descend on them, (have I mentioned) TOTALLY BY SURPRISE.

3. In some cases, maybe even in MANY cases, the dish that Bobby Flay is trying to copycat and beat is the home-town cook's CLAIM TO FAME. Their one and only SPARK OF FAMEDOM. The thing that other people KNOW THEM FOR. Who the heck is Bobby Flay to TAKE THAT AWAY FROM THEM? He's all, I know that you've been making your great great grandmother's recipe for three generations and everyone from the surrounding five counties comes to your kitchen door to sample it, but dude. I got me some Minions, and they baked up a pie that will KICK YOUR PIE'S TRASH. Take that, hometown cook! May you forever be shamed into telling everyone that your pie is SECOND BEST to Bobby Flay! (mighty fist pump!) ---In my imaginings, Bobby Flay refers to himself in the second person, much like Elmo but with a tiny bit less fur and with, you know, THE MINIONS.

4. I further have a problem with the time Bobby Flay is able to research and prepare for the showdown. The hometown cook is told that they are being featured on a Food Network special about their particular dish. They do a little cooking segment with the cameras, and then have some kind of public celebration with their nearest and dearest friends to eat their creation. It's at the shindig that Bobby Flay busts in and dashes their dreams of starring in a Food Network special and announces BOBBY FLAY IN THE HOUSE! YOU WILL EAT BOBBY FLAY'S DUST AND BREAD CRUMBS (MIXED WITH A COMBINATION OF RED PEPPERS AND CILANTRO)! Prior to this interruption, though, Bobby Flay is given acres of time to prepare and practice and perfect his challenging dish. Also, though they don't necessarily show it on screen, I suspect the Minions are dispatched to the hometown cook's kitchen and root cellar to spy out any and all secrets.

Doesn't it all just seem... UNFAIR? And sort of STACKED AGAINST THE HOMETOWN HERO? Now that I have all these thoughts about how Bobby Flay will only be content when any and all left on the face of the earth worship him as the Best Chef of All Time Forever and Ever Amen--- I watch for little signs of cracks in the facade--- in Bobby Flay and the hometown chefs.

There's an episode where he's doing a challenge for clam chowder and the hometown chef is mad. You can just tell. It's all over his face, and the cameras can't skip past it quick enough. I don't blame him. I'd be mad too. Here's this dude who lives and breathes to make awesome clam chowder. And he's excited to be telling Food Network about it. It's a huge deal, right? And then here's our favorite freaking Iron Chef, Bobby Flay--- waltzing in at the back and suddenly it isn't a show about this guy's chowder, it's Bobby I'm Going to Make Better Chowder Than You Flay. Doing his level best to steal poor chowder guy's thunder Or there's the sweet little grandma who bakes pineapple upside down cake. It's like the one and only bright spot of goodness in her unassuming life, the one thing she offers to friends and family as her GIFT, something she can give them of her hands and heart and her veritable SOUL and then here's Bobby Flay, "Bobby Flay is going to CUT YOU, Grandma--- take THAT old woman! I can beat your pineapple upside down cake and then I'm going to go eat some spicy peppers! Bobby Flay is the destroyer of your SOUL!"

How much do you want to bet that Bobby Flay sits in his apartment on the weekends, trolling local newspapers for budding chefs and local food celebrities. Anyone who is eeking by with a small slice of notoriety. And BOBBY FLAY WILL NOT STAND FOR THAT, NO HE WON'T. So he calls up some of his Minions and his lackeys at Food Network to get on it. Clearly someone (a grandma? a 70-year-old hairy dude who lives to smoke meat? a woman from San Antonio, Texas who makes awesome tacos?) needs to be schooled. No one is better than Bobby Flay. NO ONE.

I make a pretty decent cupcake, and I'm starting to worry that Bobby Flay is going to burn through every chef's heart and soul, and start to run through the common masses. All I'm saying is that if Bobby Flay shows up at our next backyard barbecue and is all BOBBY FLAY CHALLENGES YOU TO A SHOWDOWN, I'm going to have to punch him in the throat.

So before that happens, I've decided that the Food Network folks need to take this in another direction altogether. Stop all the cooking. It's just pointless. Instead, I want to see Bobby Flay and Hometown Chef/Grandma/Angry Chowder Guy just wrastling it up in some mud or jello. Or how about we consider a demolition derby: last car still running is the winner? Sounds like a much better deal to me.


Shelly Overlook said...

We watch this show sometimes and I only like it when Flay gets his butt kicked.

Pickles and Dimes said...

I loved this post. I can just imagine the conversations you and Chip have had about this, and all the resultant anger in Bobby's direction - hee!

Amy said...

Bobby Flay is my least favorite Iron Chef. He just seems so cocky and that's especially evident on Showdown. What a jerk!

Heidi said...

:) Your hilarious! Totally made me laugh!

kately said...

i just had to read this one again because girl, you CRACK ME UP!! Thanks for being you.