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Shame on You, Food Network Star

Food Network Star

Your first episode of the 2017 season of Food Network Star aired recently, showcasing thirteen lucky contestants vying to become the next Food Network Star.  It’s a coveted win because with it, the contestant ends up with his or her own cooking show.

From the onset of the program, hosts Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis impressed upon the contestants what it takes to go home with the prize of a lifetime.  Show your passion for food and cooking through a strong POV (personal point-of-view).  Win the viewers over with your cooking style and the flavors that define your cooking; share who you are in a relatable way, and the show could be yours.

The season has points-of-view representing American southeast cooking and American southwest cuisine.  Then there is a lady from the Middle East sharing her homeland flavors.  But the show isn’t just about regional flavors.  One contestant, having worked for the Martha Stewart organization is looking to be the next Martha Stewart, while a stay-at-home mom is setting out to prove that she can compete with the best of them, as is an older woman who is a grandmother.  Another participant, a buff and physically fit looking guy shared his vision of what his show would be about if he became the next star.  After losing a lot of weight, his show would share how to make tasty foods that are good for you.

Tell Us Who You Are

As the show enters thirteenth season, to change it a bit they decided to let each contestant introduce him- or herself, sharing a little bit about themselves before diving into the cooking part of the show.  A lot of the contestants got a flavor of just how hard the talking part of the competition could be.  Either they didn’t have enough to say to fill their thirty seconds of air time or they didn’t pick the most salient points about themselves, causing them to run out of time and get cut off.  They all began to appreciate that this wasn’t going to be as easy as they might have thought.

Show Us Your Cooking Chops

It was on to the cooking part of the day’s challenge with its many mishaps and adventures.  Wouldn’t be any fun if everything went smoothly!  But everyone got their dishes plated and then presented them to the judges.

They described their dish and how it supported their POV.  No question that some of the contestants would need to improve on their communication skills, but all the dishes looked tasty.

And the Loser Is

The next day all the contestants stood before the judges, finding out who did stellar work and was off the hook for being given the hook that week.  Three contestants were left to have their fate decided on air:  two female chefs and the who was cooking healthy foods.

Even though the healthy guy’s tacos made of plantains didn’t work out, his shrimps received compliments from all of the judges.  And yet, he was the first contestant to be eliminated.

My Gripe and Shame on You Food Network

Why the guy with a POV of cooking healthy was eliminated before the grandmother whose food lacked any distinctive flavor is beyond me.  This is so typical of the Food Network Star.  Not once has a participant with a POV of healthy or natural or good-for-the-environment won.  Your viewership of this program is in the millions.  Think of the influence you have over the way Americans eat.  You are in such a great position to show and share with people that healthy cooking can be just as tasty as foods loaded with calories, fat and sugar.

So what did you tell your viewers about eating healthy when, on your first episode, you axe the guy who could share that information?

I don’t disagree with selling the concept of “tasty” before hitting someone with the fact that the food is “healthy”.  It’s unfortunate that too many people believe healthy food is like eating cardboard.  No flavor, just a lot of fiber.  But you could have changed that perspective with your influence in the food environment.

As a dietitian, my passion is to show people how to live healthfully.  I’m not a food police, telling people what to eat or not to eat, but showing them ways to make dishes BOTH healthy and, most importantly, tasty.   With over one-third of Americans being obese and another one-third being overweight, something that is affecting our overall health in the United States, everyone should be doing their part to see those numbers come down, including you, Food Network.

And, by the way, many people do want to eat healthier.

But what do you do?  You blow an opportunity to show millions of Americans that delicious nutritious food is possible and worth trying, not only for their own sake but for the sake of the nation.  Even if you already have an idea of who you want to be this season’s Food Network Star, you could have left Blake on the air for numerous episodes to showcase what it takes to make dishes both tasty and healthy.  You could have shown that to eat healthy can include everyone’s favorite foods from chocolate to wine to steak. You didn’t!

You blew it!  Shame on you!

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