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Small Talk: Don't Tell Jeffrey!

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For Easter, we ordered an Uncured (no nitrates) Spiral 1/4 Ham from TJs, and it was the most beautiful, moist, tasty ham we've ever eaten.  It's a seasonal product which TJs sells only at Christmas and Easter, available in two sizes -- 1/4 and 1/2 ham.  It may be available in a 1-lb. size, but I'm not sure since we always buy the 1/4 size.  We had bought the same ham last year and thought it was so delicious that we ordered the same this year.  The price was $3.69/lb., which served two and ample leftovers, and it would probably serve 4.  That's a very good deal, especially considering its quality.  I served the ham with a delicious cherry glaze, but you could use your own glaze if you preferred another.  This will be our ham of choice for as long as TJs sells it.

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Lura, thanks so much for the info on the TJ's ham. I definitely will be trying it. My family has been afraid to have ham for a holiday ever since the ham we got at our usual grocery store was bad when we opened it up to put it in the oven on Christmas Day. It was still within the sell by date, so I have no idea what happened. It turned us all off so much that we haven't bought a ham since. We've been doing prime rib for Christmas and rack of lamb for Easter the last few years. Thankfully, the year of the spoiled ham was saved by the fact that I had a lasagna in the freezer. Anyway, I love Trader Joe's and I'll definitely check out that ham, so thanks!

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Lucky Bitch, what an Easter you had!  I was impressed that you had something else to offer your guests, which is a lesson for me to remember!  When we buy a product, we automatically assume that it will be fine -- or I do -- and it would never occur to me that I might have a bad ham.  It sounds like you pulled through like a pro!  Thanks for telling your story, which serves as a warning worth keeping in the back of our minds.

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Some years ago, I bought some chicken breasts, and when I opened the package to cook them, I could tell they had gone bad. At the time, our friend worked as a manager of a grocery store of a major chain. When I told him, he said at some point they had not been properly refrigerated. Needless to say, the store heard from me and refunded my money.

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Lura, it was our Christmas dinner one year, not Easter. We don't even normally make ham for Christmas, but that was the plan that year and damn, it was a disaster. But, as you said, good thing I had that lasagna in the freezer! It was two or three years ago and none of us have been brave enough to try ham again, even though I've sort of craved it for Easter dinner. It was really disgusting, I have to say.

 

chessiegal, I wanted to throw the revolting spoiled ham in the garbage but my mother made me wrap it up in bags and return it to our refrigerator in the basement so we could bring it back to the store for a refund after Christmas. Gross.

 

That makes sense what your friend told you about the chicken not being properly refrigerated at some point. That must have been what happened with our ham because it definitely was within the sell by date. It was pretty shocking because until that  point we had never had a bad experience with that store. Of course, it just had to happen on a holiday.

 

I am sooo looking forward to trying TJ's spiral ham. I already told my mother and my husband that we're ordering it for Christmas this year. I was tempted to run to TJ's today to see if they had any left because when I Googled about it, I saw many posts on different sites discussing the fact that TJ's marks the ham down to $1/lb (!) after Easter until they sell out. The posts I read were in previous years in May, so I guess the sell by date extends that far. Then again, after our disastrous spoiled ham experience, I'm kind of scared, lol.

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I had the same experience with chicken breasts a few years ago.  Since the date indicated they were very fresh, I didn't realize they'd gone bad.  Kept thinking it was my sauce that was off, and reworked that sauce with just about every ingredient in the kitchen.  Mr Washables, the world's most polite man, was two bites into the chicken when I told him, "this is horrible, you don't have to eat it."  "Thank you.  Thank god." he responded, spitting out the second bite.  To this day, we refer to that dish as BO Chicken.  

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Ugh, that's awful FineWashables. But, I have to admit I'm  laughing at the "Thank you, thank god"  as Mr. Washables spit it out.

 

I usually put chicken breasts in the freezer as soon as I come home from grocery shopping even if the sell by date is days away and I think that I might be using them by then. I just don't trust that sell by date anymore, so I generally unwrap all the chicken and meat that we buy, check it out, wrap it in plastic wrap, stick it in freezer bags, and pop it in the freezer. I know some people don't like to do that but I'm one of those people who likes to have a fully stocked freezer so we can make whatever we're in the mood for for dinner. We like to have a large variety available without any last minute runs to the grocery store. Plus that way, we usually only buy things when they're on sale and freeze them for later.

Edited by LuckyBitch
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I just have to share something with y'all.  Yesterday, I made individual pavlovas (waited until I knew for sure there'd be no rain, no chance of humidity) using a recipe I found online (Nick Malgieri and David Joachim).  I held back a little on the sugar (next time I make them I'll hold back even a little more).  They were crispy on the outside and marshmallowy on the inside--perfecto!  :>)  I topped them with whipped cream, macerated strawberries, and blueberries & raspberries. A great dessert for a little dinner party I had with some friends.  I remember making this dessert years ago and the meringue was way too brittle; it crumbled as soon as one's fork touched it so I was a bit leery of trying again.  So glad I did and so glad I found a better recipe.

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Just wondered what other cooking shows Ina's fans liked.  I watch Martha Stewart Cooking School and Martha Bakes on PBS, the Ming Tsai show on PBS, America's Test Kitchen/Cook's Country on PBS, and every once in a while, I'll catch a Bobby Flay show.  But for me, PBS is where it's at.  I can also catch Julia Child and Jacques Pepin with old episodes on that channel, and they are awesome because Julia kind of yells at Jacques at least once an episode, or passive aggressively insults his preparation-it's amazing.   I do like the new "Heartland Table" show on the Food Network.

 

In terms of reality cooking shows, I love Top Chef and the now defunct No Reservations.  I just started watching a Bourdain narrated series called "The Mind of a Chef," which is REALLY fantastic-also on PBS.  I really should make a donation.  

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While living in NY, I cut my teeth on PBS cooking shows, mainly Ciao Italia and other programs I can't recall. PBS in the DC area lacks any cooking shows, which is why I make sure to watch as much PBS Create when I visit my parents; a lot of America's Test KitchenSimply Ming, and Lidia's Italy. I'm also a big fan of Giada and Anne Burrell. And whenever I catch it, I'll sit down and watch Farmhouse Rules, if only because I find it fascinating that the Food Network tried to find a Northern version of Paula Deen after the racism debacle. 

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  In the DC area, all three PBS stations have some cooking shows. WETA shows cooking shows on Saturday afternoons. MPT does too when they are not fund raising, which lately seems to be 3 weeks of fund raising, and 1 week of regular programming. WHUT also has cooking shows on Saturday afternoons. And MPT2, MPT's cable channel, has cooking shows on every afternoon, although with a limited selection.

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Yea, that's the problem, chessiegal. I grew up in NY, and I was used to weekday afternoons chock full of cooking shows. Saturday afternoons doesn't cut it for me. 

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Hands down my favorite cooking shows are Luke's Vietnam and Great Mekong and Laura Calder's French Food at Home.  Barefoot Contessa is a respectable third.

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When I was a kid, we also watched the PBS cooking shows.  I still use the phrase "If Yan can cook, SO CAN YOU!"  I also like to take a chug out of a wine bottle after adding some to the dish I'm making like Justin Wilson.  I even liked the Frugal Gourmet, I wish it still aired, because I can't remember anything, really, from the shows when I was a kid.  Just Yan's INSANE knife skills.

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I like America's Test Kitchen, Martha's Cooking School, Ciao Italia, Sara's Weeknight Meals, Everyday Food, and various shows from Rick Bayless, Lidia Bastianich, Jacques Pepin, Martin Yan and Julia Child.

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I enjoy America's Test Kitchen and Cook's Country (even though Chris Kimball works my last nerve) and I enjoy Extra Virgin, too (Debi Mazar and her husband are a hoot).

Edited by emma675

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I love the commercial for Extra  Virgin when the park ranger makes them sign a bear release -- or whatever he calls it, and she says,

"BEAR release?  What's a bear release???"

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Thanks for the reminder about Extra Virgin - just love Debi and Gabriel (even love their theme music!).  Also ATK & Cooks Country (with the exception of Mr. Wonderful, Christopher K...he reminds me of the guys who'd show up on blind dates back in the day--blech!).  I loved East Meets West with Ming Tsai (is that on anymore?)...haven't made Ming's spicy fried chicken in a while but boy oh boy is that delicious. Loved it when his parents would be on the show with him - they always lovingly teased him.  Then there's Bitchin Kitchen - good food plus lots of oddball characters. My favorite BK episode was the meal she prepared, the one you'd make for your prospective in-laws ("they may not like you, but they're gonna love your food").

Edited by annzeepark914
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That host of Bitchin' Kitchen bothers me more than Christopher Kimball.  The whole "put on" thing about it all is really unappealing to me.  Am I just not getting the joke?

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The host of Bitchin Kitchen is a comedian so the commentary is all tongue-in-cheek.  It's the only cooking show Mr. P914 watches - she just cracks him up (along with her sidekicks, especially the spice agent from somewhere in the middle east); plus her food looks good.  We especially enjoy the unusual set decor.

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OMG, annzeepark914, you nearly had me gasping for air from laughing so hard over your Christopher comment!  That was a perfect description of him!  LOL

 

What's the name of the Bitchin' Kitchen gal?  She and I have conflicting schedules, so I've only seen her maybe a half-dozen times, but I just love her.  She is so zany, she's funny!  AND she can cook!  By chance, I saw her on a talk show of some kind, and she was entirely different -- very quiet, well-mannered, almost shy.

 

My favorite show is "Iron Chef."  I could watch it all day.  I also love Bobby's Brunch and Molto Mario.  Least favorite is Kelsey Nixon.  Spare me the over-cheerful cheerleader. She drove me crazy when she tried out for New Network Star, and she still does.

 

Please -- What network is Martha's Cooking School on?  Thank you.

Edited by Lura

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What's the name of the Bitchin' Kitchen gal
Nadia Giosia.  Her comedic timing is genius.
I even liked the Frugal Gourmet, I wish it still aired, because I can't remember anything, really, from the shows when I was a kid.

I learned to cook by watching his shows as a child.  I still follow many of his techniques and use the tools he recommended (Hot pan, hot oil, food won't stick).  So tragic how his career and life ended (from my understanding, he was accused of things but never got a trial to prove his guilt or innocence).  My library has all of his books and I still check them out.  They read with the same gentle voice as his show did.

Edited by MaryHedwig
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ON FN, Ina and Heartland Table are the only shows I watch anymore. I've recently been recording old Nigella Lawson episodes on Cooking Channel  - from the Bites, Kitchen and Forever Summer series. Last night, I got the Nigella Kitchen book out to mark some of the recipes she was making on that show. I've also been watching French Food at Home, even though the music works my last nerve. I try to find Sara Moulton whenever/wherever she's airing but I also live in the DC/Baltimore area, where PBS is in perpetual fundraising mode and they don't show Create channel anymore.

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Hi vera charles, glad you have been enjoying Laura Calder on French Food. I think it's one of the better shows for learning more about cooking and techniques. It's too bad that  TCC seems to have limited it to about 10 episodes that they keep repeating. She made over 70 episodes for the original series shown on FN Canada. But we don't get to see the majority of those on TCC.

 

BTW, Laura's newest cookbook was just released. It's called "Paris Express" and it's supposed to be about a modern take on French cooking. I am looking forward to my copy because I think she is a writer first and perhaps a reluctant TV personality.

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but I also live in the DC/Baltimore area, where PBS is in perpetual fundraising mode and they don't show Create channel anymore.

 

Oh boy, ain't that the truth!  Either they're begging for money or they're airing another tired re-run of those Doo-Wop shows (that they've been broadcasting for well over 10-15 years).  I don't know why they don't produce their own local cooking shows.  Look how simple a show that Louisiana cook (Justin) had - everyone loved it (well, he was hilarious :>)  

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On PBS I like America's Test Kitchen, I actually do not find Christopher annoying, he seems like someone who does not take himself too seriously. He has a pretty interesting background too, he studied Primitive Art History at Columbia I believe. I read an article and an interview with him awhile ago and came away liking the guy.

 

I also really like New Scandinavian Cooking on PBS. Has anyone seen that? 

 

I love French Cooking at Home, she is so charming, and the food always looks so good. 

Edited by monkeybread

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Nobody's bothered that Ina Garten turned down the dying wish of a cancer-suffering little boy to meet her? And that she did it to him not once, but twice? I can't even look at her face anymore and I used to love her show. Now all I can think about is that poor little 6-year-old child who had leukemia. How do you people still like her?

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Nobody's bothered that Ina Garten turned down the dying wish of a cancer-suffering little boy to meet her?

I'm not (and for what it's worth, both my parents died of the disease --  diagnosed within a year of  each other -- and my older sister has been dead from brain cancer, these three years past) and here's why I'm not bothered; Ina has worked with Make A Wish and has granted multiple requests over the years, she also had no idea the request had even been made -- never mind denied -- and this mother going public (god knows why) set off a false firestorm (which the mother herself regrets) so unless as a society we've all decided that cancer is not a disease, but an excuse for spreading vicious publicity -- or for enacting emotional blackmail via the internet -- minus that, it's a non-starter for me.

Edited by film noire
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Yep, it was the mother that wanted to meet Ina, not the kid. Ina gets hundreds of these types of requests every month. She obviously can't do them all, so her staff screens them. A mother trying to benefit from her kid having cancer - that's what bothers me.

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I also really like New Scandinavian Cooking on PBS. Has anyone seen that?

I have, but it seems like he's always outdoors, isn't he?  I'm way too distracted to pay attention to what he's doing, LOL.

 

I highly recommend everyone searching and recording a little show called Coastal Cooking with John ____ (Something).  And if you watch it, and think "this is SOOOOOOO lame, please watch until at least the 20 minute mark for a segment called "Andrea:  The Kitchen Goddess."  This show is like a SNL skit.

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Coastal Cooking with John Shields. His first series was Chesapeake Bay Cooking, but I haven't seen that aired in awhile. He has a cookbook for both series, and owns Gertrudes Restaurant in Baltimore - I think it's at the High Museum. Yeah, he's hokey, but I enjoy the show, especially Andrea, the Kitchen Goddess.

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Where can I find this Coastal Cooking? 

 

Larapu2000, yes he always cooks outside and it is so beautiful, I can see how it can be distracting. He also talks about the history of the places he visits, Norway, Finland, Sweden, this show makes me want to visit those countries. The food he makes is really yummy looking and beautiful. 

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I'll give him (New Scandinavian Cooking) another try.  I've already given John Besh too many tries, and I don't know why I just can't get into him.  I've been to August-it's amazing food.  I love it when he guest judges on Top Chef.  I think he's handsome.  I think NOLA/Cajun cuisine is the greatest thing on the planet.  And yet I can't make it through 5 minutes of his show.

 

Coastal Cooking will pop up every once in a blue moon.  I have to set my auto record to catch it.  TOTALLY WORTH IT.  I said the show was like an SNL skit, and it is, but he's a very earnest host and likeable.  I made it to the 20 minute mark easily when the tune and graphics for "Andrea the Kitchen Goddess" popped up, and then I wondered if the show was a joke.  It's kind of adorable.

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I made a John Besh Shrimp & Remoulade recipe several years ago; it was so good!  So I figured I'd love his show...but I don't.  It may be because he's very soft-spoken, too laid back...not sure.  Or it's the foods he's making that don't appeal.  I need to give him another try, though, since I've kvetched so much about the increasing rarity of decent cooking shows that don't include clocks, accidents, desperation, stress, OTT drama, angst,  etc.  I also need to look up Coastal Cooking since I don't live all that far from the Chesapeake. And, the New Scandinavian show (altho' I looked that up and it's on around 6 AM on Saturdays here...not a good time for this non-morning person).

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John Besh's show is like valium, to me anyway. He talks kind of softly, no drama, he just cooks, kind of boring but I like it. No dramatic tasting, gushing, blah blah blah, the man just cooks. 

 

Has anyone seen "The Main Ingredient with Bobby Flay"? It's from the 90's I saw a few episodes at one point, he is so young, and silly. In one episode you could tell he was trying really hard not to laugh while he was explaining some technique. I saw him on LRW. I do not even know what that is. 

Edited by monkeybread

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I like the kinds of hosts/hostesses who are more on the quiet side, who cook and let you draw your own conclusions from the ingredients and the pictures.  I get all hyper when the host is.  If the host  is full of BAM! and raving that you need smellavision, forget it.  I like Emeril as a person but not as a host.  Same goes for Anne Burrell.  I absolutely love Michael Symon, but a few less high-pitched giggles would suit me fine. 

 

My husband only has to strap me down to the sofa and gag me to keep me from thrashing and screaming whenever one of two hosts appears: Alex Guarneschelli and Giada DeLaurentiis.  If I do the same for him when Ted Allen appears, we have a pretty stable relationship and a fairly normal home life.

Edited by Lura
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Has anyone seen "The Main Ingredient with Bobby Flay"?

I love "The Main Ingredient"! I stumbled across a marathon of it when my son was home from college for Christmas vacation. I used to watch it on Lifetime when he was a baby, so it's definitely a real oldie. A few years ago, I actually found some recipes from it that were pre-Internet. They used to show an address at the end of the episode and you had to write in and ask them to mail you the recipes. Back in the day, you had to be a really dedicated viewer!

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I actually like Michael Symon's insane giggle.  He just seems like a legitimately nice person, and I really enjoyed the episode where he cooked with Ina.  His show is okay, I've gotten a few good recipes off of there (a peach bleu cheese salad, I think?), and I do use his tip of putting some ricotta in meatballs to help lighten them up and make them less dense.  And the episodes where his parents show up are adorable.  But I could see why he might not be someone's cup of tea.  

 

I've liked almost every Bobby Flay show he's done, including Throw Down.  I don't watch Food Network Star, but I remember liking him the first time I saw "Hot Off the Grill" and Jackie Malouf(?) was a host with him.  I've gotten quite a few winning recipes from Mr. Flay over the years, but I think I read in the BC thread on TWOP that some people didn't have the same good fortune.  Yeah, he's kind of smug.  He's less smug than most of the chefs I've worked with over the years, and he has twice their talent.

 

I never really liked Emeril Live, but I thought his show Essence of Emeril was really good.  He was really quiet and laid back, almost like you see him on Top Chef now.  Good stuff.

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My husband only has to strap me down to the sofa and gag me to keep me from thrashing and screaming whenever one of two hosts appears: Alex Guarneschelli and Giada DeLaurentiis. 

 

Alex Guarneschelli? Really?  She's so nice (Giada - yeah...she can really drive me up the wall with her obnoxious grid-filled grinning that never stops).

 

That early show of Flay's is the only one of his shows I can watch.  He's not smug and full of himself.  Gosh - wonder how old that show is.  He truly is a great chef, though.

 

I just watched Iron Chef in which John Besh challenged Mario Batalli and won - made me very happy.  His food looked unusual but the judges really liked it.  He was very calm while cooking so many different dishes (and very calm and polite with his assistants).  Normally I wouldn't watch this show but when I saw Besh I decided to hang around :>)  Oh man--speaking of Emeril & that show he did with the audience?  Didn't they look like they were at an informercial taping? All the head nodding, oooooh's and ahhhhh's used to irritate me so I had to stop watching it (plus when men hunch over the cooking area it bothers me--why do they do that? women don't...except for Julia but she had a good excuse being very tall).

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Alex Guarneschelli? Really?  She's so nice (Giada - yeah...she can really drive me up the wall with her obnoxious grid-filled grinning that never stops).

 

I used to feel similarly about Alex, which I think stemmed from her judging on Chopped. She just struck me as smug. I grew to like her when she competed on The Next Iron Chef, and I really enjoyed seeing her compete with her mother during some one-off Food Network show recently. 

 

Speaking of people we can't stand, though... I cannot with Tom Collichio. I don't care how great a chef he is. Just seeing him on screen is enough to get me gritting my teeth. The same goes for Gail Simmons. I think the Top Chef judges just always rubbed me the wrong way. Like, you whip up a 4 course meal from 7-year old Easter Candy in 20 minutes and let's see if you're able to properly layer your flavors, Tom.  

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Stinger97, I enjoyed the mother-daughter show, too, with Alex and her mother.  Were you as surprised as I was over how much alike they are in looks, builds and personalities? 

 

I couldn't agree more with you about Top Chef.  Gail Simmons is a know-it-all,  I liked Tom Colicchio very much in the beginning, but something about him began to turn me off.  I got the feeling that he was laughing at the contestants while they were working so hard.

 

I should have said that I love Michael Symon.  I thought I did.  He and I have a Cleveland connection since we both come from there originally.  He sometimes kids me about it in a tweet.  His laugh doesn't bother me.  It's just a crazy side of him, I think. He actually told me before anyone else that he'd just bought a snazzy penthouse in NYC and sent me pics of it.  I guess he was so excited that he had to tell somebody!  He seems like an awfully nice guy and a gifted chef.

Edited by Lura

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I agree with everyone on John Besh. There should be every reason to like his show but it is always kind of boring. I have one of his books which is very good and I have been to one of his restaurants in New Orleans (he has about five), so a big fan. That episode of Iron Chef where he beat Batali is so classic, it was filmed not long after Katrina and Besh was known for all the work he did helping his fellow restauraters to recover. He really deserved that win.

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LRW is Lifetime Real Women.

The promos for that station/sub-brand of Lifetime crack me up (they all but scream, "Lifetime: Now with Super Extra Estrogen"!)  I wish FN (or LRW) would rerun The Two Fat Ladies and a show I can never remember the name of -- maybe somebody here can help me -- here's the premise: Host is male (kinda like John Corbett, but more like an older Corbett from the Northern Exposure years, less SATC) he's an American who moved to Canada, the show was filmed in a (seemingly isolated) house on a spit of land, he has a very young son and a wife (who occasionally appears but rarely says a word -- she was petite and very like a deer, always ready to take flight when on camera) and his whole vibe was really mellow. I liked the show because it was one of the first cooking shows I'd seen that didn't seem either hyper-crazy or so falsely constructed it read as completely fake (the wife's nervousness probably helped the sense of reality). Anybody know what I'm talking about?

Edited by film noire

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I wish I could help film noire but that does not ring a bell. Does anyone remember the take home chef show? With that tall hot Australian chef? I miss that show. It was funny to see how sometimes the husband or friend etc would actually look annoyed at first when the camera crew surprised them. 

 

There is this pretty cool show on PBS called Frankie Cooks. There are only 6 episodes in rotation. I hope they make more. He was very popular on Youtube and that's how he got his show. I think. Anyway he makes everything look so easy and interesting. 

Edited by monkeybread

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I wish I could help film noire but that does not ring a bell. Does anyone remember the take home chef show? With that tall hot Australian chef? I miss that show. It was funny to see how sometimes the husband or friend etc would actually look annoyed at first when the camera crew surprised them. 

 

Are you talking about Curtis Stone? He usually shows up on The Chew and other cooking shows. 

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