In the service of the speaker of the assembly’s staff I was once told that I was in the pandering business because people tried to make laws to financially benefit crime victims and veterans. As a Vietnam Vet, he called it “gimme” and took Vets from my full plate and created an entire pandering committee! And we became desk mates and friends.

Today these food shows are placing pandering in a new light. There is so much competition to get audiences to watch that they sink to lower and lower levels. I have been a long-time fan of Top Chef on Bravo, and am glad they no longer film in the “dorm” unless it is a brief food scene, visit/note or challenge. Top Chef Masters is a given as I actually learn things.

Chopped bothered me and I wondered why. Over the weekend I saw three episodes to find out. One was with wounded service personnel, the other with former fat people (FFP’s as they called themselves), and one with persons who have survived cancer or another horrible disease. Do you really think cutting three and giving a mere $10K to your “winner” means anything? Ted, I’m very upset with you for these shows and may even write a Haiku about it.

The IRS is going to take half of it as winnings. If the point is to get on tv and in front of the judges, fine. I find it humiliating. The most humiliating I’ve seen is Rachel Ray’s The Big Tip. They first found people who gave to their communities and gave two of three $1,000, then without revealing judging criteria they gave another $10,000. I was half-ready for them to have a serve-off to determine who got the prize, and that would be just disgusting for them to do to these good people. That did not happen but this is the most demeaning show to servers I’ve ever seen.

I know how to make this better. Food Network has to compete for stars because they lost their treasures and only have old footage. They sell kitchen gadgets, pots and pans and cookbooks and all the new people who come on have to sign slavery bonds as to any future revenue. Alton Brown, who I love, must have cut quite a deal to stay on.

Of course Ms. Ray is judging alone because the first big gift went to a woman who rescues dogs. I love dogs, but in the second episode apparently she couldn’t find anyone in New Jersey who helped others except for their own families. Let’s hope this show doesn’t gain traction because it is insulting to every waitress/ waiter in your NE country. Yes, even in our nation, which is much larger than the northeast corridor. Please think twice before expanding this program.

I am interested in cooking and from time to time, watching master chefs compete as on Iron Chef. So I’m ok with certain reality shows but only watch those that have to do with cooking. This Old House is one my husband has me watch on weekends as well. He also likes the military channel and for yet another WWII film I relocate to a quieter destination. No More Panzers!

Why would Rachel Ray pay way more for hair, makeup, cameras, staff to make an episode that gives away a total of $12,000. Why would they make this a competition? I have to look up the producer. Hopefully it’s not Harpo. If after the first episode in NJ you can’t find someone who doesn’t give to anyone but their own family at least know the judge and the judging criteria and why no-one else in NJ helps anyone else but themselves.

I don’t like to have real people, especially those who are financially disadvantaged, be the victims of “reality” television. Julia Child and James Beard would be aghast at these latest challenges. Buono appetito. I’m starting the first US Italian culinary competition tomorrow that will star Fabio of the LA Fabios. Just kidding and making sure you’re still reading. Cheers! Dee


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