Cooking shows serve a variety of functions for audiences. Some of them are more like reality television, where the food takes a backseat to the drama. Some are actually focused on teaching how to cook, or like Alton Brown, actually have an interest in the food sciences and explaining how and why things taste the way that they do. Others are about the food itself, where it comes from, the ingredients, the recipes, even just the appearance of the food, which can be an art in itself.
However, the popular nature of this entertainment platform is such that there’s almost an overproduction of this kind of show. And not all of them can be good — in fact a good many of them are truly terrible. Some of the worst ones are the sort that scrabble for purpose with an initial premise that lacks all logic and reason. Let’s take a look at some of the worst food-based television networks have to offer.
1. Little Chocolatiers
As usual, the TLC has a good deal of bad content to contribute. Little Chocolatiers a show on the network about a married couple who own a chocolate shop making fancy chocolate creations. A big part of the show’s schtick is that the two are little people, meaning more content than feels natural, appropriate, or in any way entertaining is focused on short jokes, offensive customers, and even a reference to oompa loompas. Watching anyone working with chocolate is satisfying in theory, but the context of this show is bad enough that its unpleasantness pollutes the only decent aspects of the show.
2. Dinner Impossible
The Food Network is to be credited with this culinary gem, a dramatized cooking show about a chef that can handle any contextual cooking challenge, for example a frat house or casino. The background soundtrack to the show is almost as annoying as the host is forced to be, and neither elevates this weak concept to something that anyone in their right mind would want to watch outside of a gassed up dental procedure.
3. Paula’s Home Cooking
Paula’s Home Cooking doesn’t even have a kooky theme to blame the show’s unpleasantness on — it’s just unoriginal and badly hosted. The only idea that is used to set the show apart from others is that Paula is southern and reminiscent of a highly painted grandmother, neither of which turns out to be sufficiently charming to make for thrilling television. The recipes aren’t something you particularly need someone to show you, and the host and guests don’t improve upon that.
4. Barefoot Contessa
This show proves that just because Sarah Palin got a TV show doesn’t mean Richard Nixon’s nuclear policy analyst needs one. In fact, maybe take away Palin’s as well. The Barefoot Contessa stars Ina Garten as she explains her methods for plating, setting up parties, and cooking dishes. The fact of the matter is that Garten doesn’t do a terrible job, she just never had anything new to offer the world of TV cooking, and isn’t a particularly unique perspective to give viewers. The show is cleaner and more useful than other cooking shows, for example Top Chef or Iron Chef America, competition shows that are often more about the drama of reality TV or working against a clock than teaching people to make food.
5. Dinner With the Band
Dinner With the Band tries to be too many disparate things at once; a cooking show; music TV; a show about being on the road, etc.. IFC advertises it as “the first cooking show to combine culinary delights, musical performances, and conversations with select acclaimed indie music artists.” This is unquestionably true, but the fact that it’s the first to attempt this combination isn’t in itself a success. The show is a little crowded, and the cooking sometimes falls to the wayside as the focus turns to whatever celebrity or quasi-celebrity the shows’ producers have managed to wrangle for the episode. The show started as a online web-series before eventually making onto network television, but 30 minutes proves to be to long a time slot for the show, which would probably be better off as a 10 minute clip.