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Thoughts on the Cooking Channel

Because of my recent unemployment, I have had plenty of time to enjoy mass media outlets.  Since it has been a little bit more than a month since the Cooking Channel launched, I figured it was time to share my thoughts.

Overall, I think the Cooking Channel is a nice complement to the Food Network.  I could go out on a limb and say that I actually prefer it to the mother ship in many ways.  After viewing the network for many hours, my first impression actually had nothing to do with the programming made available.  I think that the “Cooking Channel” name is not an accurate description of the network’s content.  Burgergal, for example, thinks that the network does not have enough cooking shows.  Following the same format as the FN does, the bulk of the actual “kitchen shows” are aired during the day and late at night, with more “food interest” stories going during primetime.  I’m fine with that, but it does cause a little bit of confusion for me.  Their tagline is “for food people, by food people,” which I think is spot-on, but even that is disconnected from the word “cooking.”

As an advertiser for food products (ingredients or supplies), I would have rejoiced in the fact that Scripps was coming out with a “cooking channel.”  What better environment to showcase my wares??  But in the execution, I think I would be a tad disappointed.  I’m sure the CPMs aren’t that high (I can’t imagine the audience is significantly larger than Fine Living was… yet), but still, I’d ask, “where’s the beef?”

But enough about the name, let’s get into the programming.

It’s all about the NYC.

I thoroughly enjoy most of the programming focused on new-ish restaurants.  Why?  Because a lot of the shows are focused in NY-area restaurants.  Unique Eats, a program dedicated to things that are cool and, well, unique, features a lot of cool restaurants, 90% of which are in NYC.  This is great for me, but probably not as great for someone in any other location.

Old stuff is old.

(Compliment sandwich)  I don’t like the repeats of old destination/travel shows from the late 90’s.  They are dated.  They don’t look cool.  They don’t keep me as an engaged viewer.  They make me think that there just wasn’t enough good programming to fill the day (which is probably not far from the truth).  I think that with time this will change, but for the moment it is my major gripe with the network.

Candians.  They’re like up-upstate New Yorkers, I suppose.

The Canadian-produced shows are growing on me.  At first, I was a little thrown by shows like David Rocco’s Dolce Vita and Chuck’s Day Off and Everyday Exotic (but I think that dude is cool and his accent is a trip) and the one with the guy from New Zealand (ok, I’ll look it up in fairness to the kiwi… Bill’s Food).  Everything was so foreign at first, with their “caster sugar” and “litres” and funny way of saying “yeah.”  But now I’ve come to appreciate their Canadian charm.  And I’d like to spend a day with the Food Jammers.  Especially the Japanese dude.

Gimme me Mo (Rocca/ -llencamp)!

Food(ology) is, in my humble opinion, the best show on the network.  Mo Rocca’s interludes are classic, and the show’s topics are really interesting for a food nerd like myself.  Francis Lam from (formerly of Gourmet) is kinda the man.  I mean, I understand that he is prepped prior to tapings, but still, he’s on top of his game.  He can hang out with me and Nobu (japanese dude from above).

FoodCrafters is also pretty solid, mostly because I am completely infatuated with small batch producers.  Milk, ice cream, whatever, I’m interested in seeing how it’s made and I want to “get to know” the people doing it (mostly because I am completely jealous of being able to focus exclusively on one thing for long periods of time.  Fairly well evidenced by my blog, I’d say.).  Aida Mollenkamp is also able to elicit the good side of the food producers, which not every food show host can do.  Added bonus, she is from Cali.  I guess she can hang with Francis and me, too.

Bottom line, I’m enjoying the network, and I’m really looking forward to what comes next.  What do you guys think?