Chew On This

Q:  What was a chef called 10 years ago?

A:  Unemployed

But, boy has that changed.  Thanks to The Food Network and shows like Iron Chef, Chopped, Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives, The Barefoot Contessa and names like Giada, Bobby, Guy, Marcus and Alton, food has hit the big time.

I first noticed Iron Chef about 10 years ago when I was probably one of the 12 viewers watching.  I found all the slicing, dicing and shots from above the boiling and broiling mesmerizing.  And then when the judges got to taste all the meals and hear the reasoning behind the cooking, that iced the cake for me.  I liked the show so much that I forced my editor at that time to put a story on Iron Chef in Amtrak’s new onboard magazine we published, “Arrive.”

The PR industry has caught on pretty quickly, recognizing that an effective way to reach moms is through cooking.  So, we book celebrity chefs on TV to whip up something delicious on set to promote a book, a new TV series, an ingredient, a restaurant or even a set of knives or blender.  We do it because it works.

TV shows still love live demonstrations and now with live webcasts, sponsors are able to invite target demos to see a demonstration live, and then archive the video to capture even more eyeballs.  And, if we tease the segment with some video on you tube or other social media sites, audience numbers will go through the roof.

And then there are radio or online promotions where winners can cash in on gift certificates to Whole Foods, a set of dishes or pizza for a year.  The station numbers go up when there are contests, and listeners love it, so everybody wins.

I’m amazed that I can watch Guy Fieri zoom from kitchen to kitchen tasting, testing, touching and teasing and love it time after time.  Sometimes I even watch the same episode two or three times.  The dude is so mediagenic.  From his white moussed hair to his smart-ass one-liners, he really knows what to do and say in front of the cameras.  And when he finally takes that huge bite when the cheese is melting and the sauce is dripping and the meat is smoking…that’s money.

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