After 12 years of growing grouchier and more haggard, Alton Brown announced a few weeks ago that he's putting Good Eats out to pasture. Presumably, he's ditching science class for something more lucrative, like Welch's grape juice and the warmed-over Iron Chef: America, leaving viewers to get their food science fix from Marcel's Quantum Kitchen. A dismal day, indeed.
To go along with Good Eats' retirement, here are five other food shows that need to be relieved of duty. Not mentioned in the list is Paula Dean, because we picked on her overwrought accent and penchant for clogging arteries earlier this month.
1. Gordon Ramsay's anything and everything As a TV personality, should be over. I don't think Ramsay deserves more gasoline dumped on him, but I'd be glad to see him return to his collection of esteemed restaurants to do what he does. That way, he could still crawl out and occasionally appear on talk shows, rake his hands through his disheveled hair and prove what a mild-mannered human being he can be.
I've seen him yell and marinate in a constant state of seething and irrationality. After six years, it's not fun anymore. Now, I'm more entertained and delighted when I stumble onto a TV interview to see him politely spitting Guinness onto Graham Norton's carpet.
2. Everyday Italian You would think there are only so many ways to make pasta and exclaim how great it smells, but Giada De Laurentiis has been kneading dough and abusing syllables for eight years now. A recent commercial proved you can condense her show into 30 seconds and still get a sturdy recipe and a whiff of splintered Italian.
I know she's beautiful and her recipes are easy to follow (tomato, basil -- meet the food processor). But I don't know how much longer audiences will be amused by her smelling lemon rinds and getting embarrassingly giddy about pan-CHET-tah in the spah-GHET-tee.
3. Barefoot Contessa Or, if you live in a lavish Long Island home, throw oodles of desperately high-brow dinner parties, and delight in lazy, condescending syllables and having too many cocktails to safely handle knives, I see how this show might have some sort of purpose.
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4. Top Chef: Just Desserts I love Top Chef. I love every episode of every Top Chef, ever. My handle on Top Chef trivia can be described by a word that means embarrassing and obsessive to the 185th power. But Just Desserts is disappointing and empty. Somehow, despite showers of granulated sugar and enchantingly sculpted hairdos, the show lacked fun and texture. The cheftestants constantly reminded the peasants at home that pastry chefs are scientists, because baking is a science, unlike savory cooking, which is not a science.
Even the explosive brawls about fondant and acai berries, which should have been wonderfully, ridiculously campy, were ruined by the sour chefs who took themselves too seriously. I know you're all scientists, but you're also on a show about who can make the tastiest cookie. Lighten up. Don't be afraid to throw some pies.
5. Any show about which cake is better than another cake Cake Wars, Cake Boss, Ace of Cake, Ultimate Cake, Amazing Cakes, Last Cake Standing, Food Network Challenge...stop. Everybody, just stop. If I never again see a towering, Alice in Wonderland-themed cake, I would not care. I've already said that if you can't argue about fondant in a way that is amusingly absurd, then don't argue about fondant at all.