Question Of The Week: Does 'Celebrity Chef' Mean Anything Anymore?

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Nancy Nichols brought up a good point in a SideDish post about Blythe Beck, her restaurant and--more importantly--her television series. "I don't watch enough [television] to have an educated opinion" she wrote, "but, from where I sit, it looks like more top chefs bottom out after their 15 minutes, or months, of fame. Casey who? Tre what? Lisa Garza is where?"

The very existence of programs like Next Food Network Star seems to make a mockery of the celebrity chef idea by award no-names a platform to lecture about cooking to the entire nation.

Well, the part of the entire nation that watches cooking shows, anyway.

So if Lisa Garza can come this close to being a celebrity chef, what does the phrase really mean? How do we define stardom? Are there any true celebrity chefs anymore?

Results from last week, in which we asked if Dallas really needed any more of those damn frozen yogurt stores popping up everywhere:

Most respondents expect the market to correct the problem, although few were as cynical about it as cynical old bastard. "I would assume all these new yogurt places will be gone in 24 months," COB said. "It's a new old fad with $$$ from investors."

He (we assume) is right. The nation has been through a frozen yogurt phase before. Hell, we've even been through an Orange Julius phase.

Almost as cynical was TLS. Speaking about the new yogurt shop owners, she said: "What they don't take the time to research is just how hard running your own business is. Landlords do not care that you have your yogurt shop on one end of the strip center and another one wants to come in at the other end. They've got space to rent! Just sign your five year lease and personal guaranty sucker. And you think you'll be able to leave your shop in the hands of two teenagers at night while you go home to hang with the family but say goodbye to your sales when said teenagers give their friends freebies all night. Oh, and there is payroll and triple nets and advertising...yogurt will surely pay for all of that right? Get real!"

Hiertus Tay was more hopeful--at least for those who run their business the old fashioned way. "It's a trend headed for some contraction, but probably not total collapse, just because the start-up and operating costs for a frozen yogurt shop are pretty low. All you need is a sink and a Taylor soft serve machine and you're good to go. Making the stuff is idiot proof (and idiot labor is cheap). Most shops are only making a few flavors (unlike ice cream shops that have to make dozens). Space requirements are limited. A lot of the chain aspirants will probably pull out (or dump stores onto franchisees) at some point, but many of the mom & pop shops will be around for a long time."

Which, in the end, means we don't need as many as we have.

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