Food Network to wine and organics: Drop Dead

In case you missed Tony Boudain’s hilarious rant against the Food Network, it has been making its way around “the internets.” New York magazine got into the action, rushing to the defense of the Food Network saying that Michael Ruhlman, who published the Bourdain rant on his blog, specializes in cheap shots. Ruhlman fired back calling NY Mag “wankers” and told them to buy his book. Good stuff. I can’t wait for the TV version to come out (though probably not on Food Network).

Now we get this sent to the Dr. Vino world headquarters from a trusted source with insider knowledge (emphasis added):

Interestingly, [the Bourdain critique] is not a big deal at the Network at all. They are a media company first and they try to appeal to the masses as much as possible. It’s part of the business model if you will and a byproduct of being available in over 90 million homes. As a side note, the fact that they’re in 90 million homes is why it is very unlikely to ever have a show on wine or even organic foods on the air. They don’t want to alienate any of the non-drinking viewers or preach to anyone about the wonders of organic foods, especially if they can’t afford the extra cost or find them easily. As an extension of that, the Network doesn’t necessarily want to alienate the “non-chef/home cook” too much either and that’s why they need people like Rachael Ray and Paula Deen. But… they also need the balance provided by a Mario Batali and Bobby Flay.

Wine alienates viewers?! Organics are offputting?! Call or write your cable or satellite channel, demand a wine network!

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17 Responses to “Food Network to wine and organics: Drop Dead”

  1. Wow – well Rachel Ray alienates me!!

  2. So they don’t discuss organic foods because they are more expensive and many people don’t have easy access to, and yet Alton Brown always seems to be shopping at Whole Foods. Talk about a place that a lot of us don’t have access to (BTW, I like Alton’s show a lot).

  3. I think the day will soon come when Smithfield and Monsanto will be the Official Sponsors of the Food Network. And they shall be proud.

    Followed by: Can Round-Up Ready be the next Hamburger Helper?

  4. Interesting. Last fall we were invited to pour wine at a taping of a Food Network series episode. When the show ran recently, our wine was almost nowhere to be found – just one brief flash of a back label. Coincidence? Probably 🙂

  5. Food Network is ridiculous. Organic food is too expensive? So is the preprocessed crap Sandra Lee assembles and has the temerity to call a “recipe”. And not having programming dedicated to wine on the grounds that it may “alienate” some viewers is the weakest nonsense. Several of their programs have had episodes dedicated to booze (in part or whole). I doubt the “non-drinking viewers” threw a hissy when Paula Deen made eggnog spiked with bourbon.

  6. Oh for fuck’s sake… they think wine might alienate a viewer, yet Aunt Sandy shows up drunk every Saturday morning mixing faux-jitos for children? Klassy…..

  7. Notice that they overloaded the fairly great show the Thirsty Traveler to the Fine Living Network…which has less distribution, therefore keeping their non-offending practices up. It’s sad really. And I like having food shows on tv, but there has to be a line between seeking wide appeal and putting out shows that don’t truly serve the viewer in the best manner.

  8. Wine network be damned (and no offense intended to the drinking public, I’ve been known to imbibe more than my share of the bottle) but we need a real Food Network.

  9. Yea, what the public REALLY needs is for the FN to have more road shows. Those two are enough to alienate anyone with a brain.

  10. Thanks for all your comments here and on Michael Ruhlman’s blog and Ethicurean. One thing that this discussion shows is that there IS an appetite for more “niche” (real?) food programming. Beyond a whole new network, maybe FN could wake up and smell the organic Kona and actually dedicate some scrap of time–a half-an-hour a week?–to edgy food news? Restaurant trends, organic food, wine–maybe even some investigative reports! If they need to know where to find inspiration, they need look no further than that wild frontier of “the internets.”

  11. One thing about Alton: He may film/shop at Whole Foods, but he doesn’t preach the “religion” of organic food. There’s a big difference there, subtle as it may be.

  12. Bourdain knows his stuff. And he is right about Food Network. Molto Mario was the bet. Iron Chef is as big a joke as it was in the Japanese versio. I need shows that show me how to make things, like Alton deos, as Mario did. And not that crapola Sarah the fool makes

  13. I do agree that organic food is too expensive. My grocery store does`nt even offer organic foods and the nearest store that does is about 35 miles away. If I choose to drive that far and buy organic, then choice becomes do I spend my weeks grocery budget for one days worth of food or feed my family for the week with a lesser quality food?

  14. This is truly a sad day if this is the Food Networks responce. Sad but predictable. As a chef and culinary student it is quite offputting to watch the masses be miseducated about food. They have 24 hours a day to fill their channel with material yet none of it seems to promote the spirit of a real chef. Sure Iron chef is amazing, it’s like watching a culinary duel fit for a roman arena, but I would like to see more educational programming besides what Altons doing (which is the ONLY informative show on the network) The worst part of it is that the food related shows that seem to generate the most buzz aren’t even on food network, people are watching Top Chef, they’re watching Hell’s Kitchen, and No Reservations. Food network is just selling an opiate to the masses. Watching Sandra Lee maked me want to run outside and repeatidly headbutt the curb. Food Networks ignorance will only trump them in the end, when channels like bravo and the travel channel pull all of their audience and they are left doing LA Gear commercials on public access. By the way those are the sneakers that light up that had a one month run of popularity back in the 90’s. Never heard of them? exactly.

  15. Given the growing mainstream demand for and appreciation of wine I suspect that it’s only a matter of time that FN add a wine show. Note too that Flay and Emeril always feature alcohol in the mix of their menus. if you can stand to watch either. I imagine that corporate at FN asks the question whether it will draw more views with greater focus on wine/organics as compared to the numbers lost/alienated. Dollars and cents at work here.

  16. The sad fact–despite all that has been said–is that we are a dissident community. We aren’t the majority viewership for FN. We might have been at one time, but we aren’t any longer.

    Besides, the one thing that no one here really wants to admit is that the vast majority of our countrymen and women are perfectly happy with bland and unchallenging food–the stuff Ruhlman calls culinary “muzak.” Add some cayenne? Forget it. A rare steak? They’ll send it back so you can throw it in the deep fry. Add some mushrooms? They’ll stampede out the door.

    Let’s face it–as a whole–FN is providing this country with exactly what we deserve. Julia Child’s dream is dead.

    And as for Alton Brown… Don’t try to convince me that his is still the same show that it used to be. And don’t try to convince me that he’s informative. When he comes along and tramples all over your native culture and cuisine–offering inaccurate information and stereotypical attitudes–then let’s see what you say.

  17. […] is woefully underrepresented in food TV shows, and, as we’ve discussed before, it’s not likely to change on the Food Network. How about the Travel Channel? When Tony Bourdain advises his viewers about which wine goes with […]


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