Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Marcus Samuelsson, You Have Been Chopped

Marcus Samuelsson (chef, restaurateur, and frequent Food Network face) just launched a site called Food Republic. My love of food goes back 80 pounds and my love of food media goes back to watching Yan Can Cook on PBS after school; I’m also a reader of blogs like Grub Street and Eater and check Epicurious daily and a fan of sites like Cooking Issues, but I don’t know of any celebrity chefs who’ve tried the blog thing and I was curious to see what Samuelsson was up to.

Here is a direct quote from the About Us page:

This is the site for men who want to eat and drink well, and to live smart.

Philosophy:

* Men are underserved in today’s conversation about food

Let’s just say I disagree with that. Let’s just say a certain someone has become my least favorite Chopped judge. Let’s just say I’m a duck breast simmering in a sous vide bag of piss and vinegar.

Men are far from under-served in today’s conversation about food. Men still make up the majority of professional chefs and restaurateurs, celebrity chefs, and food personalities. Who are your big food television stars? Bobby Flay. Tom Colicchio. Anthony Bourdain. Emeril Lagasse. Jamie Oliver. Mario Batali. Out of 62 chefs listed on the Food Network “Our Chefs” page, 41 are men. You could easily argue back with the popularity of Rachael Ray or Sandra Lee, or even Ina Garten, but to that I say: Padma Fucking Lakshmi.

To say that men are under-served in the televised conversation about food is to turn a blind eye to the entire dude food genre, the frat house of food programming geared specifically toward men; bacon-wrapped, burger-filled shows hosted by dudes like Guy Fieri. There’s Man vs. Food with Adam Richman and Meat & Potatoes with Rahm Fama and Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern and Feasting on Asphalt with Alton Brown and two Bobby Flay grilling shows and that is just on the Food Network alone. Move over to the Cooking Channel and there’s stuff like Food Jammers for the young hip dude in particular. This is not even taking into account all of the shows that turn cooking into sports—Iron Chef, for example. The secret ingredient there is usually at least a dash of testosterone.

For the record, I enjoy a lot of this stuff. But is it geared to me, a lady, who has an appetite and an interest in food? Absolutely not.

And that’s just TV! Men own the print conversation about food as well. Mark Bittman. Michael Pollan. These are the people steering today’s discussion about food politics. Look at your New York restaurant critics: Sam Sifton from the New York Times. Robert Sietsema from the Voice. Again, are these specifically directed toward men? No. But men are under-served in today’s conversation about food? Fuck you.

The part that really chars my poblano is that I am otherwise completely behind the content on the site. I immediately clicked on a front page advice post about carnivores dating vegans. There is good stuff here. It's just this pervasive cultural attitude that stuff by men is for everyone (food writing and programming included) and stuff by women is just for women that makes someone like Marcus Samuelsson think this site is necessary. I am a lady -- why shouldn't I enjoy Bizarre Foods? But at the same time, why shouldn't a dude watch the Barefoot Contessa if he needs a lobster roll recipe?

If men are unwelcome in any part of food culture, it is in two particular conversations under the vast umbrella of food media. I will give you that dieting and cooking for a family are completely focused on women. These are the conversations "under-serving" the male audience. You know what is "under-serving" the female audience? Virtually everything else that has to do with Capital-F-Food: food politics, the food documentary, the Michelin food, the competitive food, the MOF. The minute you want in on Hungry Girl, calories, 30-minute meals and tablescapes with Sandra Lee, you lemme know, Samuelsson. Otherwise, PLEASE PACK YOUR KNIVES AND GO.

3 Comments:

OpenID rachelslessonslearned said...

"underserved in today's conversations about food"

wth? What? I dont even...GAH!

Methinks Samuelsson has been following the Mens Rights Blogosphere.

GAH!

Excellent post!

4:24 PM  
Anonymous Jen said...

Whoa. I read your post, nodded, surfed over to CNN and immediately saw this: http://eatocracy.cnn.com/2011/03/29/chefs-with-issues-a-call-to-arms-for-female-chefs/?hpt=C2

4:41 PM  
Anonymous Kathy said...

Great link! Thanks.

8:40 AM  

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