Wednesday, February 27, 2013


EAT BRAY LOVE by Andy Grreenwald

A decade ago Emeril Lagasse was omnipresent, sprinkling catchphrases and cayenne nightly in front of a live studio audience. A lumbering, rump roast of a man who cooked like Paul Prudhomme but talked like the Gorton's Fisherman, Emeril was the unlikely poster boy of the transformation of what had once quaintly been known as "cooking shows" into a more unwieldy behemoth: "food TV." Fueled by the insatiable advertising needs of the Food Network and a viewing public suddenly interested in distinguishing deglazing from deveining, the staid format established by Julia Child and Jaques Pepin was chucked into the garbage like spoiled milk. It was no longer enough to stand behind stove top and instruct.  The new goal was to entertain. Chefs were required to prep themselves right alongside their mise en place, the garnish their dishes not with parsely but with personality.

And so, beginning in 1997, Emeril applied essence and kicked things up to varying notches. He employed a soft jazz band and cooked with Pat Benatar. He made garlic an applause line and convinced untold millions of Americans to try their hand at something called Urky Lurky. The goal remained ostensibly the same, despite the extra volume: to make home cooking appear doable and fun. But the extra noise soon began to drawn out the message. Emeril endorsed toothpaste and floor mats and allowed someone to talk him into starring in an NBC sitcom.  Eventually, the demands of celebrity scraped Emeril's plate clean, and by the time Emeril Live's goose was finally cooked in 2007, he unwittingly set the table for an entire generation of cheesy blasters to come. 

You can read  the rest of Andy Greenwald's article here.