Food Trip

Risë at Hanks Oyster Bar

Risë at Hanks Oyster Bar

Risë Birnbaum

(ZPR) – I’ve never ever considered myself a foodie…until just recently.  Yes, I watch every Food network and just about every bizarre food show on TV and cable.  There’s more chopping coming from my TV than news, drama and comedies combined.  It’s just my way to chill.  But when I get home at nine and haven’t eaten, I make myself either a pb&j (with any jelly handy) or Bumble Bee white with oil on toast with thick stripe of Hellmann’s mayo (my mom’s fave brands leaked into my world). Continue reading

Chew On This

Q:  What was a chef called 10 years ago?

A:  Unemployed

But, boy has that changed.  Thanks to The Food Network and shows like Iron Chef, Chopped, Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives, The Barefoot Contessa and names like Giada, Bobby, Guy, Marcus and Alton, food has hit the big time.

I first noticed Iron Chef about 10 years ago when I was probably one of the 12 viewers watching.  I found all the slicing, dicing and shots from above the boiling and broiling mesmerizing.  And then when the judges got to taste all the meals and hear the reasoning behind the cooking, that iced the cake for me.  I liked the show so much that I forced my editor at that time to put a story on Iron Chef in Amtrak’s new onboard magazine we published, “Arrive.”

The PR industry has caught on pretty quickly, recognizing that an effective way to reach moms is through cooking.  So, we book celebrity chefs on TV to whip up something delicious on set to promote a book, a new TV series, an ingredient, a restaurant or even a set of knives or blender.  We do it because it works.

TV shows still love live demonstrations and now with live webcasts, sponsors are able to invite target demos to see a demonstration live, and then archive the video to capture even more eyeballs.  And, if we tease the segment with some video on you tube or other social media sites, audience numbers will go through the roof.

And then there are radio or online promotions where winners can cash in on gift certificates to Whole Foods, a set of dishes or pizza for a year.  The station numbers go up when there are contests, and listeners love it, so everybody wins.

I’m amazed that I can watch Guy Fieri zoom from kitchen to kitchen tasting, testing, touching and teasing and love it time after time.  Sometimes I even watch the same episode two or three times.  The dude is so mediagenic.  From his white moussed hair to his smart-ass one-liners, he really knows what to do and say in front of the cameras.  And when he finally takes that huge bite when the cheese is melting and the sauce is dripping and the meat is smoking…that’s money.

No Turkey For Me!

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I guess you could call me a “healthy eater.”   I don’t love desserts and think twice about the number of fries I steal from someone else's plate (usually someone actually at my table).  I also eat a variety of foods – from pasta with veggies and salmon to a cheeseburger with everything on it. 

So, it’s Thanksgiving, and the Holidays, and turkey is naturally front and center.  I’m heading to NYC to meet with family and friends and turkey was sure high on my list…that is, until I saw the Sarah Palin/turkey slaughter plant video.  It was like something out of an SNL skit.  There’s Sarah near the camera to our left and not too far behind her on the right, in clear view, is a guy in a white coat taking bound, live turkeys and stuffing then head first into like this wood chipper metal bin.  Every now and then he would turn to the camera while Sarah was going on…smiling and saying what a pleasure it was to be there.  Turkey feet were twitching and blood was pooling and there I was…glued to this scene that looked like something from SAW V and really trying not to gag.  Was this a local TV reporter playing a joke on Palin?  Was it a PR person who just forgot to advance the scene for the shoot?  Who knows?  But the moral of the story for me is that I’m off turkey for the time being and have changed our Thanksgiving reservation to an Italian restaurant.  Pasta with basil and olive oil is looking pretty good to me about now.

Happy Holidays everyone!!!

If you want to see it for yourself, here it is but I warned you: