Guest Post: “The Chew” Review

by Emily on October 11, 2011 · 38 comments

in Food,Miscellaneous

So, what's new MOB? I've seen tons of chatter in on Twitter and Facebook about the new ABC show, "The Chew." The show follows the talk show format but centers around food, cooking and getting families back around the dinner table. I fully support those goals, so I've been paying attention. The hosting lineup is (mostly) solid with Mario BataliClinton KellyMichael SymonCarla Hall and Daphne Oz. We're only 11 episodes in, but most of what I've read online about the show has not been positive. I don't often comment on TV because I don't often watch TV, but I see in this show the opportunity to really raise the bar on the public food conversation. With a cast like this, there's no reason why we can't create a central home on TV for talking about food issues in an intelligent but entertaining way without creating "just another cooking show" with good-looking or accomplished food personalities. I'd love to chat with the producers and programming team, if they happen to read this. Email me: Emily {at} MouthOfTheBorder.com or see my contact info for other ways to connect. I invited my friend Clay to guest post about his visit to the set of The Chew two weeks ago when the cast taped its third episode. All thoughts and photos below are his. I'd love to hear what YOU think of the show (and food TV in general) in the comments.

***

IMG_3229 - Version 2

Two weeks ago, ABC launched it's new daytime cooking and talk show, The Chew, which caught the attention of plenty of food fans. Taking the formula of The View with five hosts, each taking a different perspective on food, it's doing something that hasn't been done before in food television. I was certainly curious. So, when Nichelle of Cupcakes Take The Cake tweeted that she had a few extra tickets to the taping of the third episode, I jumped on the opportunity to see what it was all about. [caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="The audience at The Chew"]The audience at #TheChew.[/caption] The episode started with Carla Hall cooking a smothered lemon chicken based on a recipe adapted from her grandmother's which used bone-in chicken thighs. As good as it all looked, I couldn't help but think of how much better it would have been with some long-braised dark meat instead. As part of the recipe, she made a white gravy, something a yankee like me wouldn't mind knowing more about. Unfortunately, the on-screen banter distracted from the actual cooking and very little was said about it. [MOTB Note: Clay, check out Homesick Texan's recipe for cream gravy!] I've never watched an episode of Top Chef, so this was my first time seeing Carla Hall in action. I have to say, I don't get it. At best, Carla's goofy gyrations around the set isn't her playing the role of sassy black girl and instead is just a way not to blend into the background like Daphne Oz.

The non-food segment of The Chew.

Playing the role of sassy gay guy is Clinton Kelly, who also managed to be more prominent than Oz. The next food segment had guest Joy Behar sharing the lasagna recipe that she'd previously cooked on The View. I'm not really sure why running repeat recipes of a simple dish like lasagna seemed like a good idea, but it certainly didn't do anything for me. By this point in the show, I was holding out hope that Batali would offer something for the more advanced home cook. Instead, he did a short bit about the difference between virgin and extra virgin olive oil and later offered a set of simple kitchen 'commandments.'

On the set at The Chew with Chef Symon

Michael Symon's Pantry Raid dish, which involved more or less dumping a half dozen items in a bowl and mixing it up was the most interesting. He brought together acids and sweets and savories with tuna, pickled veggies, a few fresh ingredients and couscous for an improved tuna salad. Having seen one episode of The Chew, there's not a lot that would draw me back. Honestly, if you're targeting basic home cooks, having three accomplished chefs at the center seems like a real waste. Very little of their expertise is useful if all you're going to be doing is explaining olive oils and cooking chicken breasts. Thinking more about it, a vastly better conversation could be had by pairing one or two professional chefs with some avowed home cooks allowing them to present food at different levels and to discuss practical and fun cooking at home. Putting Batali and someone like Nigella Lawson in the kitchen together would be so much more interesting than watching chefs cooking dumbed down recipes and offering elementary cooking tips.

***

I love sharing details about upcoming tasty trips and adventures, so you won't want to miss a bite. As always, please feel free to chat with me on Twitter, join our group on Facebook and keep up with new posts here by subscribing.

***

  • Scooper2U

    I happen to enjoy The Chew. The banter between the 5 is entertaining. The meals aren’t supposed to be gourmet. It helps the average cook change it up when feeding the family. Your comments were a bit on the “food snob” side. Lighten up and enjoy the banter!

  • Pingback: The Chew on ABC

  • http://www.facebook.com/doris.whitehead.75 Doris Whitehead

    I wouldn’t watch the CHEW if it was the only show on TV. ALL MY CHILDREN was canceled and replaced with the chew big mistake

  • Molesworthracing

    2 types of Americans….this has been bothering me ever since this stupid show came on the air.  1.  I am not Italian and I have no need/wants to pretend to be one.  I am from NJ and hate ‘Jersey Shore’ because of those Italians.  I have 2 sister in laws that Italian and a couple friends who are, but I do not want to be one.  I find this repulsive and very discriminating.  I don’t push my religion, politics or ethnicity on anyone.  So there for, where I was a 100% TV watcher of ABC from 6am to 11PM, my tv is now turned off during the 1 o’clock hour.

    • http://www.mouthoftheborder.com emilyspearl

      Molesworthracing, I’d argue that you saying “those Italians” is quite offensive in and of itself. I think it’s sad that one host’s joke has turned so many people off from actually giving the show a chance.

  • MMS Mom

    I agree with the comment about Mario Batali’s “2 types of Americans.”  I had never heard that phrase before and since I have never, ever wanted to be Italian (proud of my 100% Slovak heritage), I was instantly turned off.  I think it makes him look like a ridiculous snob.  Since you are 1/2 Italian I can see why you might find it OK.  However the rest of the population who are not Italian (which I would imagine tops 90% or so worldwide) would definitely find it rude.

    I also think there are way too many cooks in The Chew kitchen which is why it is so spastic.  They are all trying to talk over each other before racing to a commercial break.  I think 3-4 main hosts would be plenty and then add in a guest host occasionally.    If they could stop the frantic pace it would be a better show.

  • Pearliegirl

    I HATE. The wet blanket oz woman
    … Anytime alcohol or cream or meat or butter is mentioned she has to
    Comment !! She should be on her dads show , not this one … Have stopped watching because of her

    • http://www.mouthoftheborder.com emilyspearl

      Thanks for your comment! For the most part, I appreciate her suggestions (always looking for ways to make extravagant dishes more healthy), but sometimes I would agree with you.

  • Carol

    I must be odd, o.k. I am.  I have to admit when I first started watching I was not impressed, but now, I look forward to each day’s episode.  The group has melded into best friends camaraderie, you can tell they genuinely like each other.  At first I thought Carla and Daphne were being too critical and interjected their own philosophies too much, but I have come to realize that they were specifically chosen for their POV and they are just doing what they were hired for.  In recent weeks, the entire cast has been acting really goofy and have been making comments that were bordering on the racey side so much that my mouth dropped open – did they really say that?  This, of course, lends to pure unadulterated enjoyment on my part, and I’m hoping the censors won’t make them stop.  I love the cooking hints and have actually picked up quite a few points as well as some great recipes.  I am an avid Food Network fan and don’t get as much from those cooking shows as I have from The Chew.  It’s like watching a group of lovable lunatics get together and the food is merely a sidebar.  Loving it, hope they don’t get cancelled.

    • http://www.mouthoftheborder.com emilyspearl

      Carol – thanks for commenting after watching the show for a while and sharing your perspective!

      What do you feel you get from The Chew that you don’t get from your fave shows on Food Network?

  • Vintage

    Does  Mario  know  how    REDICULOUS  he  looks  in  the  way  he  dresses  for  an  older  man ???    also  his  statement -  there  are  two  types
    of people =  Italians  and  those  that  want  to be  Italians   or  however  he  says  it -  I  stopped  watching  it  because  of  him..

    • http://www.mouthoftheborder.com emilyspearl

      Thanks for your comment.

      But, being 1/2 Italian myself, I agree with him on the two types of people ;-)

      • Vintage

        well, sorry  but  I  think  it’s  a  bit  discriminating  –  just  as  people  are  sometimes  compared  to  Hitler !

        • http://www.mouthoftheborder.com emilyspearl

          He’s clearly joking. If he really felt that way, he wouldn’t have been able to become an international businessman with restaurants and businesses around the world, which cater to everyone. I think your comparison to Hitler is pretty extreme. What’s life without a few laughs?

          • Vintage

            I  guess  I’ve  heard  that  remark  by  far  too  many  times  from  Italians and   I  can  understand  your  opinion(being part  Italian)  in referance to  him saying that- but – I  still  don’t  agree  it’s  an  appropriate  comment  to  make  on   any  show…  Have  a  good   day!

  • Suep33

    Everything The Chew addresses is like the general audience have no common sense. You can witness their snobby additudes for who they are.   The cooks have no hygiene and who could sit and watch for an hour five days a week….go to the food Channel

    • http://www.mouthoftheborder.com emilyspearl

      Thanks for your comment, Sue. What’s your current favorite show on the Food Network?

  • Whitegarage

    The second week of The Chew was much better than the first.  I think they just needed some time.  If you enjoy cooking, you might want to turn in again and give it another try,

    • http://www.mouthoftheborder.com emilyspearl

      Thanks for your comment!

  • SCREW THE SPEW

    This show is an utter and complete train wreck!!! Just look at the Nielsen ratings. They are loosing thousands of viewers daily. It’s just a matter of time before this show is a distant foodie memory. And I for one could not be happier, The day this is cancelled I will be doing the happy dance and visiting their sites to gloat. ABC made a huge mistake in thinking, They could convert daytime viewers from a 41 year running scripted drama to this crap. Any recipes I need can be found in a cook book or on the net. These Food TV rejects can’t teach me anything. SCREW THE SPEW!!!

  • Ldychef2k

    I watch The Chew online in the evenings.  It’s a one hour show, but when they edit out the commercials, it is 37 minutes.  That’s what is adding to the frenetic atmosphere…they are always racing into a commercial.

    I love the show, and most of the hosts.  I an completely fed up to HERE with Daphene Oz playing food police and everybody aplogizing to her for adding meat or a spot of butter to a recipe.  I want her to shut up.   When she talks, I mute the TV. 

    • http://www.mouthoftheborder.com emilyspearl

      Funniest comment so far. Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts! What do you think they could do to make the show better?

  • Kimbeth

    There are plenty of great cooking shows on TV but this show, and the way it’s constructed will never be one of them.  It’s crazy busy — frenetic — all of the personalities are trying to be front and center (Carla comes off as especially inane), many of the tips are trite, etc.  Did you see the end of yesterday’s show when they were all sitting (well, not really sitting — kneeling) on the floor trying to look like they were enjoying themselves?  Mario’s face said “Can I just get up now?”  Everything feels so forced, and they don’t seem to have decided who this show is for:  serious foodies? stay at home moms who pack lunchboxes and need quick meals at night?  People who have access to fabulous (and expensive) unusual gourmet foods?  People who want to be thinner and care mostly about nutrition, or people who want fat laden, delicious food, health warnings be damned.  Not only did this show debut to more hostility than probably any other daytime offering, but it is as fun as a sheet of cardboard, and just as delicious.

    • http://www.mouthoftheborder.com emilyspearl

      Kimbeth,

      Thanks for your comment. Another insightful take. I agree with you that I don’t know who they’re talking to. It must be difficult getting *any* new show off the ground, but they have to kind of pick a target and just stay there until they’ve got another target in mind. I’m not sure if it’s because they don’t know who they’re talking to or if they want to reach as many different audiences as possible at once.

  • Anonymous

    Great post, Clay. (Thanks, Clay.) You’re welcome, Clay.

    • http://www.mouthoftheborder.com emilyspearl

      You two are so funny. Maybe it’s the name.

      • Anonymous

        We’re just trying to live up to the bar set by the legendary Clay’s……Cassius Clay, Clay Shirky and Henry Clay.

  • http://twitter.com/StuartDonald StuartDonald

    Like you I think this show has serious potential with regard to openly discussing issues that effect our food system like HFCS, genetically modified foods and the Obama administration’s complete and totally servitude to Monsanto (Six, SIX Monsanto lobbyists in the administration).  However I do not feel the same way about Carla Hall.  I think this show will make her a household name.  As for Daphne Oz, I can’t get enough of her eyes – I get plenty of the rest of her.

    As far as the complexity of Symon, Hall and Batali’s dishes they are cooking like most chefs (self included) cook at home.  You spend 12 hours on your feet cooking and tell me you want to come home and whip up Beef Wellington from scratch.  The puff pastry alone will take you more than an hour to make.

    I’m sure that the format of The Chew will go through a number of changes before it hits its stride.  They have to start warm and cuddly before they can get real.  At its worst The Chew is still a million times better than The View, The Talk or any episode ever of the Barefoot Contessa.

    • http://www.mouthoftheborder.com emilyspearl

      Stuart -

      Very thoughtful comment – thank you! I agree they need to tackle some real issues on the show if they want a place at the table of real food conversation in this country. With these folks, there’s no reason why we can’t have good cooking content AND real conversation.

      And I can appreciate they want to make simple, easy recipes. It’s one of their goals to not be out-of-reach of most home cooks. But there are other ways to mix it up besides level of difficulty. We need to talk about things other than lasagna and sandwiches here.

  • http://twitter.com/Sully Matt Sullivan

    Emily – Thanks for the review. The promos had me interested in seeing the show, but you’ve confirmed my fears: they were going after food entertainment, not food education. Sadly, it’s seems to be very evident that television is no longer interested in using the medium to teach people how to be better cooks, and instead are focusing on the competitions & restaurant tours.

    I’m just happy that the local PBS station has started re-airing The French Chef.

    -Sully

    • http://www.mouthoftheborder.com emilyspearl

      Thanks for your thoughts, Sully. I still think they can turn this around and make it something important. I’m willing to help them if they are!

  • Tryanythingoneterri

    I really wanted to like this show. While I enjoy cooking I don’t like watching most cooking shows. I was hoping that this show was going to be more about food as a whole and not just the usual chef standing up telling us how to cook. When I want food content, I’m interested more in restaurants. Also the food featured seems to be pretty mainstream. I don’t know. I guess I was just hoping for more sophisticated talk. Instead this is just another cooking show with a panel.

    • http://www.mouthoftheborder.com emilyspearl

      Thanks for your comment! I felt the same way – I was hoping for more advanced recipes, not dumbed down, just new and different.

  • Anonymous

    I’m going to admit now that I’m biased. While I agree that, in concept, a show like this is essential, I’m heartbroken over how a daytime institution was decimated to see it happen. Yup, I’m talking about soap operas. I’ve been on a Chew boycott. 

    • Emily

      But the soap wasn’t killed FOR The Chew. The show was being canceled regardless because the network decided to change their overall strategy. Enough people hating The Chew may get it cancelled, but it won’t bring the soaps back.

    • http://twitter.com/StuartDonald StuartDonald

      If a large number of people still watched soap operas they would still be on the air.  You can thank reality TV for the demise of soaps.

      • Anonymous

        Well, that can be said of anything in the tv/movie medium. Things with high ratings/box office numbers are rewarded with more seasons/sequels, but that doesn’t make it less sad when a complete genre of television is being chipped away – especially to those who ARE still watching. 

        And I wouldn’t say it’s reality TV’s fault. When I think reality TV I think Jersey Shore, Bachelor, etc. or competition reality programs like Survivor and Amazing Race. The two recently cancelled ABC soaps (AMC whose last air date was two weeks ago and OLTL going off the air in January 2012) weren’t replaced by reality television but by daytime talk shows, a genre that has existed for decades (almost as long as soaps). Their demise is due to lower ratings and the fact that producing a show like The Chew is cheaper than producing a soap opera.

        Unfortunately, ABC Daytime rushed to replace iconic soaps with (so far) a cheap to produce, but poorly conceived talk show.

      • Mmclayton

        A large number of people DO still watch soaps…just not  during the day…contrary to public perception, most fans have jobs or other responsibilities during the day. DVR, on line viewing, are not counted in ratings.  But you are right about reality tv- bc it costs much less to produce.  ABC is all about the dollar.

Previous post:

Next post: