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My dream food show. January 25, 2013

Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
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1 comment so far

Silence Dogood here. As a fan of food competitions and a vegetarian, I can’t help but notice that it seems like every food competition on “Chopped” and “Iron Chef America” is really heavy on meat (including fish and seafood). What I’d really love is to have an all-vegetarian cooking competition.

My dream panel of judges would be Tony Bourdain (who famously hates vegetarians more than anything), Madhur Jaffrey (the person most responsible for introducing America to Indian cuisine), Diana Kennedy (ditto for Mexican cuisine), Mario Batali (molto Mario!), and Alice Waters (founder of Chez Panisse, which launched the locavore movement, really included just to annoy Tony). None of these people are vegetarians, but that’s beside the point: All of them can appreciate good food. And vegetarian food can be as good as any food on earth. Hey, I’ve had amazing vegetarian food at a Zen monastery where every other aspect was dauntingly regimented and stark.

I’d nominate even more judges, none of them vegetarians, from France, Greece, Britain, Scandinavia, Africa, Japan, China, Vietnam, Korea, Australia, and on and on, but unfortunately, the show format seems to limit the judging panel to four judges and a host, and I’ve already named my five. Rats! Maybe I can add on if we’re renewed for a second season. Marcus Samuelsson, Masaharu Morimoto, Michael Psilakis, Anne-Sophie Pic, I’m looking at you!

I think the format should be a little looser than it is in most of the competitions, more like it seems to be going in the new show “The Taste”: The competitors should be able to choose what they want to make, as opposed to being slapped with insane combinations of disgusting or unknown ingredients and expected to beat the clock to make something edible out of them. Sure, they could be restricted on any given episode to the cuisine of a given region, be it the Andes or Normandy or the Deep South or Hong Kong.

As in all cooking competitions, once they’ve acquired their ingredients, they should race the clock to prepare and present them to the judges. With one caveat: They should have all the time they need to prepare the stocks, sauces and etc. before the episode begins. The best food is slow food (or just-picked fruits and veggies eaten raw); you can’t rush cooking and get the same texture, aroma, and depth of flavor. But once the bases are covered, you should be able to make a memorable dish or meal in the hour most contests give their competitors.

The deal, in my dream, is that chefs and cooks should compete to make vegetarian food that’s so good, that’s so representative of a region, that it actually stuns the judges and makes them forget about meat. To give the contestants a chance to create or showcase dishes they’re sure will knock the competition out of the ballpark. To give them a chance to show their awesome personalities and tell us all the stories behind their vegetarianism/veganism. TV producers, are you listening?! We could call it “Vegetarian Idol.”

‘Til next time,

Silence

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