So this weekend the cooking channel launched (replacing the Fine Living Channel and part of the Food Network parent company). I was eagerly awaiting this debut and here is my review.
To start with, a lot of the programming is new. Not only new, but so far of the 3 new shows I’ve seen, all are really good. I like that they’ve expanded their repertoire of internationally themed shows like, Indian made easy, Chinese made easy and the Dolce Vita with David Rocco. One of the other elements that I find particularly refreshing, if not the one thing that most stands out to me, is the un-pretentious feel these shows have. The hosts feel like real people cooking out of regular home kitchens, not over-the-top, sales-pitch personalities with studio kitchens, equipped with every gadget available to man and extremely post-edited to perfection processing. The shows I’ve seen so far on the cooking channel really celebrate food with an “indie” sort of feel to them. They feel less rehearsed and unpolished, but in a really really good way. I think part of the reason is that a portion of these shows are filmed by the BBC and I have quite a liking for British TV. The food also seems really attainable, like if you could watch the show and go re-create the recipes for yourself quite easily.
I was thrilled when I learned that the Dolce Vita was being filmed throughout Italy. It really adds to the credibility and authenticity of the show. And for me, seeing that I love Italian food and culture, (I’d pack up and move there tomorrow, if I won the lotto) it gives me a chance to daydream and take in the sights without leaving my bedroom.
The other thing I like is that instead of retiring some old classics like Emeril live, Everyday Italian (which I like a million times more than Giada at home) and Tyler’s Ultimate, they’ve programmed a lot of these shows into their current schedule. Granted, I know these might just be a place holder of sorts until they get more original programming lined up, but I kind of like the option to watch these older shows that are now replaced on the Food Network by reality-chef shows that steer away from actual cooking. Kind of like how MTV moved away from music videos and only plays raunchy reality shows. I don’t think the food network has gotten quite there yet, but it’s kind of on the way if they don’t change its direction- in my humble opinion.
As I mentioned before, some of their shows are filmed in Europe so the measurements are given in the metric system… not a terrible thing, but it adds a step to have to convert the recipes, unless they’re listed on their website, which I haven’t checked.
Some of the names they’ve chosen for their shows are somewhat repetitive- i.e. Indian made easy and Chinese made easy… but really you can look past this if the show itself is good.
This channel is not available in HD yet which means if you’re used to watching food in HD and have to switch to non-HD, it is definitely a downgrade, but again, it is something you can live with, or at least I can. Hopefully they’ll change this in the future.
That’s really my take on the Cooking Channel so far. I’ve only watched 3 shows so my assessments might have been made prematurely, but this is the impression I got after watching these shows and the network sponsored commercials highlighting the other shows. I added a bunch of shows to my DVR queue and intend on watching them this week, which means I might have to amend this post. All in all I am glad they’ve launched this channel and can’t wait to see what else I become a fan of.