The ballots have been counted, and the suspense is over. For some, the winning of an EPIE will represent the pinnacle of achievement, a veritable dollop of sour cream on the bowl of chili of life. For others, it was an honor to be nominated, now go back to your show and try harder. And for the winners of our worst categories, please take this award as an opportunity to GO AWAY! Or at least take stock in your self and your show and find ways not to suck so badly.
Here are the nominees and winners, winners are in bold italics.
BEST SHOW: Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations, Good Eats, Iron Chef America
Alton Brown may be trying his best to achieve overexposure, but his primary endeavor, Good Eats, remains the greatest thing to happen to food programming since Julia Child. We love No Reservations, it was a legitimate second, but Iron Chef America should go home happy with the nomination. It still pales in comparison to the Japanese version, and what’s with Chairman Junior not biting the pepper? Weak…
WORST SHOW: $10 Dinners, Semi Homemade, Food Network Challenge
Ok, ok…Food Network Challenge is quite possibly the most boring hour on television. But as John so eloquently put it, Challenge is like watching NASCAR, boring as hell but there is always a chance for a crash, or in the case of Challenge, a collapsed cake. $10 Dinners is appalling on many levels, but dignifying that show with a “Worst” award gives it too much credit. No, for us, there is no worse show in the universe of food than Semi Homemade with Sandra Lee. Whether it is life changing advice like, “Using pre-sliced mushrooms will save you time” or her snooze inducing tablescape nonsense at the end of each episode, Sandra pushes the limits of credibility as a food host with every show. If you want to be Martha Stewart, go ahead, but we insist you do a stint in the slammer as well.
BEST MALE PERSONALITY: Alton Brown, Anthony Bourdain, Zane Lamprey
Anthony Bourdain represents the anti-celebrity chef, and we here at EP appreciate what he has done to belittle the clowns who are celebrities first, and chefs second. While we obviously love Alton Brown, and Zane Lamprey has the greatest job in the world (as he says, he travels around the world and gets drunk so we don’t have to), Tony Bourdain stands in his own league. He is Dave Brubeck, Miles Davis or Johnny Cash to the rest of the food world’s Nickelback. Women want him, and men want to be him. I think he even kicked Chuck Norris’ ass once…
WORST MALE PERSONALITY: Bobby Flay, Guy Fieri, Ted Allen
Yes, Guy Fieri is an over the top cartoon character. But I just can’t help but shake the feeling that beneath the perfectly coiffed disheveled look, Guy is actually a pretty decent person that you could have a beer with. Bobby Flay, however, is a different story. Try as he might to be nice on screen, he still comes across as a prick. And I’ll bet in real life he is worse. Oh, he’s a great chef, and makes great looking food on his show, Boy Meets Grill. If he just stuck with that show he could be as smug and officious as he wants without our blinking an eye. But his overexposure (especially on Throwdown) can’t be overlooked. Bobby is right in our face, and we here at EP have had enough. Guess what Bobby, you are officially more annoying than Guy Fieri. I’ll bet that grates the hell out of you.
BEST FEMALE PERSONALITY: Aida Molenkamp, Gina Neely, Robin Miller
Easily the most difficult category to come up with nominees, let alone a winner. Over the strong objection of a vocal minority, we are giving Gina Neely our Best Female award. Aida is pleasant enough, and probably has a great TV personality, but her show is a misuse of her talent (not the first time Food Network has done that) and the annoying e-mail guy is not funny and a waste of time. I appreciate Robin Miller, she doesn’t say yumm-O, or have cutesy abbreviations. She doesn’t talk about window treatments or have any fabulously hip friends come visit at the end of the show. But for many of us at EP, none can compare to the goddess that is Gina Neely. From making delicious BBQ, to her mouthwatering desserts, Gina knows the way to a man’s heart. Call me sentimental, but the play back and forth between Gina and Pat is a joy to watch. Here is a snippet of an evening with Gina and Pat:
Pat: I’m going to slice the turnip now.
Gina: Mmmmmm, hmmmmmmm, and I’m going to turnip the heat in the bedroom tonight, baby.
WORST FEMALE PERSONALTY: Alex Guarnaschelli, Giada De Laurentiis, Rachael Ray
While no argument will be heard from us on the level of annoyance of Alex (check out my review of Chopped for my thoughts on her) and calling Rachael Ray annoying is a venture into the realm of the obvious, for us here at EP, Giada is insufferable. From her pretentious pronunciations to her annoying overabundance of cleavage (every episode Giada? Can’t you tone it down just once?) to the simple fact that the dishes she makes just don’t look that good, Giada needs to go back to Italy on the first available flight. Oh I could go on, to her appletini fests with the girls at the end some shows, her “game food” episode (what game Giada, MLS?) which featured a pasta dish with REE-COAT-A and peas (peas?) for the guys watching the game. Normally it would be off limits and in bad taste to comment on the attractiveness of a host, but since Giada insists on treating each episode like a Maxim photo shoot, I would like to state this with clarity (and I’m aware that this is my own personal opinion): Giada is not cute. Maybe after five Peroni’s and three shots of Limoncello, but for this writer, there is nothing about Giada that doesn’t annoy me. Go find work as an additional character on Sex and the City, you’d fit right in. Oh yeah, and your Grandfather’s version of King Kong was terrible.
BEST TRAVEL SHOW: Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations, Man vs. Food, Three Sheets
No Reservations functions as a travel show as well as, if not better than it does as a food show. While we love Man vs. Food, the travel aspect is overshadowed by Adam Richman’s hilarity and his awesome feats in eating at the end of the show. Three Sheets is great fun and works well as a travel show (what better way to get to the heart of a place than getting drunk with the locals), but will never win an EPIE as long as it uses the idiotic “glug-glug” sound effect every time someone takes a drink. No Reservations has the ability to get to the raw essence of the locale. From a trip through a steamy tropical jungle to the visits to food markets and bazaars, by the end of the show you felt like you have been there.
BEST COMPETITION SHOW: Iron Chef America, Man vs. Food, Top Chef
Perhaps it is unconventional as a competition show, but no one food oriented television program captures the spirit of Epic Portions better than Man vs. Food and its host, Adam Richman. Unafraid of even the most terrifying food challenges, Adam tackles them with gusto. Personally, I’d love to see him take on Cool Hand Luke’s 50 hard boiled eggs in an hour. As for the other nominees, until Iron Chef lives up to the level of its Japanese predecessor, it will have to be happy with nominations. And while a first class competition, Top Chef is turning itself into Law & Order with all the stupid spinoffs. Nope, keep your traditional competition shows, we’ll take the humor and histrionics of Man vs, Food.
Best Instructional Show: Good Eats, Quick Fix Meals, Tyler’s Ultimate
Robin Miller can show you how to turn a salmon fillet into three nights worth of meals in a user friendly format. And I personally love Tyler’s Ultimate. Tyler Florence will make a coherent meal, usually delicious (especially his fried chicken), in a friendly effective manner. On a network with Bobby Flay, Guy Fieri and all the other overhyped celebrities, Tyler comes across as down to earth and as a decent guy. But none can compare, and all must bow down before the awesomeness that is Good Eats. Unmatched as an instructional show, the watching of Good Eats should qualify as college credit. Campy skits and characters, along with hilarious props are only one part of Alton’s teaching method. It is to his credit that he can hold you fascinated while making something you have no intention of ever making (soufflé, anyone?). From the Deep Fried Turkey to the Man Food episode, Alton never fails to educate or entertain.
There they are, the first in what will surely become a yearly event here at EP. Many thanks to all at the home office (and abroad) who helped with this; surely the debates will continue throughout the year. And keep checking in here at Epic Portions for continued food programming commentary.