Dear Food Network,
Is everything okay? I am worried about you. As a former Food Network addict, I am concerned with the current state your channel. Your once food and recipe centered programming, has turned into an amateur hour of zombies and recipes not suited for check out lane booklets. If you need someone to talk to let me know. Until then, I have some tough love to share to help you out of your funk.
Here are some of my notes for your programming:
The Neely’s: Overbearing wife and gay husband neither of whom can cook. As owners of a southern BBQ joint, I don’t even trust them to make decent BBQ. Now they are awkwardly trying their hands at World cuisine and lettuce wraps? It’s a mess. Shut it down.
Cookin' For Real: Is the title implying that other shows are not really cooking, or is it a white person's idea of urban appeal? I like Sunny Anderson and believe that she actually likes food, but am bored by her. Her styling is a mess and seriously needs the help of hair and wardrobe people. She also needs a better overall look to the show and a gimmick or storyline for the segments for structure. Give her an occasion or someone to cook for that will make it feel less like she is just cooking for cameras in fake kitchen.
Chopped: My best guess is that this is meant to be Ted Allen's version of Top Chef. Ted Allen is off-putting. He is too tightly wound and passionless to get me excited about food. Stop hiring him to host. You need someone who can bring the food and flavors to life given that we can't smell or taste what is happening. The idea for this show is good, but poorly organized. I need some effort made into making the judges and contestants interesting. As it stands, I don't really care who wins or what feedback is given.
Ask Aida: A random skinny girl fields questions from her stuffy gay internet friend with his laptop. In a word, awkward. I feel like the hosts are from an amateur improv troop or public speaking class. At times it is painful to watch. I don't get the feeling that either of them loves food or being on television and it shows.
Ultimate Recipe Showdown: The show needs better production value and more personal stories to have me routing for contestants. The concept is good and the recipes generally look pretty good, but I am still bored. It should also be said that I had the Ultimate Recipe Showdown winning Mac and cheese recipe at TGIFridays and it was inedibly bad. I'm talking bland, watery, and overcooked. Food Network should be careful about putting its name on such horrible food.
Last Cake Standing: The concept is good and I am giving it a chance. I like that they are showing pastry chefs with talent rather than Duff and his band of Styrofoam jockeys, but the production is a little disjointed. I need a Tim Gunn type to come around and talk to the chefs about their work. I also want to feel more connected to the chefs as people.
Paula's Party: Paula is one of the few talents that exudes a love of food. She is clearly an asset to your channel. The show itself is a little awkward and relies too much on butter humor, but is better than your other attempts at shows with a studio audience. Still, Paula works best in her own surroundings as a real person. Get her back in her own kitchen as much as possible.
Barefoot Contessa: Bless that crazy lush. I love her life and her food. I don't even care that she keeps giving us the same recipes again and again. She loves food and makes good stuff. Find more people like her. I love a caterer. They make great food in simple and well-organized ways for the masses. I trust them. The Hardy Boys, while dull, made great food too. Hire more caterers!
Rachael Ray: She makes such consistently good and easy food that her sometimes-annoying quirks can be overlooked. She is the glue that holds your brand together. Even with one foot out the door, her own magazine, daily show, and all of the other crazy shit you are throwing at her she delivers. Without her you are in serious trouble.