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Vickroy: A post-Deen recipe for Food Network success

PaulDeen is out her element. Instead kitchen Food Network's Southern-cooking queen was holding court lavish hotel suite. | The Associated

Paula Deen is out of her element. Instead of a kitchen, the Food Network's Southern-cooking queen was holding court in a lavish hotel suite. | The Associated Press

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Updated: July 26, 2013 6:08AM



Dear Food Network,

You do not need Paula Deen, plain or buttered. Move on.

What you do need is some fresh programming — programming that is about food and not just the making of food stars.

While I agree that celebrity cooking is entertaining, and, sorry to say, nobody’s a bigger fan of Bravo-TV’s “Top Chef” than me, a steady diet of kitchen personality embellishments and conflicts, well, can get as dull as a cheap knife.

Isn’t it time for the nation’s only TV channel devoted solely to food, unless of course we include the Cooking Channel, which you also own, to step up its own game and provide programming that is actually helpful and informative and, well, diverse?

How about we change it up a bit? It just so happens I have a whole bunch of ideas about that.

Food and health

There are 25 million people, children and adults, in this country with diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association.

There are 1.6 million people in this country who have some kind of cancer, according to the American Cancer Society.

About 15 million people in this country have food allergies, according to the Food Allergy Research and Education website.

And more than one-third of U.S. adults are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

All these people have to eat. Imagine if they could turn to you as a resource on how best to do that?

How about a show or series devoted to people who have special diets? How to cook for them, how to live harmoniously with them and their dietary needs, how to avoid getting these diseases/conditions in the first place?

Return to roots

You certainly don’t need me to tell you that interest in farming, gardening, canning and preserving is off the charts. Why not cash in on that with some expert programming on how to do it in an urban setting, or on a limited budget, or with a busy schedule, or even if you were raised on TV dinners and hot dogs?

Reality chews

Here’s a thought: Why not head into some of America’s most famous kitchens and interview real chefs? How did they get there? What are their specialties? What do they make when they just don’t feel like cooking?

Everyone eats out. It’d be nice to get to know some of the people behind the big restaurant names. And what fabulous stories they must have to tell.

The up-and-coming

So many of us fancy ourselves as decent chefs. Why not take us behind the scenes at culinary schools to give us an appreciation for what real chefs have to go through? Maybe we’ll become better restaurant patrons.

I’m not eating that

Food safety has become a huge issue. How about helping us out with that? From government regulations to supermarket practices, tell us what we need to know to eat safely and wisely.

Also, would you mind probing into the world of genetically modified food and asking some tough questions? Much appreciated.

Back to fun?

I realize you don’t want to be all down and heavy. Food can be fun, too. So how about a program on how to throw parties, from showers and weddings to book clubs and Buncos?

And let’s not overlook the children. Maybe a charismatic youngster or two in an apron and toque would convince the nation’s chicken nugget eaters to be more adventurous.

Spin some plates

Take us to France, to Spain, to Vietnam and show us how the locals do it. Yeah, I know Anthony Bourdain’s got the corner on food travel, but, well, he’s on a different channel.

Which brings me to another point. It’s not just the Food Network that needs to take a long look in the mirror.

Imagine if the History Channel actually offered programming about history, instead of just Ice Road Truckers and pawn shop shows? Or what if the Travel Channel moved beyond shows about men stuffing their faces with bad food and actually took us to interesting destinations? Travel Channel, meet TripAdvisor. This could be the start of a beautiful relationship.

The possibilities are endless.

Yes, indeed, Food Network, you are at a crossroads. Look at this Paula Deen fiasco not as the refrigerator door closing, but as the window of opportunity opening. The path you choose could ignite a movement.

So let’s get going. Paula Deen? She’s one for the History Channel now.



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