Each week we take a quick, cautious look at what's going on with televised cooking. This week: Fat Chef, a one-hour show about steamed vegetables, Thursdays at 10 p.m. on the Food Network.
In another effort to put even more distance between itself and food preparation so skilled it demands to be put on television, the Food Network rolls out Fat Chef, which is not about, as I had hoped, a shirtless and oiled Mario Batali storming across France with a Henckels, murdering geese for their livers and throwing virgin cheflings into pits of simmering madeira. Nor is it a show about the greatness of fat chefs. It's a show about the fatness of regular chefs, and how they jog to get rid of the fatness. A fucking weight-loss show. Called Fat Chef
Of course, having a weight-loss show ready to go in the pipe is a stroke of luck for the Food Network, because Paula Deen finally told the everyone she has diabetes, or the diabeetus, and the network can point triumphantly to this new weight-loss thing and say, "See? Fucking RIGHT. We got this HANDLED." And as much as I can slow clap this late-January crisis-management miracle, a fact remains: It's a weight-loss show. Weight-loss shows make me want to kill myself.
Maybe they do that to you, too. Perhaps someone has tried to get you to watch Biggest Loser and you were like, "Wait -- just how much TV do you think I watch, anyway?" Well, good news. One of the trainers of Biggest Loser's Season 11 is now on Fat Chef. He's the guy whose team all lost and he wasn't invited back for Season 12. So, good casting, everyone. Well done.
In the premiere, this giant fat guy (it's OK to say "fat" now, I guess?) wanted to get down to a trim 400 pounds so he could jog ten feet with his son. It was heartbreaking. Then we find out where he works, a Long Island bakery I want book a flight to right now, because of what this giant fat guy (it's not OK, is it?) does with gooey caramel. It's very sad, and a little beautiful. They should have stopped the show right there. A quiet portrait of a torn American life and the sad, shadowy caves we find ourselves in when desire outpaces reason and hope is just a smudge on the wall, in this case made of chocolate.
Instead, we get montages of DIFFERENTLY WEIGHTED (?) people teetering around, trying to jog, sweating profusely, while hostilely narrow and bicepy people with clipboards scream, "You can do this" and "You ate three dinners?" The contestants have four months to lose 25 percent of their body weight or ... nothing. If they don't, big deal. They're not contestants. It's not a contest. It's just some show that was put together in a low-level pitch meeting, written on a yogurt lid and slid under the door of the director of programming.
Fat Chefs has all the sugary snap of a show called Alcoholic Bartenders. It grabs you -- you're a chef with a problem with food? HOW DO YOU LIVE? -- and it'll keep you going for a while, but not for an hour. Because it's a weight-loss show. And weight-loss shows make me want to kill myself.
But you know what doesn't? Super Bowl food! OK, Diabeetus Deen Vs. Mad Cow Fieri. Go:
Paula's Best Dishes, "Fan-tastic" episode (Feb. 3, 5:30 p.m.):
Jalapeno Bottle Caps with Blue Cheese Dip
Mini Corn Dogs
BBQ Chicken in Cornbread Cups
Double Fudge Bread Pudding with Chocolate Whipped Topping.
Guy's Big Bite, "Guy's Goal Line Grub" episode (Jan. 31, 1 p.m.):
Pepperoni Pizza Dip
Drumsticks en Croute
Pizza dip? What the hell, Fieri? You trying to get a job at TGI Fridays? Good on you, Paula. I like how the heaviness of everything has nothing to stop it, and it's just going to steamroll you into the couch by second quarter. You win the Super Bowl.
Previously, Michael Leaverton watched:
Bama Glama, the show all Alabama loves to fight over in comment threads