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Mary Bufe

Cooking On TV: Not As Easy As Duck Soup

March 23, 2017
Disturbing recent events have illustrated, once again, why you should think twice before embarking on a career as a celebrity chef.

I'm going to be honest with you. I always thought the least safe jobs in America belonged to the loggers, the roofers and the presidential press secretaries. But the risks associated with those jobs pale in comparison to those of a professional cooking show host.

The most obvious example is Paula Dean, who has long been under fire for the unfortunate decision she made earlier in her career to use trans fats. Also, racial slurs.

But she's not the only TV cook to get in trouble. Martha Stewart spent actual time in the cooler. And I don't mean the kind where you pick out a bottle of your favorite cabernet sauvignon.

Based on his past, The Frugal Gourmet probably should have joined her. It's too bad he didn't. Just imagine the special episode they could have cooked up on ways to hide a nail file in a simple molasses spice cake.

All in all, at least a baker's dozen of celebrity chefs have been involved in murder-for-hire plots, scandalous affairs, not to mention questionable use of marjoram.

Which brings me to the latest incident. It involves a made-for-TV cook who calls herself The Pioneer Woman. She was in the news recently regarding an episode involving racially insensitive chicken wings. You can look up the details. This is a family newspaper.

To be truthful, I didn't trust her from the get-go. The first time I saw her show, my daughter was about to start college. The episode was called "Dorm Room Dining." It featured dishes The Pioneer Woman said could be made in a dorm room. So of course my daughter watched with me. You know, against her will.

Included were a 12-ingredient recipe for chicken Caesar salad she could theoretically make in a plastic zipper bag, as well as one for homemade ramen noodle soup she could cook in a tea kettle, presuming she turned her dorm room closet into a fully stocked pantry. Just like all the pioneer college kids did in days of yore.

Come on, Pioneer Woman. Be realistic! They didn't even HAVE plastic zipper bags on the prairie.

Still, I understand the stress these TV cooks are under.

Every episode, they need another new recipe incorporating the latest trendy ingredients. Take Brussels sprouts. One day they are in. The next day they are out. How do they know?

Plus, consider the competitive pressure. These cooks must constantly look over their shoulders. There they'll see the latest 12-year-old Chopped Junior champion, the one who turned a mystery basket of ingredients into a grape jelly-glazed falafel with tater tot-encrusted chicken liver stroganoff.

My point is, kids, choose your career wisely. And make your ramen noodles the old-fashioned way. With the 29-cent packet.

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