Monday, August 16, 2010

congratulations, Aarti!

It was a pretty safe bet, and sure enough, Aarti ended up crowned the next Food Network star. I felt bad for Herb, but I also felt that Aarti deserved her win. She's been the most consistent cook of the bunch, and she cooks at a high level of skill. She'll bring a much-needed ethnic perspective to a channel that sometimes strikes me as Not Quite Brown Enough, despite the presence of the Neelys, Aaron "Big Daddy" McCargo, Marcela Valladolid, and Sunny Anderson. (Food Network's new sister network, The Cooking Channel, seems more ethnically diverse, but CC's shows also seem to be lower-budget affairs than those on FN.)

I'll continue to hope that Herb gets his own show. As for Tom, I thought he did well when he filmed his sample pilot (all three contestants had to film 3-minute mini-pilots, which were shown to a focus group as well as to the regular judges), and I have to give him credit for being a good sport. All three finalists were classy in that way: they had bonded, and weren't the type to talk trash.

Still, I'm glad it wasn't Tom who won: the memory of his Iron Chef debacle is still too fresh. With Tom (and this is sometimes also the case with Rachael Ray), you can never be too sure that what he cooks will taste as good as it looks. I also think Tom's spastic hand gestures might have grated on a viewer's nerves after two or three episodes; only Dennis Hopper and David Lynch would have appreciated such body language over the long term.

Aarti is indeed the complete package: smooth on camera, competent in her cooking, urbane and witty in her style. I wish her luck, and will be interested to see the first episode of her show. Will it still be called "Aarti Paarti," or will Gordon Elliott nix that?


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