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Since the early ’90s, Food Network has been
educating us, entertaining us, and indulging our deep desire to watch food get prepared,
cooked, and eaten. Numerous stars got their start making deliciously
unhealthy, semi-homemade meals in 30 minutes or less on the cable network, but things on
the screen aren’t always what they seem. Here’s a not-so-sweet look into the behind-the-scenes
TV magic that makes Food Network possible. Spit take Working as a TV chef is one of the few jobs
that involves the slow, steady ingestion of hundreds of extra calories. Think about it: a food personality has to
taste a dish at every step of the cooking process and then take a big bite at the end
for the audience watching at home. “But I have to have a bit of this..” “Mmm.” “Mmm.. so good. See you in a minute” Food Network’s Giada de Laurentiis reportedly
keeps those calories out of her body by literally ejecting them out of her body. According to an employee who spoke to Page
Six, de Laurentiis uses a “dump bucket that is brought out the second they cut.” She just spits out the food —easy as that. Unappetizing, right? At least Gordon Ramsay doesn’t hide it. Not-so-secret ingredient Iron Chef and Iron Chef America are two of
the most popular cooking shows on TV. The drama in Kitchen Stadium kicks into high
gear when the Chairman unveils the “secret ingredient” the battling chefs must use as
the central component of their dishes on each episode. “Today’s secret ingredient is….” “BEER!” But did you know that element is strictly
for the sake of fun TV? According to Today, the chefs reportedly have
a pretty good idea about the “secret” ingredient by the time cameras start to roll. They’re even given a short list of possibilities
a few days before filming, and on taping day, they can guess which one producers probably
picked based on the list of complementary ingredients purchased for the show. Food reality Beyond cooking shows, Food Network airs a
wide variety of food-based reality programming, some of which isn’t quite as “real” as promised. The 2012 series Restaurant Stakeout featured
restaurateur Willie Degel [rhymes with eagle] observing an eatery’s staff to identity and
fix major problems. The owner of the Mount Ivy Cafe, which was
featured on the series, alleged the show was staged. Because the place didn’t have enough natural
“drama,” he claims the show hired a guy to pose as a waiter who dropped food and drank
on the job, just so he could get fired. The staff also allegedly had to change clothes
throughout taping so it would look like the show had filmed over the course of several
days. Unoriginal recipes Food Network personalities are extremely busy. For many, the reason they have a show in the
first place is because they’ve already had successful careers as chefs or restaurateurs. To find the time to make a bunch of episodes
of a TV show, these chefs often need a little help. That’s where ghostwriters come into play. According to Bon Appétit, TV chefs from the
Food Network and other outlets don’t write every recipe for every episode. Instead, they reportedly rely on outside parties
to formulate ideas. A talented cook can get a lucrative sideline
going helping out the onscreen chefs. Double dishing The food that the TV chef prepares isn’t the
only cooking that takes place during the show. Off-camera, other people are cooking one or
more versions of the same recipe, according to the Tribune-Review. It’s expensive and time-consuming to shoot
an episode of a cooking show, so preparing backup plates is an insurance policy in case
the star messes up the main dish. Off-screen helper cooks prepare the dish at
different stages of the process to show viewers what it’s supposed to look like, without having
to wait around for the televised food to cook. Food style If you cook a meal after watching a Food Network
show, it may not turn out looking just like it did on TV. That’s because you probably don’t have a food
stylist on hand like Food Network personalities do. According to LA Weekly, it’s the chef’s job
to cook, and it’s the stylist’s job to make it look perfect for TV. That means making sure it doesn’t melt, wilt,
or sag under those hot studio lights. A couple tricks of the trade: food stylists
keep things in place with toothpicks, and place marbles in soup so the ingredients are
forced to float to the top. Sneaky. Chopped and pre-tasted Chopped is one of the Food Network’s most
popular and compelling shows. Real chefs compete to make dishes based on
a basket of seemingly random ingredients, and they’re judged by a panel of food experts. “Each course has its own basket of mystery
ingredients ” to “you must use every ingredient in the basket in some way.” After all that effort of cooking and carting
dishes over to the judges, it would seem like the contestants’ creations would get cold. It does, which is why Chopped judges get to
sample the food before it’s finished. According to what host Ted Allen told Yahoo
TV: “The minute we cut after a cooking round,
the judges get up from the Chopping Block, and they go over to the stations and they
taste things that are hot. You can’t mess up the plates, but you can
taste to see whether something is crispy, whether something is cooked through, taste
the sauce before it has congealed or anything.” Camera catchphrase Food Network transformed low-key, instructional
cooking shows into mainstream television entertainment. Its chefs even use catchphrases just like
sitcom stars. The most famous has to be Emeril Lagasse’s
“BAM!,” which sounds like something the guy must have been screaming in his kitchen for
years. “And then folks, you just gotta, BAM
Bam it like that.” “Wow. And there you have it” As it turns out, his signature word actually
came out of an early Food Network taping in the ’90s. According to From Scratch: Inside the Food
Network, the channel’s camera operators in those days worked lots of jobs to earn a living,
and they’d often fall asleep while Lagasse cooked on camera. To wake them up, Lagasse started yelling “BAM!”
when adding ingredients to a dish. “Every now and then you want to knock it up
a notch with a blast from your spice weasel. BAM!” Thanks for watching! Click the Nicki Swift icon to subscribe to
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