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The View from My Kitchen

Benvenuti! I hope you enjoy il panorama dalla mia cucina Italiana -- "the view from my Italian kitchen,"-- where I indulge my passion for Italian food and cooking. From here, I share some thoughts and ideas on food, as well as recipes and restaurant reviews, notes on travel, and a few garnishes from a lifetime in the entertainment industry.

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Thursday, July 4, 2013

Lorena Garcia's Dangerously Stupid Taco Bell Commercial

I know for a fact they teach knife safety at Johnson & Wales University. I guess Lorena Garcia was absent that day.

The latest Taco Bell TV spot featuring the “Top Chef” contestant is a travesty. Of course, I think Taco Bell is a travesty in and of itself. And how the addition of a paralegal from Venezuela who now cooks Latin cuisine in Miami is supposed to convince us that the fare at the Yum! Brands faux-Mexican franchise has suddenly gone “gourmet” is a stretch of a whole different fabric. But I digress.

The newest ad for the Cantina Double Steak Quesadilla is a nightmare to watch for anybody with the most rudimentary scrap of culinary training. I am frankly shocked that Garcia would allow herself to be so poorly used. The commercial was totally ineffective for me because I was so transfixed on Garcia's flagrant transgression of basic kitchen safety that I completely missed the product for which she was shilling and had to look it up in order to write this piece.

In case you don't know what I'm babbling on about, you can see it here: http://www.ispot.tv/ad/7tpo/taco-bell-cantina-double-steak-quesadilla-waving-knife

The spot features “Chef” Garcia standing in the midst of a group of decidedly nervous-looking cooks discussing her newest creation for Taco Bell. The cooks are nervous because Garcia is standing there waving around a 10-inch chef's knife like a conductor's baton. She gestures with it here and pokes with it there and points with it somewhere else. And the obvious consternation of her fellow cooks is apparently supposed to be hilariously funny.

The first rule of knife safety posted by the National Food Service Management Institute at the University of Mississippi is, “Concentrate on what you’re doing when using a knife. Do not engage in conversation when using knives; pay attention to the task underway.” Even the greenest culinary student can tell you that when you are not cutting something, your knife should be resting on your board with the sharp side of the blade turned away from you. You don't walk around with knives, you don't run around with knives, and you sure as hell don't stick them in people's faces. The idiots who write TV ads might think it's funny, but kitchen professionals will not. And here I thought Lorena Garcia was a professional.

Worse still, kids watch these things. I can't wait for the first lawsuit to be filed after some kid whacks another kid's ear off emulating the reckless actions of Lorena Garcia. “Gee, Mom. It looked funny when that lady chef did it on TV.”

Bad move, Taco Bell. Might want to rethink your relationship with whatever agency sold you this one. And Lorena........you should be ashamed. I'm sure your instructors at Johnson & Wales are. Sacrificing your integrity as a professional chef for the sake of a poorly-conceived fast food television commercial is pretty low class. If Taco Bell is just going to dress you up as a clown to sell their mediocre crap, you might want to do some rethinking, too.

This ad needs to be pulled quickly before something other than Lorena Garcia's image gets hurt.

UPDATE: I don't know if there was a general "backlash" regarding this moronic commercial or not, but it disappeared very quickly and quietly. Many of my readers were horrified enough to comment on it. I'm sure the suits at Yum! got an earful, too. One hopes it will preclude anything this foolish from airing again.

12 comments:

  1. I agree! I work as a Private Chef, and a Sous Chef in a cooking School and, I know that what she does in the commercial is a NO!!!NO!!! IN EVERY KITCHEN!! What was she thinking!!! I was very upset the first time a saw the commercial, and still am.
    I hate Taco Bell, and i want that commercial off the air!! Shame on you Lorena!!!

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  2. If I ever did that at work I would be terminated.

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  3. I agree with everything said here. I am a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu, and they don't just teach you knife safety on day one, but reinforce it each and every day after that. To be a pro with a chef's knife means you would never do anything that dangerous and stupid. I cringe whenever this commercial is aired.

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  4. I am not a chef but I am a parent and have taught my children to be careful in the kitchen. This commercial sickens me because she is a professional and is NOT acting like one.

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  5. I agree, this is a foolish commercial. A stupid thing to show children and young teens! My grandson was watching this who is 4 years old and stated, she is not making good choices with that knife in her hand! If only the creators of this commercial were as smart as a 4 year old, obviously they are not.

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  6. I'm not a chef, I'm a musician. Years ago my husband sent me to a knives skill class because he couldn't stand watching me cut vegetables and regularly endanger my own hands. I felt head to toe anxiety watching this commercial. Like others, I have not idea what the commercial was about, I just kept closing my fists in utter fear. Taco Bell is for the money, but I agree that Lorena Garcia should know better.

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  7. Omg people its just a stupid commercial...who cares...for all you know, it could be a fake knife! That's the magic of TELEVISION

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    1. It makes no difference that it's a fake knife or not!!The MOST stupid commercial EVER!! It makes a mockert of the culinary world. LG has sold her soul.

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  8. As someone who works in a zero incident safety culture, I find myself wanting to avoid taco bell just to show my lack of support for this commercial. Unsafe acts are not comical. How avout they just create a commercial where kids are texting about taco bell while driving? It's the same issue.

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  9. Inappropriate and not funny. Taco Bell should be ashamed and recognize that impressionable children are watching. Terrible marketing technique. Please remove the commercial before something terrible happens to a child who may think it is funny and tries to imitate this madness. I am boycotting Taco Bell and sending this site to my contacts in support of innocent children. We must keep our children safe and the only way people seem to understand is through US currency.

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  10. "I am frankly shocked that Garcia would allow herself to be so poorly used." This was my first thought the first time I saw it. Then I remembered the chef in question built up her profile by claiming responsibility for Taco Bell's menu. Then I stopped being surprised.

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  11. leave Ms. Garcia alone. geee. obviously it is a racial message from the Taco Bell corporation. it inforces the negative mexican stereo-type. You know, knife weilding, gang member, banditos. same stuff. Garcia was one of the few latinas at first shown in a position of some influence in the corporate world and in this commercial she is shown as a hot tempered, knife wielding, Mexican. Ridiculous! The Taco Bell people need to cut the commercial. obviously Ms Garcia she was not in the position to denied her employers their whim. OR just had an error in judgement.or feels powerless to make waves at work she does not look comfortable swinging that knife. being powerless at work cant be an alien situation with all of you. Write to TACO BELL, the culprits in this racial slap in the face. BOYCOTT

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