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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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Grazie mille!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Food Network “Star” Lenny McNab: America Voted....and Got It Wrong

Food Network's New “Star” is Already a Little Dim

Where to start. Okay. I don't like Lenny McNab. Or to be more precise, I don't like the choice of Lenny McNab as the next Food Network “star.” As a person he may be one of the nicest Rhinestone Cowboys
to come out of New Hampshire since.......well, I really can't think of any other New Hampshire cowboys right off hand. Okay, try this: he might be the most authentic cowboy to grace the television screen since another guy named Lenny, one Leonard Slye, left Cincinnati and started calling himself “Roy Rogers.” 

First, there's the outfit. Honestly, Lenny. Nudie Cohn called from beyond the grave and left a message: “Tacky, tacky, tacky.” Hey, don't get me wrong. I totally understand the gimmick. I performed onstage as a “singing cowboy” myself once upon a time and I was the epitome of Mel Tillis' “Coca-Cola Cowboy” with the Eastwood smile and Robert Redford hair. I had a big, black twenty or thirty-gallon genuine Tom Mix hat and shiny silver spurs on the heels of my knee-high boots and I wore embroidered cowboy shirts and even had stripes of sequins up the legs of my pants. I did draw the line, however, at belt buckles the size of serving platters. The point is, it was all schtick. I would never have actually gotten on a horse wearing any of that fake cowboy crap. I didn't wear it just sitting around the living room, and I sure as hell wouldn't have worn it in the kitchen. And another thing; there's an old cliché reinforced by Burt Reynolds' character in “Smokey and the Bandit” that a cowboy only takes off his hat for one thing. Well, I'm here to tell you that a gentleman, cowboy or not, takes off his hat indoors and at the table. Ya hear me talkin', Lenny?

I don't care that Lenny cooked on a ranch in Arizona and that he's a chef at a resort in Colorado, he's still a guy from Back East putting on a cowboy show. I know because I'm a guy from the Midwest who put on a cowboy show for thirty years. And I don't think Food Network needed to hire a pretender to be their next “star.” Nicole was just a girl from the Jersey shore and Luca was a nice Italian boy. Both of them were for real. Lenny is a put on whose veneer and facade are going to wear real thin real quick. If he ever gets on the air, that is.

As of this writing, the Internet is buzzing about Lenny's conduct off-camera and online. Turns out, if the rumors are true, that he's a sleazy, crude, profane creep. I won't repeat any of the foul garbage he posted to various places, but if what he said he wanted to do to his new Food Network colleague, “Pioneer Woman” Ree Drummond, is any indication, his mentor, Giada De Laurentiis had better watch her back......and her backside. And to all you gullible goobers who bought into his hat-tipping “aww, shucks, ma'am” persona, be aware that he apparently presents quite another personality when he's not applying for a job as a TV role model. Check out Gawker's report (http://gawker.com/did-a-food-network-star-say-he-would-fuck-his-colleague-1620298284) or The Braiser's report (http://www.thebraiser.com/reports-link-new-food-network-star-lenny-mcnab-to-some-uh-sordid-online-history). Food Network Gossip (http://www.foodnetworkgossip.com/2014/08/food-network-star-lenny-mcnab.html), Grub Street (http://www.grubstreet.com/2014/08/lenny-mcnab-controversy.html), and the blog A Teacher's View (http://a-teachers-view.blogspot.com/2014/08/food-network-star-lenny-mcnab.html) also have some interesting things to say about our new “star.”

Allen Salkin, author of From Scratch: Inside the Food Network, in an interview with “The Braiser,” says, “The network itself doesn't know what a Food Network star is anymore.” And I am in complete agreement with that sentiment. Read Salkin's interview (http://www.thebraiser.com/allan-salkin-from-scratch-interview) and see if you don't agree, too. I have long preached that the Food Network has become terminally out of touch with its audience. In the same way that there's no “learning” being presented on TLC – The Learning Channel – these days and MTV – Music Television – is about anything but music, so Food Network no longer has anything to do with food. And their attempts to find “stars” among the overripe fruit hanging on the lowest branches of the culinary trees....or blowing in off the barren prairies, in this case....are both sad and funny. Except nobody's laughing.

One would think that the whole Paula Deen debacle might have made the network execs a little more cautious about the backgrounds of future faces of the franchise, but obviously that's not the case. They just keep indiscriminately trotting 'em in from wherever they find 'em in the vain hope that lightning will strike twice and produce another Guy Fieri. (Oh, God, I hope not! One's more than enough.) Hey, who knows? If the Rhinestone Cowboy catches on, maybe they'll pair him up with the ubiquitous Surfer Dude and utterly decimate what's left of their audience. Then maybe somebody can sift through the ashes and come up with the makings for a new network of food people, by food people, and for food people that will not perish from the airwaves.

We can only dream.

3 comments:

  1. Thank you Ron... how terrible for the Food Network to nominate someone like Lenny a winner! How very "classy" (not!)

    Shame on you, Food Network!

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  2. I found myself 18 and engaged... home all day while he worked. I realized I needed to learn how to cook to at least try to pull my own weight. I found the food network. Granted, this was in 2002. Those were the days of Sarah Moulton, Ming, Ina, Emeril, Bobby, Tyler, and many more. I spent many years dealing with an eating disorder, and cooking helped put me back on the right track.... along with therapy. Yet as I type this, Guy is on AGAIN. Not that I have a problem with him, but I'm sorry... 10 times a day is too much! Ron, you are absolutely right. This network hooked us on information we craved, then swapped it out for the culinary version of desperate housewives or the real world (depending on generation). I miss the food network that taught me something useful... I miss something worth watching. At this point, it just makes me sad.

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  3. You may not like it, but it's you have to wonder if he's got a method to his madness, or if he's just plain nuts. https://cuoreiberico.it/

    ReplyDelete