Archive for March, 2008

“Ultimate Recipe Showdown” – Promising or Pipe Dream?

With the March 31st deadline for entries into season two of Food Network’s “Ultimate Recipe Showdown” looming overhead, I have to ask: “Have you entered yet?”

Unlike many high stakes cooking competitions that put off serial entrants like myself with their elitism and loyalty to below-par recipes (Pillsbury Bake-off, anyone?), something about this one seems unthreatening– even familiar. In spite of the show’s over-the-top production, and strangely annoying banter between normally likeable hosts Marc Summers and Guy Fieti, “Ultimate Recipe Showdown” is kind of like a comfortable pair of shoes. Why?  Perhaps the reason is because, for some of us, everything about the Food Network – its shows, its hosts, and even its recipes – are like extended family.  Sure, they get on our nerves, but they’re predictable, and they offer us stability. 

The homey, unintimidating categories are a welcome change from other contests as well. For example, Season Two includes “Thanksgiving,” “American Hometown Favorites,” and wide-open “Cheesy Recipes” categories.  Even the entry form is…well, easy.  A “tell us about yourself” box?  “Describe” the preparation (as opposed to listing the steps in tightly edited sentence fragments)?  Wait a minute; is this about personality, or food? Either way, you have some flexibility here: If your recipe ‘aint so grand and you know it, rest assured that you can use the 10,000 characters you are allotted to turn on the charm, and then hope for the best.

Although the Season One contestants include several well-known past cooking contest  winners (so far, I’ve counted Camilla Saulsbury, Catherine Wilkinson, and Jenny Flake), I’ve been given a brave new hope because of “Ultimate Recipe Showdown.”  Maybe, just maybe, this show is my chance.  So, what about you?  Did you enter for Season One, will you enter for Season Two– or is this whole thing just another Food Network ploy to make normal folks like us believe we can actually cook as well as Bobby Flay?  That reminds me: “Throwdown” is about to start.

 Brook Flagg 3/28/08