New Cooking Channel Debut Review

Original notes from MONDAY May 31, 2010 with updates from Wednesday June 2, 2010: As soon as I heard about the new Cooking Channel weeks ago, I was looking forward to today’s debut. The shows started at 7am on Monday, May 31st on the old FLN (Fine Living Network) channel. Brought to you by the same company as the Food Network, it’s more about instructional cooking sans all the reality show drama. At least that is how they are starting out. I am really looking forward to watching the old classic shows with Julia Child and the Galloping Gourmet! Looks like they are starting on Tuesday at 2pm.

I woke up around 7:30 and started watching.

First Impressions of Cooking Channel Shows

Chuck’s Day Off” was on. I loved that he cooked simple, easy recipes with fresh, sustainable ingredients. That’s so important now. I liked his personality and will definitely watch again.

Next was “Everyday Exotic” – I only watched 2/3 of his first episode at 8am and 2/3 of the next one at 8:30am. He was okay. I don’t know that I would necessarily seek out his show again, but if I saw it was on again and there was nothing else, I would probably watch. I found his humming annoying, as well as how he keeps saying “crazy” or “beautiful” – too many adjectives. Maybe he had just too much nervous energy, and he’ll get better with time and experience. I do like that he takes one main ingredient (papaya, mango) and uses it throughout his recipes. He did offer some good tips. My favorite tip was that he used a pair of tongs to juice a lemon/lime. I am definitely going to try that!

UPDATE: I can’t believe the show I wasn’t so crazy about is starting to become one of my favorites. I watched Everyday Exotic a couple of times, and I really like the show now. His personality grows on you, and I am enjoying his recipes.

Note on the Commercials
I know their commercials are probably going to be going strong on the first few days, since it’s a “new” channel and everyone will be watching more. But I really hated watching the stupid High Fructose Corn Syrup commercials. Very irritating when you are watching healthy sustainable cooking shows! But I realize they have to pay the bills! :)

Two episodes of “Indian Food Made Easy” started at 9am. I was looking forward to learning more about Indian food, and how to cook it. 5 base spices for Indian cooking: cumin, coriander, chili powder, turmeric, & garam masala. Chef host Anjum Anand is very personable, but I have to admit the first episode was very confusing and difficult to follow, at least for me. Or maybe I just lost interest, yeah, I lost interest. I was bored and just zoned out. She was trying to teach a friend to cook Indian food, but I would have preferred that she just speak to the camera and her TV viewers instead. I’ll keep watching to see if the 2nd episode improves. Hmm, unfortunately, I lost interest in the 2nd episode as well. Maybe not necessarily the show’s fault, I just found other things to occupy my attention. Oh well. I won’t give up on the show. I would watch again and maybe try to give my undivided attention to it instead of doing other things at the same time.

Chinese Food Made Easy” – I am really going to try to pay full attention to this show. Okay, the first episode is off to a great start. The chef host Ching-He Huang is cute and personable. I am intrigued by the Chicken Chow Mein recipe! Yum. Again, I really like the one on one instruction, speaking to the TV viewer; in the next recipe segment, she is teaching another person on camera, but I didn’t mind it so much. I do prefer the one on one instruction and thankfully the majority of the first episode was one on one. I really want to try the Egg Fried Rice recipe. Yum Yum (double yum)! I only have a smaller non-stick pan, so I can cook the eggs first in the non-stick, then cook the rest in my larger stainless saute pan. I definitely am going to try this rice recipe for sure! I am really enjoying the “Chinese Food Made Easy” show. It really is packed with lots of recipes that anyone can easily cook! Ooh and I loved her “ying & yang” food tip toward the end of episode #1.

2nd episode of “Chinese Food Made Easy” – yum. Egg Fu Young always reminds me of my dad. He loves that dish, and my mom used to make it for dinner every so often while we were growing up. I will have to try that recipe for sure! My mom used to make little pancake sized egg fu young, and I might try that. Oh dear, I just found this while googling about the host, Ching. It appears that Chinese Food Made Easy is only a 6 episode series. Does that mean that she won’t have any more shows after the six? Oh I hope she creates something new, or the Cooking Channel commissions more of her older shows. I really am enjoying her!

Note on TV vs online recipes:
I found some of the shows’ online recipes are different from the TV version.

French Food at Home” – I really like the host chef, Laura Calder; she’s easy to watch. Her first recipe Coconut Flan is decadent and oh so sweet. It sounds heavenly. Don’t know that I would try creating it myself, but it was fun to watch her. Watched both episodes and I really like her, but the music is a little annoying. LOL. Anyway, Laura’s show originally aired on Food Network Canada, so she has 3 seasons of episodes; so far, it looks like they are airing episodes from the 3rd season. Looking forward to seeing more of Laura Calder.

Rachel Allen Bake” – another UK show. I’m not necessarily interested in sugary baked goods. I am so much more interested in a healthier baking show, like breads and whole grain muffins, but she’ll be fun to watch just to learn basic baking skills. The article on wikipedia only displays seven episodes, so not sure how long the show will run on the Cooking channel. UPDATED: the show was boring and I lost interest unfortunately. I will still try watching again though. I am not giving up on any of the shows. I am just so happy that there is a channel that’s all food and cooking!

I fell asleep and missed both of the Bill’s shows (Bills Food and Bill’s Holiday) but they looked interesting.

I woke up during the second episode of “La Dolce Vita” (the sweet life) and found it a little irritating. Too much dramatic bad acting in between cooking. But again, I am going to watch again. Could be I was just grouchy while I watched. ;)

I wasn’t interested at all in “Food Jammers” – probably the one show that I’ll turn off when it’s on. The show is described as “Each week these three offbeat adventurers come up with a crazy scheme to rock the food world” – nope, not really for me. I like real food, real cooking. Something that I can envision cooking myself.

The “Drink Up” show is another that doesn’t really interest me so much, but if nothing else is on, I might watch. I watched the “Beer” episode and it was not bad. I don’t drink alcohol, so it’s really not a show I would seek out.

I loved “At the Table With” show! The first episode highlighted Chris Cosentino which was great, because I really didn’t know him very well. The second episode was featuring Cat Cora. I was familiar with her from the Iron Chef, so it was wonderful to hear about her life! The shows are older (as most of the shows on the Cooking Channel) but it’s still fun to learn about all the chefs!

Food(ography)” episode was about ice cream. I enjoyed learning about the history of ice cream, and I especially loved learning about the goats milk ice cream from Laloo’s. Foodography is a show I would definitely watch again. Even though it’s not a true “cooking” show, it’s fun to learn about a particular food.

“Foodcrafters” is another non-cooking show that I loved! It’s actually one of my favorites so far! It’s a brand new show hosted by Aida Mollenkamp (who I just adore), the show showcases various small food businesses. The first show “Boost” included an intriguing company called Justin’s Nut Butter. They make jars, but also individual packs of nut butter for on the go protein. How ingenious! Justin explained that while he was hiking the trails of Colorado, he didn’t want sugar filled energy bars, he wanted protein, and that is how he came up with the idea of the little individual packs. I love that they are a small company making small batches of a food product. They sell at Whole Foods, so I will definitely try to find them!

The second episode of Foodcrafters, was equally interesting. And Laloo’s Goats Milk ice cream was featured again! I really am going to HAVE to try this ice cream! I also loved learning about the cheeses from Sweet Grass Dairy farm. Unfortunately they are in Georgia, and not selling any product nearby. There is a store caled The Vin Bin – in Marlborough, MA but it’s not local to me. Maybe someday, they will distribute to more stores closer to me, or even Whole Foods.

Monday night for me ended with two episodes of “Unique Eats“, but I didn’t pay much attention while it was on. I guess I lost interest.

UPDATE: I didn’t get a chance to watch Julia Child or the Galloping Gourmet on Tuesday. I didn’t get home from grocery shopping until much later. I caught a couple of the shows all during the day, and I really like this channel. I love “Ask Aida” and “Molto Mario” along with “Jamie At Home“.

It’s really going to be great to be able to turn on the Cooking Channel and watch cooking! Yes, I do like the reality shows on the Food Network, but the actual cooking shows are few and far between. The Cooking Channel is filling in the blanks with real cooking instructional shows. Yes, the majority of the shows are older, and there’s nothing wrong with that, especially since I haven’t even heard of most of them before!

Looking forward to seeing how the Cooking Channel grows. I really hope they keep it pure without any reality drama!

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