Monday, February 13, 2012

Women of Worst Cooks

As a Food Network junkie, I was really excited to hear about the new season of Worst Cooks in America. For those of you unfamiliar with the show, Chefs Anne Burrell and Bobby Flay each have to teach a team of the so-called “worst cooks in America” how to cook. I’ll miss Robert Irvine from last year, since I have a mild crush on him, but Bobby Flay is definitely a cool replacement. In the first episode alone, I noticed some women to keep an eye on as the competition progresses.

On Team Anne, there’s Melissa Rhodes from Naples, Florida, an anorexia and bulimia survivor who still struggles with a fear of food and her body. I think it’s really great that the show is featuring someone who has a hard time with food from a culinary and psychological perspective. While I don’t think that Food Network goes out of its way to ignore eating disorders, it certainly doesn’t take pains to mention them. (The only time I can remember anorexia being brought up was on an episode of Chopped, when a competitor talked about how she went into cooking as part of anorexia recovery, but it’s not like I’ve seen every episode of every show the network has ever aired.)

I think that part of the reason why there isn’t that much attention given to eating disorders is because there are much fewer women on Food Network. While I think the network tries to equalize the numbers as much as possible, there are just fewer female restaurant chefs out there, so there’s only so much they can do. (Why there are more men than women in the restaurant kitchen is a whole other topic.)

While I’m discussing this, I feel like I should mention that I find the new show Fat Chef a little offensive. I’ve never actually watched it, so my impression could be totally wrong, but the commercials are too reminiscent of The Biggest Loser, which encourages horrendously unhealthy weight loss methods. I also don’t like the title, since it sounds more like a schoolyard taunt than television show. I know that Beth Ditto, lead singer of Gossip, has called herself a “fat dyke” and has no problem with the terminology fat, but I’m not comfortable with it in this context.

Whatever the case, I’m glad to see someone like Melissa on Worst Cooks.

The show also has two apparently Jewish women: Rachel Margolin from New York, New York, and Erica Weidner from Long Beach, New York. (For the record, I’m assuming these women are Jewish based on their names, because I have no actual proof.) I guess it’s not surprising that there are a few Jews on the show, considering that the show is based out of NYC and two million of us live in the metropolitan area. I like that these women are breaking the stereotype of the Jewish bubbe who’s deft in the kitchen and always has home-cooked meals waiting for you at her house. No, not all Jewish women know how to cook! And for the record, not all women know how to cook, either!

So I’m definitely looking forward to watching how the rest of Worst Cooks goes. Until then, happy eating!

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