I wrote some time ago about the declining quality of the Food Network (the Canadian version) and it has since continued to get worse. It is increasingly overrun with reality shows and the actually instructional cooking shows that you see are not just reruns, but often pre-high definition re-runs from a decade ago. I love Chef Michael Smith, but if you are going to show reruns of his show, do you have to show me the low budget standard definition reruns from 2007? They had a fantastic high definition, well produced version a couple of years ago but that wasn’t picked up and the channel seems strangely reluctant to even show the re-runs. The same goes for Roger Mooking’s show. I was starting to think that it was just me; that everybody with an interest in food would rather watch competitions where people try to make soup without pots rather than an old fashioned cooking shows where someone explained how to cook things. Then this new channel called Gusto appeared on my TV.
To be clear, I am in no way connected to Gusto or anyone involved with the channel. There have several shows which are completely uninteresting, such as one about British people buying or fixing up rural holiday homes or whatever. The Wine Show sounds like it should be great but isn’t at all. But the channel is actually making an effort to provide some shows that are of some practical use for the home cook. All of Jamie Oliver’s shows are on the station, as is Martha Stewart’s, and I think the only show I’ve seen on it that isn’t in high definition is Julia Child’s show. I love that they have thrown this black and white show from the 60s right in the middle of all these high definition shows.
I have a feeling that I am not alone among cooking enthusiasts in being sick of all these cooking reality shows and wanting some old fashioned cooking shows. People who watch reality cooking shows are more fans of reality shows than cooking, and there are much more interesting reality shows out there than what you will find on any cooking channel. The people who actually have a serious interest in cooking, who would be the most coveted audience for advertisers, are going to watch shows that are both entertaining and help them cook better. Someone who likes watching people sabotage each other in a kitchen may not have any interest in any of food related commercials during the show. In year or two I have a feeling that the Food Network will either disappear or start showing more new, practical cooking shows.