Why Culinary Entertainment Is The New Black
Cooking shows have been around since the 1960’s. Julia Child began a food revolution in America when she took the small screen to share her love of cooking French cuisine. The show was shot in real time. All of her (human) mistakes were seen. It was her charisma in the kitchen and inviting spirit that built real connections with viewers.
What she started has grown into a cultural phenomenon. According to The United States Department of Labor in 2014 “Watching TV was the leisure activity that occupied the most time (2.8 hours per day), accounting for more than half of leisure time, on average, for those age 15 and over “(bls.gov). This means everyone over the age of 15 spends on average almost 3 hours per day watching TV. And studies show that now over 434 hours per week of shows are cooking related.
This era of home entertainment has of course influenced home cooking. People are not sitting around watching the Food Network anymore. They are actively learning as they get up and experiment in their own kitchens. Jean Armstrong, director of brand marketing for Williams-Sonoma noted, “Interest in high-end equipment and professional-level techniques has skyrocketed along with the growth of culinary entertainment. Trends that used to take a few years to show up in home kitchens, if ever, are now in our pantries and on our counter tops within months of being viewed on favorite black cooking shows.” (abcnews.go.com)
This is huge for the evolution of home cooking. Whether we want to admit it (or like it), television and media entertainment influence our everyday lives and decisions. However, in the case of cooking shows it can be a good thing. They have motivated the everyday, working person to appreciate what they eat and to take an interest in creating new and exciting meals. People are starting to invest in their kitchens and their ability to create restaurant quality dishes at home.
You don’t have to be a professional chef either. Shows like Chopped and Rachael Ray are less intimidating for the everyday citizen. Rachael Ray’s thirty-minute meals are not only entertaining and delicious to watch, but feasible for anyone. From a teenager to a full time working parent, everyone can achieve the recipes with some attention and effort.
Chopped showcases people with skill. However, they also present to viewers how even a homegrown cook can outdo one with a culinary education. Not to take away from the classically trained chefs, but like with any art, some people have a natural talent and passion. If you have the motivation, it's possible to achieve success.
And the professional chefs that grace our television screens offer expert insight to something we all do, eat. These programs are building confidence in people of all ages to care about what they eat and how it is prepared. As proven with the new MasterChef Junior, it’s inspiring an entirely new (and healthier) generation.
Documentaries like Food Inc. and Food Fight (and the newly released Consumed) explain in detail the reality of the food industry. They explore its damage and affects on our generation and bring to light one of our most basic human needs: growing and harvesting. They exhibit the rise of community-based organic food movements, why they are working and why we should care.
Slowly but surely people have been listening. What we put on our televisions, big screens and stream on the Internet sinks in. Even local stores are carrying better produce, higher quality meats and more organic options. It’s becoming harder to ignore the realities of our environment, our bodies and our economies.
It’s been a slow progression. However, the results are clear. The culinary entertainment industry has taken the world by storm. People everywhere are participating more in quality home cooking. And it’s nice to see the consumer making a healthy difference. When it comes to cooking and pop culture trends, in this case - I’ll hop on the better-life bandwagon.