Columbia Star

1963        Celebrating 60 Years      2023

Competitive Cooking

It’s not a criticism; It’s an observation

Mike Cox

Mike Cox

Okay, I’ve complained about cooking shows on television before, but this is too much. Those people have finally gone too far. Really. This whole genre has become a sick joke— more offensive than carnival side show television. Yes, I’m talking about “Dr. Pimple Popper.” At least that’s pixelated.

I remember initially accepting the “British Cooking Show.” The participants prepared odd stuff, used unfamiliar ingredients, and no one understood anything they were saying without closed caption. That seemed harmless. Then famous chefs began refereeing American cooking shows featuring different subspecies of citizen-cooks squaring off with a timer to see which one could beat everyone else for taste, presentation, efficiency, and television likability.

This was followed by contests pitting celebrity chefs like Bobby Flay against ordinary people, a total mismatch. Could the local golf hot shot beat Tiger Woods? So why did this even air? Another unnecessary television program.

Eventually, what I believed was the lowest level television could possibly stoop appeared; kids competing against each other only to be humiliated by food experts like Valerie Bertinelli, Eddie Jackson, and Rachel Ray. Thirty minutes of Ms. Ray’s hijinks qualifies as child abuse by itself. But, no surprise here, this is popular, and things have gotten worse.

Now a program featuring black and white clips of long dead Julia Child being challenged by current culinary adversaries is hitting the airwaves. Is nothing sacred? Wasn’t it creepy enough when Natalie Cole did a duet with her deceased father? Or when dead movie stars began endorsing crappy products? And please, Oh Please, why did the show have to feature a competition?

I get it. We live in ’Murica, the land of winners. The place that’s supposed to beat everyone else at everything else. It is in our DNA. At least our “Let’s Pretend” DNA. But we all know that’s a fantasy. Like the true Old West or how America is a shining example of how hard work and determination produced our current country without oppressing anyone, stealing land, or getting involved in the politics of other countries.

If you don’t think we’ve become too competitive, take a road trip on one of the nation’s interstate highways. Or post something you like on social media that turns out to be more offensive than you thought. Or has a misspelled word.

Social media warriors, armed with time alone in their mom’s basement, and anonymity, will hurl the most disgusting things at you, start a conversation you didn’t intend, and put you on the defensive so fast you’ll forget what your initial intention was. Think of “Revenge of the Nerds” but without naked coeds and humor. Even my guitar song tab site is filled with arguments over capo placement. Everyone wants to destroy the competition.

The general proliferation of snark, accompanied by social media, a double-edged sword that not only sends idiocy to millions instantaneously, it also assures near anonymity to the originator of any questionable post, has turned us all into nasty little jerks; the kind of people that disgusted each of us as children trying to adjust to acceptable group behavior. For everyone’s sake, it’s time to fix this.

Eliminating competitive cooking is a good start.

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