Confessions of a Food Network Junkie

John McManamy Health Guide
  • Yes, I admit it. I think Rachel Ray is a hottie and Alton Brown the Boswell of beaux cuisine. So when my wife scored tickets to attend a taping of Emeril Live! we set aside a day to visit New York (a two-hour bus ride away for us).

    Food Network is located in Chelsea Market, a restored brick building now given over to trendy food shops. Perfect scene-setter. After waiting in line for an hour, we were ushered into a holding area where a compilation of old Emeril shows was playing on a large TV.

    There he was making a gourmet pizza. A little bit of olive oil and garlic (so far so good) then – BAM! – a mountain of grated cheese and – BAM! – another mountain of a different kind of grated cheese. But every mountain needs a glacier or two, and Emeril came prepared. There was a large slab of mozzarella sitting on the counter like a loin of rolled pork. One thick slab, two, three, four – BAM! BAM! BAM! BAM! – one for each face of his enormous cheese mountain.
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    “He’s trying to kill us!” I wanted to say to my wife. But I was in a room surrounded by people who think Emeril walks on water. Not a good idea to open my mouth, I decided. Besides, I enjoy watching Emeril.

    We were taken upstairs to the studio. Loud thumping recorded music blared through enormous speakers. A comedian warmed us up and turned us into a mob totally free of all inhibition (you’d be amazed how easy this was). Then Doc Gibbs and his band entered. The stage manager gave the signal, Emeril made his appearance, and we all went wild.

    The theme of the show was a romantic meal for two, and Emeril had a surprise for us – 48 oz rib steak as the main course. Emeril had a funny story about how romantic couples in his eateries can’t get enough of the stuff.

    But first the appetizer – lobster parfait. Lobster is only as dangerous as what you dump on it or dip it into, such as – ahem – a generous portion of mornay sauce.

    Then came the rib, one that took four strong men to pick up and plop onto a stainless steel frying pan. As the rib was being browned on both sides, Emeril got going potatoes gratin (literally swimming in heavy cream). The rib, pan and all, went into the oven, along with the potatoes. This was the cue for the swap-out, fully-cooked main and entrée emerging from the oven seconds later.

    Finally, cherries jubilee topped with whipped cream. This signaled the conclusion of another superbly-orchestrated Food Network extravaganza and another virtuoso Emeril performance. The couples in front were happily dining away on a week’s worth of saturated fat.

    “How to Legally Murder Your Wife or Husband,” I said to my wife once we were safely out of earshot. I can see it on Law and Order now: “We ran a tox screen,” says the medical examiner, “and found nothing, just a lot of plaque in the arteries.” “What about the bullet in the brain?” asks Briscoe’s replacement. “The rib steak killed him first,” says the medical examiner. Technically, the steak is the murder weapon.”

  • “Cut her loose,” says the ADA, gesturing to the suspect. “No grand jury will ever buy it.” Ironically, just last night, I saw Vincent D’Onofrio outwit a food show celebrity on Law and Order: Criminal Intent. But alas, the homicidal chef resorted to old-fashioned methods: poisoned abalone on one victim, rendering another to ground chuck with the meat grinder on another.
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    Had he only watched Emeril he would have known he had the perfect murder weapons already at his disposal, sitting in plain view in his meat locker and food pantry. Oh, the humanity.

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Published On: April 20, 2006