TV Dinners

Published in Gourmet Live 10.19.11
We’re tuning in, turning on, and eating up what’s on the tube

In this issue of Gourmet Live, we’re getting with the program and examining the electric relationship between food and television, starting with a look at ten groundbreaking cooking show hosts. Kathleen Collins, author of Watching What We Eat: The Evolution of Television Cooking Shows, introduces us to the men and women who paved the way for Emeril Lagasse, Gordon Ramsay, Rachael Ray, and even Julia Child.

While Collins spotlights the on-air talent, Joanne Camas takes a peek behind the cameras for our latest installment of “10 Questions For…,” a conversation with Emmy Award—winning director Geoffrey Drummond about his experiences working with Child, Jacques Pépin, and Lidia Bastianich.

Did you ever wonder how food on TV gets to be so darn good-looking? Read Nanette Maxim’s profile of Nir Adar, a food stylist known as the “King of Ice Cream,” but whose expertise extends well beyond that temperamental star to getting burgers, seafood, candy, and myriad other foods ready for their close-ups—without melting down.

In a twist on the concept of product placement, sometimes the food on television jumps right out of the tube and onto store shelves. We take a quick tour of such TV-inspired food and drink as Cheesy Poofs and Tru Blood.

For more on smart food marketing, we head back to the ’50s for the inside scoop on the sales strategy that turned the frozen meal into a national sensation—by rebranding it as the TV dinner. It turns out that after the initial craze for the compartmentalized meal, some people started to complain about a little flaw—TV dinners weren’t that tasty. “Novelty superseded taste,” as Gourmet Live’s Kemp Minifie notes in the introduction to her delicious solution: a modern TV dinner menu, complete with mouthwatering recipes for meat loaf, scalloped potatoes, a brownie, and more.

Do you ever watch TV while you eat? What’s your favorite TV-show food pairing? Fess up via Twitter or Facebook, email us, or post a comment on our blog. And don’t forget to visit us on the Web at

Thanks for tuning in!

The Editors of Gourmet Live

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