Will People Actually Cook Along With Gordon Ramsay: Cookalong Live?
Tuesday night, Fox is airing Gordon Ramsay: Cookalong Live, a reprise of a Channel 4 series from last year in the UK. The premise of the show: Ramsay cooks a three-course meal in an hour, live, with viewers ostensibly "cooking along." To participate, you're expected to have a whole list of ingredients and equipment on hand (see the Menu and Shopping List pdf) to generate a curious menu of Angel Hair Pasta with Shrimp, Chili and Tomatoes; Steak Diane With Sautéed Potatoes And Peas; and a Quick Tiramisu.
Update: Disconcerting! THR reports that they're going to crank up the celebrity factor and bring in comedian Cedric the Entertainer, actress Alyson Hannigan, and singer LeAnn Rimes onto the show.
This weekend's New York Post offered some criticisms, and while you'd expect a Rupert Murdoch-owned newspaper (the Post) to be supportive of a Murdoch-owned television network (Fox), but here, not so much! (The article's author, Carla Spartos, is the same killjoy that hated on NYC food trucks, using words like "prissy" and "fussy.") After calling Cookalong's concept "appealingly old-fashioned" and "refreshing," the Post digs in:
- One of the recipes calls for unseasonable tomatoes ("heirloom or beefsteak") in December.
- The Quick Tiramisu recipe calls for "4 Italian ladyfingers" that are apparently hard to find in supermarkets.
- The total bill for the ingredients is over $100 for four people.
- Steak Diane is a "cream-laden culinary throwback" to the 1970s.
- And finally, "if we’re meant to cook along live, why are serving a dinner for four at 10 p.m.?"
All of which are highly reasonable criticisms! Forget seasonal, forget healthy, and forget about eating until after 10. In addition, amusingly, if you plan on, ahem, cooking along, you're supposed to have a pot of boiling water ready at the start of the show and have a cup of coffee already brewed for the dessert. Which is like a lot of extra work (and will take you more than an hour)! But still, an hour seems like a longish amount of time to cook some noodles and shrimp, and then some steaks with a cream sauce. And then for dessert: A Ladyfingers-laden Tiramisu? That sort of comes off as a quickie that you might find in Rachael Ray's 30 Minute Meals. Or gasp, Sandra Lee.
Be forewarned! Tim Hayward, after cooking along with one in the UK last year wrote: "By the end of the show I was drained, angry and surrounded by bad food." So will it be successful, ratings-wise? Signs point to no: Fox hasn't been doing much promotion for it — as of this writing there's only a small text link for Cookalong on its homepage. Also, it's up against new episodes of Scrubs and NCIS: Los Angeles; and some new singing reality show on NBC called The Sing-off. Scrubs! What were they thinking programming it against Scrubs?