Friday, October 8, 2010

If You Can Make It Here…Well, You Know the Rest

It's too late to go into much detail, but my meeting with the Food Network executives went very well. While no job was offered, I got lots of great feedback, and was strongly encouraged to take their notes and film another reel to submit to the Next Food Network Star show.

I was interviewed by the show's main judges, Bob Tuschman and Susie Fogelson, both of whom could not have been nicer, or more supportive for
what I'm doing. Not only wasn't I nervous, but for some strange reason it felt like I was talking to dear old friends. I was completely at ease, and enjoyed every moment of what many would describe as an unsuccessful meeting.

I passionately pitche
d the idea for a foodwishes-style show (where the food is the star, and the chef not so much), after which they thoughtfully articulated why such a show isn’t commercially viable. Deep down I knew that would be their reaction, but it was still fun hearing it from these two major star makers. I will think carefully about what they had to say, and maybe give getting on the show a real shot, or I'll simply go back to being one of the most watched and influential (not to mention happiest) chefs on YouTube.

After the meeting I was gifted a sweet swag bag, and given a tour of the operation. I had decided not to show up with a camera hanging from my neck, so I just snapped a few quick pictures with the iPhone, which you can see here (including a shot of Kitchen Stadium below).

As I left the Chelsea Market, I felt strangely contented, like I had truly accomplished something. I saw in their eyes, and heard in their voices, that they understood just how much I love food, and teaching people to cook.

So, thank you Food Network. Thank you for the opportunity, for the trip to New York, and for reminding me that while there are a million ways to make it, you only need to choose one. You haven't seen, or rather heard, the last of me.

54 comments:

Jo said...

please stick to your formula! Many great artists weren't recognized in the first place, because their ideas were somewhat game-changing. Your way of presenting food, technique, and humor is so unique, that it schould be very very viable, in terms of commercial success. Your day will come, Chef John! Thank You very much for your inspiring work, and Greetings from Germany (just got to get me another canned cheeseburger ;-) )!

Jai said...

Congrats! Do you mind sharing why they don't think something like Food Wishes on TV would be commercially viable? I'm much more mesmerized by the videos on this site than anything I see on FoodTV. But then again, they're now an entertainment channel that's not so much so ab cooking... either way, your legions of fans love you and your videos Chef John!

Kyle Young said...

John -

The Food Network is NOT about food at all. If it were, they'd have given you the pink slip. Thank you for not being a sellout.

- Kyle

Bobby said...

I don't know John. I don't think it's so much that you are not right for FN, but that they are not right for you. They really aren't about the food... or teaching people to cook. They're about promoting their station, their brand, celebrity chefs, and educating people about food... not so much teaching them.

You're approach is hands off, but your charm still shows through in your voice, and your humor. I LOVE your videos, and I was a decent cook to begin with, now I'm a better cook thanks to you.

Lisa J. said...

I'm and Australian living far away in Japan, so I'm probably not competent to discuss the "not commercially viable" [in the US] verdict - but man, I doubt it! What I do know is I enjoy your blog and videos as much and, often, more than anything else on the internet, despite spending a lot of time there for postgrad study and to indulge lots of other interests. I've learnt more about cooking from your site in a few months, in ways that have really changed my life for the better, than from the enormous pile of cookbooks that have filled my bookshelves to overflowing for many years. And, maybe what's more important, your humour and warmth make your site a place to recharge on the human and emotional level, too. Whatever comes next Chef John, thank you!!

Spoon Gouge said...

If I can ask, why wouldn't a show like that be commercially viable? Your success on Youtube says that people are definetly interested in it.

Anonymous said...

Chef John, You are so gracious! And in that spirit, I must comment that I spend more time with you on Foodwishes than I do watching Food Network.
You helped my daughter prepare her first Thanksgiving in 2009...I had to work. Her "gourmet aunt" told her it was "the best turkey I've ever tasted"!
I'm making those cherry pepper appetizers for holiday gatherings...peace

Ed Charbeneau said...

John,
So they weren't too accepting of your pitch, but that's ok. I have a totally new idea; I'll be the man in front of the camera and you are my "stunt hands". Of course they will also have to dub your voice over mine like a godzila movie, but that will add more depth to the show....

On second thought I bet your pitch was better.

Seriously, it sounds like you enjoyed the experience and walked away with your head held high. I'll speak for everyone and say we've learned a lot from your videos. I'm sure it won't be much longer before you are on to bigger things. Until then, we'll continue to enjoy your site.

Thank you.

Marcus said...

Your a great Chef John! Please check out my cooking skills on my cooking blog, Kindest Regards, Marcus.

Tamar@StarvingofftheLand said...

I say bravo! (As in the shout of appreciation, not the competing network.)

The Food Network is, and has to be, in the business of entertaining. And, while I find you vastly entertaining, I still recognize that your fundamental purpose is to teach cooking. Your popularity is a testament to how well you do that, and I, for one, am damned pleased to see you stick to your mission. If the FN sees room for that in its line-up, all the better, but if the don't, that's just mission mis-match.

As someone who's in it solely for fame and fortune (thus far, elusive), I'm very glad to know that, for some people, it's really all about the food.

You go, John.

milkshake said...

Maybe "they thoughtfully articulated why such a show isn’t commercially viable" and maybe they are completely wrong.

Your personality and voice is is shining through in these videos, and you figured out how make cooking recipes eminently watchable and funny without being gimmicky and without talking straight into camera.

Why don't you make a pilot episode video for FN the way you like to do it - which is probably the best way you do it - and ask them to show it to the test audience they use for rating shows. Also, this is supposed to be a show for the common audience, not for FN execs. Maybe you can first show your FN pilot to your neighbors, friends and family before you send it over to FN - you can gauge its effect best by the reaction of normal people that care for you - and their response could give you the necessary strenght for negotiating with FN.

Jeff B said...

Proud of you, Chef John!

I think you're much better suited for a show on the new Cooking Channel than the old Food Network. FN has become less and less about cooking and more about bubbly personalities and competitions anyway. While your personality is certainly better than just about anyone out there, you're definitely worth more to passionate, food-loving Americans than someone sandwiched between Sandra Lee and Rachel Ray in the lineup.

Anonymous said...

Keep up the good work John, my opinion is FN made a big mistake.

A fan forever.

Amy Lynn said...

Glad that you had a good time in NYC, Chef John. I would totally watch your show on FN.

I hope you do apply for FNS. You would be fantastic.

Jill Drapcho said...

I watch more FoodTV than any other channel, but the thing is, the time I spend enjoying your blog is time I would be tuning in to watch you if you were on FoodTV! Eventually you will get it, if you want it, because they need you. You have everything a food star needs: warmth, charm, humor, unpredicatability, and something else--staying power--you wear well!!

gguerra3 said...

The Food Network is all about reality TV and competitions, Ace of Cakes, Chopped, The next food network statr etc etc.. That is why I personally do not like it. The new cooking channel is about actual cooking. It is much better suited for you.

Kathy the happy grandma said...

On the Next Food Network Star, I noticed the Food Network seems more interested in the telling of one's story rather than the food itself...now every show I watch entails some childhood story about the recipe and It just plain galls me. I really can't stand the most popular FN chefs anymore. I love this sight and I love your videos and personality. Never change!

Anonymous said...

Food network Channel is boring, I stopped watching it after I found your Youtube channel.
I love your recipe presentations, Chef John. Sometimes I watch your videos even if I don't have to cook, just for fun. Love your sense of humor.
You are truly the best, Chef John! Just, please, continue doing what are you doing.

Eric said...

Your style on Food Wishes is unique. Obviously it has caught on and people like the format. Each video is short and to the point. The editing is well done and keeps the content moving and on subject.

I hope you are not down in the dumps that they don't get it. You are what's happening on the food blogs. You are the future. Stay true to your self. You da man Chef John!

sequimteeth said...

For the lowly consumer like me, I prefer the blog to food TV anytime. More time is spent on your blog than on FTV. But you have to make a living and I am guessing free blogging doesn't contribute too much to the 401K. That's the rub isn't it - how to take your talent and genuine interest and make it sustainable. Not unlike the "buy local" food initiatives - save the local farmer. I should send you a check every time I use one of your recipes successfully! :-)

Anonymous said...

I haven't watched Food Network for years, but i tune in to your blog almost daily. Don't worry chef, their outlook reflects the reasons their network is rapidly becoming unwatchable... American attitudes toward eating are changing in a big way, and you're exactly what the nation that forgot how to cook needs. Keep giving the consumer what they tell you they want (instead of what some detached ny exec with a foundering enterprise "knows" the consumer wants) and you will be rewarded... The big diamonds never stay rough for too long; brilliance attracts attention.

Anonymous said...

Chef John,
I don't know how they could say your show would not be commercially viable...can you share with us the actual reasons? Because all they would have to do is come to your blog and see how viable you are!! I do watch FN and I LOVE watching your videos and I bet you could outshine any of those chef stars IMO!

And I don't understand, are they asking you to submit another reel to compete in the Next FN star show? But you just won the FN youtube challenge didn't you? (again viable!) Well, if nothing happens out of this, it's their loss. I'm sure there's something else for you! I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors!! We're all rooting for you! :)

Anonymous said...

Have you watched the Food Network lately? I thought the whole idea of this network is to show you how to make great food at home. Instead, it's full of self indulgent chef's not really cooking, but stroking their ego.
You go Chef John! The best thing I love about your videos? You show us that during the cooking process, you don't need to panic if it looks a certain way or you give great tips to turn a disater into a success.
If your idea is not commercially viable, I guess they need to make room for Iron Chef Kids where they go head to head making P&J sandwiches from mystery ingredients. Yawnnnn!
Hey, there is always the Oprah Network you can pitch to. Who needs FoodTV.

Chef John said...

Thanks to everyone for the kind words of encouragement and support!!! First of all, I'm not upset in the least! No reason to be. As I told them, I already have a great job.

What they mean by non-commercially viable is that to have a show you need large companies to sponsor/advertise. For that to happen a show has to have a larger than life personality around which the show is built. They need a face and a name to center everything on. My format doesn't really allow for that. Bob made a great point when he said that people that want what I provide can already watch that show...on Food Wishes and Youtube.

Rita said...

what do they mean, "not viable"? all i know is - it would be the network's BIGGEST loss, if they didn't choose you.

kudos for not being a sell-out, either.

Anonymous said...

I'm from the UK John, offal man, remember me?

I really enjoy watching your videos because not only are they entertaining but they are educational. I often find myself in conversation/debate with people for some reason or another when it comes to food and you are never far from my mind when I am offering examples of excellence.

Anyway I thought you might like another chef/foody I watch and thought you might like the approach.

http://www.channel4.com/programmes/river-cottage/4od

Artistic Accents by Darla said...

I would MUCH rather listen to you than some of the hosts they have currently. Your videos are a joy and I've learned so much and tried new things.
Thanks for what you do!

Andrew Bridges said...

Thanks for everything you do. Even if you don't ever get a show on Food Network, you will always have me as a loyal reader of your blog!

Anonymous said...

John, don't demean yourself by even considering going on TNFNS. Those contestants are losers whose shows I would never consider watching. You're a way better chef than any that have been on that show.

Anonymous said...

Gotta say... I don't actually watch food network but I do check foodwishes.com daily and refer back to it repeatedly. I love the food, love your personality and humour! CJ rocks! So corny I know, but you really have made my life better. Glad you had a great experience.

David said...

I'm sorry you didn't get a job offer from Food Network. However, I hope you realize how important you are! Your Food Wishes web site/youtube site is very unique, and it is one of my favorite places to visit. I HAVE LEARNED SO MUCH.

Food Network will blow a chance to improve their ratings, since people like learning how to cook, not where to eat/how something is manufactured.

Have you thought about going to PBS? They have America's Test Kitchen. They might listen to you.

cb said...

Hi Chef John, Have to say I am glad you had a great trip and awesome time in NY with FN and all. I am also glad we still have you all to ourselves--all 50k youtube folks and countless foodwishes folks. As I am in the entertainment industry I am not surprised at how somewhat uncreative and shortsighted their assessment is of your pitch simply because in a tested demographics it has proven itself popular and a draw for viewers but not for 'products' beyond the good food and recipes. People that want to learn to cook do not watch FN reality TV anymore as there are few shows that really 'teach' anything you can take and do yourself, but instead they 'showboat' to big corporation and not the viewers. Julia Child, Yan Can Cook and others are dinosaurs that plowed the way to this beast that is nothing but based corporate upselling. In a way its short selling the FN viewers for not realy giving them anything but people to watch instead of lessons and skills; few on there do any of that anymore (AB is one of the few left--certainly he is not popular?). I dare say though that even with your style of filming--corporations could gain hugely with actually SEEING the product working rather then sit in the hands of a prop cook with dialog. Sad to see creativity to develop such ideas outside the box from a cookie cutter 'selling plan' to corporate america is dead at FN, but glad you are still happy and enthusiastic to provide your YT and FW viewers all that comes from your heart and soul and kitchen. When I want to see people 'speed cook' or throw ingredients around like passionless children the waste, then I will watch FN on occasion. But when I want to learn or find a new recipe or feel the passion for cooking, I will be here at Foodwishes. IMO they missed a great chance to get back to their roots and make their channel something more then just a reality TV show. I'm glad we still have the real soul and heart of cooking and creativity here with you. -cb

Anonymous said...

*crosses fingers*
hoping for the "go back to being one of the most watched and influential (not to mention happiest) chefs on YouTube" option.

In 2009, I spent way more time watching you than Food Network, and I watched a lot of Food Network. You're the best, and they don't want to admit it.

Soon enough you will have an audience that would have been as big as it would have gotten on TV; AND, you get to wholly control the content and not have to worry about execs breathing down your neck. Screw that noise. You got it made, and it's a win-win for everyone.

Anonymous said...

i like your style much more.
i do not watch food network any more because it is not food centered. but i will watch it again if you are in the show.
keep up the good work!

Don Madrid said...

You need your OWN network.

I like to think big.

Stephanie said...

WOOO HOOOOOOO IM ROOTING FOR YOU!!!

Chris said...

I wouldn't sweat it chef. The Food Network has really gone down hill in the last 10 years. Remember, these are the people who canceled Molto Mario. These philistines would have canceled Julia Child if they had the chance.

As for the whole food over personality issue, I swear that I've seen a quote from a Food Network exec saying the same thing. They aren't after good cooking anymore, they want talk shows, and, oh yeah, here's some food. It is a damn sad state of affairs when there are better food shows on Bravo and the Travel Channel than on the Food Network.

milkshake said...

Chef, you should consider hiring an agency to get you started talking with execs from more networks. You know, FN is not the only one in the universe... Also, your FoodWishes format is perfect in a sense that using it for programming would not require a huge commitment from the channel - it it short and sweet and it could be included as add-on with other programming segments. And it would cost the channel near nothing to try the idea. I thing it would take off because the viewers response would take care of the rest.

I think that is what Jennifer Shiman did with her 30-second Bunnies Theatre (www.angryalien.com)and she got a long-term programming deal with Stars channel. Maybe you can ask her how she went about it. (Also, please watch her bunny parody of The Exorcist)

Anonymous said...

Just keep going at it. I think you have what it takes. The right voice, the right attitude. The recipes are great. Actually I am not sure what they didn't like. You better try again.

Mardi @eatlivetravelwrite said...

Ah the old "not comercially viable" argument. Oh well. You have a legion of fans out there, I am sure you are destined for great things!

Anonymous said...

Not commercially viable? As a potential viewer, I couldn't disagree more. I hate all the personalities on FN. I would prefer that it was more about the food.

Mike said...

I stopped watching Food network, and now watch food blogs exclusively, Food Wishes being the main one. Food network has shows that are 10% cooking, 90% drama/miscellaneous. The only way I would tune back into FN is if you got a show on it. Commercially viable, hah!

Anonymous said...

It seems we've been seeing more & more of the Food TV stars' "personalities" lately--from Sandra Lee to Claire Robinson to Giada (didn't she used to be an ironing board?). Hide your eyes, even sweet little Rachel Ray is having to show her personality. Then there's Aarti... If you're auditioning for FoodTV, better equip yourself with a set of extra large Jello molds...

Anonymous said...

Chef John, whither thou's videos goeth,so goeth I as well. be it youtube,your blog, or a major cable television station. just the opportunity to pitch a show as wonderful as yours has gotta be invigorating. I hope you have had an excellent time! You deserve it!!

Anonymous said...

Paul from NY here.

I never comment ...

I love your videos. As you know, plenty of people benefit from you. I feel you deserve national recognition, and the fun and bucks that come along with it. If it's meant to be (not that I am a believer in that) then it is meant to be. If not - you're great John. I'm not sure they deserve you...If television was government owned and operated, and I was some influential technocrat, you would be teaching the nation how to cook, and do it relatively healthy.

Scott - Boston said...

If by, "...it was still fun hearing it from these two major star makers," you meant, "security had to be called, and the jaws-of-life were needed to pry my hands off of their scrawny self-important necks," then, yes, I definitely understand.

Someone once commented to you a famous quote about Good Ideas: "If your ideas are any good, you’ll have to ram them down people’s throats.” Good advice.

And I agree with you that you've already succeeded by no small degree, if for the mere fact that you continue to walk the walk.

Cheers,
Scott - Boston

Chef John said...

Once again, THANKS EVERYONE!!!! You're all inspiring as always!!

Scott, thanks my friend... reading between the lines is only one of your many talents ;-)

Anonymous said...

Clearly what Food Network needs is more shows from all their failed stable of Next Food Network "Stars."

Big Daddy's House? The 3 dozen "I travel somewhere and eat stuff" shows? Just more crap to shuffle off to their sister network's dumping ground.

Davewinps said...

Food Network is why I come here, rather to my digital HDTV widescreen TV for my food interests. The only thing I have watched recently on Food TV was a scarce newly produced episode of good eats. For me, the decline of Food TV is responsible for my finding, enjoying, and continuing to enjoy Foodwishes. If Food Network was blind enough to turn you down, they are blind enough to continue their current brand of crapola!

Anonymous said...

Who needs the food network when we have perfectly good internets. It's better this way. TV is SO last century hahaha

I love your food, and you too!

Artsygal said...

I used to love food network once upon a time. These days the only time I tune in is to watch AB's Good Eats. Why? Because he teaches technique. The others can shove it. Number of recipes I've cooked from Food Network in the last 3 years? NONE. Recipes from your blog? At least a dozen, and I only just recently discovered you. Shows like what I believe you would produce are what it would take to get me back to watching the FN. I stopped watching when I couldn't find a cooking show any more, it was all reality and contests and other fluff.

Keep up what you're doing - it fills a huge void that ironically Food Network itself created by taking off all their good cooking shows. And the great thing? I've yet to have anything I made from your blog turn out badly. I can't say the same for the recipes I used to try from FN. In fact, I just forwarded several of your recipes to a friend who is learning to cook for the first time because I know your videos will make it easy for her to follow along. Thanks for teaching us all how to become better cooks!

craftersue2001 said...

You're better than the FN cooks. Eventhough being a FN chef you have clout in the culinary world, but still you're a great chef. Keep up the good work and videos on FoodWishes and You Tube that make us a better home cook.

PFSimAdmin said...

I haven't watched Food Network since Good Eats died. Nothing left on that network any more but crap. Their loss not to pick up Chef John, but he's better than that anyway.
You can tell by what IS on Food Network that quality isn't something they value. I seriously don't know who does watch all that drivel any more.
Hopefully not to the Cooking Channel, we can't get that here!!

JAGAJAK said...

Chef,
I have two kids, 13 and 15...when I want to show them anything about cooking, I go to your site, not FN. When I have friends both at work and play that I want to talk about food with, I tell them about your site, not FN. You are simply the best and your format rocks. Funny, educational, genuine and accurate. Just wanted to drop a note saying THANKS for what you do! FN's loss for sure but as others have commented, they are a money machine..it's not about the food with them..its about entertainment. Keep the faith and keep teaching. You do it right!