Rachael Ray's world has a lot of layers.
I know this because when I was sitting at Crook's Palace in Black Hawk, munching on a surprisingly good burger with house-cured bacon and a homemade bun while researching this week's cover story, I was watching one of her shows, $40 a Day, on the Food Network, which sends the thirty-minute-meal maven to a city with the sole purpose of eating breakfast, lunch, dinner and a city-specific snack for $40 or less.
She accomplishes this difficult feat by rarely drinking alcohol and tipping, like, 15 percent on the pre-tax total, which seems pretty asshole-ish given that the staff is definitely bending over backward to accommodate her camera crew, usually in kind of tight spaces while also trying to serve a lot of other people.
Over the course of the show, Ray jumps (no, literally, have you seen how much energy she has?) back into the kitchen to make some comments about whatever the chef is doing, usually by listing the ingredients in what she's about to eat as the camera provides a close-up of the food she's naming. "Look, some toast! Eggs! Goat cheese! Sun-dried tomato! Basil!"
Then she eats the dish, re-listing the ingredients: "It's got Tuscan toast, a layer of egg, goat cheese, tomatoes and basil." Then she makes a really deep observational comment: "I just can't believe how many layers this dish has."
Tell me more, Rachael Ray. Are you getting layers of toast, goat cheese, tomatoes and basil?
I might have forgiven the inanity had she not repeated that formula while talking about all the layers of lunch, a snack and dinner. By the time the show ended, I'm pretty sure I'd lost at least ten IQ points, along with any ounce of respect I might have been harboring for the woman who built her career on opening a can and using a microwave while wearing a becoming sweater set under studio lighting.
This show doesn't heighten appreciation for restaurants or the process of cooking -- it's the Food Network making a profit by preying on an American desire to see attractive people perform tasks.
Ray's kind of right: The world of food IS layered. But her shows manage to make it look pretty one-dimensional.
I just find that tasteless.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.