Cafe Society

Reader: I was never a good cook, until I discovered cooking shows

"Food programming has come a long way since Julia Child cooked her way into our hearts," Gretchen Kurtz wrote earlier this week. "For all her affability, Child was trying to do one thing: demystify fine cooking for an audience dependent on canned soup and casseroles."

But did Child, and all the food celebrities who followed, actually make it tougher for home cooks? Can a home-cooked meal -- or a meal at a cafe started by a woman with only an artisanal baking class under her belt -- ever measure up?

That's the question Kurtz set out to answer when she reviewed So Perfect Eats this week. See also: - With so much culinary perfection on TV, can a home-cooked meal measure up? - So Perfect Eats is the perfect place to take a break from shopping. - Slide Show: a closer look at So Perfect Eats

But readers have other questions about the influence of food TV. Says rusprincess:

I agree there is an overload of cooking shows these days, some of which demolish the original concept Julia Child had in mind -- a clear example of which would be Sandra Lee's Semi-Homemade Cooking. Nevertheless, I believe many of these shows may be a progression of what Julia Child started. Some had to be tailored to incorporate current trends, such as reality TV and competition. This is where the network makes the money and the audience gets the delight of drama.

It is truly up to the viewer to make a choice which shows to select. The hope here is that the viewer is listening to the message competitors are trying to send on shows such as Top Chef. They often tell their individual story as to how and why they developed a passion for food and with that a viewer can learn where to gain extra knowledge. I myself was never a good cook, and once someone made a joke of it: "You know what you can make well? Reservations!" So once upon a time when I stumbled upon Food Network I watched numerous episodes of Barefoot Contessa and later bought her cooking books. I started with baking and moved up to other dishes. I did not watch Top Chef until Season 4, but I enjoyed Iron Chef -- even the original version.

I believe cooking shows and specifically the variety of them can be very inspiring to people. I imagine it starts with people reaching out for a notepad and a pen, taking notes, which then slowly transforms into them standing by their hot stoves dripping in sweat, trying to replicate a recipe of parmesan garlic mashed potatoes. I don't think the amount of cooking and food shows we currently have would make people want to run out to a restaurant and if someone does, I sure hope they end up at Z Cuisine and watch Julia Child cook away magically.

Do you watch cooking shows? What affect do you think they've had on restaurants -- and customers?

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Contact: Patricia Calhoun