Jan 8, 2014

Food Network Southern Cooking: Life After Paula Deen

If you watched the implosion of “celebrity chef” Paula Deen, you probably wondered how things could go so terribly wrong in such a short time. It’s interesting to see Paula claw her way back into the limelight and attempt to recapture the adoration of her many loyal fans. Watch Paula play a minor role on Not My Moma’s Meals, her son Bobby’s show on the Cooking Channel.  She also appears from time to time on son Jamie Deen’s Food Network show Home for Dinner. As she seeks to overcome her troubles and rebuild her brand, she has several new ventures underway.
Have you noticed how the Food Network has handled its harsh dismissal of Paula Deen with a number of new shows and personalities challenged to fill the southern, home cooking gap?

Let's start with The Pioneer Woman  starring Ree Drummond. It's life on the ranch with Ree, her husband Ladd whom she calls the Marlboro Man, their four spirited children and a couple of dogs. The Pioneer Woman introduces herself as a writer, blogger, photographer and accidental country girl. Her award-winning blog, the Pioneer Woman.com, attracts more than 20 million page views per month. Her cook books include "The Pioneer Woman", "Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl", " Food From My Frontier" and "A Year of Holidays". Her cookbooks have ranked #1 on both the Wall Street Journals and New York Times Bestseller lists. Her hard cover introduction to the family's basset hound titled "Charlie the Ranch Dog gained a 5 star rating on Amazon.com and launched a number of other books including "Charlie Goes to School, "Charlie and the New Baby", "Charlie's Snow Day", and Charlie and the Christmas Kitty".
Fans say Ree blooms while she cooks and brings a bright spirit to the world of cooking. but, some caution that her cooking isn't for everyone citing the heavy use of butter, oil and red meat (which sounds familiar). Viewers say they enjoy the ranch, the down home atmosphere and learning about Ree's family and friends. These are many of the same elements that made Paula Deen's shows so successful.

Trisha Yearwood is another new Food Network star focused on southern cooking. Most folks know Trish as a three time Grammy award winning country music super star and wife of Garth Brooks, but many aren't aware that she knows her way around the kitchen. Her show "Southern Kitchen" is in its fourth season on the Food Network. With the tradition of southern hospitality setting the atmosphere, Patricia Lynn "Trisha" Yearwood shares her family's recipes and  her life with family, friends, old bandmates and others at her home.

In addition to her 19 top ten singles, Trish reached the New York Times bestseller lists with her cookbooks "Georgia Cooking in an Oklahoma Kitchen" in 2008 and "Home Cooking With Trisha Yearwood" in 2010.

One of the newest entry of Food Network home cooking shows is "Farmhouse Rules" introducing mother of six and grandma of 13 show host Nancy Fuller. The show departs from the "southern strategy "and picks up a folksy warm grandma type who brings local goods from Hudson Valley of upstate New York to the comfort foods she features. Nancy Fuller is a business woman who owns Ginsberg's Foods, a successful, multimillion dollar enterprise with her husband. The show emphasizes farm fresh classic meals, i.e. Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad, hearty Butternut Squash Soup, and Lamb Stew with Sherry and Mushrooms.

Another new show, "Southern at Heart" provides an excellent platform for Damaris Phillips, winner of The Next Food Network Star, Season Nine. Damaris is both a matchmaker and chef, teaching those who are unskilled in the kitchen how to prepare an impressive meal for their dinner date. Not bad for a culinary instructor from Louisville, Ky.  who describes herself as a "Southern Spitfire". Expect a fresh take on southern cuisine with recipes like Roasted Chicken with Bourbon Pear Butter Glaze, Pumpkin Scones with Maple-Cinnamon Glaze, and Quiche with Country Ham.

The lineup at The Food Network continues the magic formula, food, family, friends, and fun adventures. Whether it's Paula, Bobby and Jamie Deen or Ree Drummond and the Marlboro Man, the audience loves a focus on family meals and entertaining friends. That should keep the Network thriving with lots of talent and new personalities readily available to supplement the tried and true show hosts. Let's keep rattling those pots and pans!



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