The way Cleveland sees it, Michael Symon can do no wrong. Mr. Iron Chef, after all, is one of the city's biggest cheerleaders, has helped put Cleveland on the food map, has systematically delivered some of the best food in town, and despite his 1,307 different TV obligations, remains a presence locally.
We love Symon. We really do. And while we appreciate his ambition and heart and full-of-life-and-pork smile, not everyone does. Exhibit A: anyone who reviewed yesterday's debut of "The Chew," ABC's new daytime cooking/talk show with Michael Symon and others. On this end, we'll say: it was the first episode. Was it an auspicious beginning? Probably not. But there's plenty of time to figure out what works and what doesn't.
Here are some choice cuts from the reactions:
“The Chew” has your standard dump-and-stir cooking demos, tips on entertaining and a mundane rehashing of food-related “news.” (A study says cooking at home is cheaper than eating fast food!) Attempts to make food accessible to the masses often came off as patronizing, like when Symon explained that a sommelier is “a big fancy wine person” and demonstrated how to grate cheese with a microplane.
“The Chew” acts as if America has never seen a food show, when the reality is that TV is more crowded than Grant Achatz’ inbox when it comes to culinary content. But instead of filling that “AMC” slot with something fresh and new, all we get are stale leftovers.
The show's goals are ambitious. It wants to present cool recipes. It wants to report the real cost of the food those recipes require. It wants to deliver tips on quick cooking. It wants to promote healthy eating. It wants to show viewers how to rescue dishes from disaster.
It also wants to radiate the casual friendliness of a talk show like "The View," from which its overly clever title is cribbed.
All this is possible. On opening day, though, "The Chew" too often felt overstuffed, as if its celebrity crew were engaged in a speed-talking contest.
It's true that every second of The Chew was stuffed to the breaking point with applause, whoops, hollers, toasts, hugs, and sassy one-liners. It managed to take a bunch of people who are pretty likable on their own and make the whole less than the sum of its parts. Grub Street pointed out what might be a central problem with the show's formula, which is that it's difficult to do a cooking demo, or really any kind of segment, with four hyperactive co-hosts perpetually talking over you. But let's give these cats a break. This was day one, after all, and many of the kinks will be worked out in time. As for criticisms that the show wasn't sufficiently new, challenging, or authentically "foodie"... What exactly did you expect from a daytime food show modeled after The View?