With his ever-present moped and purposefully mussed hair, Jamie Oliver made cooking shows trendy. The stylish culinary wizard – who went from hosting one series to sitting atop an empire that includes cookbooks and product lines – paved the way for other hipster chefs who now ride on his apron strings with their own TV programs.
Consider Philman George. Sporting his own unique ‘do – a jumble of fashionable dreads – the engaging 20-something kitchen whiz is as passionate about freestyle rap as he is about fillet mignon. George is host of a 13 x 30-minute series being produced by Toronto’s Ellis Vision called Philman George: The Rhyming Chef. As he cooks for the show, George spills both lyrics and spices over his Caribbean and Asian fusion cuisine.
Kip Spidell, head of production at Ellis Vision, says George ‘brings an audience to the kitchen that few have tapped; his crowd is young and hip – a far cry from what the traditional hosts in this genre bring.’ Ellis hopes to get production cooking this summer.
Also from Canada comes a new series called Food Jammers, which will premiere on Food Network Canada in April and is hosted by three young, experimental jokesters that invent new ways to make food. From brewing coffee on a BBQ to making ice cream in a tin can, the three test the limits of culinary creativity. Their witty and wild style is sure to make viewers take notice, and possibly even try their own hand at extreme cooking.
Meanwhile, Food Network us starts airing its third season of Iron Chef America in late February, and there’s a hot new element in the Kitchen Stadium: estrogen. The show’s first-ever female Iron Chef, Cat Cora, has credentials out the wasabi, and she’s blonde and lively to boot. Says Bruce Seidel, vice president of program planning at Food Network, ‘Cat’s a fierce competitor, but she has a playful side to her as well.’
Cora’s unorthodox style may have Julia Childs rolling in her grave, but it’ll draw younger viewers. So will another new ingredient in the latest season of Iron Chef America: fellow Food Network chefs, including Rachael Ray. America’s perky culinary sweetheart, who has followed Oliver’s leap into the publishing world with her own successful magazine, will battle alongside competition regulars. Nope, these aren’t your Momma’s cooking shows.