I don't watch much of the Food Network. Not because I dislike it, but because I rarely sit down and watch shows on an actual television and so far I haven't been interested enough to seek out the torrents. Therefore, the first annual Food Network Awards was only vaguely on my radar, but enough so that I did check out the website.
I'm sure that, even if I had watched the show, I wouldn't agree with Bourdain's rant on Ruhlman.com: "Last night, during the breathtakingly awful, interminable cruelty that was The Food Network Awards, I even found myself feeling bad for Rachael Ray." Don't follow the link if you're not fond of profanity—it took me a minute to settle on a usable quote that didn't contain a colorful string. While I find the Food Network a little fluffy, and am aware that it's celebrities are often chosen for their cute-factor rather than their culinary ability, it's driven Americans to get more interested in good food and I can only thank them for that. It's not the Food Network's fault that we prefer everything fed to us with that special Hollywood-style seasoning.
There were only a few highlights for me from the award pickings. I was somewhat surprised that they had a Tasty Technology category (although I guess I really shouldn't be), and the most geek-friendly award winner was the PoliScience Anti-Griddle. It flash freezes instead of grills, and was created for Grant Achatz in 2004 (PoliScience is based in the Chicago suburbs). There's an interesting article about it on Chow (and I think I might change my tagline).
Other winners that I thought were interesting:
- MooBella Ice Cream: A vending maching that uses "a multi-patented, fully automated ice cream process" to create custom ice cream on the spot.
- Zingerman's: Z - Club: A "gift for the adventurous eater." Zingerman's supplies a boxed collection of rare and specialty foods such as "olio nuovo, a coveted version of the new season's olive oil pressed and bottled just days ago, or maybe a cheese from one of America’s small dairies" up to four times a year.
- Liz Hickok, Jell-O Artist: Cities of Jell-O. Go look—it's cool!
I also have to give a little shout-out to Matt Lee and Ted Lee of the Boiled Peanuts Catalog. They lost to Alicia Polak of the Khaya Cookie Company under the category of Edible Entrepreneur of the Year. Polak hires South African men and women to bake handmade cookies that are brought to the U.S., so the award was well-given. But there's a Southern heart beating deep inside this yankified urbanite, so I just had to mention the boiled peanut boys. I might just have to order one of those boil-your-own peanuts kits...