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Easy Entertaining with Michael Chiarello
Posted to Teevee at 03:15 PM on Jun 1, 2005

I know how to make this show more fun.

They should call it "Wine Country Yuppie Chef" instead. On every episode, Michael could go shopping and pick a new expensive, hard-to-find ingredient. He could make as many dishes as he can using the ingredient.

In the barbeque episode, Michael makes an espresso barbeque sauce. Now, that is just heresy where I come from. That is the kind of thing that gets a man run out of town. Espresso? I know some people can't live without Starbucks, but please. Stick to mango salsa fritatta whatevers and leave the barbeque to barbeque fans, mmmmmkay, Mikey?

Michael loves Italian food, though, and is a purist at heart. So when he's not besmirching the 'smore by using biscotti, he's kind of entertaining. I mean, he seems like a nice guy. But there's a time and a place for experimentation. Dessert soup? Fine. Biscotti smores? Not so much.

Whenever somebody uses the word "retro", I roll my eyes. It's one of those words that people whip out that doesn't really mean anything. It can describe anything that existed anytime in the past. Clothes are "retro". Music is "retro". The sandwich you ate five minutes ago is "retro". So the fact that Michael used that word to describe a perfectly serviceable plate of spaghetti and meatballs is more than a little silly. It's a dumb buzzword and it kills me that it's being attached to a food that everyone loves and will never go out of style.

As Alton Brown is slavishly devoted to his kosher salt, Michael has found a companion in something called "gray salt". He pimps it on his website. I guess it's dehydrated ocean water from Europe. The stuff costs twenty bucks a pound. And he uses it in everything. Why the use of twenty dollar rock salt is so critical , I don't understand, but whatever.

Nitpick, nitpick. Michael is actually one of the more talented personalities on the food network. He just cooks. No gimmicks, no catchphrases, no shrieking. He just gets down to business. With the exception of the aforementioned barbeque episode, he is quite mellow and even relaxing to watch.


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