Word out of New York is that Food Network bulwark Emeril Lagasse is leaving the network after a collapse in contract negotiations.
Food bloggers and writers practically took to the streets last year when the formerly ubiquitous Mario Batali was unceremoniously dismissed from most Food Network shows, including the ingenious Molto Mario. The demise of Emeril Live (the more boring Essence of Emeril will live on, apparently) marks another blow to the foundation of the network — which rose to its greatest heights on the ample haunches of Batali and Lagasse.
Our fondness for Emeril has waned over the past few years, but consider this: 10 years ago, Pax Arcana couldn’t have told you the difference between casserole and cassoulet. Then we started watching Emeril Live and got hooked on his enthusiasm and accessibility. Lagasse has a distinct talent for making the process of cooking seem enjoyable, understandable, and, most importantly, an exercise in creativity.
We’re now more interested in the more sophisticated fare of Alton Brown and Tony Bourdain, but for us Emeril Lagasse was the gateway drug into the world of cooking.
The real shame is that the Food Network seems intent on replacing the old workhorses (most of whom owned restaurants) with the sparkly food porn of Giada DeLaurentis, Rachael Ray, and witness cyborg swamp monster Sandra Lee. We like Giada, and we have more tolerance for Ray than most, but Sandra Lee, the fat fraud guy who does the diner show, and crapulent budget gourmet Dave Leiberman are not anything we’ll be watching.
At least there’s still Alton.
Bam! Emeril Leaves Food Network [Fishbowl]