Simmer Down: Play Nice, Ladies

I love food – I love everything about it. First and foremost, eating is high on my list of pastimes, but as I appreciate every flavor that hits my taste buds, I can’t help but want to delve deeper into what defines a dish. It is for this reason that I enjoy every minute in the kitchen, from the preparation that comes with a recipe, to the actual cooking techniques, to taste testing. However, I’m certainly nowhere near a formally trained chef.
When I read about or meet a classically trained chef, I immediately feel a sense of respect and admiration. Cooking is my hobby; something I appreciate and an activity that I feel brings out the best in me. However, it is an escape from my 9 -5. Chefs live, eat (no pun intended), and breathe cooking and have endured years of research, studying, and hands-on training in the classroom and kitchen. I have nothing but respect for formally trained chefs.
Through reading books, collecting recipes, watching documentaries or shows about or by amazing chefs, I have learned a thing or two in the kitchen. However, that is not to say I do not look up to those in the culinary field that may not have had the official training. This is evident from my first “I’m Not Worthy” post dedicated to Ina Garten. Women like Martha Stewart and Rachael Ray have become business moguls when it comes to cooking and entertaining with no educational background at a culinary institute. Women like them – smart, sassy, clever and creative – make me feel like my experience in the kitchen has some relevance.
In an interview on Nightline last week, Marth Stewart belittled Rachael Ray’s skills as a cook and deemed her more of a personality and less of a talent in the kitchen. Martha also shot down Rachael’s latest cookbook and was quick to mention it includes many recipes seen in earlier Rachael Ray cookbooks. Rachael’s response to the media has been gracious, and she even agrees that Martha is far superior a home cook.
Believe me, I get that Rachael Ray’s quirky catch phrases and effervescence can be, well, annoying at times. I get that many of her recipes are almost too simple, and at this point, with her magazine and her show, most come from a staff of writers and not Ms. Ray herself. However, I appreciate her excitement when she’s creating a dish, and I respect the fact that she highlights the importance of cooking and eating with your family. 30 Minute Meals does come in handy for a twenty-something girl cooking for two, but it’s mostly meant for the typical, working, busy family. Working a full time
job, rushing your children to a sports game or band practice, and still finding time to prepare a healthy, home cooked meal sounds almost impossible. Rachael Ray’s recipes make it easier to avoid stopping at a fast food restaurant for a quick meal. They offer a healthy alternative to eating on the run and give people the opportunity to spend less time in the kitchen and more time at the table, catching up with their family.
The most disheartening factor of the Ray-hate from Martha is the fact that a succesful, intelligent, respectable woman, clearly revered in her field, belittled the success and skills of another. It is no secret that Martha Stewart has her hand in several different business ventures, from her Martha Stewart Living merchandise and her magazines, to television programs, cookbooks, and a Sirius radio program. The woman even has a line of wine set to debut in January. She extends her expertise to crafts and “domestic arts,” pretty much bought Emeril Lagasse last year, and truly is in a league of her own. To compare Rachael Ray and Martha Stewart is apples to oranges, and Martha’s remarks about Ray in the kitchen reveal a hint of insecurity, in my opinion.
Several days ago, Martha issued an apology on her television show, which I think was expected considering Rachael Ray had nothing but compliments for her after she was dissed. There may be some truth in that Martha’s skills are more advanced than Rachael’s, and there is no denying that both are well-liked, intelligent women, and just plain good at what they do. Rachael Ray’s response is further evidence of her positive attitude and her awareness of her role in the culinary field, highlighting the respect she has for Stewart. Though she has shed light on the subject, and said she was sorry, Martha’s not-so-nice statements teach the lesson that negative comments about someone else’s success or skills will not make you any better at what you do.

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Categories: Simmer Down

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