#7: The Truth About A Roni
Great chefs, tales from the crypto, food porn, tenderoni, and Bobby Brown
Great Chefs Think Alike
Alain Passard, Emeril Lagasse, Susan Spicer, and Albert Roux. What do these great chefs have in common? Mary Lou Conroy, that’s what. Greenlit by PBS and later moving to Discovery, Great Chefs enjoyed a healthy run from 1982 to 1998, featuring over one thousand culinary masters across 51 countries along the way. No gimmicks; no competitions; no fancy studios — the 30-minute episodes authentically showcased three distinct courses in real kitchens, with real food, and Conroy’s real sweet, Louisiana drawl narrating the whole mouth-watering affair from preheat to digestif.
Great Chefs wasn’t the first cooking show to heat up the airwaves, but it was the first of its kind, taking viewers directly into the back-of-house to watch chefs whip up a meal in their own kitchens.
The year 2020 ravaged the restaurant industry. Inconsistent bureaucracy and public health messaging led to confusion, restrictions, openings, closings, reopenings, re-closings, employee illness, material shortages, and the list went on. With restaurant margins already thin, the hits put as many as two thirds of restaurant workers on the breadlines last April.
So, what’s a cook to do in such uncertain times? A bunch of ‘em fired up TikTok and took the heat to the home kitchen. The best hosts saw their makeshift culinary demos gobble up millions of views. And even amateur cooks (riding the quarantine culinary wave) saw their simple creations explode into viral sensations — baked feta pasta ringing any bells, ding dong ding?
It’s not quite fair to say that TikTok chefs are no frills, no gimmicks — the 60-second time constraint means these creative cooks need to get clever in order to shoot and edit a fully balanced breakfast. But, to truly break through the clutter, hosts need to offer an authentic peek behind the curtain — not unlike the revolutionary strategy employed by Great Chefs.
A quick search on TikTok unveils a slew of cooking categories that are boiling over with collective views, the undisputed mark of success for any influencer worth its salt. #Cooking has 38 billion views, (we’re happy to report that #macoroniandcheese is currently topping 71 million, though #sloppyjoes is sadly slumping at only 3.3M...lame).
And where hungry eyes go, the dollars follow. TikTok cooks are cleaning up, with some of the great chefs landing major sponsorships ranging from cookware to custom knife manufacturers. All reminding us of another culinary survey featuring premier chefs from around the globe...
P.S.: Wanna give some much needed love to restaurant workers? Meet The Giving Kitchen, a group of restaurant heroes working to make sure foodservice workers have what they need when the sh*t hits the fan. Donate, share, do the right thing.
Tampopo / Jûzô Itami, 1985
Big Night / Campbell Scott, Stanley Tucci, 1996
Sour Grapes / Reuben Atlas, Jerry Rothwell, 2016
The Biggest Little Farm / John Chester, 2018
The Lunchbox / Ritesh Batra, 2013
Tales from the Crypt
The food industry is indulging in cryptocurrency -- i.e. digital money that allows secure and seamless peer-to-peer transactions on the internet.
Starbucks recently expanded its relationship with digital wallet app, Bakkt, which will allow customers to buy brew via Bitcoin. The move comes as several other restaurant companies have been exploring opportunities to leverage consumer interest in digital assets, ‘cause money never sleeps, pal.
On National Burrito Day (first Thursday of April for your next trivia night), Chipotle gave away $100,000 in free burritos and $100,000 in Bitcoin through an interactive game. They worked with Stefan Thomas, founder and CEO of Coil, to design the "playful ode to Thomas' experience losing the password to his hard drive that stored $387 million in Bitcoin."
Does any of this make cents? Basically, restaurants are recognizing that crypto is full of fright ‘n’ fun — and they need to jump on the bandwagon in order to cash in. Gordon Gekko would be all over this...
Food Porn: noun.
images that portray food in a very appetizing or aesthetically appealing way.
Ain't no law against it yet — everyone’s raving and drooling and posting and scrolling in search of mouth-watering food photos.
Looking for some history on the matter? Foodporn, a self-proclaimed e-commerce platform, is credited for popularizing the term that floods your foodie feed by “redirecting perverts to the refrigerator since 1999”.
OK HERE’S THE SITUATION
#Foodporn in 2021 means that no matter how hungry you are, you gotta feed the famished camera first. Think about it: you’re seated at that swanky restaurant, plates drop, emotions run high — and before anyone lifts a fork, they’re lifting a smartphone to snap pic after pic...
Rest assured, you weary soul. Supposedly, it isn’t actually about FOMO or flamboyance — it’s about self-representation. Remember the old adage, “you are what you eat”? Well, the masses these days are taking that to heart, sharing soul food pics en masse in hopes that these photos offer a glimpse into their [diverse, NGO, organic, fair-trade, paleo] souls.
She’s sweet, she’s pretty, she can give a special love. Here’s the truth: Bobby Brown’s “Roni” is one of many songs that catapulted the term “tenderoni” into the stratosphere during the 1980s. The “bae” of yesteryear, it means “sweet, young lover” and it is lovingly baked into the sweetest of songs — most famously, Michael Jackson’s “P.Y.T”.
Since then, artists including Akon, Kanye, Vanilla Ice, Destiny’s Child, T-Pain, Lil Wayne, and most recently, Tyler the Creator all have hearts that belong to a tender “roni”.
What’s even crazier, “Tenderoni” was originally a sad, post-WWII over-processed macaroni and fake meat dish. Thankfully, Tenderoni (the foodstuff) was withdrawn from the market in 1981 after decades of wreaking havoc on innards since its founding in the 1930s.