surf globally, eat locally
Mar 14, 2012
The Women of the Food Network:
Love Them or Hate Them?
By Marcia Frost

Women are all over the Food Network these days. Five of the top ones – Anne Burrell, Melissa D'arabian, Paula Deen, Giada De Laurentiis and Rachael Ray – happen to have strong personalities and very distinct styles. It seems that each one has as many fans as people who would rather watch chalk scratch a blackboard than sit through one of their shows. Here’s a look at why these woman are loved and hated at the same time.

Anne Burrell
Anne Burrell has worked as a chef in many top restaurants and honed her cooking skills in Italy, but she is best known for working as Mario Batali’s sou Chef on Iron Chef America. She now has two of her own Food Network shows, Secrets of a Restaurant Chef and Worst Cooks in America.

Who loves Anne Burrell? Those who appreciate her talent in the kitchen. Her book, “Cook Like a Rock Star,” has been on top of the cookbook charts since its fall 2011 release. It also has praise from other chefs, including Batali, who wrote the foreward.

Who doesn’t? Many don’t enjoy her harsh and straight forward language. On Chopped All Stars, Anne called both haggis (organ meat ground up with onions, oats and spices) and fruit rings “crap.”

Melissa d'Arabian
Melissa d’Arabian had no formal training in cooking. Instead, she has an MBA in Business from Georgetown University. She went from preparing meals for her family to cooking for the world when she won the Food Network Star competition in August 2009. The win led to her own show own the network, Ten Dollar Dinners with Melissa d’Arabian.

Who loves Melissa d'Arabian? Those who appreciate and respect a hands on mother of four who went from staying home fulltime, to dealing with young daughters and staring in her own cooking series.

Who doesn’t? Those looking for more unusual, gourmet recipes. Some fans have tuned out because they thought her dishes were too boring and that she’s trying too hard to be Rachael Ray.

Paula Deen
As a broke single mom, Paula Deen used her last $200 to start a home-based mail delivery service. The Bag Lady turned out to be only the beginning in 1989 as this hard working Georgian has turned food into a business empire. She has inked cookbooks and starred in numerous Food Network shows, including Paula’s Home Cooking, Paula’s Party and Paula’s Best Dishes.

Who loves Paula Deen? Those who love comfort food. No one on the Food Network makes it better than Deen. She’s also given quite a bit to charity, including donating food for more than 10,000,000 meals through Smithfield Foods Helping Hungry Homes.

Who doesn’t? The Nutritionists. Paula Deen’s butter laden and fried food does not go over well with those preaching healthy diets.

Giada De Laurentiis
Giada De Laurentiis, who is the granddaughter of Italian movie producer Dino De Laurentiis, has established herself as cook on two continents with food products, cookbooks and on television in Everyday Italian, Giada’s Weekend Getaways, Giada in Paradise and on NBC’s Today Show. She is also a celebrity ambassador for Oxfam America, an international hunger relief organization.

Who loves Giada De Laurentiis? Italian and Mediterranean food is hard to dislike. Giada De Laurentis makes the kind of food everyone likes to make and eat. She also makes it look like fun rather than work.

Who doesn’t? Some feel De Laurentis – with her low cut shirts and tight fitting dresses – is selling a lot more than her recipes. There’s also the question of how her body stays so perfect while making dishes like chicken parmesan. Does she eat any of her food?

Rachael Ray
Ray and her philosophy of simple cooking with interesting twists have become world renowned. She has her own cookbooks, kitchen appliances, pots, pans and television shows. While her education came from working as a manager in Macy’s Fresh Foods department, she can hold her own with any other Food Network chef as the host of 30-Minute Meals, Rachael’s Vacation and $40 A Day Inside Dish.

Who loves Rachael Ray? A lot of people. Rachael Ray has no problem keeping an audience on network television and she won a People’s Choice Award for Favorite TV Chef. She also launched her own non-profit organization, Yum-o! which funds everything from feeding hungry kids to educating families on healthy eating.

Who doesn’t? Those who don’t like perky and happy. Some find Rachael’s constant upbeat mantra to be a downer and dislike her television show, which also gets into things like makeovers, leaving viewers to question whether she’s a cook or a host.

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