“You’re not in upstate NY any more…”

Last night, I watched a show I normally don’t like or watch on the Food Network. I watch a lot of the stuff on Food Network and Cooking Channel, but “Chef Wanted with Anne Burrell” hasn’t been something I’ve particularly enjoyed. It’s shot and edited like crap compared with other stuff on the network, and the premise of the show and how they go about the judging just doesn’t jive with my preferences.

chef wanted

Last night, a local chef was featured vying for a position at a Long Beach, California restaurant on the show, and being that I’ve eaten this chef’s food a number of times, I was interested to see things turned out for her. Chef Adryana Washock was one of the four chefs competing on the show, and if you’re not familiar with her, you don’t eat at Illium Cafe enough. Chef Washock was even nominated as one of the areas rising star chefs in the Albany Food and Wine festival for 2014 (she didn’t make it as a finalist, though).

Unfortunately, Chef Washock’s perfect looking gnocchi with Bolognese sauce didn’t make it through the first round on the show. It is what it is, and if making gnocchi and Bolognese in an hour to produce a plate of food that looked as good as hers wasn’t going to win her the job against a plate of “grossly overcooked” mussels that were dumped together with penne, I’m going to say she’s all the better for it, especially since it sounds like she’s back in NY working with Chef Ortega at Illium again.

But it was something Anne Burrell said to Chef Adryana that really angered me. During the show, as chef Adryana explained her dish to Burrell, Burrell criticized her choice of dish and made the snide comment, “you’re not in upstate NY any more.”

I take that to mean that Anne Burrell has little respect for upstate NY chefs, and that’s a whole bunch of bullshit. Not that I want to get involved in the whole hubbub over the food scene upstate being inferior to others, but there are a number of chefs and restaurants doing awesome things in upstate NY. For one, Chef Ortega (along with her brigade including Chef Adryana) has done wonders to elevate the weekend brunch and standard deli fare in the area; their inventive and sometimes playful specials make the dining experience at Illium unique while staying very affordable.

Of course, there’s a lot going on at the higher end, too. Yono’s was recently nominated for a James Beard award for its outstanding wine program, and chef Yono was even invited to cook at the James Beard House last month (international honors!). Ric Orlando (who has been on the Food Network) has two of the most popular restaurants in upstate NY, and is doing things with fresh ingredients that blow Burrell out of the water. There are also chefs like Marcus Guiliano (of Aroma Thyme Bistro in Ellenville) who brings the seasons of NY to his plates and is an advocate for clean food.

I’m sure there are plenty of other examples, but coming up with them is an exercise in futility. Burrell said what she said. She probably said it to get cheap heat to create drama for TV; maybe she said it to light the same fire under chef Adryana that she lit for me. Either way, the little respect I had for Burrell went away with that sentence.

Moral of the story: just because someone has a spot, that doesn’t mean you have to respect them.


12 thoughts on ““You’re not in upstate NY any more…”

  • Pirate Jeni

    I have learned to hate the Food Network for this very reason. It’s turned into a “reality” TV channel… most of which I despise. (exceptions: Chopped which I stil get a kick out of). It’s turned into a channel that is full of snide remarks, putting people down and basically everything it never was when it started. I’m all good with TV evolving… but I don’t know how they can call it the “Food” network when it’s so rarely about the food anymore. Don’t even get me started on Alton’s new show “Cut throat Kitchen”.

    Also, I used to enjoy Anne when she cooked with Mario on Iron Chef America… now I just shove her to the side like all the other TV Celebrity Chefs. Too bad chefs now are turned into “actors” like everyone else.

    Just cook me some damn good food and shaddup about your judgey face, Anne

  • Michelle Hines Abram

    Jerry as you can imagine, I am enraged. I have no words yet, but believe me there is going to be a formal response. Agree with you total bullshit, that is not the way chefs talk about other chefs. My respect for her has just evaporated.

    • derryX

      My whole problem with it is exactly what you say: “the way chefs talk about other chefs.” A big reason I don’t like that show is because Anne Burrell really sits on a high horse and is demeaning toward the other chefs.

      In comparison, I am a very big fan of Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares (even the US episodes). Ramsay is obviously going into a place where the people are struggling, sometimes because of their own pride. Ramsay speaks to them in a way to motivate them to improve but not be demeaning toward them unless they are totally worthless. The UK version of the show was great because he used to cook with the people and really help to reignite their passion.

      That’s not the point of Chef Wanted, though, and speaking to another chef in a demeaning tone like that is not constructive at all.

  • Mike Floyd

    great revue and I think almost all of the cooking channel “celeb” chefs are wise asses. When they canned Ming Si, I went over to the Channel that carries him and PBS has much better teaching/cooking shows that are mature and entertaining. The Food Channel is following the tired, loathing format of Dancing with the Stars and American Idol. Anne Burrell shows me nothing.

    • derryX

      I actually enjoy a lot of the personalities on Food TV. Chef Guarnaschelli is probably my favorite, not only because I met her and found out that she’s as big a Breaking Bad and Sopranos fanatic as me, but because her way of talking about food is very accessible and descriptive, and you can tell the passion is there.

      I think Guy Fieri is a great on screen talent. He’s a little over the top, but people like that stuff.

      I also though Ming was great when he had his show.

    • Pirate Jeni

      I enjoy the PBS shows, honestly. I try to catch John Besh whenever I can.

  • supergirl

    I’m pretty sure that Anne Burell is from Upstate NY herself, so I have to wonder if that factored into her comment in some way. I still agree that it was unnecessary and does a disservice to the great food culture that is developing in this area

  • adryana

    Thank you so much for watching, and for all of the support. I didn’t even know what to say to that comment nor did I have time to care at that moment, but it did sting. I am very happy to be back at the Illium and cooking in upstate NY!!


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