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«The Food Network has achieved tremendous popularity with the American public in the last decade. It has created the genre of the celebrity chef and ...»

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Concluding Note The Food Network sells a fantasy. It does not actually market the food it shows, but rather, it creates brand names and sells itself on the idea of the ideal, perfect hostess. In its daytime programming it creates an imago that supports the traditional imago of the woman who cooks and feeds, but presents this performance of cooking as a tool of socio-economic betterment, appealing to a central contemporary social aspiration. Since the actual task of cooking and creating the actual food is left to the viewer, the Food Network itself becomes a tool. By using the information offered by the network, an audience member has the ability to take the image of the food that the network presents and to produce real food that emulates this image.

In the moment that an audience member uses and then amends a recipe seen on the Food Network, she transforms herself from a consumer to a producer. In effect, she momentarily realizes and becomes the Ideal-I of the ideal hostess. Just as the child’s first glimpse of himself in the mirror leads to misrecognition and disillusion, the home cook’s attainment of the Food Network Ideal-I is fleeting.

The Ideal-I can never be completely attained, but its fleeting moment of misrecognition and disillusion leads to a perpetual, driving desire for completeness. This unattainable completeness is what consumer culture depends on. For the Food Network, this moment ensures loyal and lucrative fandom. And it is this loyal fandom characteristic of our historical moment that has worked to produce a new domestic paragon—that of the ideal hostess.

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Bianchi, Suzanne M.; Milkie, Melissa A.; Sayer, Liana C.; Robinson, John P. Is Anyone Doing the Housework? Trends in the Gender Division of Household Labor in Social Forces, Vol. 79, No. 1. Sep., 2000, pp. 191-228.

Boy Meets Grill with Chef Bobby Flay on foodnetwork.com. Available at http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/show_gl/0,1976,FOOD_10231,00.html Accessed December 2nd Butler, Judith, Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. Routlegde, New York. 1990 Debord, Guy, The Society of the Spectacle. Zone Books: New York. 1995.

de Certeau, Michel, The Practice of Everyday Life. Rendall, Steven F. (trans.) University of California Press. Berkley. 1984 Easy Entertaining with Michael Chiarello on foodnetwork.com. Available at http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/show_mo/0,1976,FOOD_14518,00.html Accessed December 2nd 2006.

The Essence of Emeril on foodnetwork.com. Available at http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/show_ee/0,1976,FOOD_9957,00.html Accessed December 2nd Food 911 on foodnetwork.com Available at http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/show_fo/0,1976,FOOD_9964,00.html Accessed December 19, Food Network TV Schedule at foodnetwork.com. Available at http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/programdaily/0,1904,FOOD_9927__EST,00.html Accessed December 18th 2006 Hochschild, Arlie Russel with Machung, Anne. The Second Shift. Penguin: London. 2003

Innes, Sherrie A. Dinner Roles: American Women and Culinary Culture. University of Iowa Press:

Iowa City. 2001.

Ketchum, Cheri. The Essence of Cooking Shows: How the Food Network Constructs Consumer Fantasies in Journal of Communication Inquiry, 29:3, July 2005, pp. 217 – 234.

Lacan, Jacques. The Mirror Stage as Formative of the Function of the I as Revealed in Psychoanalytic Experience in La Michael Chiarello can, Ecrits: A Selection, Tavistock Publications. 1949 Marcuse, Herbert, One-Dimentional Man: Studies in the Ideology of Advanced Industrial Society.

Routledge: London. 2002.

73 gnovis journal ● Fall 2007 ● Volume 8, No. 1 Miller, Toby. From Brahmin Julia to Working-Class Emeril: The Evolution of Cooking Television in High-Pop: Making Culture into Popular Entertainment, Collins, Jim (ed). Blackwell: Malden, Mass.


Molto Mario on foodnetwork.com. Available at http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/show_mb/0,1976,FOOD_9980,00.html Accessed December 2nd Neuhaus, Jessamyn. The Joy of Sex Instruction: Women and Cooking in Marital Sex Manuals, 1920 – 1963 in Kitchen Culture in America: Popular Representations of Food, Gender, and Race. Innes, Sherrie (ed). University of Pennsylvania Press: Philadelphia. 2001.

Sara’s (Secrets) on foodnetwork.com. Available at http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/show_ss/0,1976,FOOD_9995,00.html Accessed December 3rd Semi-Homemade Cooking with Sandra Lee, Episode SH1C24, Beer Bash. First aired November 28th 2006.

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