Cooking Channel Retro Shows: Melting Pot

I admit, Padma’s Passport/Melting Pot aired well before I got in to Food Network. I was still in college back when this show was originally airing, but it is quite fun to revisit your roots now and again, no? I will admit, when I discovered this show was about vegetarian dishes, I was a tempted to turn it off. The only vegetarian show I’d be interested in is one that tried to convince that “meatless chicken wings” aren’t an abomination that should be slain with cleansing hellfire.

1) My first — and really primary through the whole show — thought was how far Food Network’s come in 10 years. Padma Laksmi is really not a good host. The cleaned, polished up product Food Network offers today is nothing like this sputtering, rough, almost uncomfortable delivery. She stutters over her words, occasionally gets her ingredients wrong, and drops tools. Things that would be edited out and reshot in today’s television were shown, warts and all, to the audience back then. If anything, this show is a historical “before” picture.

2) A couple instances: “Be very careful not to dump the food processor blade in to your” *clang* “pot. Like I just did.” “You can par-boil your vegetables and later add them to any meat dish or…. oh wait… this is a vegetarian show so you don’t want to do that.” “Now I’m going to add the basil. No wait, this isn’t basil it’s garam masala.”

3) The dishes were OK looking, if not somewhat boring. The first was a bunch of vegetables and spices thrown in to a food processor and turned in to sauce to be dumped over pasta. The other was a bunch of vegetables and spices thrown in to a pan, fried, and dumped over pasta.

4) Worth another bullet — I really couldn’t get past the host. It was “and then I’m going to add this. And to that I’m going to add this. And then I add this… oh wait, no, this is actually that.” It was bad.

5) Really, this show didn’t help to break any stereotypes about vegetarian dishes. All of them were lots of cubed up veggies and a TON of spices to make it taste like something. I’m willing to listen to people who want to sell me on vegetarian food, but “lots of veggies fried in vegetable oil” isn’t doing it. I understand this is just an old show and the network was still finding its way — but they certainly have other shows that have aged far better than this one.

6) The final image of a Supermodel sitting in front of three giant bowls of pasta is off the scale unintentional comedy.

7) Note to Food Network execs: if the shows are moving to Cooking Channel, you should probably move their websites from FoodNetwork.com to CookingChannel.com so those of us searching for recipes go to the right place. If it isn’t a simple process to move a show from one website to the other, you’re doing it wrong.

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