ABC’s new food talk show, The Chew, premiered last week to decent ratings—and cranky critical reception, such as the following gems:

“I don’t like the fact that the chefs are men and then there are these pretty women. It doesn’t bode well. I would like to see one really bright, articulate woman chef there.” – Ruth Reichl, when asked about The Chew by LA Weekly

“On opening day, though, ‘The Chew’ too often felt overstuffed, as if its celebrity crew were engaged in a speed-talking contest. That fast pace, a key part of the game plan, makes it hard to start relating to the panel. We need them to take some breaths.” – NY Daily News

“The central problem to emerge from the first three episodes is an overstuffed approach to infotainment, valuing quantity over quality. Recipes are erratically explained and hastily executed, host banter has little time to breathe between branded segments, and every dollop of information cues rapturous applause from the studio audience, establishing a regrettably cheesy infomercial vibe.” – Variety

“Really, Clinton, I should cut a steak to serve it as an hors d’oeuvre? You can do better!” – Entertainment Weekly

“Problem is, nothing feels very new about ‘The Chew,’ which is trying to be ‘The View’ but with food.” – Chicago Sun-Times

“Mario Batali demos a pizza recipe from a golf course in New Jersey. He reveals, after a long pause, that Italian pizza is from Italy.” – Huffington Post, on one of the most awkward moments on the premiere

All critical snark aside, most of the reviewers above said that despite some quibbles with the show’s frantic pace, they liked some parts of it and think it could shake out to be decent television. But the bottom line is, it doesn’t have to be that good: The Chew is so much cheaper to produce than the soap it replaced, All My Children, that it could do totally minimal ratings and ABC would still come out ahead. But what’s really interesting to me is that ABC is even trying to apply the multi-talking-heads format of The View to the topic of food. Is food the new celebrity gossip? Or did it already turn that corner awhile ago with the rise of sites like and the Top Chef-ification of kitchen work?

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