We don’t think this mandarin hauteur has any intellectual basis. Aside from the fact that it is unbecoming for a privileged and educated man to sneer at his own countrypeople, even by the standards of practical gastronomy his complaint doesn’t hold water. Rachael Ray and Sandra Lee are culinary lightweights, as they would be the first to admit, but they’re a product of — and engine for — people’s love for food. As David Kamp illustrated so well in The United States of Arugula, his history of “how we became a gourmet nation,” we’ve all grown into our food awareness, and people like them have helped us do it. (Kamp, by the way, recently ran down his favorite books about New York's own food history here on Grub Street.)
For an amateur, taking tips from Rachael Ray is no less legitimate than a good cook learning from Lidia Bastianich or Mario Batali. (And that’s leaving aside the class issue — Ray’s special appeal to the hard-working people who barely have the time to make meals for themselves and their families.) How different is it, really, from Ruhlman’s own infatuation with professional cookery? Rachael Ray’s voice bugs us, too. But that doesn’t make her, or her audience, mediocre. It’s Ruhlman who has failed the Food Network, not the other way around.
Nobody Asked Me, But ...[Ruhlman]