Controversial 'Fat Chef' Show Is About Compassion (VIDEO)

fat chefIn the wake of the Paula Deen scandal comes a new series on the Food Network: Fat Chef. We all toss around that saying, "never trust a skinny chef." But Food Network is putting the spotlight on the opposite: people whose lives revolve around food as their profession, their passion, and maybe even their addiction.

When I first saw this series title I felt a little prick of defensiveness on behalf of non-skinny chefs. What the hell?!? So now we're shaming chefs with a little meat on their bones? Well, maybe not -- at least it doesn't look like that's what Food Network is after. They're focusing on chefs with serious, medically-defined obesity, who work with health consultants to grapple with their food addiction. I think it's an intriguing idea.


I've been trying to think about what it is about Paula Deen that has me -- maybe not exactly defending her (whatever, I tried) -- but trying to see what we can learn from her food issues. Because I don't think it's just about drinking too much sweet tea. The very nature of her job forced her to make some difficult choices about her personal health -- and about how much she reveals about it. She made some damaging choices and she's still making what are, to me, some poor decisions. But if your whole life revolves around delivering what the public demands, sweet, gooey, diabetes-grub, wouldn't you just totally lose your bearings? And is there room for us anywhere to find compassion for our fellow travelers?

That's what I'm hoping to see in this new show. The first featured chef is Michael Mignano. He makes and sells pastries -- gorgeous, fattening pastries. And he's dangerously overweight. What does he do? Is it fair to just tell him to pursue a different profession -- say, open a vegan raw bar -- and dump all the training and expertise he's invested in? How will he deal with temptation if he keeps up with the pastry business? And even if he does manage to lose weight and keep his business, would it be hypocritical of him to keep making and selling foods that can make people fat?

I don't think so -- but I think teasing apart all the threads that make this such a complicated problem could teach us all a lot about our own complex relationships with food. Mignano says the show is about eating "real food" and about finding the right balance. I look forward to seeing how the show does just that.



Would you watch Fat Chef?

Image via Huffington Post

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