By G. Michael Dobbs
Two television shows well worth watching are featured in this week's movie column.
The Mind of a Chef, Season One
Let's face it, at this time a show about a popular chef has to be very different to receive any attention from viewers and this one that features a guy of whom I had never heard: David Chang.
Apparently I was one of the only people on the planet not to know this guy. His Momofuku restaurants in New York City have proven wildly popular. In 2010, Time named him one of the "100 most influential people."
Korea-American, Chang's cuisine includes his take on Korean dishes as well as Japanese ones. He attended the French Culinary Center and worked his way up through a variety of jobs in various restaurants.
The shows are fast moving and each based on a theme. In "Noodle," Chang goes to Japan to explain the origins and the variety of Ramen noodles. Certainly if the ubiquitous packaged noodles that are the staples of college students everywhere represents the world of Ramen, Chang quickly destroys that notion.
Chang may be presenting foods that are bordering on the esoteric, but he presents them in a populist and accessible manner.
In "Pig," Chang tries to reproduce in pork the venerable Japanese ingredient katsuobushi, which is dried, ferment bonito, a species of tuna. He enlists the aid of Harvard University biologists to help him understand the process he is trying and travels to Spain to present it at an international convention of chefs.
While all of that storyline seems a bit previous, Chang makes sure he grounds the episode to a trip to a Montreal restaurant that serves fried bologna sandwiches, something he clearly relishes. To this working class fat man, that certainly looked interesting!
"Rotten" was perhaps my favorite episode, as it presents dishes such as kimchi, fish sauce, and in one very interesting section, the advantage of using blacken bananas as the base for a banana cream pie.
With a great sense of humor and wonderment, Chang is an engaging on screen performer and one well worth discovering.
The Carol Burnett Show: This Time Together
As with the last package of classic Carol Burnett shows released earlier this year, this six-disc set has a complete program, many of which feature a who's who of entertainment figures from the 1960s and '70s. The list includes performers such as Lily Tomlin, Dick Van Dyke, Madeline Kahn, Peggy Lee and Sammy Davis Jr.
But among the 17 uncut shows in this collection there are also several "family" shows, in which the regular cast is featured and there are no guest stars. These shows underscore just how talented the cast of Tom Conway, Harvey Korman, Vicki Lawrence and Lyle Waggoner really were.
Among the special features in this collection is a fun and interesting look at the costumes created by designer Bob Mackie over the 11-year run of the program. Mackie's career as a designer was launched by the show and he speaks lovingly of his involvement, even though he noted it was a seven-day-a-week job.
What is very interesting is that Mackie added to the writing process though his costumes. His costumes for some of the recurring characters and skits contributed not just to the look of the character but their behaviors as well.
It's sad to note that this type of entertainment is probably gone from the airwaves forever. Thanks to collections of DVDs such as this one, Burnett's show will hopefully reach new audiences.