I posted something similar to these thoughts in January of 2010, but I got to thinking about the topic again just now, and I think it bears repeating.
Cooking Channel (which was in the works in 2010, but not yet realized) should bring back “Doorknock Dinners.”
As you probably know, Cooking Channel is a corporate sibling of Food Network; to many of us, Cooking Channel represents the things we used to love about Food Network before it adopted its current 24/7 schedule of gimmicky competition shows. Cooking Channel has its own original shows, but it also shows reruns of the best older Food Network shows. I often watch “Molto Mario” while getting ready for work in the morning.
“Doorknock Dinners” was itself gimmicky, but I still enjoyed it, and I think it would fit in just fine with the other programming on Cooking Channel. I think they ought to put it back into production.
Here’s how the show worked: host and producer Gordon Elliott and a high-powered chef would come to a middle-class, suburban neighborhood, with a camera crew in tow (I guess that last part goes without saying, or it wouldn’t be much of a TV show). They would go door-to-door, unannounced, until they found a family willing to participate in the show. Then, the chef would go into the family’s kitchen and attempt to make the finest meal possible using only what could be found on site. I believe the chef was allowed to bring his or her own knives, but everything else – ingredients, spices and seasonings, cookware, utensils and appliances – had to be from the home.
Meanwhile, of course, Gordon Elliott kibitzed with the family and any curious neighbors who dropped by; hoped to get the kids to say something embarrassing about Mom and Dad; peeped into closets and bedrooms; and so on. It was all great fun, but you saw how someone with ingenuity could take ordinary ingredients and turn them into something special.
The show also helped launch a career. Elliott decided to film some episodes in the South, and a mutual friend put him in touch with a Savannah restaurateur named Paula Deen, figuring her outgoing personality would work well on television. I believe Elliott’s production company still does the various Deen family shows on Food Network and Cooking Channel.
Anyway, that’s my two cents’ worth. Bring back “Doorknock Dinners,” if not as a weekly series than as some occasional specials. I’d watch it.