This coming Monday, television history will be made — so say the people over at ABC, who've been touting their daytime-soap replacement, The Chew, which premieres on Monday, as a revolution in food TV. But is the show — co-hosted by Mario Batali, Michael Symon, Clinton Kelly, Carla Hall, and Daphne Oz — really going to shake up the food-television formula? Grub sat in on a rehearsal taping yesterday, and after sitting through the hour-long session, our take is: Eh, not really.
The warm-up guy, comic RC Smith, joked with the largely suburban and out-of-town studio audience in between takes ("you look like a bag of Skittles," he told a trio of bright-cardigan-wearing Connecticut housewives), while the cast practically leapt around the spacious set, reassembling for a half-dozen or so zany segments. The preplanned bits had an improvised energy to them, like a cooking segment that had Molto Mario throwing together some bucatini with zucchini, white beans, and chile flakes; and Carla Hall's "It's Gon' Be Okay" segment, where she made a soup intended to salvage a limp, overcooked zucchini. The other cast members watched while making off-the-cuff comments. (Clinton Kelly: "Not much to do with a limp zucchini, is there?" Oh, Clinton!)