Posted: 12 Dec 2011 05:07 PM PST
NEW YORK: U.S. home improvement chain Lowe's Monday defended its decision to pull advertising from reality TV show ''All-American Muslim'' amid charges the company had given in to bigotry.
''All-American Muslim,'' which airs on TLC, follows several Muslim families in and around the Detroit suburb of Dearborn, Michigan, which is home to one of the largest Muslim populations in the United States and its largest mosque.
It has been accused by one Florida group to be propaganda. But the decision by Lowe's sparked an outcry by defenders of the show.
Lowe's employed its Facebook page to defend itself and called ''All-American Muslim,'' a ''lightning rod'' for ''strong political and societal views.''
Lowe's spokeswoman Karen Cobb said the company was one of ''dozens'' of companies to pull their advertising late last month. Names of other companies were not immediately available.
Laurie Goldberg, a TLC spokeswoman, declined to say how many companies have pulled their advertising from the show, which attracts about a million viewers per week.
''We stand behind the show 'All-American Muslim' and we're happy the show has strong advertising support,'' Goldberg said.
Hip hop mogul Russell Simmons said in a series of messages on Twitter defending the embattled reality T.V. show that he had bought up the remaining ad spots.
''Just purchased remaining spots for #allamericanmuslim for next week,'' Simmons said. ''The show is now sold out! keep your money @lowes and we will keep ours.''
A spokeswoman for Simmons said he had purchased two 30-second ads, but said Simmons had not decided what the content of those ads would be.
The Florida Family Association, a little-known group that has campaigned against the show, has branded ''All-American Muslim'' ''propaganda'' that is ''clearly designed to counter legitimate and present-day concerns about many Muslims who are advancing Islamic fundamentalism and Sharia law.''
But U.S. Representative Keith Ellison, who is Muslim, said in a statement that Lowe's had ''chosen to uphold the beliefs of a fringe hate group'' and given in to intolerance.
''Corporate America needs to take a stand against these anti-Muslim fringe groups and stand up for what is right because this is what it means to be an American,'' he said.Full content generated by Get Full RSS.
Posted: 12 Dec 2011 03:30 PM PST
TAKE four talented, up-and-coming Asian chefs with completely different personalities out of their comfort zone, put them together in a team, and whisk them off to four prestigious locations in Europe where they have to cook dinner for rich and famous VIP guests, while pairing their food with the best cognacs and whiskies in the world – that is the premise of the Asian Food Channel's (AFC) Great Dinners Of The World, a new production that premieres today.
According to Maria Brown, AFC co-founder and managing director, the programme offers a unique take on the diversity of Asian cuisine.
"Not only is it a travelogue that showcases the beautiful landmarks of France and Scotland, the series also has the element of reality in it – the challenges, the disagreements and dynamics among the four chefs all contribute to the overall enjoyment of the programme," she says.
Besides showing the chefs at work, the show also focuses on the relationship between the four of them, as they move from being complete strangers to becoming close friends both in and out of the kitchen.
Produced in collaboration with Pernod Ricard Malaysia, the programme sees chefs Sho Naganuma, Malcolm Goh, Johnny Fua and Sherson Lian travelling to the "spiritual" homes of Royal Salute and Chivas whisky, the Glenlivet single malt, G.H. Mumm champagne and Martell cognac to cook for VIP guests.
This is the second production that PRM has worked on with AFC, after the cooking series True Passion – Martin Yan. At a press launch of the programme last Thursday, the four intrepid chefs shared their experiences.
The 31-year-old Naganuma began his culinary journey at the tender age of six, when his father taught him to make traditional Japanese dishes.
He has since gone on to work with celebrity chef Hide Yamamoto, and is now the executive chef at the latter's Michelin-starred Hide Yamamoto restaurant at Marina Bay Sands, Singapore.
For Great Dinners Of The World, Naganuma took charge of the dinner at Inveraray Castle, the home of the Duke of Argyll, who is brand ambassador for Royal Salute whisky.
Going by the nickname "Discipline", Naganuma's dinner showcased his attention to detail and dedication towards finishing what he started. "I'm a very straightforward person. If I decide to do something, I will see it to the end; I won't give up halfway or change my decisions halfway. That is what I was call discipline," he says.
According to Sho, the hardest part of filming the show was getting the right tools and ingredients.
He also reckons that the result of his dinner would have been very different if not for the help from the other three guys.
"We worked together really well – the chemistry was great, and we complemented each other very well in terms of expression and taste. We were lucky to have each other on this show."
Currently a full-time lecturer at the Berjaya University College of Hospitality in, Goh's nickname on the show was, unsurprisingly, "Knowledge", with the others describing him as their walking food encyclopaedia.
"I have to say my knowledge is still limited, but you can never stop learning," he says.
"It's just my job to stay updated, and know all the right terms so that I'll know the answers when the students ask me something!"
Goh, 26, was also known on the show as "the guy with the clipboard".
"I have a habit of putting all my tickets and documents on a clipboard whenever I travel so that it's easier to carry around," he says with a laugh. Even on the show, Goh – who was the chef in charge of the dinner at the Chateau de Chanteloup, the spiritual home of Martell cognac – is seldom seen without that clipboard, referring to it constantly, and looking more like a lecturer grading his students than a chef at times.
Having worked in the industry as a chef before becoming a lecturer, Goh can compare the two fields and he gets more satisfaction from his current occupation, he says.
"When I was in the industry, I used to go home tired but never satisfied. There was always something missing," he recalls. "But now, I get to see students applying what I teach them, going for cooking competitions ... it's more fulfilling for me to see them grow. I feel I am doing something really worthwhile."
The so-called "rock star" of the group, the 38-year-old executive chef of Tanzini Restaurant, GTower, Kuala Lumpur, is also the most senior member of the group, which earned him the nickaname "Leadership" on the show.
"I don't care where you come from or what your background is, I just want everyone to work well together, for everything to go smoothly, and to put on a good show. That's my bottom line," says the genial Fua, who was in charge of the dinner in Paris, which was paired with G.H. Mumm champagne.
Like the rest of them, Fua was bemused and somewhat intimidated by the title of the show.
"Great Dinners Of The World? Who are we to say we'll be cooking 'Great Dinners Of The World'? We are not famous celebrity chefs, so who's going to watch us?" he exclaims in mock horror.
All the same, he reckons people will watch because the dynamics and the eventual friendship between the four of them are what make this show different enough to stand out in the crowded cooking show genre.
"We're just a bunch of guys who gave 110%, sweating and working together, and having fun at the same time. That's what makes the show so happening. There was no personal glory in this show – we just wanted to put on a good show, and make things happen!" he says.
Lian is no stranger to TV – he is the host of Malaysian cooking programme 5 Rencah 5 Rasa. However, being on Great Dinners Of The World took the young chef way out of his comfort zone.
"I've never done fine dining events before. My cooking is more the rough, raw bachelor-at-home kind of style. So going on the trip took me way, way out of my comfort zone!" says the Malacca-born chef, whose streetwise attitude and carefree demeanour were what landed him with the nickname "Attitude" on the show.
"I bring the street element to fine dining!" he laughs.
In charge of the dinner at the Glenlivet distillery in Scotland, Lian, 26, played to his strengths and chose an Asian theme.
"I chose the Asian dinner because that was what I was most comfortable with. I have never done Western fine dining cuisine, so it would have been pointless for me to try something I could not handle.
"This way, I could be sure that I could give my absolute best," he says. "I even came prepared – I brought some belacan powder and Chinese herbs along with me on the trip!"
Lian has worked in the food industry for the past 10 years, and used to own a restaurant called Paradise Corner in Sungai Chua, Kajang, Selangor. Besides hosting 5 Rencah 5 Rasa, he is also the team-building consultant for the Centre for Customer Care Malaysia (CCC).
> Great Dinners Of The World premieres tonight at 10pm on the Asian Food Channel (Astro Ch 703), and will thereafter be aired every Tuesday and Thursday at the same time.Full content generated by Get Full RSS.
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