In this modern world where entertainment has many fronts, movies, network television, cable television, and the web, The Food Network is among many entertainment companies trying to notch it up and take advantage of online social media to find The Next Food Network Star.
My cousin, Duke DesRochers, has entered the contest, and as far as I am concerned, is really pushing the plate forward in American Male Food Entertainment. He isn’t singing or dancing, though he will if encouraged. He is putting on his apron – and shop goggles – and taking the kitchen into the man’s world of the tool shop. Or the reverse.
His innovative video submission called Renaissance Man (YouTube Version), turns shop tools into kitchen tools in less than three minutes to create unusual appetizers and “starchy side dishes” for anyone.
Imagine taking a wood lathe and carving potatoes and carrots into edible sculptures and artwork? Need a bowl for your ketchup and mayo french fries dip? Just use the drill to router out a hole in a potato and your dish washing woes are gone as you can eat the bowl after dipping. Talk about eco-friendly!
I’m writing a series on Exploring Social Media Series for the Blog Herald and fascinated with the lengths people go to create a “viral” campaign on the web using new Web 2.0 technology. Challenging people to submit their audition videos via the web and letting people vote for their favorites, which may or may not influence the star judges (and producers), is the new entertainment. Shows like “Dancing With the Stars” and “American Idol” (and their international equivalents) are combining social interactivity and participation with publicity and marketing so they are one influencing the other, or a combination with no distinction between television and web.
As some of these shows enter their fifth, sixth, and even older seasons, how many ways can “stupid human tricks” keep the entertainment industry alive? What started with shows like “America’s Funniest Home Videos” has grown into a major media industry, especially now that the web has entered the picture, and become part of the picture. Combined with online social media, it looks like Big Brother style entertainment, using the “typical” citizen to entertain us while we watch on in glee or horror, is here to stay.
The recipe for social media success is interesting. It used to be that a gorgeous girl or guy, especially a beautiful woman showing some flash and flesh, could be enough to keep the masses entertained. You don’t think that people tuned in just to spell some words when Vanna White slinked out in sexy and revealing gowns on Wheel of Fortune, do you?
As the 30 minute sitcom formula consumed television watchers, and the 30-60 minute soap opera formats continued to obsess fans for decades, entertainment had to change. The same-old formulas were boring.
When writers, actors, and other entertainment industries went on repeated strikes, the entertainment industry turned to the viewers and fans as a source. The “average citizen” became a star, exceeding their 15 minutes of fame as Andy Warhol proclaimed. When normal people doing stupid things got boring, live video moved into people’s homes and work places to follow them around playing Big Brother while the masses cheered them on.
With the advent of blogs, YouTube, podcasts, and online social media tools that allow anyone to publish anything they want within the law, everyone could become their own entertainment production company, putting the masses in charge of not only being the entertainment, but providing it.
With inexpensive video equipment and software, and an innate sense of comedy, drama, and style, Duke DesRochers has an intuitive way of bringing the “common man” into his audition video that I hope will gain the attention of the judges. It’s time to go back to the real people, rather than the exaggerated people, to find the humility and fun in entertainment. We need to get people thinking, “Hey, that’s me! I can do that!”
Another part of Duke DesRochers I want to celebrate with you is how he took two fairly diverse passions, and molded them into one specialty to totally redefine himself for this video audition for the Food Network: handyman in the kitchen.
Duke DesRochers, Renaissance Man and Chef
Duke DesRochers has long been an innovative thinker and artist ahead of his time. As a long-time cook, chef, and artist, our family gatherings are adored with his creative fruits and vegetable carvings. The youngest of six kids and now a very young and active grandfather, he is truly the Renaissance Man.
While many kids like to take things apart to figure out how they work, then struggle to put them back together again, Duke loved scavenging through already broken things to figure out how to put them together in new and exciting ways. Not just to use around the house – though his innovative toilet paper dispensers with magazine racks, reading supports, and other creative features have been the delight of family holiday gatherings and gift exchanges over the years – but as art work.
Duke uses bits and pieces from pianos, doors, old houses, furniture, toys, cars, and whatever he can find to put them together as wall hangings, canes, bed headboards, shelves, and more undefinable art pieces.
In his recent gallery exhibition at the grand opening of the new Angst Gallery in Vancouver, Washington, the packed crowd was fascinated by his hand canes wrapped with Mardi Gras beads and toys and stained dark golden and black, a wall sculpture made of door panels with colorful and unusual door knobs framed in the panels, dice, a headboard-turned-wall-hanging-and-coat-rack featuring colorful bits of children’s toys covered with usual paints and stains, game pieces, silverware, parts of a piano, and other odds and ends he finds and melds together into fascinating pieces. These are artistic pieces you can look at for years and still find something interesting you didn’t notice before.
Duke brings this “use what you find” creativity into his three minute audition video for the Food Network. Why not clean up and use your old shop tools laying around in your garage in the kitchen and have some fun “fixing” food. He’s a man’s man cook! Think of coach potato men sitting up in their lounge chairs around the country thinking, “Hey, I got an extra drill! I haven’t played with that lathe in years. I can do that. Even I was impressed with the drill to carve out a dipping bowl out of a potato.
Duke could be the next Bob Vila of the Food Network, combining home improvements with food!
Think of the possibilities. He’s an artist and chef. He’s environmentally friendly and supportive, encouraging recycling in new and innovative ways. He’s not only good with kitchen tools but home improvement tools. Woodworking with vegetables!
He is also entertaining, the first with the joke, and the hug, who understands family commitments and support. His dad died when he was very young and his mother was left to raise six kids on her own in The Dalles, Oregon, during tough economic times. He has always been there for his family and community, reaching out to other young children of single parents, to encourage them to be unique, creative, and confident people.
Think of it. With five brothers and sisters, numerous nieces, nephews, cousins, children, grandchildren, grand nieces and nephews, and so on, the DesRochers family represents about 25% of the viewing audience! Built in demographics. Duke should win just on having majority audience share.
As you prepare your own social media campaigns, on or off television, think about how you and your product or service is unique. Duke found his voice in junk, tools, and food, combining the diverse skill sets in an innovative and entertaining way. What skill sets can you bring to the social table?
And Duke, if you don’t make the cut, let’s set you up with your own food network blog. If you’re going to break the rules, why not break them on your own show. I’d watch it. Duke DesRochers, the Bob Vila of the Kitchen. Wouldn’t you?
NOTE: The Food Network keeps playing around with the video links. If the ones in the article do not work, try this alternative link to Duke DesRochers’ Renaissance Man video, here, here, or watch the YouTube Version and let the Food Network know your vote and comment via their Submit email comments.