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Duke DesRochers: Future Social Media Renaissance Man

In this modern world where entertainment has many fronts, movies, network television, cable television, and the web, Duke DesRochersThe 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!

Duke DesRochers creates Potato dishes in side dishDuke DesRochers lathes a potato on his video using shop tools in the kitchenDuke DesRochers creates a vegetable plate unlike any other with shop toolsDuke DesRochers drilling potato cups with shop tools

I’m writing a series on Exploring Social Media Series for the 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 fixes one of his famous toilet paper rack holiday presents for his brothersDuke 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 DesRochers - Zig Zag Wall ArtDuke 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.

Door knobs in door panel frame by Duke DesRochersDuke DesRochers showing gallery visitors his artistic work, Vancouver, WashingtonBrent VanFossen explores wall art by Duke DesRochers

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!

Five Generations of the DesRochers Family 2007He 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?

While you are thinking, check out the video, Renaissance Man (YouTube Version), by my cousin and give your comment and vote for his own unique skill set.

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? 😀

Duke DesRochers, Renaissance Man - Food Network Audition Video

Duke DesRochers, Renaissance Man - Food Network Audition Video

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.

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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen, the author of Blogging Tips, What Bloggers Won't Tell You About Blogging.


  1. Posted November 15, 2008 at 12:13 am | Permalink

    Cooking Tip # 179:
    I don’t measure much; mostly I go by sense of feel, smell or touch. Near Zen like.
    I almost always can instinctively tell when I’ve put too much salt in…

  2. Rindie
    Posted November 15, 2008 at 12:43 am | Permalink

    Hey, thanks for the link to Duke’s video. I tried multiple time to reach it through the other site with no luck. Also, thanks for the great things you said about Duke and our family. I know I hate to receive correction, so I shouldn’t give any, but I can’t help myself. You said we were born/raised in the Dallas, OR, which is true, but it is actually spelled The Dalles. It is only one of a few cities that has the word The as part of its name.
    Now, since I’ve gone and done it to you, feel free to correct any spelling or grammer of mine (you could use up a whole red pencil).
    Love to you, Rindie<

  3. Posted November 15, 2008 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    I just saw the YouTube version of the Renaissance Man and Chef. It was amazing! I never saw anyone turn an ordinary stick of carrot into something that looked like a piece of furniture. Amazing!

    I can’t imagine the judges not being intrigued by this man’s creativity. Tell him I wish him the best.

  4. Posted November 15, 2008 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    @ Rindie:

    LOL, I love corrections, great cousin of mine, and that was a total Freudian slip because I just canceled a trip to Dallas, Texas. Thanks for the catch!

    Hope to see you at the Family Holiday party and eager for more of Duke’s slide ’em and dice ’em veggies and your culinary wonders! I look forward to this event all year long.

  5. Posted November 15, 2008 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    He should try and see if Planet Green will pick him up. This is right down their alley. Anna

  6. dukex
    Posted November 15, 2008 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    This is all happening so fast, my head is spinning. Oh wait, I’m looking down at the food processor.

  7. Posted November 15, 2008 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    Serendipity! I just launched a discussion about parenting media literate kids who produce, as well as consume, social media. Your article, and cousin, present a perfect example of what is possible. Thank you!

  8. Cherish L DesRochers
    Posted November 15, 2008 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    Great blog Lorelle!My Dad is really cool! okay, I’ll admit I’ve always been his number one fan. In fact, I named his unique style of art. I call it Cart. Which stands for Crappy Art! It goes back to a childhood trauma.

    Dad, I wish you luck! I’m glad I sent your disabled butt the link. It gave you something to do while you were recovering from your broken leg. I hope you make it to the show. I have enjoyed the past few seasons & think it was be fantastic to have my Father on the show. You’d kick some serious butt! Love ya!

    P.s. I know where I got my junk addiction from!

  9. Cherish L DesRochers
    Posted November 15, 2008 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

    Oh, oh…I see an error as well! Whoo hooo!! Okay, right below the close up of my Dad’s face, it says ‘Foot’ Network. It must run in the family to make corrections! haha

  10. Posted November 15, 2008 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

    @ Cherish L DesRochers:

    I come from a family of nitpickers. SIGH. Fixing.

    I see I need to have the whole family read my blog more often to uncover all my imperfections and gafs! Thanks, Cherish!

  11. dukex
    Posted November 16, 2008 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    Lately I have been experimenting with Gastropoda Desoceras Reticulatum, or more commonly refered to as the Garden Slug. There are many varietys around the world and many countries and cultures revere the slug as a sacred and vital food source. Here is what I have found out so far. Although the slugs does not perform well as a door stop, they do however make an excellent shoe horn… What? You think I was gonna eat those gross little tongues with a brain? Never. I’m no Andrew Zimmern of “Bizarrre Foods” on The Travel Channel. That guy has more balls than a cranberry bush!

  12. dukex
    Posted November 16, 2008 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    Last night my wife and I went out for dinner and a movie. You may have noticed as we did that because of rising food and operating cost, some restaurants have chosen to reduce their portions as opposed to an increase in price. My wife ordered the Scallops and I the Ground Sirloin Steak wrapped in bacon. The waitress dropped by our table to check on us and asked, “How did you find your steak sir?” To which I replied, “Easy, I just moved the parsley and there it was. It was delicious…

  13. dukex
    Posted November 17, 2008 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

    You know it’s quite fitting for Lorelle to share in my cooking passion. She was actually present for one of my first culinary experiments. I’d say the year was 1967 and I was ten years old. My cousin Lorelle and her brother Loren were visiting with their dad, (my Uncle Bud). After my father had passed away two years earlier my Uncle Bud would visit from Lake Stevens Washington to help my widowed mother. Mostly he’d kick me and my older brother’s asses for being the little trouble making rats that we were. One particular afternoon, my two cousins and I were playing outside and decided we were hungry. Being the capable child that I was, I took them into the kitchen to make us peanut butter sandwiches. Our house was in The Dalles Oregon and was built in the mid 40’s. It was a small three bedroom, full basement track home common to that neighborhood and period. The kitchen was small to say the least. It had a door out to the back yard and across from it a door to the basement. The plywood cabinets were a multi-layer of white painted coats.The countertops were some kind of composite linoleum, red with fancy sparkles scattered about the surface. The counter edges were a banded chrome strip etched with parallel dark lines.

    It was probably a week earlier when in that very same kitchen I learned about food coloring. My mother was working on some sort of baking project and showed me the transformative magic of just a few drops. As I was pulling out the bread, peanut butter and knife. I spied the food coloring on the cabinet shelf. I had a revelation! I could take this edible and very safe ingredient and mix it into the peanut butter. I was a genius. A true star among kids. The spectacle of seeing me mix the peanut butter into a dark blue paste was pure entertainment to my younger cousins. I carefully spread this new and mystical blue goo evenly on three slices of saintly white bread,then divvied them out.

    In a flash we were jetting out of the kitchen and zipping through the living room. Had our mouths not been stuffed with dark blue peanut butter, we would have been squealing with joy. We almost made it to the front door and out to the safety of the yard when I heard my Uncle Bud Scream. “What the Hell”! We all screeched to a stop and slowly turned to face him. With his eyes bugged out about as far as any adult could possibly bug out their own eyes the scream turned into, “ O My #@!%$&!, What have you fed my kids?” Our faces were frozen with fear and our hearts were trembling. I slowly looked over at my cousin Loren and saw his face smeared with this greasy blue paste. I can only now as a parent myself begin to understand the horror that was going through his mind. When I think about how our faces must have looked. Any sane person could only surmise that we all had just eaten some sort of gasket sealer or toxic epoxy. As you can imagine I tried to explain to him that it was only harmless blue peanut butter but it took several minutes before I was able to speak. Our leftover portions were quickly snatched from our mitts and I was soundly informed that I was never to feed another thing to my cousins… I sometimes like to think… this was the one time “I”, had kicked my Uncle Buds ass. I love you Uncle Bud and I miss you…

6 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. […] peanut butter — Duke DesRochers @ 5:34 pm You know it’s quite fitting for my cousin, Lorelle of Lorelle on WordPress, to share in my cooking passion. She was actually present for one of my first culinary […]

  2. […] Making Me Famous Hey Lorelle: This is my first blog (be gentle). I want to thank you for the great article you wrote about my family and me and my cooking audition tape for the Food Network. You’re sure and swift talent as a word smith really socked my knocks […]

  3. […] Lorelle VanFossen In “Duke DesRochers: Future Social Media Renaissance Man,” I introduced my cousin, Duke DesRochers, highlighting his fun cooking show audition tape as […]

  4. […] My cousin, Lorelle VanFossen of Lorelle on WordPress wrote about me and announced me to the world in “Duke DesRochers: Future Social Media Renaissance Man.” […]

  5. […] may remember Duke from the story I did on him called, “Future Social Media Renaissance Man,” on Lorelle on WordPress or the one on the Blog Herald called “Exploring Social Media: […]

  6. […] to create one delicious, creative dinner.  Huh?  No, I am not sipping a little of the sauce. Ask Duke DesRochers, the creative chef/handy man behind his Renaissance Man video (see above) as his entry to […]

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