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‘Silvia’s Italian Table’ is a 30 minute instruction in self-hatred

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It has been more than 15 years since Nigella Lawson first did publicly as many couples with plastic sheets had long done privately when she mingled food with sex. Even today, the goddess incurvate is remarkable for her capacity to take a kipfler potato and infuse it with the scents of both rosemary and pudenda. She remains magnificent. We know that there has been and likely can be no individual able to say, “I cannot eat lamb without cumin” as Nigella does and get away with it. As such, no one has been so foolish as to wed cooking with lust. Well, not until last Thursday night on ABC1.

I cannot be absolutely sure that Silvia’s Italian Table is history’s most disastrous culinary experiment, as I have never eaten camel—a meat, as the late food and drink writer Mark Shield once told me, “tastes exactly like a full Huggies”. But, we can be sure that this show is packed with shit. And not because its host Silvia Colloca fails to be as frankly, warmly filthy as Lawson—who doesn’t?—but because it strives to conceal a truth even dirtier than sex. This is a weekly half-hour instruction in self-hatred.

To be even, Colloca does not seem to hate herself. Nor should she. She is tall, striking and apparently lives on about a jillion dollars’ worth of absolute beachfront reserve. She is also able to fund tonnes of the finest farina and hectares of premium b-roll, in which she features, always in slow motion, often in a glorious Tuscan meadow and frequently with a blurry, ancient labourer hauling crops in the foreground as she twirls a bit of Genovese basil in her manicure. Such a tableau should be generally unlawful, but seriously criminal when it features a woman over 35. I am aware this may seem “sexist”, but so do whimsical flowers and withered straps of calico on the adult female head. Act your age, not your dress size.

Silvia’s Italian Table is a big old plate of spoiling ideology that nobody from this decade ordered, or wants.

These falsely confessional images that concoct a “simple girl” from country couture and expensive travel make Eat. Pray. Love. seem like a serious work of ethnography. And, no, Ms “Why Can’t You Just Enjoy Something Like a Normal Person?”, I’m not expecting cultural insights from a cooking show. Like everyone, I hope for one or two achievable recipes and, perhaps, a little pleasure. But, Silvia’s table serves up bitter poison between the carbs and the cutaways of darling-little-curios-that-we-picked-up-on-our-family-holiday that makes it impossible to like. It’s a big old plate of spoiling ideology that nobody from this decade ordered, or wants.

The “aspiration” here could not be contained in all the October graduate application letters to Goldman Sachs. I mean, shit. Is it truly acceptable at the ABC to offer pornographic flashes of one-off modernist architecture on Sydney’s northern beaches? And if, so, why? If you’re going for a “simple” show whose participants eat “real” food and talk “humbly” and fucking “bravely” about what it really means to be human-in-the-nineties, did you not think this might come off better in a dwelling whose access is not achieved with a line of credit, a security clearance and a high-end tinnie?

This show is not simple and true, but complicated and deluded. Sure, the recipes are fine, but it’s impossible to enjoy celebrities eating 10,000 calories apiece on a “simple” cliff top that few people in the nation can afford.

When Silvia isn’t wearing a garland in her long, amazing hair or sensually kneading dough-penises that recall the idyll of a bullshit peasant past, she is talking with Australians of note to a weekly theme. The format, which borrows as copiously from Annabel Crabb’s Kitchen Cabinet as it does Nigella Bites, might work to provoke conversation if anyone was permitted to say anything other than “I prefer the simple things” and “I believe in being true to myself”.

This show is not simple and true, but complicated and deluded. Sure, the recipes are fine, especially some atrocity called a “hand pie”, which I intend to pop into hot oil the very moment my girlish heart is lost to surgeons for good. But, it’s so impossible to enjoy celebrities groomed and costumed to the teeth eating 10,000 calories apiece on a “simple” cliff top that a few dozen people in the nation can afford.

This is not only the sour lament of a nasty old Marxist envious that she cannot cram her gut with that much gluten without spending the week on a rented toilet. It’s just sheer and market-based incredulity. All other lifestyle and reality lifestyle television programs have amended the way in which they frame wealth—even The Block is currently down-at-heel. That’s just the convention in mass culture, expressed by that early work of freakonomics, the hemline index: hide the good stuff in case the poor people get angry.

No one has told Silvia, her producers or commissioning editor that even Vogue has cooled it for the present with the tennis bracelet shoots, so put your jewellery away. Not one of these people is, apparently, aware that the phrase “check your privilege” appears a thousand times a minute on a Facebook feed. If they were, then this background of great income and leisure would be remodelled to accommodate our diminished dreams.

Silvia’s Italian Table re-casts its wealth as rustic poverty, its lonely cliff-top life as “family” and “courage” and “defiance”.

There are some eminently likable people, such as Magda Szubanski and Tara Moss, who manage to rot in Silvia’s kitchen. Marvel as ambitious conversation is emptied and filled by vanilla mascarpone! In episode 3, Moss, now a gender theory scholar, strives to make a point about personal narratives. I personally loathe this stuff about democracy founded in story-telling, but I concede that Moss is qualified to make the case. Silvia has no such confidence, so just keeps spouting crap about “family” and “table” and “simplicity” so that any good thought this thinker could produce is reduced to an insipid dessert.

I will say that it’s worth watching this episode just to see the look on Moss’ face when compelled by her hostess, so committed to the totalising force of pasta, to use a kitchen instrument.

Perhaps the only way to survive this cucina is to be nasty, or silent. Kathy Lette, featured on last week’s show, prefers the former. And, gee, Silvia made this easy. As she cooks, she asks Lette if her husband, Geoffrey Robertson, ever regrets leaving his former beau, Nigella Lawson. This is the sort of question that can only be asked by someone with as much practised charm as Nigella Lawson. If I were Kathy Lette, I might have taken my puns about fallopian tubes and decade-old Paris Hilton jokes to another network.

The show tells us the lie that unpaid, socially necessary labour can become a delight if you shower it in enough truffle oil.

Normally, when Lette makes a declaration like, “My work is to take sacred cows and roast them!”, I find it vulgar. At Silvia’s table, however, any reference to violence is welcome and last week, even the performer Lisa McCune seemed interested in the idea of torture. It was only when she was prompted to talk about her brief turn in a splatter film that real blood returned to her face.

The blood had begun to drain, I think, when Silvia asked if work ever got in the way of family, a question about as fresh as Harambe. It had vacated when she was asked “What have you learnt about courage?”  The only sensible answer to which is, “How not to dive from this expensive cliff top and to my death on savage mother ocean”.

Silvia’s Italian Table is awful and it is artless. It does not manage to conceal its central avarice from viewers, and it doesn’t even make any rude puns about meat and “cumin”. It is alienated from its own desire and re-casts its wealth as rustic poverty, its lonely cliff-top life as “family” and “courage” and “defiance”.

It makes even the most farfetched Zumbo dessert seem like a more immediate possibility than these sun-drenched hours of leisure and calico. It tells us the lie that unpaid, socially necessary labour can become a delight if you shower it in enough truffle oil and that soft-scripted conversation is what passes for liberated speech.

This is a pre-crash relic whose single function is to remind us how much we love Nigella’s frank sale of the body on a benchtop. Sex doesn’t cost much. Desire for property costs everything. Fuck this show.

[box]Main image. A publicity still from Silvia’s Italian Table – L to R: Kathy Lette, Silvia, Tom Gleeson and Lisa McCune. [/box]

178 responses to “‘Silvia’s Italian Table’ is a 30 minute instruction in self-hatred

    1. I really don’t know why people agree to such shows. They are demeaning. The talent pool in Australia is so small, even I am occasionally asked to fill in for an actual celebrity. I refuse to endure such public humiliation for less than two grand. Which I am not worth. They offer me cab fare and maybe scale. So I never do them.
      It’s really quite a feat how even the decent have their brand destroyed by Silvia. I mean, we all have to sleep, right? Even if you have a book you want to flog, I can’t see how this shame can be justified. When I was young, I used to agree to appear on whatever crap network show asked. The memory still keeps me awake. ¡No Pasarán!, people. Just don’t agree to go on these horrible shows.

      1. Agreed. Guests and hosts just appear needy. Cooking as a topic was done to death many years ago (on TV and in polite conversation).

        What is the point of the ABC if they are doing this sort of thing?

        1. I have a little insight into how this stuff gets made at the ABC. While it remains, in many ways, a good organisation, there has been, as long as I have worked there on and off since 1990, this mutant impulse to be “commercial”.
          What the organisation understands as commercial, AKA high-rating, really always isn’t, though. There’s a rejection of its own context and an acceptance that what the commercial networks do so profitably (and profit is not the same thing as ratings) is best. They see mimicry of commercial better than finessing of their own content.
          There are a few examples of this I can easily recall. The employment of Jana Wendt in the 1990s. The assumption was that this star would bring her viewers with her. But Jana only worked as a ratings winner in the context of Nine. There, she was the best journalist. At the ABC, she was simply another good journalist. She certainly had the acuity to work at the highest level at the ABC, but this did not bring forth the expected ratings boom.
          Conversely, a fairly cheap program like Q&A is a formidable ratings success. So much so,that Nine tried (unsuccessfully) to copy its format with Stefanovic. This plays to the production strengths of the organisation and the expectation of viewers. Leaving aside that I am no particular fan of this program, I gotta admit it succeeds. Jones gives the gravitas that a broadcaster like Stefanovic just can’t.
          Australian Story. Spicks and Specks. These are other examples of programs that are successful, but quintessentially ABC. (Again. Not things I personally love. But their ABC-ness and popularity is undeniable.) I imagine The Katering Show (which I do adore, because I am a human) will become one of these legacy programs. Even if chiefly on the iView platform.
          One of the ABC’s strengths is its brand. It says “quality” and “independence” to many of us, and regularly ranks as one of the nation’s most trusted institutions. When it goes off-brand and offers us shite like the Bolt program (how this can be justified is actually beyond me. There are literal dozens of extremely telegenic Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who are opposed to Recognition for much more interesting reasons) it neither delivers sustained ratings success nor upholds the brand.
          I just don’t know why the ABC convinces itself so regularly that commercial knows best. I mean, sure, the other networks know how to do some stuff more competently. Pinch those obvious techniques. But, don’t try to pinch their ideals. Which are generally in the partial service of advertising revenue.
          I get that commercials do fatuous lifestyle. It means that they can get a great chunk of money from Bunnings etc. The ABC has no such responsibility. I do believe that it must attempt to reach the widest possible audience. But programs like this atrocity are geared at a very narrow range.
          It’s a commercial network hand-me-down, with added financial elitism. And is therefore bound to fail by all measures.

          1. The ABC is basically welfare for upper middle class twits so it’s beyond me why you’d expect any good to come from it.

  1. I am a sucker for most cooking shows; throw in a beautiful Italian and I’m sold. But I agree with you, Helen: this show was cringey, soul-less, and about a decade late. The discussion about ‘courage’ was inane and pointless, and the program did neither cooking nor conversation well. (Anh Do, on the other hand, has, I think, found the right balance between interesting conversation and craft in his surprisingly enjoyable show). The over-styled format was confused and off-putting, and I could not work out if Silvia was English-is-my-second-language naive. After she asked the tiresome motherhood question of Lisa, without sensing any hypocrisy in not asking Tom, I was out. Give me repeats of Nigella any day.

    1. Yes. I mean, Anh’s show is fairly unambitious, but it’s not something that makes me want to defecate on the living room floor. He does actually coax some vulnerability out of his subjects and has great charm and obvious interest in them. I think Silvia is, perhaps, a bit too green and maybe more interested in building a brand than a true relationship with the people she is interviewing. I can see that look of terror on her face that I often have when interviewing. She’s not listening to the answer, but thinking of how she’s going to fill the next silence. This is why I don’t go on telly. Some of us are just shit at it.

  2. Camel curry is delicious – I’ve got an easy recipe that doesn’t involve truffle oil but does involve cumin.
    Bon appetite.

    1. I am going to trust that great old writer Shield on this. That man had an iron gut and a palate to withstand the roughest whisky. No camel for me.

  3. I find your comments re this show quite bitchy…..ive seen a lot worse on CommercialTV. She has interesting guests in a beautiful setting… so what!!
    Give this beautiful woman a break !!

    1. I find your qualifying use of the word “beautiful” quite bitchy.
      Look, Toolio. It is very plain that I am not criticising the hostess alone. I name the ABC, the producers of this show and its commissioning editor with ultimate responsibility. Yes, Silvia is beautiful, but this does not exempt the pile of crap to which she lent her name from critique. And nor is it a reason for critique.
      Jesus wept. Try to drag your powers of analysis from a sexism soaked mid-century and actually read something. “You cannot criticise her because she is beautiful” is the most nonsensical sentiment to come to my attention since the US presidential debate.
      This is a site for arts criticism. If you don’t want to read criticism, especially of people who are beautiful, bugger off.

      1. And the reason that I mentioned the ABC is that this institution has an editorial responsibility to us, its stakeholders. Commercial networks do not.
        Also. I have never seen anything this wildly aspirational on commercial television. Real Housewives has the decency to make fun of the rich.

      2. And if you don’t want to be criticised for your point of view then you should not be a critic! One way street for freedom of opinion, correct?!? Your article is overly nasty so don’t be surprised to get nasty back.

        1. Happy to be criticised. It’s good for the page views, frankly. But, the defence that Silvia is beautiful, ergo above critique is plain bizarre.
          Disagree with me. But disagree with something I actually wrote.

          1. Might it…this.. be the conservatives strategic Modus Operandi to privatization? …drive supporters away until not a fuck is given whether privatized or not…

  4. Fair enough, but I was watching the food being made and Tom Gleeson. Also cooking at the same time. I liked what I saw.

  5. Well said, Helen.
    It looked rank from the promos. Thank you for watching it so we don’t have to.
    Less and less is it “my” ABC.

      1. I think you were right not to mention him. It’s as pointless as writing a review of a performance by Richard saying something like ‘and his wife Silvia was seen smiling in the audience.’ So what?

        But yes the show made me feel really uncomfortable for the stilted ‘keeping to theme’ dialogue and for Lette who is ridiculous and awful and described Puberty Blues as the books she wrote, not ‘we’. I loved Silvia’s work on her SBS show – it felt fresh. This felt forced and tired before it even got going.

  6. Thanks Helen – we made the mistake of watching this and thought we had been transported to some other time, some other planet. In the end pretentious and boring. And the food was yuk.

  7. A work of genius Helen! A great read and totally hit the barometer of response from my peers about this stupid show. Rachel Koo is another one in this category, anyone even mildly practiced in a kitchen can see that she doesn’t even know how to hold a knife properly. It’s just eye candy with spuds.

    1. Look. Several of Nigella’s recipes are absolute bunkum. I really don’t mind. She is very entertaining and fabulously lewd. The recipes don’t have to be good, though it helps. It’s just that everything about this show is shithouse.

  8. Well said. Agree with everything, but will also add – do we really need another show about Italian food? (I’m guessing it’s Italian food…) I feel like Italian is what we can all cook at home.

  9. Appalling pap. And how credible is an excruciatingly thin cook who apparently loves food and eats a lot of pasta? Silvia must fast for days between nosh-ups. At least Nigella is persuasively voluptuous and sensual.

  10. I am so glad it’s not just me! I didn’t make a point of watching it – I had it on in the background while waiting for the next show – but from what I did see, I found it so contrived, smug and facile. The trite conversation topics and Silvia’s tendentious delivery in introducing them (of COURSE “balancing career and motherhood” got a run, because what else would you ask a woman, really) alone made me cringe.

  11. It was as interesting as “watching paint dry” on a humid day. possibly good food but i wasn’t there? I consider the lady (Sylvia) in question has as much charisma as a block of mouldy cheese. Not for everyone. Helen your comments seemed to repeat. I gather you wanted to emphasis your dislike of the format and overall half hour of nonsense. However it needed to be said the program was rubbish.

  12. I couldn’t agree with you more Helen. The show was shallow, fallow and callow. Silvia has the smarm and wit of a chicken’s bum hole.

    Be prepared for more pap like this from the ABC – Absolute Banal Crap.

  13. Typical of the ‘mainstream’, unimaginative saveloys of mediocrity churned out by the ABC in recent years.

    It seems to get a gig on the ABC it’s more a case of who you know, not what you know.

  14. Insightful and enjoyable review. But you must admit that the show is not art, it is neither high brow nor low brow, but perfectly manicured brow. Not sure where it sits, perhaps it’s true audience is somewhere not here.

  15. Awful show but that’s why God created remote controls. However, the increasing use of cross promotion by the ABC meant that all week we had this show promo and Richard Roxborough promoting his book and obviously relying on the “superior intelligence” of ABC viewers to be able to join the dots. ABC has as many ads as Ch7 these days!

  16. hahaharr this review and the comments have really lifted my spirits thank you !
    That is the best review I’ve ever read Helen Razor- wit.

    Frankly Aunties anti – promo’s were enough to put me off this pile of full huggies .

  17. Best. Review. Ever. This is what happens when the ABC commissions shows from foreign-owned production companies, who are more experienced at producing the stripped format, prime-time tripe on the commercial networks. A previous series on SBS tanked – so what was the ABC thinking?? If this is an example of the ABC’s new diversity push, I’m shaking my head. Come & Get It with Peter Russel Clarke would have had more contemporary relevance…

  18. Very funny and enjoyable critique. However, Nigella Lawson cannot be a beau of anyone, because she is a female. If you are going to be so critical, you must be careful to get your facts right, so that you cannot be the object of criticism yourself.

  19. Brilliant review Helen. I always watch the first episode of a new ABC show, just to support Aunty, however I usually have low expectations these days. Silvia’s Italian Table was a new low, even setting aside the ABC’s growing penchant for cross-promotion. The show is so contrived that it reminds me of the worst dinner parties I threw as a silly, insecure young girl … agonising over the menu, spending hours cleaning, fiddling with flowers, inviting the wrong people who had almost nothing in common and watching the whole thing collapse under its pretentiousness. Thank god I grew out of that rubbish. I suppose Silvia is a nice woman and seems to know how to cook but this show is so pretentious it makes me cringe. Watching Sylvia try desperately to steer the lagging conversation back to her dinner party theme of “courage” was agony. And I found it puzzling that a woman near 40 would choose to wear a little dolly dress and garlands of flowers in her hair. What is that all about? The whole thing was cringeworthy.

  20. Vintage Razer, Helen! I wasn’t going to watch it, now I have to see at least one show! One unsettling thought…Might Checking our Privilege cause us to forgive (oh erk!) some at least of Silvia Colloca’s contribution to the show’s inedible filling? Nigella was (I think) born to it (privilege). Is Silvia instead, a migrant understandably aspiring to the material best…who has discovered that mining her heritage brings status and big bikkies? And who doesn’t yet have the post-crash discernment of the educated middle class born-to-vanished security and able to move on from there (into rented poverty often)? Doesn’t excuse the ABC though.

  21. Helen, I read your review at lunch while I was eating my Vegemite sandwich, my partner had to revive me , but then also did the same when eating her rice crispbread with chicken and lettuce. Too Funny!

  22. Who at the ABC commissioned this crap? Name them and shame them. I saw the promo and thought to myself, “Good on that Silvia Colloca, branching out into comedy!” Then — the dawning horror that it wasn’t satire.

    1. This must be the cost to the ABC for another season of ‘Rake’… has to be.

      I lasted less than 2 minutes watching the show.

      Highway Patrol was far more interesting , FFS !

  23. Thank goodness the commissioning editors at the ABC have risen to the challenge and used what few shekels they have left to meet the global shortage of celebrity cooking shows. This was a brave decision, and we, the Australian tax payer, should be eternally grateful that we now need no longer be limited to those few dozen of so offerings on SBS. Let’s face it, in this complicated world, we should be thankful that the ABC has taken so seriously its charter to explain the unexplained mysteries of extruded jasmine flower jam with drizzled amber paste over a succulent leg of saffron-fed lamb. Thank-you ABC, the world is a better place for your courage. I was especially gratified to learn that the money for this series came from the ABCs documentary budget. Money well spent I say.

  24. And thank goodness that SBS have also been able to meet the challenge by spending its few shekels on the equally banal Rachel Koo. Why waste taxpayer money supporting great Australian talent when you can waste it by fully funding Rachel Koo’s Kitchen Notebook Melbourne?

  25. You know Helen, you achieved something remarkable. I have reached an age where so very little I read or view can raise a disheartened gurgle or even a lip twitch. Most tv comedy, for example, merely sends me to sleep, which has certain advantages I guess. Your review however, when coupled with my dim memories of episode 2 of this travesty, actually provoked an eerie throaty rattling sound which I eventually recognised as laughter (unfortunately all too soon overtaken by wheezing and involuntary expectoration). Lovely piece.

  26. Spot on Helen, looking at the guest list it seems like the only purpose of this show is cross-promotion.
    The loathsome faux Italian peasant kitchen scenario combined with appearance of ‘personalities’ I have often dreamed of torturing in a basement (Kathy Lette, George Negus just for starters) is a recipe for serious disgust.
    Sylvia is indeed a wonderful singer; leave it at that.

  27. Can we swear on here? If so: fucking BOOM.

    Haven’t laughed so justifiably and self righteously for a long time. Reading this was like being Dawn French diving into the chocolate fondue fountain in Vicar of Dibley. Fabulous piece of writing and spot on. This tripe should be on a lifestyle channel. Why its on the ABC is in the “I feel like Im taking crazy pills” category.

    Infinite applause.

  28. I had the great misfortune of watching last week’s episode and you’ve captured my feelings exactly! It was just foul and horrible. I’ve always loved cooking shows for a bit of escapism & food porn. But this was just demented.
    I live a privileged northern beaches life and this show made me want to vomit with disgust and at the lack of self-reflection in the show-off displays of wealth and beauty.
    Like you I was sickened by her vacuous, rehearsed, awkward banter. I missed the Kathy Lette marriage faux pax. Did she really ask about Nigella?I find Kathy Lette’s humour really dated and off colour, but I felt for her – and the other guests being held hostage by Colloca.
    The food looked good and they have obviously spent some money on the show. What a waste.

    I miss Nigella!

  29. Hello Helen, brilliant critique. I was in fits of laughter and sent it around to several colleagues who are still weeping about the camel-huggies incident. The questions about Nigella were infuriating though Kathy handled it very well – though the whole program was a piece of shite.
    God ABC, lift your fucking game!

    1. Yes. Absolutely. New respect for Lette who retained her dignity in the face of something more appropriately served on Real Housewives.

  30. HA HA HAAAA!!! Thank you for another ripsnorter of a read Helen, this made my afternoon – a gleeful read while I was meant to be doing other things. Didn’t even know this show existed, so of course I had to watch the Lette/McCune episode the minute I walked in the door this evening.

    You’re right, it is ludicrous. Utterly. But I have to say here that I feel sort of sorry for Silvia (espesh with some of the other commenters ripping to her shreds). I actually quite enjoyed that other show she had (‘Made in Italy’ or whatever it was called over on SBS) I thought she was really sweet on that show, engaged, excited and passionate about visiting her old haunts, and cooking her fave recipes, and that made it a joy to watch. I found her to be very likeable (once I’d overcome my petty annoyance/incredulity about how thin she is.)

    And I still think she seems like a lovely person, but it’s like she’s out of her depth. I mean, she’s not the joker in the pack, and she doesn’t seem to have the sass or wit to keep up in conversation with these ‘Aussie personalities’, and why should she? We can’t all be the class clown. It’s like they’re trying to make her some kind of Jenny Brockie in an apron. (That constant return to courage as ‘the topic’ reminded me of writing Year 12 HSC essays – B. Leuuurrggghhh.)

    I just can’t understand how someone thought this show would be a good idea for her! She should go back to frolicking around Italy, being adorable, speaking beautiful Italian and showcasing her (pretty impressive I think) ability to remember and recreate those old recipes, that was cool!! And they looked DELICIOUS!!!!

  31. Oh Helen, thank you for the best laugh I’ve had in ages, my cackling almost drowned out by the sound of your nails hitting all the heads. I watched this steaming pile for the first and last time whenever it was on (Kathy Lette etc). Clean up on aisle ABC, something big has shat itself

  32. Cringe cringe cringe!! I had to stop watching after ten minutes. It appears that if you are a long legged Italian (with an accent of course) you can boil an egg and we are suppose to be bloody fascinated! FFS – how bloody stupid do the producers think we are – get off yr arse and produce something worthy of my time and money

  33. The funniest part had to be, not one but two slow motion clips of the flower crowned Silvia caressing and picking a zucchini. Comedy gold! . Poor Tom & Lisa looked neglected and as bored as I felt, while Kathy (name dropping ) Lette took over the show only to be slightly less irritating than the lovely Silvia . Truly awful stuff

  34. Sheez, this is some saucy stuff for a single bloke to be reading late at night as I battle insomnia. Thanks a lot Helen, now all I can think about is trying to eat camel toe with out cumin. I hate myself.

  35. Love your work. But I love the northern beaches more!! All that beauty and pretence!!
    Anyhow you’re cheap at $2 grand a gig ! I’ll remember that when yarning with “Johno” my Big Issue seller mate in metro Perth. He had a stroke and lost the lot. I pass him amongst the swirl of mining hustlers on my way to my own office and always have a yarn – and get my daily dose of serious wisdom.
    Life is binary – hot/cold – yin/yang – life/death – so do a “Razor Cheese and Salad Wrap “live from Manly wharf – a quick tucker show for the mob !!
    Choose any brekky show ~ including the ABC and clean up !!
    Life’s short. Don’t get too serious.

        1. But it is the wrong type of dash. You used an en dash. To indicate a conversational break, the correct punctuation to use is an em dash with no space between the words and the dash.

          1. I love the passion in these protests for precise punctuation. Thank god for you sticklers for grammatical precision. No offence taken on critiques to the above.

  36. Helen, please write a weekly review of Sylvia’s Table. That will make this nauseating show worth every cent of wasted ABC money.

  37. It’s like they couldn’t think that it was enough to have Silvia cook and chat with some ‘friends’. They had to hang it on something somehow more substantial (it wasn’t) in order to give it more body (it failed). Even if they’d just chatted generally, without an imposed theme, it might have suffered less.

    And Kathy Lette made that awful, awful clanger about how ‘mothers get more respect from their children if they work’ should have been edited out. Sure, some studies support this but you don’t go making claims like that in polite conversation.

    1. Wasn’t that just awful? “You are only worthy of respect if you are financially productive”. I fail to see how one imposed ideal of womanhood or personhood is better than another. The tedious old “choice” narrative . As though all of us are wealthy enough to “choose” our lives and don’t have them chosen for us by financial circumstances. What about those care-givers, female or not, who do the unpaid labour? Why should we respect such people less?
      Because they don’t earn a dollar. And this show is made of dollars.

        1. I generally feel the vom rise when some lady or another boasts about how she has a Head for Business. I mean, good on ya, love, and congrats on raking in all that dough. But, have the decency to keep this valorisation of wealth and Personal Brand Success to your own shitty circle of idiots.
          When the privilege of wealth and high wages is presented without question as a good thing, I go spare. It is not pleasant in men or in women. FFS. The majority of people in this nation make their money serving customers and caring for others. The minute I see a minimum wage worker from Target or an aged care facility (and these are the places people are most likely to work, can the ABC not log on to the ABS?) boasting of their commitment to a low-income gig, I might be a little more forgiving of these financially well-rewarded women boasting about work/life balance. AS IF SUCH A THING IS POSSIBLE FOR MOST OF US.
          Seriously. Screw “entertainment” that celebrates wealth in this era of wage stagnation.

  38. Oh Helen, couldn’t have said it better myself, though not nearly as entertainingly. I caught a couple of shots of the expressions on the faces of the guests, (puzzled, trapped) that missed being edited out. Sylvia , what have you come as ! Travesty!Also can we be spared from the awful Lette woman and her tired old rehearsed puns.Weird that such dull food, can be made so pretentious. Can’t wait for next episode to have a good cringe and writhe.

  39. Thanks Helen. An insightful piece. Increasingly I find television (including the ABC) is just TV for the media privileged that is ‘Ill get you on my show if you get me on yours”. Its just a merry go round of celebrity / media force feeding each other… Surely Helen if you got involved in this and kissed a few bottoms they would invite you into the inner circle and whamo there’s the money for your flat in Paddo!! Thanks for sticking to you guns.. To quote the grandfather of the nation…’only the pure are impotent’. Stay pure

  40. Excellent work Helen.
    Ps. NOT Magda at the screen table AGAIN. This person cannot get enough attention. Please, we don’t want to hear about her ‘coming out’ and her Dad who was an assassin another time. It’s boring.

      1. Really Helen McAdam. Yes acting is her job, we know that, but I was commenting on her ‘self service’ as a ‘personality’.

    1. And you, sir, are without a faculty for criticism.
      How is it, I wonder, that a piece of television criticism can be attributed so easily by you to the psychological failings of its author? Is it because the byline happens to be that of a woman, I wonder?
      Because as we all know, ladies always write with their feelings, and never with an actual keyboard.
      I am not envious. Not that it would matter if I were. But, the thought of spouting liberal gobshite on a dreary television set is not what trips my trigger.
      One need not be envious of wealth to loathe it. It is concentrated wealth that guarantees poverty. This is a basic economic fact, the acknowledgement of which prevents me from being envious of it. I do not envy the cause of poverty.

      1. I’m now going to watch this just for the cringeworthy questions. Does Geoffrey miss Nigella? Hilarious. Does Lisa find Work interferes with Family? Well, just a bit – when she left home for co-star Teddy TR for example. Does Silvia have some researchers with subversive senses of humor? Apparently.

  41. Sounds just godawful. Thanks for the warning, you are the front line troop that makes this desk general sit back and say ‘well, I’m glad I wasn’t in that battle.’ Has that car accident quality to it though, I’m almost tempted to watch just to see how awful it was. I cringed reading your review, and cringed some more reading the comments.

    That this was done by the ABC is the key point. What are they doing in this genre, and did it really come out of the docos budget? That’s just a crime.

    Wonderful to see you bring economics into it as well. Have probably heard of the hemline theory before but had to look it up. ‘Check your privilege’ also now has a meaning I hadn’t or wouldn’t have known prior. Who would have thought that any of the privileged had enough sense to stay a little quiet when things were going to hell, just so the poor people don’t revolt.

  42. I hadn’t watched any of this program before I read this review. Now, watching the promo linked above, I just can’t stop laughing at every frame of it. (I’m usually indifferent to cooking shows and change the channel; so I’m not sure I would’ve got the same effect had I not read this.) All of a sudden it’s like I’m watching some antipodean version of Posh Nosh.

    Now for some lame, mildly racist humour: When she narrates “As an Italian, I grew up in a place where the table is more than just a place where we eat…it’s where we share everything!” I couldn’t help anticipating footage of a mob hit in a restaurant.

  43. I accidentally flicked my TV over to this show the other night and was momentarily intrigued. Then I vomited on myself and realised that this show was making me ill.

  44. Thank god for Razer. If it was not for her I would endure a kind of maddening television tinnitus. Reading Razer helps me externalise my feelings of disbelief, frustration, anger – it soothes my suffering. This show is so lame, so boring, so empty, trite, shallow and glib it could feature in a sketch show. But it won’t, because it just isn’t memorable enough for that. Its ‘fresh linen’ light and highly polished visuals drizzled in a sauce of creamy soft focus just make the con harder to swallow.

    But what about Rake!! This can’t be bad.

    This show felt like an hour – I checked – it was merely a grinding 30 minutes. The Code, which followed, was an hour that felt like 20 minutes.

    At first I thought it must be satire. If you consider they most likely led with one of their stronger episodes, worse (better) lays ahead! Excellent.

    By the way this is not an ABC production. It is a commercial third party buy in and Silvia and the awkward celebs would have been the synoptic selling points.

    All that said, I intend to enjoy the rest of the series, albeit from a different perspective. I may even start a cult.

  45. Thanks for your article, which also speaks to the ABC’s current penchant for mixing lifestyle and insight -both coiffured and curated – to be a choice that distorts family values, and as such, family values.

  46. Thank you Helen Razer for a fine piece of skewering.
    I squirmed uncomfortably throughout the show. I did think wow, RR has really hit the big time, but what made me cringe was the theme of ‘courage’ whilst feeding one’s face in such surroundings; and the guests having to respond to wooden questioning regarding topics that any person who reads news/trashy mags is already well aware of. To be fair, all three guests also looked pretty uncomfortable especially Lisa Clune, as you point out. Kathy Lette seemed determined to make a silk purse but when she proclaimed them now great friends the lack of enthusiasm was Notable. I suspect the guests are either seconded out on ABC contract or owe favours to some-one.
    Also I am sick of watching middle class celebrities scoff a spoonful of whatever while groaning – mmmmm.
    The Katering Show is a big hit in our house.
    But yes – Nigella Still Rules!

    1. The whole “Courage” theme was AWFUL (& awfully wooden)…and its stupid face kept creeping back into the conversation…Was glad to learn I hadn’t been the only one to feel this, cause I began to feel like I might have been the only one feeling it on my initial viewing…

  47. I’ve eaten camel and to say it tastes exactly like a full Huggies fails realise the full power of the analogy. The texture is exactly the same too.

    Boo ABC. This show is camel meat.

  48. Well, SORRY to all of you, but I enjoyed the program and will watch again. I just hope the clothes Silvia wears are not the next fashion as I don’t have a teeny-bopper sister to borrow dresses from.

  49. Yes, and fuck the entire media for assuming that anybody who is anybody lives on at least$200,000 a year, and that includes Fairfax, with it’s advertising junkets to billionaire retreats in Dubai, and billionaire boutique hotels in the Maldives. Envious? … you bet …I’d like to see some of these characters live on a carer’s pension that the government they support is so keen to cut further …no more wealth porn, please.

  50. I saw it as yet another show as an excuse to gather together another group of celebs. Silvia and the food came second.

    Cynical Chris

  51. Helen Razer may have the most acute artistic sensibilities but she seems to confuse intelligent and helpful criticism with extremely vulgar abuse.

      1. Ta Helen,
        Think you’ve written the most hateful invective that I’ve ever read.
        How did you keep it up for so long!?
        Maybe I’m thick(I’m sure you’ll tell me) couldn’t see the tongue-in-cheek… I dumb ….and are you always this purulent.
        Awaiting your diatribe.

        1. “The most hateful invective”. I trust you remain oblivious to the current US election. And, indeed, most of the internet.
          Seriously. What do you consider truly disparaging or spiteful, here? Examples, please.

  52. Thanks Helen,
    I flicked TV 3 years and do radio in tiny doses. Fortunately your review was referenced in a comment on another blog. I laughed out loud reading it. I watched the short clip and moments ago found a direct link from Macrobusiness to the full review. In my opinion nepotism, cronyism & corruption have a death grip on the economy, creativity and culture in Australia. It was simply great to hear you tell it like it is without PC bullshit.
    Thanks again
    PS Your ABOUT page is the best I’ve ever read.

    1. Have just seen the first 10 minutes of this abomination. Ghastly just ghastly. Glad they’re having fun talking about “passion”. Who gives a flying fig about one single thing any of them said. I wish they had done and said it all in the privacy of their own homes.

  53. wow, i tried, i really did, but couldn’t get past ten minutes – my brain hurt too, too much. The sight of ‘celebrities’ acting like best buddies and hanging out together in all their upper class looking glory was just too painful. I much preferred to read the comments about the show than watch the show itself. Even the (unintended – the intended parts mostly weren’t funny) comedy value of the show wore off very quickly. The ABC should hang its head in shame (if not have it lopped off).

  54. Remember when Diff’rent Strokes was the most diverse thing on our screens…It’s TV if you don’t like it turn it over. I do like that this is the biggest issue in Australia at the moment….things must be going well (insert smiley face here(

    1. Actually, that terrible show made in the ’80s followed a decade of programs like All In The Family, The Jeffersons, Good Times, Taxi, Soap, The Box, Number 96 that were much more diverse than the things we see on the telly today. Our first queer character Don Finlayson appeared here in Australia on Number 96 in 1972. As vile as Archie Bunker was, he permitted a conversation about bigotry that is not permitted in such frank terms today. I mean, even Kingswood Country was kind of okay. I know there were Australians laughing along with Ted Bullpit. But I remember watching this show as a little girl and always seeing Lex Marinos as the program’s moral centre.
      The vile mania in the ’80s for stealing black children and giving them to white families followed a great explosion of diversity on TV. This was a strange new beginning of Reagan sameness after the wonderful chaos of the late ’60s and ’70s. Which might sound all hoity toity. But, this is part of the work of the television critic. To ask: is the mass culture reflecting the society?
      I don’t think it matters much what happens on TV. I mean, I get the poops if the ABC does things not in the civic interest, but beyond that I, and others, don’t think it’s a “big issue”.
      What is a big issue, however, is economic downturn in the lives of many. Even though my politics are not aligned with Clive James’, I try always to look at his example of television criticism as a guide. I think it is always necessary to ask “How does this reflect us?” as he did in his beautiful Observer columns, which remain the gold standard for all TV critics.
      I totally get your “why did this become such a big story” criticism and I am a bit uncomfortable with the fact that this became a trending topic last week. But I would say that the issue of real estate is a big one for many of us. I would prefer it be spoken about in more passionless economic terms, and I don;t think that I have changed anything by writing this piece. But I do think it’s okay if people are getting the shits with the idea of exceptional wealth and exceptional homes as normal.

      1. I thought it was just the faux peasant/Domain liftout / vacuous dialogue combination that had me riled, but thank you Helen – you’ve perfectly articulated all the reasons why this embarrassment of a “show” is so rage-inducing. Then again, when I am President of Australia I will be banning all reality television (ESPECIALLY cooking shows) so enjoy it while you can.

  55. Thank you, Helen: your extraordinarily well-written review inspired me to watch this programme. Two glasses of red wine down (and I’m only 20 minutes in). I will watch again, only if you promise to write again. Perhaps you could do a live tweet-along next time?
    Programme was so skin-crawling that I could be tempted to watch a re-run of the second presidential debate now, to detox.

  56. so watching tonight, the Done Magda Matt n Silvia show.

    I appreciate how Sylvia, I meant Sylvia with a ‘y’^, how Sylvia flips between the confected pidgin of foreign food presenters of their home tongue, then she drops the pidgin and speaks a common Sydney tongue. I wish to speak to her voice coach. confected pidgin and confit quail n pigeon.

    The editor was just as schizophrenic flitting from native flora and gums marrying the peasent theme voiceover by Sylvia, then cueing on the 20million dollar beachside vista. I assume the editor is delegated continuity supervisor role, or do they share the supervision with the voice and dialect coach.

    I aspire to be a dialect coach for food show presenters to massage their native pidgin transliteration.


    thnx Helen, I just had to watch tonight after reading your review a couple of days back.

  57. I watched this vomit of a show last night and came on the internet curious to see if the reviews reflected my own opinion of how awful it was – and I found your review Helen!

    And, yep – spot on.

  58. I agree that the questions are wooden, but can’t help seeing this through the lens of culture. I grew up in an area full of migrants (no Aussies at my school) and this flaunt your wealth attitude was so common – and Italians were the worst!
    I think she comes across as a well-meaning person, albeit one who’s culturally naive. I don’t think it’s fair to bag her for that.

    1. Not that there is any point in saying this again because the majority of readers appear to believe that criticising an editorial decision is to criticise a person, but, jeez.
      I am sure that the lady herself is fine. I am not having a go at her. I am having a go at a series of production and editorial moves that happen to feature her.
      Silvia is not the sole author of this work, She didn’t just appear on our telly direct from her own hearth. It had to be purchased. It had to be made. It had to be edited and there had to be, especially in the case of the ABC, certain questions asked all along the process about whether this program was something that they should purchase.
      I really think I was pretty clear about that. I don’t think this review is a great work of literature or anything; it’s just the weekly stuff I do and consistent with much criticism I make of the ABC and the culture more broadly. But I do think it should not be considered a personal act.
      I mean, if I were Silvia, I probably wouldn’t be very fond of Helen today. But I want to assure her and her defenders of something that I think should be obvious in the piece I wrote: she is not the problem. The work that happens to bear her name is the problem.
      Again to be clear: it is not the wealth in itself that irks me. (And for all the persons personally insulting me as “jealous” and “bitter” and even “fat” , maybe you want to think about what constitutes a personal attack. I don’t really care if you call me this stuff, btw. I am just pointing out that it is not actual criticism.) I actually LOVE watching Real Housewives. I do not resent the wealth of the women in this show any more than I resent Silvia’s. What I do resent is that the wealth is presented as normal and incidental. On Real Housewives, it is almost presented as a corrupting disease. Which is why this show has maintained its popularity.
      As many funny people have pointed out, the time for this sort of rot is over. and no success shows us this better than that of The Katering Show. Those girls get it so perfectly. One of the Kates is anxious beyond repair in this world of cooking aspiration and the other is deeply depressed. The episode where they are talking about their servitude to rent and mortgage in a shitty backyard is brilliant. The episode where they are both dressed up in fresh linens like Maggie Beer is brilliant. Large numbers of people recognise this glorious critique instantly.
      I love that the Kates have just had enough, and express our wide frustration with impossible aspiration as expressed in the kitchen so well. I find it sort of incredible that my critique, which is also the critique of the Kates, is seen by so many as marginal or bitter. We have had twenty years of impossible wealth on our screens and in our colour supplements. We have Instagram friends also desperate to maintain this fiction of idyll and wealth and domestic perfection. People take this piss out of this posturing all the time, but none so well, again, as The Katering Show. The best Australian screen comedy in possibly a decade.
      I was simply pointing out a thing that many people clearly already know: our purchasing power is way down and a diminished number of us can afford a home. In such times, media tends to reflect this emerged reality. It is really vulgar of the ABC to fail to see that we are in a post Kate era.
      This wasn’t personal.

      1. Oh my – I think I might be both the Kates in one, at once. No wonder I wander in mindless circles, so oft.

        Bugger gratitude and humility of the first world human race; if only we were the human kind.
        The culture of greed is most obvious when the greediest of pigs are in the trough. Previously, at times like these a major benefit was the profound arts. Opulent superficial rubbish like this gorges that well.

        Thanks Helen (I hate to say this, but I find necessary), for keeping it real!

    2. “…this flaunt your wealth attitude was so common – and Italians were the worst!”

      You obviously don’t know many Italians Lee. But thanks for the blanket statements and all-round racism.

      Warm regards from an Italian.

      1. Sorry Luciano but the writers sentiments are right!
        Italians in general have a competitive persona and strive to portray the “Bella fugara” image of everything being perfect! Image is everything to an Italian!!
        The pretentiousness and promotion of “Italianness”, such as this show by Silvia Collica is becoming tired, and is proved by the continual push of Italian style and subsequent short term interest of the general population.
        And this typical Italian stereotype pushed by the media in Australia and the USA only gives it more negative exposure!

  59. The promo says it all really “If you don’t have a together family like mine (preferably fairytale Italian) then you are nobody and have no business viewing this program” is what it is really saying. I watched the first episode and had to turn it off in the first 10 mins it was that appalling. Slo-mo spewing could only improve it.

  60. I confess I wasn’t listening to the dialogue, I was too busy being envious, and realising I had always wanted a house with Louvre windows, despite desperately wanting to get rid of the hideous things back in 1983 when I moved into a rented house in Western Australia, fresh from England. Cracked glass panes that caused me to practically slice my finger off when trying to clean the things, rusty handles that in 1930 used to open and close the weird contraption, and letting all the heat and insects in in the summer. When I did focus on the food, Ken was mixing flour and eggs on the counter top to make spaghetti!! (Did he wash his hands beforehand?) Then he messed about with it like my three-year old granddaughter making a little mountain. Hopefully, the smooth dough that went into Silvia’s pasta machine was not I think Ken’s attempt at playdough. Aside from all that I can’t work out who Silvia Colloca is; has she been on the telly long? Is she famous in some way? Has she been in an Aussie TV series? All a mystery to me, and I can’t stand lamb shanks.

  61. I hated this show. Smug and boring. I kept calling her Sylvia Cloaca after this. Funny same week I saw her husband sprucing his kids book. I imagine they are just planning ways to improve their super beyond his acting gigs.

  62. This was amongst the most cringe-worthy tv i have watched for a long time – thanks Helen for a great reflective & thoughtful review – unlike the show itself!

  63. I can’t stand Sylvia, she comes across as quite pretentious. Didn’t like her previous show either and this one is even worse, one of those shows that has you shouting at the tv within a few minutes. My first thought was that she’s tryingto be Annabel Crabb or Nigella Lawson. but without substance, realism and likeability. Everything seems so perfect and beautiful and fake and the bloody recipes aren’t anything special!

  64. I love the show. I found the guests interesting and very amusing, and I enjoyed the cooking. I also loved the house. I like the photography, everything. Sorry, but it is a program I look forward to.

      1. You just replied to Angela de Leos comment taking it as an affront to your personality. But just here you respond to someone who liked the program with a comment about their sppalling bad taste and wearing it well…. really?
        You have issues to do with consistency and vent using the written word. Keep it real and be respected or be hypocritical and you become journalistic fluff.
        We don’t have to agree on things, but being respectful seems beyond you.
        By the way, I am not a fan, your ‘article’ sounds nasty..a projection. The show is entertainment on tv..quite simply.
        Must we be forced to watch nasal twanging bogans, with a penchant for beer and football on The Block, because we are the working class poor and ergo should dare not dream or enjoy lifes pleasantries and luxuries, if only in our own minds.
        Escapism is something we all do, in various forms. Comparisons to others, mocking their successes only makes one sound bitter and bored.

  65. into the compost with this stinking concoction of a “show….yikes, it made me gag on my slovenly mortification as hubby and I balanced dinner plates on lap in front of TV (Woolworths bangers) picking noses, farting and stubbing ciggie out on dinner plate I was forced to confront my hideous failure as a “woe-man”….

  66. I think Helen Razor’s name suits the personality shown by her vitriolic scathing of this show. I enjoy the show and take it for why it is.

    1. You are very welcome to your opinion and even to become a published television critic if this is what your heart desires.
      I did not like the program for broad social and institutional reasons that I outlined. You liked it. You are welcome to outline your reasons. Among them should not be “Helen Razer has a bad personality”. The psychological failings that you imagine me to have are not good support for your opinion. This criticism simply shows that you wish to insult the person who provided an opinion with which you did not agree. It does not diminish the force of your opinion but shows only that you are unable to spell my name.
      Simply: “You are a bad person therefore you are wrong” is not an argument.

      1. Wow Helen you really say what you think! I don’t care much for the chit chat on the show either but the recipes are simple and inspired me to try my first ricotta gnocchi – superb!! If you would like to try the recipes go to the extras on iview. No chit chat to bother anyone that way…

  67. And I wish she’d get her hair out of the food. You are more than your hair, woman, get it out of the way and get cooking.
    And you can’t bring an amazingly pliable pastry to the rolling pin and say – ‘I won’t show you how I made this as it was SO easy’. No it’s not!
    So it doesn’t work as a ‘how to cook’ show, or as a chat show.

  68. Hi. I totally agree with everything Helen Razer wrote about ‘Silvia’s Italian Table’. Indeed, in my opinion Colloca’s TV show is 30 minutes of self-erotism. A pure postmodern business-like soft-pornography in an Australian sauce. She would like to be proud and describe what it was and it can be the “Italian way of life” (convivio) of a country (Italy) that today exists only in the imaginary of same people like Silvia, who make money with trivial TV global formats.

  69. When I watched I thought it was a group of interesting people chatting to each other and making nice food. Lucky we have Helen to explain how awful it is. I’ll switch over to The Block in future.

  70. Helen is fabulous – I’ve always been impressed with her writing and wit. I just wish people admired the Helens of this world more than they admire the Sylvias.

    However brains are just not sexy and Helen’s point about not being jealous of what makes poor people poor is lost on everyone.

    I love Helen for saying that – which is what she is really all about and I’m grateful she spoke for me too.

  71. Well done Helen, I always felt unease when watching Silvia. You have articulated every thing I thought was wrong with her (and her production values) but was unable to put into words.
    So a big thank you for your sharp eye and wit.

    Cheers Clive

  72. On reading the blurb on ‘Silvia’s Italian Table’ in today’s Sunday Age’s ‘M’ TV guide and the reference made to Helen Razer’s critique of the series, I was interested to read Helen’s piece. I now find myself compelled to make a comment. I totally get Helen’s damning critique of the show. However, I am not a foodie and a single burner camp stove and billy would suffice to cook my repertoire of dishes. I rarely watch cooking shows and have never been interested to tune in for a second episode or inspired to try and recreate the culinary delights presented — not until viewing ‘Silvia’s Italian Table’. I enjoy every aspect of this show. I find Silvia’s style charming, the format of the show entertaining, it’s visually beautiful, and she cooks dishes that are simple and appeal to my palate. For the first time in my life I’m inspired to buy a cookbook! I do hope the series continues. (For the record, I’m a lefty, a social work student, and my TV viewing is 90% biased toward the ABC. This programme gives me 30 mins of sunny respite in a world that does not reflect my own. It is the antithesis of most of the programmes I watch on the ABC. It might not appeal to the values of all ABC viewers, but I give a thumbs up to the ABC for keeping its programming diverse, like its viewers).

    1. You must be kidding. Totally agree with Helen. Pretentious tripe and the guests are mostly stunned at her lack of anything interesting to say.

  73. I dislike the contrived “we’ll discuss…” But each week there is at least one recipe I want to try, so I watch it as a cooking show. I’m not sure why it’s being compared to “Real Housewives”; it’s not even filmed in her home.

  74. Sylvia’s Table is unintentional comedy gold. The show’s gimmick is that the dinner table is not just about food but a place for deep and meaningful conversation with famous guests. Tonight one of her guests was Tim Flannery and of course he brought up climate change and his concern for the Great Barrier Reef. The scene between Flannery and Sylvia played out thus:
    Flannery: “The Great Barrier Reef is doomed if we don’t do something”
    Syliva: “How are you going to explain this to your children?”
    Sylvia: “I can see you are getting really emotional”
    Flannery: looks like he is going to cry and is speechless.
    Sylvia: “Let’s make dessert!” (looks really uncomfortable because a guest brought up something really serious at the dinner table)
    Cutaway shot to Sylvia at a bakery in Italy shoving a custard tart in her face and standing in the rain in a floral frock.
    I did not know whether to laugh or cry (like Flannery).

    1. Considering Flannery was banished from our TV screens and any exposure or publicity for years because of his blatant alarmism which caused the waste of over $10 billion of unnecessary desalination plants, and now refuses to be interviewed on his ridiculous past claims that the rain would seldom fall and the dams would never fill again along the eastern coast of Australia, how has this man risen from the ashes to dictate to us and cause further damage to Queensland tourism with his blatant alarmist comments on the state of the Barrier Reef. Bleaching has occurred for thousands of years without the help of high CO2 levels.
      Throughout the series, the show also ensured it supported the ABC mantra of promoting Aunty’s favourite topics such as same-sex marriage, climate change, immigration etc., by its choice of guests who indulged in contrived and supposedly spontaneous conversation.

  75. I found Helen’s piece after googling, “annoying Silvia cooking show”. I am glad I am not the only one who found watching the show akin to a session of self flagellation.
    What a load of pretentious garbage. The slow-mo shots, locations, conversations, and her practiced smug charm caused me to reach for an angina pill.
    ABC, what the f**k?

  76. I too just googled to find out if anyone else loathed this show and found I’m in company! Thanks for the honest review. The show is so offensive. I don’t own a home and this kind of ‘property porn’ is so disappointing from the ABC. Celebrities showing off their money is not contributing meaningfully to my life. The conversation is mostly binal and the ones who do have heart, ideas and humour are all stifled by this format. No one can be honest, or talk for more than one minute and the types of questions lead to the worse kind of drool. I have seen these celebrities in far better situations. I would like to like it but unfortunately I just feel physically unwell watching it.

  77. Hahaha, I totally agree Helen. I am one of the many who typed ‘Silvia Colloca’s show is shit’ into Google just so I could see if anyone else felt the rage I did when I accidentally stumbled upon this show. Your review perfectly sums it up!

    I saw the episode with Matt Day, Claudia Carvan and Ita Buttrose and even with the potential magic of the editing suite all three celebs looked so confused and uncomfortable that it was so awkward to watch! Ita Buttrose was polite enough to try and answer the questions but not without first sighing and practically audibly rolling her eyes, and Matt Day, who I honestly think would have run out of the room if he could have, was pretty much silent until he loosened up over a few (quite a few at a guess) glasses of wine and then just then just basically ignored Silvia and just had a lovely time with Claudia who off course was fun, light-hearted and self deprecating but was also probably just trying to fill the giant void that is the lack of true personality in this programme and it’s host.

    Oh how I ranted to my poor housemate while we watched this episode and it’s constant dripping of privilege and narcissism. Fuck this show indeed!

  78. Hi I just came across this site because I was trying to find a couple of Silvia’s recipes from the episode Kathy Lette appeared in. initially I cringed a little but quickly realised that it was the format set down by the producers, and yes it was a bit stiff. Had it occurred to any of you that the celebrities,Silvia and producers would have collaborated on the topics of conversation? I set out below my responses to this piece.
    Helen Razer: I don”t read the newspaper you write for, in fact I only read The Australian for it’s balance of articles. It enables me to read between the lines. It’s weekend magazine has some brilliant and acerbic columnists, Salt, Gemmel and Adams-journalism for grown-ups. I would be appalled to find them on a site like this using the F word.
    Italians and other migrants: Yes they like to use their new wealth conspicuously. Why? Because they cane here as refugees and embraced the opportunities they found. The majority of those migrants came from poor backgrounds and cultures where sharing food with friends, neighbours and families, no matter how poor they are is the reason why they have community in the true sense of the word and cohesive family ties, unlike the dysfunction we see today. It denotes a generosity of spirit, and too, these are vibrant and joyful people, poor or noveau riche. I doubt whether that level of poverty has been experienced in Australia for decades. except in pockets . Which brings me to my next point:
    The Poor: Namely in Australia. Yes there are homeless people living in their cars, if they have a car, or in tents, and GOING TO WORK whether daily or on a casual basis, simply because rents are unaffordable. Future generations will not be able to own their own home, so people like yourselves who are young and reasonably well educated need to find a way to voice the inequalities i.e. Landlords should be legislated to provide equitable rents so people can save to buy, and lease need to be long term. It is not fair, and I get pretty mad and frustrated too.
    But our poor is nothing compared to the sadness that there are 45million wandering around in the Northern Hemisphere, many are parentless kids, all open to Human Rights abuses,starvation, human and child trafficking, exploitation,etc.It is a world tainted by the fact that there are super rich. The celebrities at Silvia’s table got to where they are because they are talented, but put the effort into it, had lucky breaks not unlike those Italians. I don’t envy anyone who has what I haven’t, I admire them. Worry about the super rich and the pollies-multi-millionaires some of them who quite frankly don’t give a stuff about we the mugs who have to choose which next turkey brain to vote for. Being middle class is a nowhere place to be. They hang on the edge quick to fall down a level when financial markets go awry.
    Finally Kathy Lette: No she’s not name dropping, she’s telling us that the people who are born with the silver spoon are no different from us. It’s a wonderful Australian trait that has been lost. She’s from the not too distant past where people marched in protest, anti-authoritarian, when young people took risks that are undreamed of today, who spent their time on issues because they didn’t have the consumer goods of today to spend their money on. It was an exciting and dynamic society in her youth, where there was only a handful of millionaires, and where people were mostly equal and jobs were secure. Lette is known abroad as the Queen of Gaffe, so good for her. She is the quintessential Australian, loved by many and looked down on by some. Like the other lunch celebs she is an entertainer. Her books have sold well-she’s worked for it, not ripped people off and trodden on people to get there. I admire her bravado and I empathise with her re the hard call she has had to face in helping her son who has much of his parent’s (is the word Mojo? Correct me if I am wrong) I when to her book signing at the Stanton, she told the same stories rather like comedians do, and I found her to be compassionate and humble.
    I am sorry that many people take things so seriously, take themselves too seriously.

    I watch cooking shows for the entertainment – I can hear you groan that I love watching Rick Stein, another entertaining person, who throws in history of the places he visits, who sozzles down the wine, eats far too much. Andrew and Giorgio travelling to off the tourist places in Italy, again like Stein cooking real food. The repartee between those two is great. Spice journeys, Ainsley and Delia, and funny clever Heston. I watch because I will never be able to afford to travel to those places and because I am limiting myself to a $250 weekly budget, so I need to make it interesting. Gives me something to dream of what I will spend the savings on- my dream shack rather a down market Grand Designs, yes I believe it is possible.
    You’ve probably guessed it, my careers are over, my kids are adults and yes I am one of those dreaded oldies, yea, but I can still dream about building this eco shack! Cheers ( insert Smiley)

  79. Razor makes mention that Silvia’s Italian Table is a plate of spoiling ideology that nobody wants from this decade. The truth is I actually do want it! The sad fact is that this argument is based on bias reviews against dissimilar cultures. But let’s face it, people in this decade do wish to view these types of shows because they actually sell Miss Razor. Take a look at the most well known TV cooking hosts, Poh, Adam Liaw, Jamie and Justine Schofield. All represent foreign backgrounds, and vast knowledge. I did watch Ben Milbourne’s, Aussie you-beaut show. He made burgers and made pumpkin soup served in a latte cup, I mean seriously? Is this what Helen Razor is advocating for? Helen’s review conveys jealous and prejudicial arguments against Italians, who indeed “cane here” as it was well indicated, and made use of the opportunities. I enjoy reading the many reviews, most I would assume come from lower-class society who probably believe that The Coffee Club delivers exactly what people from “this decade”, hence why they are popping up like mushrooms across Australia. Another review argues against Italians flaunting their wealth, Lee my darling, that wealth comes in a range of features, including not only money but also cultural wealth. Next time you visit Melbourne and Sydney you can be sure to thank the Italians, Greeks, Chinese and Lebanese for making it what it is. What exactly does keeping it real mean? People, it is show business. People want to make money. People want to sell a product. Maybe if white Australians employed some of these elements they might one day own a property…one day. The review in my opinion is just another expression of racial undercurrents against diverse cultures. People need to educate themselves a little bit more, read a book, or go to university. Learn a bit more about what transpired in Australia years ago. As far as culture goes, Bali is about as far as white Australia will go. As long as its cheap and nasty, and a slight chance to exploit our Indonesian neighbors, than that’s culture. Rob, champ, Italians grew up around the table eating, sharing and enjoying their wealth. White Australia enjoys BYO gas, BYO meat, BYO chairs, one plate of food, fairy bread and kicked out of the house when you are 18. Good one Robbo. I do enjoy reading the reviews. It reminds me how lucky I am to be Italian, to share in the wealth and also to enjoy this country for what it is, a multi-cultural society. This review by Helen and many others is typical contemporary Australia, which was unfortunately exploited at the hands of the British, still to this day, expresses racist qualities.

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