- Associated Press - Saturday, February 25, 2012

MIAMI BEACH, FLA. (AP) - Between all the nightmarish kitchens and warring cupcakes, the throwdowns and the innumerable quickfires, is there really any untrodden terroir left for reality food TV?

Gail Simmons thinks so, but admits that making it fly with viewers won’t be easy

Food television has done so much to bring non-foodies to the table, said Simmons, a judge on Bravo’s “Top Chef” and host of the network’s spinoff show, “Top Chef: Just Desserts.” The challenge for both the food and entertainment industries now is to do something positive with that.

“Now we’ve got them eating, we’ve got them talking about food, we’ve got them wanting to cook and wanting to go out more and recognizing chefs and recognizing how much great work they do, now we can sort of educate them on what they’re actually eating,” Simmons said Saturday during an interview at the South Beach Wine and Food Festival.

Simmons said the next step in the evolution of reality food television will be providing programing that educates people about the connections between food and the many problems facing the country, from education to poverty to hunger.

“I would like to think that is where we could go with it,” said Simmons, whose recently released book, “Talking with My Mouth Full,” chronicles her rise in the world of food television.

“The problem is, and this is always the truth, television is entertainment. It’s about entertainment. It needs to be fun. It needs to be an escape. So how do you make smart TV about food that is also really fun and interesting and that you can get people excited about? That’s kind of my dream about what I’d like to do.”

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