Cooking with Jack #779: “Kentucky Derby Hot Brown”

This blog is dedicated to spreading the truth about Jack Scalfani, a child abuser and racist who has run up modest celebrity on the internet through his “Cooking with Jack” youtube channel. For a long but by no means exhaustive list of what Jack has done, please see this post.

Originally uploaded: 29 April 2016

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Although the Kentucky Dar-bee seems to loom less large in American popular consciousness as The Race That Stops A Nation, it’s still a well-known and recognisable annual event. In Jack’s continuing attempt to increase his youtube clout, focusing on annual event dishes is a simple and effective way of waddling after views. And there’s also the issue of Jack attempting to position himself as a Southerner, for whom the Kentucky Derby would hold a special significance. Two whole videos on an event he’s never talked about even once before are the result of this.

Jack certainly isn’t opposed to the kind of vice typified by these sporting events, dragging his family to Las Vegas on a yearly basis to fritter his wife’s hard-earned money away on gambling. Although this is at odds with Jack’s contemporary conservative distaste for vice Jack never was one to be bothered by logic. Indeed his distaste for alcohol seems to be the driving force in deciding on the lesser known Kentucky Derby staples to prevent him from having to drink bourbon. (incidentally if you’ve any interest at all in liquor and the history thereof I highly recommend Southern food historian Robert Moss’ recent twin articles on the subject of the Mint Julep).

Of course the (open) sandwich itself which surprisingly I never had heard of before appears to be a modified Welsh Rarebit, a dish I love. Being such a gut-punch of grease and salt I almost believe the surrounding southern-fried mythology of its creation. Almost but not quite, and certainly not enough to want to seek it out. Hilariously, Jack’s version is plagiarised from a source that plagiarises a number of other sources in a comedic piece almost as sharp and topical as thinking the word “Mornay” is about to start trending as a hashtag. It’s funny watching old Jack videos where he pisses and moans about butter and things, only to watch him clog his tired, diabetic arteries on dish like this. I often wonder what the appeal of Jack’s videos are to the general audience, and I suppose watching a small man slowly but surely kill himself over a number of years is part of it.

Cooking with Jack #31: “Miracle Blades Series 3 – As Seen On TV”

This blog is dedicated to spreading the truth about Jack Scalfani, a child abuser and racist who has run up modest celebrity on the internet through his “Cooking with Jack” youtube channel. For a long but by no means exhaustive list of what Jack has done, please see this post.

Originally uploaded: 01 August 2009

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Jack describing his filmed, editing and streamed through the internet programmeas “live on the air” is yet another indicator of how his mind is entirely taken over by television: not knowing how to temper eggs into hot liquid, his contempt for cooking.

I have… opinions about knives, being the enthusiastic amateur cook that I am, but I’ll spare you. Jack doesn’t appear to have opinions or preferences about knives though. What does Jack like in a knife? What are the main tasks he’ll use different knives for? Why do these need to be appraised for doing things knives are supposed to do? Kind reader, this is why his product reviews are so useless and devoid of entertainment value: they’re delivered by a man who doesn’t cook, with no interest in cooking. I mean yeah, a fucking serrated fillet knife so you have to hack and cut, and your meat gets all roughed up, how ingenious!

Also of note is how he refers to the kitchen as belonging to his wife, even though he’s the one supposedly preparing meals for the family, and also sits around the house all day not doing anything. Because nothing is funnier or cheekier than having a woman clean up after you like you’re a goddamn child. And unless I’m mistaken this is the first “Cabana” ad for the sauce that’ll be the mainstay of the show for the foreseeable future. It’s basically a photo of every upper-middle-class barbecue I’ve ever been to, and the bizarre grammar still frustrates me, but mercifully it’s short.

You know, at the absolute least his broad panto is more energetic and indeed, more engaging than the tired shell of a man he is these days. It’s a rather backhanded compliment I suppose, that he’s not even clearing the low bar of dishonest mugging these days, but central to unpacking why Jack endures despite being despicable is attempting to work out his appeal. What semiotic level are we, as an audience, meant to be appreciating this on? What layer of abstraction was it designed to be consumed at, and at what layer does it come across? I’m not sure I’ll ever have any idea.

Cooking with Jack #30: “How to make Rice Pudding”

This blog is dedicated to spreading the truth about Jack Scalfani, a child abuser and racist who has run up modest celebrity on the internet through his “Cooking with Jack” youtube channel. For a long but by no means exhaustive list of what Jack has done, please see this post.

Originally uploaded: 26 July 2009

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And thus begins Jack’s long-running, one-sided feud with the Food Network over the suitability of an angry, racist child abuser to have his own TV show.

Even if they did have space on their network for his particular brand of no-energy half assedry, utilising your viewers to pester and spam them is the exact thing that’s going to make them hate you. Or at the very least the low-level, powerless staff who have to sift through this bullshit, at any rate. The video itself is a wonderful demonstration of exactly why Jack offers a major network nothing: a guy speaking in a bored-sounding monotone, offering paltry advice and dull commentary. Guy Fieri is a hack who could easily be replaced by a koosh ball on a stick, but at least I understand why people like him, what his appeal is. What’s Jack’s appeal? His desire to commit genocide? After being flat-out rejected and throwing a tantrum on film, Jack would later claim that his audience is the “98% of people who Food Network doesn’t cater to” which is a comically egotistical claim. At least Food Network’s slick production values, good editing and charismatic hosts can also half-ass a recipe, add too much mayonnaise and butter to it, assure the viewer repeatedly of how easy it is all and still keep it within a reasonable time frame.

That sauna advertisement, though… I went to the website and it’s a hilarious bitcoin-based scam, so clearly hiring Jack on the back of 30 videos worth of youtube celebrity did wonders for their business. Maybe that’s what he has in common with Food Network celebrities: his willingness to debase himself, schilling the dubious benefits of a product. I mean, a fucking sauna… what ungodly bourgeois household is this for? Certainly not the majority of the young-skewing youtube demographic, that’s for damn sure.

The pudding… eh, whatever. He’s useless at cooking.

Cooking with Jack #29: “SALAD NIGHT!”

This blog is dedicated to spreading the truth about Jack Scalfani, a child abuser and racist who has run up modest celebrity on the internet through his “Cooking with Jack” youtube channel. For a long but by no means exhaustive list of what Jack has done, please see this post.

Originally uploaded: 19 July 2009

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Hey, all-caps! I like it! Gives it a sense of urgency. A “let’s get some salad into my fucking family or they’ll die” kind of urgency.

Let’s be serious for a second: Even if it weren’t confirmed by Jack’s second son Jack Jr on a (now-deleted) livestream, it’s painfully obvious Jack only cooks for his show, not for his family. He even ropes his visibly “sick-of-your-shit” mother into this, and takes pleasure in directly doing something she asks him not to! I get that it’s meant to be a “joke”, but this is clearly the reason why his mother sounds so fed up with him. And the rest of his family, for that reason. He’ll do the opposite of what you ask then have a pathetic excuse ready when you rightfully ask him why he did that. To hear him speak you’d know he has a mother complex that would make noted Oedipus Marco Pierre White shake his head, but the way he treats her is just shameful. The poor lady has clearly had a long life of being taken advantage of by her good for nothing brood.

Anyway. What a salad! The first thing we see is that giant tub of butter again. He doesn’t use it, sadly.

At least eating butter by the spoonful is more appetising than raw onions, a tin of baked beans and mayonnaise with a dram of white vinegar. I’m happy to be liberal with the definition of salad, sadly not so liberal as to extend it to “slop”. At least it’s more savoury than tomatoes in water(?). This is the part of the video that really shows just how unfamiliar Jack is in the kitchen: simple concepts like “to taste” and how to translate a recipe you just have a feel for into instructions are beyond him, extending the video to laborious lengths. Jack can’t even stoop to that classic America staple “iceberg covered in ranch”, no, his salad must be devoid of greenery at all costs. I guess it shouldn’t be surprising that this is what counts for “salad” in the Scalfani household (and what counts as being the “nicest guy on youtube”) but it still boggles my mind. 

Cooking with Jack #778: “Our Garden After 5 Weeks – FOOD GARDENING”

This blog is dedicated to spreading the truth about Jack Scalfani, a child abuser and racist who has run up modest celebrity on the internet through his “Cooking with Jack” youtube channel. For a long but by no means exhaustive list of what Jack has done, please see this post.

Originally uploaded: 23 April 2016

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I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone so proud of something someone else did.

I mean really, all Jack does is ride on the coat tails of others, so it’s not surprising. But he’s really milking Robert Brewer for all that he’s worth, isn’t he. Dear reader, pay attention also to the aching resentment of Tammy in this video. Aside from that face that as typical suburbanites they’ve vastly underestimated the amount of work that goes into keeping chickens, what exactly are Tammy and Junior meant to do here? Stand around outside, it looks like, whilst Jack films his haggard, disgusting face in Extreme Close Up.

I do have a soft spot for gardening, for things that bloom and grow, so I’m tempted to give these videos a pass just because they warm my heart. Sure, I don’t particularly need composting explained to me (Australia!), but actual competency is rare and wondrous where Jack is concerned. Then again, ruthlessly taking advantage of Robert Brewer and bungling the production as bad as Jack does makes what content there is all the more difficult to stomach. I mean, “Our” garden? Really, Jack, what is it that you’ve contributed here? The clear progression of plants that grow is also difficult to follow given his faulty naming conventions. Further distracting is Jack’s presenting a front for the audience and Robert Brewer: He only mentions prayer when he knows other people will look fondly on him for it.

Faced with actual competency in a Cooking With Jack video it’s easy to give it a pass, but even then Jack manages to make his own particular brand of terrible shine through.

Cooking with Jack #777: “Jalapeño Cornbread”

This blog is dedicated to spreading the truth about Jack Scalfani, a child abuser and racist who has run up modest celebrity on the internet through his “Cooking with Jack” youtube channel. For a long but by no means exhaustive list of what Jack has done, please see this post.

Originally uploaded: 22 April 2016

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Jack’s new found enthusiasm for promoting his, say it with me now, line of sauces is peculiar, after a more than two year absence after his move to Tennessee. They weren’t even available for a long stretch as far as I can remember, and his lateral move into other products he knows nothing about seems like he’s been preparing an all-out assault on the bank balances of his audience for a while now. None of his “jerk” recipes even include allspice, which is just infuriating. Yes he absolutely didn’t make any of them, but that just means he doesn’t know any better. I imagine the cost of the Tennessee move plus two years of continuous eating at restaurants on Tammy’s good grace has led to a certain amount of arm-twisting to try and get Jack to contribute more than the miserly sum youtube provides.

Jack claimed on twitter that this video was to celebrate the National Cornbread Festival in his adopted home state but considering he doesn’t mention it in the video I imagine the timing is more of a happy accident than a genuine homage. The half-assed manner in which Jack attempts to capitalise on this is just so very him. I imagine that as the cornbread ‘fest official twitter retweets cornbread-related tweets and recipes Jack was angling for some free publicity in exchange for nothing, and naturally they appear to have seen right through him.

Jack also mentions that he’s not shown the “toothpick test” despite mentioning it many a time and yes, that’s pretty fucking unbelievable. Honestly, Jack, why do you even bother? At the end of the video he talks about how unbelievably easy whipping together cornbread (and I do understand how political cornbread can be, just leave it for the time) is, almost as if cooking isn’t arcane or difficult. Funny, that.

Cooking with Jack #28: “Lazy Man’s Pizza and Garlic Bread”

This blog is dedicated to spreading the truth about Jack Scalfani, a child abuser and racist who has run up modest celebrity on the internet through his “Cooking with Jack” youtube channel. For a long but by no means exhaustive list of what Jack has done, please see this post.

Originally Uploaded: 12 July 2009

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Jack’s relationship with anything outside of his small bubble of experience is, at best, tenuous. It’s just like him to completely miss the point of an email (“I’m famous! Look at me!”) whilst at the same time straining displaying his knowledge, or lack thereof. The audience is expected to know the difference between generic supermarket loaves masquerading as unique cultural breads. Cooking show for the average Joe, indeed.

So, after picking a convenient strawman in national pizza chains to topple over, Jack offers up his substitution. And what a unworthy substitute for fresh-made pizza it is. Now, I’d never say no to a nice English muffin pizza (or baguette pizza, or a nice pizza-stuffed jaffle), but I also wouldn’t be happy if I was offered a pizza and got a wet English muffin soaked with sauce and a puddle of limp, greasy cheese. More importantly, was this a recipe anyone needed to be taught?

After the nauseating close-up of Jack’s face (which, for the love of god Jack, chewing and swallowing noises are vile), we get the fucking sauce ad lovingly copy and pasted from the end of the videos. A mighty contempt for the audience in this one.

Maybe it’s because I didn’t grow up in America, but that tub of butter is comically large. I don’t have the second stomach for butter I did when I was young, but I can’t imagine I’d find this appropriate even then. I definitely think there needs to be more garlic, though, and strong, fresh garlic at that, but I suppose not eating sawdust is just a personal preference. But again… is this a “lazy man’s” recipe? Is it not just… garlic bread?

I’ll get to the miracle blades, don’t worry.