Commentary

'Reclaim The Kitchen' Feels Beneath The Wolf Brand

Our kitchen was designed by somebody with a perverted notion of spatial relations. As opposed to the traditional fridge/sink/oven triangle, the three linchpins of our culinary configuration are situated as if stops along a single transit route. To reach the oven from the range, one needs to walk three-quarters of the way around the island. That’s a spill-inducing, energy-depleting eight steps, ones that could otherwise be devoted to moseying couchward.

With the help of a sledgehammer and a bridge loan, we will soon set about reclaiming our kitchen. Until then, we’re left to marvel at the bold reverse-ingenuity that went into designing it. So when I think about the vision of reclaiming a kitchen articulated by Sub-Zero’s Wolf, maker of ovens and ranges so high-end that they confer upon their owner advanced social status, I scoff knowingly. You know, like, “Oh-ho-ho, Mr. Expensive Stove Man-Person! You want to tell me that emotional reclamation trumps the literal kind? Go on. I’ll just be over here attempting to balance a microwave atop a blender."

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In Wolf’s “Reclaim the Kitchen” video, the brand proposes reacquainting ourselves with the wonders of both home-cooked meals and the communal creation thereof. We’ve gone socially and nutritionally astray, the clip suggests, and the only way to regain our lost humanity is by tag-teaming the nightly repast and making attendance at the family table mandatory, with absence punishable by disinheritance.

Whoever created this dawdling exercise in nostalgia actually seems to believe this. The clip commences with a shout-out to the family kitchens of yesteryear. “We gathered here, we conversed, we told about our day, we told about our dreams… and [folksy chortle] we cooked,” the narrator says, doing his darndest to render audible the playful twinkle in his eye. But even after pelting us with a bunch of statistics and bemoaning how we “fill up on cooking shows rather than doing it ourselves” - which sounds like the type of tut-tutting usually heard in political ads - the clip takes rhetorical leap after rhetorical leap.

At one point, the narrator asks, “You know who the real villain is?,” then an unlabeled box intended to evoke McDonald’s fries plops down from above. “We joke - sort of. The spud… symbolizes our reliance these last few decades on letting someone else cook for us.” What’s this now? “We like French fries; ergo, we have lost everything that mattered to our full-bellied forebears, who are looking down disapprovingly at us from above and probably passing judgment on our choice of partner as well”? No.

Similarly, the video’s underlying argument makes no sense. About 40 seconds in, the narrator lists reasons why American families don’t eat at home as much as they once did: “economic” (okay, that I get) “to governmental” (Obamacare? Let’s just blame Obamacare) “to both parents working” (Wolf has not, apparently, considered the possibility that its wares might find their way into the home of a single-parent family). Then the narrator dismisses all those reasons and presses a line of persuasion that might be summarized as “just play along, dude.”

I’m not sure how else to interpret the clip’s unprovable central thesis that “good, fresh, delicious food is extra important.” How? And to whom? If Wolf wanted to cite some scholarmatastic studies linking consumption of/attendance at home-cooked meals to, say, high academic achievement, wonderful. But in the absence of actual evidence to back the clip’s assertions, “Reclaiming the Kitchen” comes across as a rallying cry around something that Wolf has decided it would really, really like us to rally around. Hi, circular reasoning! Take a seat at the table next to your brother logical fallacy and second cousin subjective validation!

The absence of coherent thought notwithstanding, the main problem with “Reclaim the Kitchen” is that it feels beneath the brand. This isn’t to say that luxury manufacturers like Wolf forfeit the possibility of making a heartfelt appeal when they erect a financial barrier to entry for most people, but Wolf - at least in my mind - is a powerhouse brand. When we were looking for a home, the presence of a Wolf oven elevated the entire joint. The brand’s snob appeal may or may not transcend its practical appeal… which is why it’s bad form for Wolf to instruct viewers to set aside time it acknowledges nobody has and “turn off the screens.” Wolf comes off as a millionaire attempting to tell a welfare recipient how easy and rewarding it is to budget efficiently.

The clip’s flimsy rhetoric is a shame, as clearly a ton of work went into its inventive, sprightly, Wes Anderson-ish visuals - a sandwich shaped like the U.S. Capitol, a pie with cut-out hearts in its epidermal layer, “cook” spelled out in melting butter letters. But if you can get past Wolf’s “do this because we say you should” arrogance, you’re a more forgiving viewer than I. Here’s a link to the Taco Bell ordering app for iOS. Use it in sickness and… in sickness.

2 comments about "'Reclaim The Kitchen' Feels Beneath The Wolf Brand".
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  1. Ruth Barrett from EarthSayers.tv, March 5, 2015 at 3:16 p.m.

    Enjoyable to read, spot on. Thanks, Larry.

  2. David Pepper from Pepper Productions, March 6, 2015 at 10:05 a.m.

    Larry

    If you really think good, fresh, delicious food is not important I understand your criticism. Otherwise this positive, informative, albeit self-serving, message about food and health is well produced and a valuable reminder to those who do not know the joys and benefits of cooking and consuming real food.

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