Lisa Alexander - If you’re looking for a critique of the culinary quality of The Muppets Kitchen with Cat Cora, look somewhere else. Even if I did have enough spare change to run out and buy all the ingredients for all these recipes, and even if I had a fully-functional oven, my skills in the kitchen start with peanut butter sandwiches and end with my mom’s chocolate chip cookies, and nothing is going to change the fact that I’m an extraordinarily picky eater. To be honest, when I watch these videos and Cat Cora starts talking about ingredients, I hear about as much as when grown-ups talk in Peanuts cartoons. However, as a full-fledged Obsessed Muppet Fan who happens to have taken one college course in web design, I feel qualified to critique everything else about The Muppets Kitchen with Cat Cora. (Besides which, that picky-eater business means I can watch these videos as many times as I want without them making me hungry.)
I’ll talk about the posters and the recipe book and some videos in a moment, but first thing’s first. I know you’re just sitting there saying, “But LISA,” unless you don’t know my name, in which case you’re snapping and yelling “Hey, Intern” (I’m looking at YOU, Ryan), “What about ANGELO? What about the fact that this is NOT our beloved Swedish Chef?”
Now like I said, I can’t say much about the recipes in the recipe book, but I do have a thing or two to say about how it’s set up. The left page has a list of episodes you can click to find recipes that way, and a search box that doesn’t work too well. The right page has a recipe, and you can advance to the next recipe by clicking the little folded corner at the bottom of the page. The main problem with this set-up is that there is no easy way to go back to the previous recipe, which is why I had a brief moment of panic when I accidentally passed a recipe for peanut butter brownie cupcakes. Fortunately, the recipes-by-episode feature on the left page works pretty well, but it won’t get you to any of the recipes from the Hasty Tasty Cooking Tips. All recipes are printable, which is good if you don’t have internet access in your kitchen and/or don’t want to risk getting your computer dirty.
And with that, we move on to the main attraction: the videos.
The first part of each episode includes some sort of insert, where we see other Muppets doing other stuff—a perfect opportunity to throw in random stuff and make Muppet fans happy. In “Birthday Cat-astrophe,” we see Fozzie filming a video birthday card from Miss Piggy and Foo Foo (yes, Foo Foo) for Cat, which doesn’t end well for Fozzie. In “Breakfast Isn’t Just for Breakfast Anymore,” we get an all-new Bear On Patrol skit (which also doesn’t end well for Fozzie). In “Game Day,” we get the opening ceremony for the Y Games, complete with the one and only Rowlf the Dog! And in “Movie Night,” we get a preview for Frankfurterstein, featuring Bunsen, Beaker, and an expired frankfurter. After each insert, we get some more kitchen stuff, a commercial, a happy ending, and Pepe doing a little shtick in front of some green-screened food before he tells us we can find all these recipes and more on the Muppets Kitchen website.
To be honest, there’s too much good stuff in each of these episodes for me to go in-depth on all of them, but I will give you some of my favorite highlights from each.
“Breakfast Isn’t Just for Breakfast Anymore”: The Early Bird, Cat sleeping in a bowl of pancake batter, The Swedish Chef (See? He is not excluded.), and the fact that the whole thing reminds me of how I would yammer away at 6:30 in the morning while I got ready for school and my mom would just sort of… stare at me and hide behind her coffee mug.
“Game Day”: Kermit, Kermit, Kermit, and did I mention Kermit? Also Rowlf, Cat vs. Angelo, and competitive pie-catching.
Angelo absolutely shines here. He talks to the food, he sings, he dances, he gets really stressed, he’s insecure… In short, he’s fantastic.
I really don’t have any complaints about this set of videos, either. (This isn’t a very harsh critique, is it?) I would love to list my favorite moments from each of these episodes, too, but I would probably end up transcribing each one. My suggestion? Watch them all, laugh at Pepe, and keep your eyes on Angelo. …Unless you actually want to learn how to cook some of this stuff, in which case… watch all of them multiple times so you can learn from Cat and be entertained by Angelo.