The Real 'Dish’ on Cable

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Next week, hordes of cable executives will swarm the Big Apple, attending the myriad of events and meals that have sprung up around the Walter Kaitz Foundation’s annual fund-raising dinner for efforts to diversify cable’s workforce.

On top of that, the National Association for Multi-ethnicity in Communications plus Women in Cable & Telecommunications are, respectively, hosting lunches to advance their causes.

The timing, given all the food and networking involved, could not be a better backdrop for Cable Positive, the industry’s organization that raises money to fight the spread of AIDS.

After a year’s labor of love — which relied on volunteers, herded and prodded by “Yours in Search,” Michele James, the zany founder of James & Co., and Cable Positive’s Thomas Dima — the second edition of Cable Cooks, The Inside Dish is finally out of the oven.

Trust me, I’m no Julia Child — thank goodness, as she has recently departed for that heavenly kitchen in the sky. Nor do I review cookbooks for a living. But this is not your mother’s cookbook.

It’s a rare, often personal glimpse into the psyches of cable-industry executives — many of whom we’ve dined with or kicked around with socially. Not only did they contribute the recipes, but many provided some quirky snapshots of their lives which tell us more about who they really are. That was the mission of the first Cable Positive cookbook, published 10 years ago in remembrance of Multichannel News publisher Joel Berger, who succumbed to AIDS after a long fight and helped bring that first book to fruition.

This book, too, is also dedicated to my lost colleague and friend of many years, “The King of Dish,” who was one of the most fun and compassionate people I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with. Apparently, I’m not alone, for so many people stepped up to the plate to make this book really sizzle.

Joel, who was buried in his Armani tuxedo, would find it to his taste, both for its fine cuisine and for all the great industry dish. Although cable is now so consolidated, this book is testimony that it has not lost its strong sense of bonding.

Esthetically, volume two (thanks to the Hallmark Channel Design group) is truly a work of art. But its insights about what makes some of cable’s leading luminaries tick makes this book a delicious read.

Like a good book reviewer, I’m not going to spoil the read by dishing too much about it. But I’ll point to what for me is just one of the book’s high points.

While most of the cable chefs took a page or two to tell their stories about their food preferences, Bravo/Trio president Lauren Zalaznick’s recipe for “Kool Gherks” spanned four pages.

She’s a riot. Her pickle making marathon is like watching an episode of Ellen DeGeneres’s talk show — warm, funky and totally off the wall.

So just go out and buy it next week and support this noble cause. You’re not only helping to fight the spread of AIDS, you’re doing your part to keep this industry laughing together at the table.

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