Film and TV

Real Housewife Bethenny Frankel More Influential as a "Chef" Than Tom Colicchio, Michael Symon

Michael Symon is a chef, a restaurant owner and a contributor to magazines like Gourmet and Saveur; in 2009, he won a James Beard award. Michael Ruhlman once credited Symon with saving the entire Cleveland restaurant scene.

Giada De Laurentiis, while perhaps best known for her -- ahem -- figure, is nevertheless the author of five cookbooks who studied at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris and was once a chef at Spago before hosting her own wildly popular cooking show, Everyday Italian, which has aired for eight years (a remarkable length of time for a show on the Food Network).

Tom Colicchio is a bestselling author and successful restaurateur who has won five -- count them, five -- James Beard awards, including the monumental Outstanding Chef Award in 2010.

What do all of them have in common aside from these professional accomplishments?

They're all less influential on Twitter than Bethenny Frankel.

In a study released by Klout, a social media service that measures -- what else? -- online clout, Bethenny Frankel, the reality TV star of gems like The Real Housewives of New York ranked a stroke-inducing No. 4 on a list of Twitter's ten most influential chefs.

This was our reaction:

What is Frankel known for? Aside from kinda really not being a chef at all, that is...

Well, she is an author. Two of her three books are sort of about cooking. She struggled with crippling eating disorders throughout her adolescence and was criticized for dieting during her pregnancy and complaining about her natal weight gain on Twitter.

Twitter, the very same platform that now has her placed squarely under Anthony Bourdain and Jamie Oliver -- two actual chefs whose own philosophies toward food and cooking could not be more diametrically opposite from Frankel's -- in terms of influence.

Twitter, you are why we can't have nice things.

Of course, Frankel did go to culinary school. Of a sorts. She must have learned something there, right?

Then again, judging from this 1987 commercial for the school, maybe not.

Oddly, that's what we kind of figured Walter Matthau's daughter would look like.

After culinary school, she founded a bakery/private chef-type organization that promptly folded as soon as Frankel hit the goldmine that is reality TV. (This was apparently Frankel's ultimate goal from the time she was a production assistant on Saved by the Bell and topless actress in such hits as the 1994 direct-to-video Hollywood Hills 90028.)

She went on to star in a succession of completely non-food-related reality TV shows on Bravo (Tom Colicchio, this is the part where you should start to feel some twinges of shame about your network) and, later, a knockoff of Dancing With the Stars on ice skates.

This last move resulted in her own mother calling her, basically, a famewhore in the mainstream media. Frankel, for her part, was apparently too busy having public cat fights with Johnny Weir -- JOHNNY WEIR -- and posing in a bikini to show off her drastic 29-pound weight loss in three weeks. Almost 30 pounds in three weeks. Healthy. Clearly someone who should be influencing others' decisions about food.

And this, ladies and gentlemen of Twitter, is who Klout claims that you've made the fourth most influential "chef" of them all.

Who needs the Beard Foundation when you have legions of reality TV addicts with Twitter accounts?

Seriously. We give up.

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Katharine Shilcutt