I have always thought of her as a "professional Southerner" for just those reasons. And I agree with you about her cooking. It's nothing special; it's all about self-promotion.
As for Bourdain, he's no different except he does have training. I watch a lot of cooking shows. I love to cook. But I'm getting more than a little tired of the elevation of cooking to the metaphysical/psychological.
Watch Top Chef. The judges spend more time talking about "what does it say about him/her" than how it tastes. It's food. Not a Rohschach test, and the people who prepare it aren't artists or rockets scientists. Just make it taste good. I pretty much don't even care how it looks.
Amen! As I say to newcomers to my wine club, the most important thing to know about wine is to ENJOY it.
Presentation becomes important at public events and (to a lesser extent) when you are out on a date with someone who identifies "slop" with the cafeteria.
Watch Top Chef. The judges spend more time talking about “what does it say about him/her” than how it tastes. It’s food. Not a Rohschach test
We watched the first season. The young man who won was the perfect example of your post. While so many were pretentious and pretended to be grand chefs, he made no boasts about himself. He called himself a cook, not even chef; although he was obviously trained and very talented.
Paula has always come across as a caricature of the South, with mediocre cooking.