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Sep 5, 2006 04:01 AM

Q: TV cooking/food programs you'd like to see

Given the discerning pallete on those on CH (maybe), what kind of TV cooking and food programming would you like to see, or what kind of hosts, formats?

How would they be different then the Food Network offerings, which often gets pulped for being common denominator oriented or for their stable of personalities. Or how would they be different from the subjectively more refined (but sometimes sedate) PBS shows? Of the stuff on the Travel Channel.

I'm asking partly because many of the Food Network hosts (Flay, Ray, Emeril, etc.) annoy me. I do like Anthony Bourdain as a TV host in that format, although as writer I didn't. Any way, just asking.

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  1. Teach me something, whether it is food anthropology, how to make something. WHY we do what we do in terms of cooking. Oh, and the annoying product placmeent BS really bugs me. FN seem to think tha personality is all that matters.

    1. Good Eats is a great concept. However, Alton Brown's sense of "humor" is not.

      I'd say get Harold McGee to teach us On Food and Cooking with an emphasis on learning how to create our own recipes (especially baking) from scratch.

      12 Replies
      1. re: amandine

        I like the info on Good Eats but I agree, the humor/pacing is a little annoying and hokey. I get that they're trying to keep things moving in the ADHD world of TV but there are other ways.

        1. re: ML8000

          In a world filled with televised crap and schlock and reality messes and the lowest common denominator (and even with basic cable you can even see lower than the lowest), I find it amusing that you can criticize Good Eats.

          It is a gem.

          Is it perfect?

          Nothing is.

          1. re: Tugboat

            Anton is a likeable fellow. I like the info on GE and think AB is very good on Iron Chef America -- giving background and information. The quick cuts, fish eye views and skits on GE are distracting and it becomes too much.

            1. re: ML8000

              I don't watch much of Iron Chef America, but I think he does the best work on the show.

            2. re: Tugboat

              I don't understand... amusing? We can all criticize anything on TV. In my opinion, as humble as your own, most of everything on TV is "crap, scholck, and reality messes and the lowest common denominator" especially the shows on Food Network. No one's looking for perfection here, just intelligent, entertaining cooking programs. Hence this thread.

              1. re: amandine

                You are right. I was being pithy.

                I just think if you are looking for "intelligent, entertaining cooking programs" Good Eats would be near or at the top of the list. Maybe just my list, but at the top.

                I should not have chided any poster for their opinion.

                My bad.

              2. re: Tugboat

                I agree, Tugboat! Alton Brown is a gentleman and a scholar. Not to mention a wonderful chef. I must admit,though- I do watch schlock sometimes.....

                1. re: pixlpi

                  What I like about Alton Brown is that he makes the science and technique behind cooking accessible and friendly. I really appreciate the style and his efforts to make what could be a dry subject fun and interesting.

                2. re: Tugboat

                  what are you talking about? i find alton brown simplifies things to the point of being patronizing. i switch the channel every time he comes on.

                  1. re: tuqueboy

                    I could not agree more. AB personality, humour, voice and attitude send me to the remote to change stations. Right now I really don't watch Food TV, unless I see something that interests me in the TV Guide. What would I like to see? An honest approach to food. Shows and personalities that deal with all aspects of food. I would love a weekly visit to some of the great kitchens of the world's restaurants and maybe some stuff on molecular gastronomy. Apropos of what we are doing here on Chowhound, I think a program that tries out recipes from various cookbooks, old and new, and evaluates them honestly would be great. I would like a mixture of professional, amateurs (experienced) and newbies or people who think they do not cook.

                  2. re: Tugboat

                    I love Alton Brown and Good Eats, but I am wondering if I am the only viewer who preferred his previous set and the episodes with Shirley Coorhier? Alton's new set seems more like a TV set and less like a home kitchen. I miss the smaller kitchen that seemed more like the kitchen in my first home.

                    Any food show that features Shirley Coorhier has my undivided attention. Good Eats has always had the best set props, and The line "Up Pickle' is a TV classic

                    1. re: Kelli2006

                      Shirley Corriher

                      Between her book, Cookwise, and McGee's On Food and Cooking, you'll learn far more than Alton has presented to date - and catch some of his mistakes, as well.

                      The books also serve as a ready reference - look up the info you need when you need it. This is difficult to do with his shows. Alton is entertaining - far more so than any other remaining FTV personality - but some of his ideas are neither scientific nor mainstream. The problem is that he presents everything as expert and factual, usually with no mention of alternatives. Would that all the great chefs of the world had his singleminded alacrity and that they all totally agreed on everything... but they don't.

              3. Masterful chefs/cookbook writers who rarely or never appear on TV: Madeleine Kamman, Marcella Hazan, Judy Rodgers, James Peterson.

                Reruns of the old Julia series, especially the black-and-white ones. (Why the ever-addled management at WGBH feels that viewers will simply not watch B&W reruns is beyond me; do they never watch I Love Lucy? If only I could get them to re-run the original Crockett's Victory Garden...)

                Generally, the idea would be to (1) get rid of the padded product advertising on both FN and PBS, which in the case of the latter has eaten into almost a quarter of the time slot, and (2) flee from the "lifestyle" (read upper middle- and lower upper class-oriented) niche focus of programming.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Karl S

                  YES! someone else who wishes that Julia Child reruns would make a return to the small screen. How I wish that the Food Network Canada would get rid of Food Jammers and it's ilk and just show us some good old fashioned Julia!

                2. My personal obsession is food anthropology - how foods have crossed the world at different times and become part of different cultures. I'm always looking up the history of foods, how chiles went from the New World to Asia, or how oranges spread from China to the Spanish colonies, or what the different breeds of cattle or pigs are and how they evolved. I'd love to see regular programming which took an ingredient or a food and gave its history and development.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: cheryl_h

                    Have you taken a look at Harold McGee's On Food and Cooking? And Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steel? Especially GGS, how food (agriculture, availability) shaped the world into what we see today...

                    1. re: amandine

                      I have McGee's book but that's more chemistry than anthropology. I haven't read Jared Diamond's book but that isn't primarily about foods, his thesis is the role that agriculture plays in cultural domination. I'm interested in an examination of foods and ingredients as a prime focus, not a secondary one.

                    2. re: cheryl_h

                      Count me apart of your food history club. Before I was obsessed with food -- history was my passion. And this is the most incredible merged subject. Afterall, look what salted pork and stale bread day after day can cause -- 1492.

                      1. re: kare_raisu

                        I find the subject endlessly fascinating. I was in a waiting room this morning and read a story in Archaeology on bananas in Africa. Seems they found remains which are reliably dated to 5000 BCE. Bananas originated in New Guinea and spread to Southeast Asia but how they got to Africa that long ago is a mystery. The article also said that millet went from Kenya to Korea around 1400 BCE. How? And why?

                        1. re: cheryl_h

                          I would be interested to find out exactly how millet got to korea from half way round the world as well.

                          Most people do not realize that the majority of north-east asian countries subsisted on millet (and barley) --rather than rice -- up to the last century. Rice was reserved for the nobility. And in an interesting turn of events, currently there are packets of multigrains (millet included) that Japanese people add to their rice in the cooker for nutrition today. Guess they had it right.

                    3. I'd like to see a show where they do cooking.

                      I refuse to watch them driving around the country, eating at restaurants, shopping for themselves. Those shows should be on the travel channel.

                      I'd really like to see Rachel Ray drop two armfuls of produce she gathers and balances for her 30 minute meals.