HOME > Chowhound > Food Media & News >


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.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  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.

                      1. Jacques Pepin. Fast Food My Way. He's a true artist and not an elitist. Watch how he handles a knife. Listen to what he has to say about flavors and shortcuts and what to look for when buying certian items like mushrooms. He has a wealth of knowledge about all things in the kitchen and taste. And watch his face as he makes a sly joke.

                        Does anyone know if you can buy the tapes of him and Julia?

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: gabe

                          I really like Jacques and his daughter on "Cooking with Claudine". To me it's a good combo of things you mentioned about JP but with an added twist of youth, confusion, father/daugther...yet it's not gimmicky. They both seem real and modest, i.e., they're not jumping on tables a la Flay, and there's no "poke-your-eye-out-perkiness".

                          As a viewer I ID with the daugther not knowing everythng that's going on. The mild chidding Jacques gives his daugther is good natured.

                          I guess what I'm saying is Cooking with Claudine (at least the formula) has some cross generational appeal without going totally lowest common denominator.

                          Still haven't figured out or seen a program that has fair and decent entertainment value that doesn't degrade the focus on food.

                        2. Show me how to cook well.

                          I recently watched Lidia and Jacques on pbs, and after a steady diet of the Food Channel these past few months, it felt like coming home. These are great cooks sharing their knowledge and their recipes and modeling the correct techniques for preparing them, from start to finish. No warm and fuzzy gatherings with friends, no soft porn-style camera angles and music - no fluff.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: lvecch

                            I agree. I like Lidia's show quite a bit. Not only can you tell she knows food but she likes it for what it is...not for the fame, celeb or other stuff. Also I like the real time feel and pacing. The Food Network shows give no sense of timing and process.

                            1. re: ML8000

                              Lidia and Jacques are two of my favorite PBS cooks. You can tell they know a lot about food and cooking and are very passionate about what they're making.

                          2. It might be a bit more tactical, but I'd love a South Asian cuisine show.

                            1. I would love to see:

                              1. A wine show, with an emphasis on food & wine pairing.

                              2. An Indian cooking show.

                              3. A different food-related movie each week with commentary/criticism.

                              4. More politics of food/documentaries like "Black Coffee" and "Big Sugar".

                              5. A bread baking show, explaining the science and methods of it. Perhaps various artisan bakeries would be visited and they would demonstrate their specialty.

                              6. Anything with Alice Waters, perhaps a show that tackles current food issues.

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: bogie

                                Actually, I thought of Alice Waters as one person I wouldn't want to have a show; a little of her goes a very long way when she is in preachy mode.

                                1. re: bogie

                                  For your first idea, there is Pairings With Andrea on the Fine Living channel. I think Andrea Immer does a really good job of explaining and showing how different wines go with food.

                                  1. re: reboehme

                                    I like her...but she mixes up her words when explaining stuff and doesn't even realize it. It's kinda funny. It's like she is super stressed and just talks without thinking...well, sometimes. She's not that great of a cook...but love to watch her drink wine.

                                    1. re: reboehme

                                      I liked when she just had a wine show and not a wine/food show. I find her cooking to be pretty lame.

                                  2. One show: Taste with David Rosengarten

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: ChrisZ

                                      i miss this show! i always found it so informative.

                                    2. 1. A show with candid reviews of high end restaurants
                                      2. Second the Indian Food Show or SE Asian
                                      3. Great chefs cooking, yes actually cooking
                                      4. Love the food anthropology idea
                                      5. More international shows - Australians and English have great cooking shows
                                      6. I beg you, no more advertising for crap food - ie. Unwrapped
                                      7. Harold McGee needs a show

                                      1. I love (have loved) to watch Julia, Jacques, Lidia, Mario, and even was addicted to the Two Fat Ladies and (wanted to be) Jamie Oliver. I was very into Tyler Florence's show where he would find the "best" version of something, fly there, watch a master make it, then go back to NYC and make a version of his own.

                                        I would love to see a cooking show that is just about food in France. Not the Julia/Jacques way. Not necessarily a chef show. Not Bourdain exactly either. But how people eat in France, in another country perhaps more generally (Italy!), traveling week by week to different locals, exploring different ingredients, different dishes, different traditions, different ways of cooking, celebrations, markets, the food culture. It might push food culture here in the States to see that. It would be fun.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: George

                                          Amazing idea George- now there's a show I would GLADLY watch. Here in Canada, the FN has gone the way of reality TV with the producer catch phrase "Where's the Drama?" at the fore. Gone are the days when you would see some cooking and learn something new- that's too "show me" and "instructional" for the execs at the Food Network. They completely changed the station format and now, it's their #1 channel. I'm assuming, most people watching aren't that keen on the food- they want to see the drama and the tears. I don't- never have and I'm not glued to the TV because of it. A show like you've suggested however, now that would keep me fascinated episode after glorious episode. Sigh- when will viewers get tired of the same old same old? Or maybe I just feel that way (along with a handful of others). The exec. I spoke with says the numbers speak the loudest and the people want their reality that is very loosely associated to food at best. Yikes!

                                        2. I would love an Indian inspired show as well.
                                          Indian food is one of my favorites, but I am afraid to cook it because it all seems so complicated. I'd like someone to break it down for me, starting with the spices.

                                          5 Replies
                                          1. re: mamamia

                                            A show about Chinese food would be great too. Get away from all the pseudo chinese stuff that is out there. I don't usually mind Emeril but when he was trying to dumb down Chinese food I was pretty ticked. As Tony Bourdain said, he can live in China for years and not cover all the food traditions. It is time to break out of the eurocentric traditions and explore other traditions like Chinese, Indian, Singapore, etc.

                                            1. re: Phaedrus

                                              And please, no more Martin Yan involvement in the chinese cooking -- can't stand his schtick!

                                                1. re: Sarah

                                                  My dad knows Martin Yan's cousin, who told us that Martin's accent is fake - he doesn't really talk like that off-camera. His cooking is authentic, but he's irritating, like Emeril. (BTW: I've eaten at some of their restaurants out of curiosity - bleah!)

                                                  1. re: Claudette

                                                    I've met Martin. Here's the deal with his accent: in a normal conversation his accent is very slight/minor. When he's on camera playing to an audience, he gets hyped up, talks fast and over-annunciates and his accent peaks and becomes obvious. If you notice on his traveling cooking shows where he's not with an audience and he's more casual and his accent drops down greatly.

                                                    I use to dislike him until I figured this out.

                                            2. Come to think of it, it would be nice to see a show about Mexican cuisine (not the typical TexMex combo platter) without Rick Bayless. Bayless gives me the creeps to be honest...and there's so much going on food-wise in Mexico.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: ML8000

                                                What's not to like about Rick Bayless? Except maybe his facial hair and taste in shirts.

                                              2. More on Techniques.

                                                Good eats does this, but I'd like to see more "chef's secrets."

                                                For example, a local radio show about food raved about brining chicken to make it more juicy and by gosh, it works!

                                                Or searing meat with high heat and then cooking it at lower temps.

                                                Or how to peel garlic quickly. Or not putting sugar-based BBQ sauce on stuff until near the end of cooking.

                                                Basically simple "tricks" and tips on making cooking easier, quicker or tastier.

                                                1. - more Mexican regional cooking. Reruns of Diana Kennedy's shows would be a hoot. No problem here with Rick Bayless - perhaps the folks who are offended by Batali appreciate Bayless' laid back style. His 15 year old 'Authentic Mexican' seems almost prophetic here in LA county.
                                                  - more Indian and Pakistani cooking especially regional. Reruns of Madhur Jaffrey accepted. What's Julie Sahni doing these days?
                                                  - more regional American. Can you say Justin Wilson? I gar-on-tee!
                                                  - more Daisy Martinez!
                                                  - food politics from the POV of Fast Food Nation. Think Jamie Oliver's crusade crossing the pond. Look for maximum impact by having a highly TV-visible host (hey, Dan Rathers available) and investigative/food saavy reporters. The dark side of Unwrapped. Financial backing could be a problem though.
                                                  - better (and fewer) food travel and festival shows. Find a host who can actually DESCRIBE what he/she's tasting. Concentrate on mom-and-pop, avoid corporate hotel restaurants and the like. Festivals are fine, cover more than one in 1/2 hour, give Jim O'Connor a better script. Keep the cool Local musicians a la FoodNation. Good luck to Hungry Detective!

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. I'd like to see Thomas Keller, and chefs like him, do a series. They wouldn't fit on Food Network...but maybe PBS.

                                                    1. Given the Food Network's tendencies, I wouldn't put it past them to make a series along the lines of this.


                                                      Okay, maybe not.

                                                      5 Replies
                                                      1. re: Chimayo Joe

                                                        GEEZ! That's a whole new side of Cat that you don't see on Iron Chef! I can't imagine she was comfortable in the pencil mini and boob busting halter. That was whacky to say the least. Jerky Tartar anyone?

                                                        1. re: cookbook

                                                          That's pretty funny. Cat Cora is in a long term lesbian relationship with her partner, and they are raising a kid together. Maybe that is an extra FHM hadn't counted on.

                                                          1. re: Phaedrus

                                                            When I saw this article
                                                            last year I flashed back (to the episodes of FN's show 'Melting Pot' where she was teamed with Rocco DiSpirito) and couldn't stop laughing for five minutes. She gets my vote for Flirt of the Decade award!!

                                                            1. re: Phaedrus

                                                              So I've just read in the article below- I had no idea and as you say, I don't know if the FHM editors did either- or maybe they did and played into the whole silly fantasy thing... Who knows- either way- she's going for the publicity and frankly- good for her!

                                                          2. re: Chimayo Joe

                                                            Food Network, maybe not. Spike TV or Playboy...I wouldn't bet against it. Funny how parody creeps into reality.

                                                          3. I'd like to see a "50 states/50 cooks program, showcasing home cooks and restaurant chefs in all the states doing what they do. There is so much creativity out there that I'd like to find out all about it. This could be a very entertaining, as well as educational, format that I think it would have lots of viewers.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: pikawicca

                                                              I would like to see a similar show that embraces the Slow Food movement. Something that digs deep into the traditions we are losing and the cultural value of food. Tony Bourdain tries, but the pursuit of only what is sensationally gross (raw baby seal eyes) and the biting humor get in the way of the meaning. It's a start, but it could be so much more.

                                                            2. I remember a section in McCall's magazine where a little girl named Betsy McCall traveled all over the world and had various culinary adventures in the countries that she visited (i.e a hot air balloon ride in Paris, I think, while enjoying crepes in front of the Eiffel Tower). There was also recipes as well, and Betsy always had her friends along ( I believe one was named Sukie). I've always thought that this concept applied to a televised food show would be a welcome addition to the culinary world, mainly because I think, as I did, many children have a genuine interest in preparing food. Sometimes, though, I do get lost in Nostalgiaville.

                                                              1. For those rare chefs and food producers that jump out from the rest of the crowd because they are driven by a clearly defined food philosophy, I'd like to see in-depth interviews on their philosophies, behind the scenes looks into their kitchens (at home and at the restaurant), how they establish their sources and support them, their views and critiques of the American food scene, their techniques, and the source of their inspiration and culinary influences.

                                                                Some of the chefs that immediately come to mind for such a program would be Thomas Keller, Ferran Adria, Paul Bertolli, Alice Waters, David Myers, and Fergus Henderson (of St. John, in London).

                                                                I would also add other non-chef movers and shakers and "specialists", such as Carlo Petrini (Slow Food), Steve Sullivan (bread - ACME Bread), Peter Reinhart (bread - teacher/author), David Schoemer (coffee/espresso - Espresso Vivace), Doug Zell (coffee/espresso - Intelligentsia), Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher (wine - WSJ wine columnists), Tom Chino (produce - Chino Farms), and David Mas Masumoto (peaches - grower/writer).

                                                                Whether I subscribe to their views or not, I would be forever fascinated to discover what makes each of them "tick"... I'm leaving out a lot here, and I'm sure many can add to this list. Essentially it would be from chefs and food producers who are in their own way trying to place a stamp on changing the food world, driven by a crystal-clear philosophy towards the role of food in American society.

                                                                1. I'd like to see shows on what all the different varieties and uses there are for a particular thing. And how the varieties taste different. And preparation tricks. So I can go obsess over that ingredient.

                                                                  Like ginger... when do you use dried vs. fresh ginger? Are there different fresh gingers? When to use galangal? What gingers look like as plants. Traditional recipes with ginger. How to evoke the flavor - slicing and steaming vs. mincing and baking etc. What are some unusual recipes involving ginger? What's a breakfast/lunch/dinner/snack involving ginger and an appetizer/soup/main course/dessert using it?

                                                                  Or 'what things are supposed to taste like' - there are sooooo many badly-done foods that it's easy to wonder why anyone eats them. Until you happen on the one place that actually knows how to cook the item and realize 'that's what it's supposed to taste like!' I would put chicken in this category. And Thai curry.

                                                                  1. More specials, like 1-2 hour things on a specific cuisine. It would sure beat "food network challenge" or "Paula's European Adventure."

                                                                    1. It would be great to see local chefs preparing menu dishes requested by diners in the restaurant. Read the description, follow the "check" into the kitchen, see the actual cooking people grab the ingredients and make the thing in real time. It would be a real education to see that "mis en place" including pre-portioned protein items get the "master's touch" and be carried from the kitchen out to the table. In some cases, the revelation that the pasta has been par-cooked, flash boiled to add temp. then sauced to order; all done by a grungy line cook in a baseball cap, while the "Chef" drinks wine with the select patrons out front, might be an eye-opener.

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: chilipalmer

                                                                        Oooh yeah, that I would pay to see.

                                                                        One show that I liked is Tyler Florence's show where he follows a dish to its origins and watch others prepare the dish, he then goes off and comes up with his own version.

                                                                        I think they can expand on that. I liked seeing things done the traditional way, the simplicity and the matter of factness of the preparation. Which is why I like seeing Anthony Bourdain go to mud huts and watch the locals cook, you don't need fancy kitchens and white jacketed chefs to make tremendous food. But the portion of the show where Florence goes into making his version of the dish could be expanded into explaining why he made the changes he made and how that impacts the taste and the process of making that dish.

                                                                      2. I'll second the regional and ethnic suggestions. Even the show's or episodes I've seen that mention some Mexican or Middle Eastern region end up watering down the recipes intentionally. For instance, I've had some Mexican and Persian dishes that I'd really like to know how to make.

                                                                        There might not be enough of an audience for a Thai only show, but how 'bout a SE Asian show, with a focus on a different region each day. Lydia often talks about different regions of Italy - why can't we get that with other types of cuisine?

                                                                        1. How about "Fear Factor Food" where Paula Deen, Rachael Ray and selected FNTV execs must, for one month, eat nothing but food prepared by Sandra Lee? I predict this would be the biggest hit ever for Food Network. I know I'd watch.

                                                                          1. Food Network takes such a hit, but boy have we been educated. I'd like to see a spin off network for culinary arts, students new to the field. In essence, a network or series that examines the schools, leaders, hotel and restaurant owners in the trade.

                                                                            A kids cooking show that was intelligent and REAL would be great.

                                                                            More regional and ethnic food programming, def.

                                                                            I too love Julia Child, with so many years of video feed preserved, what do you think about a Julia Child Revisited show where her recipes are updated..using older programs with a modern twist.

                                                                            Fun post, it's nice to dream :)