Best and Worst Cooking Shows
I'm going to kick this off with an obvious statement - this is a very subjective list, and I would love to hear everyone else's opinions. I'll also limit it to my top and bottom four.
Also, I'm not even going to include Rachel Ray or Sandra Lee in my list - these two are in class by themselves IMO, and not in a good way.
My categories are largely based on two factors: 1) Education - how much I actually learn and can replicate from the show. 2) Personality - how entertaining, fun, and captivating is the host, without distracting from the food.
America's Test Kitchen - Scores very high on the education factor - lots of practical, real-world information on food and tools, with recipes I can replicate. Kimball can be annoying at times, but banter with the rest of the cast is entertaining.
Good Eats - Great on the education factor, and pretty fun to watch as well. Kind of like a tv version of "On Food and Cooking." The science sometimes gets distracting, but lots of practical advice. Plus, the Mcguyver setups rock. My sister-in-law, however, finds him unwatchable, personality-wise.
Easy Entertaining with Michael Chiarello - High on the personality factor, and I love how Mike's goal is to show you how much you can prep in advance so you're not bogged down the day of your gathering. Great for when you're planning a party. His little "chef's tricks" are great.
Tyler's Ultimate - High on personality - Tyler's very casual and comfortable to watch. Plus high on education - it's great on how he focuses on 'core' recipes, but makes them the 'best' he can. Fried chicken, rib roast, pot roast - all staples that belong in every home chef's repertoire.
Emeril Live - I'm not a big Emeril fan, but even so, I don't think I've learned anything from his "Live" show as opposed to "Essence of Emeril". Perfect case of the personality distracting from the food.
Licensed to Grill - I find Rainford very unwatchable and cringe-worthy. I can't exactly put my finger on it, but his personality completely turns me off to his cooking.
Barbecue University - For such a well respected barbecue chef as Raichlen, his TV personality is a complete bore. He scores well on the Education factor, but there's just no excitement in this show. The "Grill Cam" is completely useless.
East Meets West - I know lots of people love Ming, and I'll admit to watching his show on a regular basis. I like the concept of his Master recipe, but as far as replicable recipes are concerned, he scores very low. More often than not, I've seen him use ingredients that are just too exotic for the regular home chef. Almost every show, I find myself saying "Where am I going to get THAT?" And I live in New York, where I can pretty much find everything at some local farmers market or store - I can't imagine what it would be like for people who live in areas without as wide a variety of produce.
What are your best/worst?
I like falling into the cooking shows on the Lime Network, edgy and with Canadian, Aussie and British accents. Of course the grandmamma of all shows- Julia Child -just hasn't been duplicated. I loved the "take offs" of her shows on Sesame Street. For comic relief and catty soap opera, Top Chef is a secret pleasure.
I guess folks need to have something to "hate" :). Even if the "Big Personality" irks you- there may be someone out in middle America or far away from a big city that may be inspired to try something new.
Even the "worst cooking show" beats all the crazy junk food ads on Nicklelodeon and Disney (I have a 10 year old). I'd love to have a show- non pretentious that actually showed children teaching other children great eating ideas and simple recipes.
That's a great idea! Kids are very impressionable, and I feel they would listen to their contemporaries if introduced to healthy eating and simple recipes. This is a great opportunity to inspire them to experiment with food that they can prepare themselves (or with a little help). Hey, as a result, they will also get to experience a sense of accomplishment -- an added benefit. We've got to get this generation to eat healthier somehow, someway. The answer might be right here: kids teaching kids. They find TV mesmerizing anyway, so capturing their attention should be easy.
A good opportunity for child actors too, LOL. : )
The Noggin network has a short program called "Cooking with Luis" that they show between shows sometimes. It's geared for 3-6 year olds, but it's great to see another kid helping and making basic things (like meatballs, fruit kabobs and polenta) in the kitchen with help of an adult. Helping in the kitchen is a big deal to my little pre-schooler.
We have Sammy up in OC as well, and I have to say, he has one of the most entertaining cooking shows on TV right now. He can't cook worth two shakes (or doesn't on TV to keep it simple) but he is personable, funny, sarcastic, and a bit of a lush; all admirable qualities.
Rumor has it he will be appearing on the Discovery Channel at somepoint, which would be nice. I'm really tired of watching the same eight episodes they keep repeating up here.
Since "Best" and "Worst" are so subjective I'll pipe in w/my faves-the ones I'll make a point to watch-and the ones I will skip over when surfing the channels.
Easy Entertaining w/Michael Chiarello
From Martha's Kitchen (unfortunatley, only reruns)
Naked Chef (see comment above)
America's Test Kitchen
Rachel Ray's shows
Semi-Homemade w/Sandra Lee
All of the others, I'm agnostic on. In other words,if there is nothing else on television, I don't mind watching Good Deal w/Dave Lieberman, Essence of Emeril, or one of the many others. As far as I'm concerned, food television is great background to have on-"comfort food", if you will.
I must be a minority here, since no one ever mentions them, but I think that Party Line with the Hardy Boys is a great show. They have good TV personalities, and they play so well off of each other. Their food is inventive but simple, and there's something on every episode that inspires me. One of them gives party planning or decorating tips about 2/3 through each show, and these are often nice ideas as well.
I really like Party Line too, but it is never on during a reasonable hour on the weekend -- only really early in the morning here in CDT. I am going to have to plan ahead to TiVo it. Maybe the FoodNetwork can get the hint and mix things up a bit? I wish they would give up some Rachel Ray time slots to them. In fact, the new faces are still fresh and interesting and could take some of her slots and some of those tedious "Unwrapped" slots as well. Guy is pretty cool and fun to watch.
Most educational and therefore, most enjoyable for me: Good Eats, Tyler's Ultimate, most things Bobby Flay. Most irritating: 1) 30 Minute Meals, not because of content but because she is so overexposed and her style wears out its welcome. She needs to tone it down a tad; 2) The above-mentioned Semi-Homemade. If someone could possibly spend and much time in real life redoing their kitchen colors to match their sweaters, and creating (gag me) "table scapes" for anything other than a very special party, like a six year-old's birthday, they would certainly have the time and money to cook from scratch. I must admit that I do like her cocktail recipes, and that is often the only reason I watch. That, and I am too busy watching the train wreck to change the channel.
Used to love the Two Fat Ladies -- They were hilarious.
Jennifer Paterson died back in August 1999. I loved The Two Fat Ladies. The series is available on DVD. I received the set for my birthday last year and they were wonderful to watch again. I always learned something from them. Not that I'm going out to shoot my own grouse, but I think it's good for people to know the origins of their food.
The ones I've been watching a lot recently are "Good Eats" and "Jacques Pepin's Fast Food My Way." I love Martha, but don't watch regularly. My husband is also crazy about the Jacques Pepin show. There's nothing on the Food Network that I find very interesting anymore other than Alton Brown.
I'll watch the Christopher Kimball every so often, but he is so insulting and thinks he's much more humorous than he actually is.
When I run across "Yan Can Cook," I find myself enjoying the show greatly.
It's highly humorous that they've taken the techniques of shooting high-budget porn (camera angles, close-ups, and bad music) to create Giada's persona.
Ina Garten is so exceedingly smug, it makes my blood boil, if I'm going to single someone out for derision.
There might be a reason Ina comes across as some as "exceedingly smug" - her recipes WORK! Not to mention they're generally uncomplicated and in my experience have never failed to be crowd pleasers. There's also an absence of cleavage, ridiculous hand gesturing and kitschy-kitchens. Ina's a tried and true winner in my book.
I was thinking, reading these posts, that maybe we ought to do another edition (maybe more appropriate on the home cooking board) to say whose recipes have worked for us, personalities and tv-stuff aside. Good to know that Ina's have for you -- maybe I'll try her in the future. I've had good luck with Batali (although they're really long recipes sometimes), Jaime Oliver and Nigella Lawson recipes... and I tried to make some Paula Deen recipes, which tasted fine... but I agree with someone else who complained about fat lower down -- the food literally had fat dripping off of it, so I might halve the butter if I try her recipes again.
As much as I get annoyed with some of her personality quirks and making Jeffrey seem inept etc. Her recipes really do work. I have rarely disliked any one of her recipes and a few are my favorites (roasted vegetables with orzo). So as much as I sometimes cringe watching Ina, I'd definitely recommend some of her cookbooks.
I LOVE watching Jacques Pepin prepare food. He's the real deal, a superbly trained chef who can make the simplest food elegant. And of course the accent -- sort of a Charles Boyer of the kitchen.
As for America's Test Kitchen, I am continually grossed out on the few occasions when I watch it now. The sugar and fat plopped into every recipe is so over the top that I wonder they don't keel over dead from heart attacks. Christopher Kimball doesn't appear to be getting any fatter, but over the years, the women who cook on the show sure have.
My point exactly. His 'mise en place' is okay ... http://www.epicurious.com/cooking/how... .
... it's his execution that needs help. Most people cringe. I know I do. It also reminds me of how skilled and how well-rehearsed some of the other TV chefs are. The others make food preparation look graceful and effortless. Some make it even look *clean* by constantly wiping cutting boards and counters etc, LOL.
That all takes *skill*, or a good moments worth of rehearsal, IMO.
*Easy Entertaining with Michael Chiarello - I love this guy I bet he cries at the movies.
*Can't remember the name, it's the one where this Aussie guy goes home with some woman from the grocery store and cooks dinner. Haven't seem it lately maybe it's not on anymore.
*Family restaurant, don't actually learn any cooking but I love the show.
*Opening Soon same as above
*Food jammers, these guys are just too much
*Chef at large, look forward to new shows
There isn't really anything to hate, it's all entertaining except may Behind the Bash and $30 a day with rachel ray. Don't watch unless absolutely nothering else on and even then I usually have a good book to read instead.
The Aussie guy who picks up women in the grocery store to cook for them is Take Home Chef on TLC. (Mentioned in another post.) I don't know if he's still on, but TLC has a habit of introducing shows during prime time for a month or two, then they reappear during the daytime slots, so he may be on then.
He only takes home young, good looking women, I imagine to set up some sexual tension, but he does give some practical ideas(though I don't see the average viewer using baccala) Wouldn't it be fun if he picked up some chubby guy insetead?
I love anything with Jamie Oliver-the way they edit by cutting out just enough of the "F" word to make sure you heard it.
His school cooking series was revelatory, and very, very disturbing.
I used to be a HUGE Bourdain fan. I still kind of enjoy his shows, but I find myself rolling my eyes more and more frequently. I was mildly interested in Jamie Oliver with "Naked Chef" and all, found it cute, etc., but he has really grown up. That Italian series was so raw and beautiful. He actually showed things that I've never seen in a travel show and got up close and personal with regular people in a way I've rarely seen.
I was never on the Bourdain bandwagon. Found him incredibly smug from the start, especially some of his smarky comments on his fellow celeb chefs. Excuse me, but he's drinking from the same Kool Aid. And has anyone actually seen him cook? I do enjoy Les Halles, but is that his only claim to fame? When was the last time he actually cooked in the restaurant? I do think it's great though that he goes to some places that are not often featured on food shows and showcase a tiny bit of the culture in those places.
Put Jamie Oliver in Tony's place in a show a la "No Reservations"--now we're talking. And Atomica, I agree that the Naked Chef has grown up, and it's a beautiful thing to see.
I like the Curtis stone show also, but mainly for the entertainment factor, not the cooking info- - and it is totally implausible.
But I LOVE Jamie Oliver. Anything with him. And Nigella and Ina Garten (is that her real name?). And I think RR IS over the top, but her 30 minute meals work for me, especially because I can watch it and then make it, without downloading the recipe or opening a cookbook since they are always pretty simple and you can make substitutions.
I tend to watch a lot of food TV. Shows I enjoy are:
America's Test Kitchen
Ciao Italia (though I find the woman's voice to be totally annoying, I enjoy the topics and recipes)
Food 911 (Tyler Florence)
I like watching Take Home Chef, but I can't say I learn anything from it, and I wish they would choose a woman that doesn't look like a model.
Hosts I can't stand:
Martha (I don't want to watch TV stars try to make cooking entertaining)
30 minute meals
There used to be a guy on the TVFN who I liked (along with David Rosengarden). I don't know his name. I believe he was from CA and he had thinning blonde hair and a beard and glasses. He was a soft-spoken guy. I haven't seen him on TV in years. Too bad!
re: num nums
It was not Jeff Smith. He was younger and more soft spoken than Jeff Smith.
Actually, I just did some research and I think it was John Ash. I found one picture of him (a recent one) and the beard is gone (I think he had a little goatee) and the hair is gray. But I also saw and older picture and I'm quite sure that's him.
re: Cat Chow
I don't know if the original Iron Chef did this, but an ICA contestant mentioned in an interview that FTV provides a list of six potential "surprise" ingredients to the contestants several months prior to taping so they can developed menus and practice making and plating the dishes. Kind of takes the whole improvisational aspect out of it for me. I miss the old shows like "Doorknock Dinners" and "Ready...Set...Cook!" where the chefs really had no idea what they would be working with and had to come up with a menu on the spot.
I think that may be right, although I thought it was two...I remember when the SF Chronicle had the article about Ron Siegel, he had said it was two ingredients and they were given a week to develop the menus around each of those secret ingredients. I can't remember what the other one was....
I love watching Daisy Cooks with Daisy Martinez on PBS as well as Lydia's Italy with Lydia Bastianich. MaryAnn Esposito (Ciao Italia) is informative as well as fun to watch because she travels throughout Italy. I've learned a lot of good techniques from all these programs. For fun factor, I like catching Sam, the Cooking Guy. He's offbeat, whimsical and pretty funny (kind of like a male version of Sandra Lee minus the tablescapes).
I'm probably in the minority here, but I also enjoy listening to Rachel Ray while I'm preparing my own dinner. To be fair to her also, I have incorporated some of her time saving tips into my cooking routine as well. Hey, "A girls best friend is the GB"...garbage bowl!
I love Nigella, Michael Chiarello and I dont mind Ina and Giada.
I know how you could think Ina is smug. When she needs chive flowers she walks out onto her acres of gardens overlooking the Altantic (just off the kitchen) in the Hamptons and cuts her herbs and back into the kitchen but not before passing her allium fields. Her laugh freaks me - it makes my chest hurt - but she is a really good cook. She is all about food. And I have leared some great things watching. My husband and I always wonder what it is her husband does - and who in fact makes more money. But we like them. They are this happy rich middle aged couple - who seem to love each other with an inordinate amount of gay friends. Nothing wrong with that!
Giada - I can see how some people can be put off my her large head and the strange camera angles. But she can cook. Although she uses an inordinate amount hazelnuts (which so many people are allergic to including myself) and will put amaretti cookies into almost anything. Her weird I only eat on little plates thing is very telling.
Nigella I cant begin to describe how much I adore. When she was on Style,her books, and editorials and now on FTV - I cant get enough. I am so glad she is around to relish. They dont make people like her often. I could go on....
Michael you can describe as smug as well. There never seems to be enough light in his kitchen - its probably because his renovated 1800 farmhouse is frosted with grapevines tooled by wolves. But I like him because he can cook and well.
Now to answer your question I believe all four of these shows are educational and enteraining.
Rachel Ray freaks me out because her influence is a plague. If I go to one more friends house and find out that the strange meal I am eating is one of her recipies I dont know what I am going to do. I am sure she is a nice lady but...but I might need new friends. Also does anyone know where her waist went?
Some really awful things have been said about sandra lee -everthing from her choice of ingredients, her cleavage, her pronunciation, her love of the hooch (which I enjoy) and her tablescapes (which is a lost art) - but I think we all know someone like this - she reminds me of the old lady in town who really tries to look good but her lipstick, blush and eyeliner are not exaclty on thier marks - they are just little outside of the lines but hey at least she tries. Sandra Lee is entertaining but from what I see on this show not a very good cook but she looks tidy.
I dont see any references to Tina Nordstrom from the new scandanavian series (PBS) - she was on PBS last year and I loved her show so much I ordered her cookbook - her show was beautiful, her recipies so refreshing and interesting. If anyone knows if she is coming back please post. That Andreas guy he is ok but he's no Tina.
I really like Ina Garten, and have learned a lot from her, both cooking and entertaining. However; she is very wealthy, and most of her dishes are expensive to make. Next Giada, Tyler, Alton. I like Bobby Flay, but he has lousy shows at FTV.
Worst, by far is Sandra Lee, can't even watch that show, it is not cooking. RR is now overexposed, and don't care to watch any longer. Unwrapped, who cares? Last but not least, The Hearty Boys.
To Ljubita: Ina's husband Jeffrey, was the Dean of Finance, at Yale for 10 years, and has just retired last May.
And I have met Giada in person, she is really very tiny, about a size 2, and her head is small (I always thought it was large also). It must be the camera angle.
I always thought she looked like a Bratz doll.
But I watch her sometimes because it never fails to crack me up the way she looks so incredibly awkward when she eats. Squirrel-like.
My problem with most food shows is they just show you a recipe, and not HOW to cook - there's very little technique shown or discussed. I don't need to watch RR make another daggone sandwich.
re: optimal forager
I like Ina, but she can be pretentious----have you noticed that she pronounces "endive" as "on-deeve?" Also, have you noticed how many food network people don't reproduce themselves? Ina, Sandra Lee, Rachael, Hearty Boys (natch), no kids, and Bobby, Tyler and Martha just have one kid each.
I long ago began to quit making fun of other people's pronunciations, especially if it's correct. My mother used to disparage Hispanic accents by local news reporters that had little accent on camera excepy when they were pronouncing Spanish words with a Mexican accent, including their own names. On-deev, enn-dive, crape, crepp, it's all good.
re: Cat Chow
Thank heaven that terrible Jacques Pepin show, something like “Cooking with Claudine" finally went away, at least here in Colorado. It should have been entitled "Cooking with Clueless." Watching a trained chef explaining to a grown woman which end of the paring knife goes in your hand and which end cuts the onion wasn't my idea of riveting entertainment.
You do realize that Claudine is his daughter? Jaques' new show (can't remember the name, maybe "Fast Food") features her on it a lot. I'm sure her age now (must be 30's/40's) has helped mature her somewhat. And In I honstly like their dynamics. It's nice to see her in the kitchen with her father. Just my $.02.
So, in watching Hell's Kitchen, which is not a fave but was on and I was home sick, Gordon Ramsey said his Dr. reported the male chefs tended to have low sperm counts because they spent so much of their day standing at a hot stove in an overheated kitchen. And, of course, all that heat does unhappy things to the siwmmers. Ramsey admitted he had a low sperm count. Which would explain why the male of the species don't typically reproduce as prolifically. As for the women, I would think that all that time working crazy insane hours, standing, walking and every other aspect of life in a high pressure time crazed environment would also tend to squelch the desire to reproduce for them as well as for the men.
That said, I have found Dinner Impossible curiously fascinating. Although totally useless as far as practical cooking advice. That's actually not true, I have learned that, when planning a large dinner party, don't have too many items on your menu. Honestly, it seems like they always try to have too many choices and inevitably end up with several colossal failures and not a few sub-par results because they attempted too much. Simple done really well is much better than complicated with poor execution.
And know your stuff. I just laughed like a maniac when they did the roller derby dinner and tried to get the "really small hard bread bowls" for the personal fondues. Think it through folks, what you're asking for is small round bollitos or slightly large hard dinner rolls. They asked for bowls, they got BOWLS but if they'd asked for the right item they probably would have gotten exactly what they needed with no drama.
All time favorite cooking shows:
1. Julia Child's anything
2. The Galloping Gourmet before he went healthy and sobered up
3. Good Eats and most everything Alton Brown
Althought I have to confess that as a child before I learned to love cooking I hated Julia and her sunday afternoon show on PBS. there's just something about it that bored me to tears. I wanted more Gilligan's Island...go figure, I was 5.
People pronounce all words differently. It mostly shows where they are from or where they grew up. If that is how you rate a show............I think that we should focus more on the content of the show vs little quirks of the hosts.
As far as reproduction, I just had a conversation with my neighbor about how many kids to have. It is totally a personal choice. Maybe these hosts feel that they only have so much to give, and that one child or no children is enough.
>>>>I like Ina, but she can be pretentious----have you noticed that she pronounces "endive" as "on-deeve?"
How else would you pronounce it?
>>>>Also, have you noticed how many food network people don't reproduce themselves? Ina, Sandra Lee, Rachael, Hearty Boys (natch), no kids, and Bobby, Tyler and Martha just have one kid each.
And that's wrong because...?
Yes, it was Yale, dean of the school of mgmt until '05. We have a good friend who worked for Jeffery when he was getting his MBA; Jeffrey offered help to him and his young family. (One of those general, "Let me know if I can do anything for you" after #2 was born.) But they didn't realize it was *that* Garten until they saw him on a Barefoot Contessa episode later..."We could have asked for meals!"
Maybe her neck is thin? -it must be the angles. I think Giada must be a -0. I get protective of her sometimes - my husbands family lives in central Illinois (middle of soybean/field corn country) and in all the bars (men only) all they watch is Giada = makes you want to throw a blanket over her and tell her she needs to stay inside for her own safety.
As for Jeffrey this makes so much sense now. I guess he will be around Ina more often. Again I do enjoy Ina.
I have to say it. I know we arn't taking about her, but... Rachel Ray with your TERRIBLE "$40 A DAY" thing tips 15% before tax AND not specifically tells people not to tip on wine.
NOT ACCECPTABLE!!!!!!!! Rachel, you and your producers have taken money out of my pocket by telling people who don't know better that this is ok.
thank you SOOOO much - she is such an unbelievable cheapskate on that show. i always cringe when the tax/tip thing appears b/c she's totally yelled at the servers (i know that's just how she talks) - and put everyone out and then leaves some measly tip. it's embarrassing, bad form, and a bad influence on people who think she's doing the right thing. they should do $40/day (excluding tax and tip). RR in general is just so annoying and fairly untalented. the other thing is that she exclaims how much she loves the food and how fresh and good it is practically before she's even tasted it (and even after she's taken like a pea-sized bite). it's like – you didn't even taste the food: shut up.
as for sandra lee - ? i don't even understand how she can be given airtime as a "cooking" show. she makes nothing and is such a weirdo. i mean the person who described her as the "old lady in town..." - spot on. we all have that aunt with the 100% purple outfits and too much matching purple makeup and gaudy jewelry.
the shows that are ok:
giada – simple and easy cooking. nothing really innovative – but easy ideas to incorporate.
iron chef – even though I like the original better, iron chef is still good to get really innovative and exciting ideas for new things.
throwdown – I LOVE this show. I'm always super nervous how the "contestant" is going to react and it's great b/c you can see how a really good cook actually makes their award winning food. the jambalaya show was an excellent lesson. I like bobby flay in general. I don't even know if his show is on anymore – but whenever I stumble upon it.
good eats – interesting at times and some good ideas. but I find the host extremely annoying, so often do not watch unless it is an ingredient that I am especially interested in.
I had a chance to watch an original Iron Chef Japan show a week or two ago, and surprised the heck out of myself by actually liking the new one better- warts and the ubiquitous Bobby Flay and all.
But 'm proud to say I watched the original series religiously back in the day and was the first household I know that had discovered it of all my friends.
My favorite thing is when she buys something that's $2.00 and they show tax $0.15 and tip $0.30... I mean, maybe if there's a tip jar you would just throw in some change, but she has definitely left change as the tip for sit-down meals, and that is just rude.
She is my single least favorite, hands down.
Years ago I actually saw Martin Yan live-- major disappointment. Tofu cooked properly (as a part of the background) can actually taste good.
The Galloping Gourmet brings back memories of childhood. Also another chef Parodied on Sesame Street.
Another favorite, Vertamae Grosvenor (Black woman/Gullah) shortlived PBS show on Low Country food.
I also like listening to the food segment/interviews on NPR newsshows. Some really interesting people are interviewed cooking. All except Susan Stamberg and her "Mama Stamberg Horseradish Cranberry dressing"-- parody even with the first presentation during Thanksgiving season many years ago.
Definitely different strokes for different folks!
No one beats Julia. She will always be tops in my book for education and personality! Also like all Jaques Pepin, Lydia, and Rick Bayless shows.
Ina Garten--Yeah, she comes off as kinda blue-blooded smug sometimes, but I find her very informative with lots of helpful tips for entertaining. The recipies of hers that I've tried always come out great. And I confess, I sure would like to be one of her friends since she's always cooking for them and throwing them parties for any little reason! (btw, I believe her husband is a college professor.)
Giada--Didn't used to like her much, but after watching her "Chefography", I gained new respect for her. I find her recipies rather basic, but solid and easy and pretty much always no-fail. & Nigella--So glad she's on FN now as I no longer get Style channel!
Alton Brown--Like him more for basic technique and information. I've learned a lot from his shows. However, I'm not real crazy about his recipies as they are either so meticulously complicated or lacking in flavor. Same goes for Christopher Kimball. It seems like when I use recipies from ATK I have to supplement with additional seasoning since they come off rather blah.
Emeril Live--Not so much him; he's done some great recipies and offered up some good technique. It's the audience that just makes watching unbearable. All those ooh and aahs when he adds garlic to something. Puhleez!
Anything Rachel Ray--While I confess to admiring her knife skills, she just doesn't offer anything useful. But I give her credit for making cooking less intimidating for folks who don't cook.
Michael Chiarello--Now him I find too smug to stomach. Maybe not as smug as Bobby Flay, but pretty darn close. His food often seems unnecessarily complicated too.
Sandra Lee I watch only for entertainment purposes. Kinda like in that way that you see a horrible car wreck up ahead on the freeway and you don't want to look but you can't help it.
I think Rachel Ray's popularity can be compared to the popularity of Regis and KathiLee--how can anybody find these people entertaining?
Another "worst" is "Christina Cooks" she IS SO LOUD! DOES SHE HAVE TO SHOUT? (This may be a local channel cooking show here in philly).
BEST: Ina Garten--I wish she was my next-door neighbor...
All in no particular order--
Barefoot Contessa (Ina Garten)
Iron Chef (America, and the original)
Simply Wine (Andre Immer)
Okay, but not stellar:
Everyday Italian (Giada)
Molto Mario (Batali)
Easy Entertaining (Michael Chiarello)
Nigella Feasts (Nigella Lawson)
Semi-Homemade (Sandra Lee)
30 Minute Meals (Rachael Ray)
Quick Fix Meals (Robin Miller)
Party Line with the Hardy Boys
Good Eats (Alton Brown)
Tyler Florence (anything)
"Michael Chiarello - I love this guy I bet he cries at the movies." - ahahah..
Coming from a Food TV Canada perspective, I found the shows of yesteryear to be far more entertaining.
Bobby Flay, Emeril, and of course Rachael Ray is at the very bottom. Can't stand David Rocco either.
Iron Chef (Original) - The granddaddy of them all. Still my favourite of all time. The level of expertise and creativity was unbelievably high. Sakai ruled, and Chen was great too. Then of course there is Kaga, the commentators, and the eclectic panel of judges, chief among them Lower House Member, Photographer, the regal actress Aquino, Culinary Critic, and the assortment of giggly high-pitched actresses. Props of course to the crack dubbing squad.
A Cook's Tour - Bourdain is a rogue and a maverick. A heady, inspired programme that demands extension.
New Classics with Rob Feenie - Solid show, very good dishes. I enjoyed the interplay between Feenie and his sous Marnie, esp. the simmering streak of resentment she seemed to hold for him, particularly when he would dance off to eat with the guests while she stewed away in the kitchen.
Nigella Bites / Forever summer - Nigella is gr8.
Naked Chef - I think he's a pretty good chef in his own right. Always entertaining.
Hell's Kitchen - Laugh-out-loud material. Take another plate to the stomach, son!
I guess the angles that enlarge Giada's ill-proportioned head are there moreso to amplify her boobs. Also, it's just funny to watch her giant head bobbing around. I should add that the Urban Peasant, thoroughly inept as he was, provided a veritable bounty of unintentional hilarity, and there's certainly value in that!
Heh..fair enough. To parse the granddaddy component a bit more, it can also be used to define something that is the most venerable of its kind, on top of being 'the first'.
My feeling is that Iron Chef clearly touched a cultural verve, and moved far beyond a mere cooking show. It was theater and battle encapsulated under the guise of cooking, and as such drew in a wide captive audience, both young and old. What it had a strong hand in, I believe, was to draw said audience into both the wonder of FoodTV and the concept of cooking as a dashing profession. That it provided the groundwork of to-be chefs of this generation (weaned on the romanticism that Iron Chef imparted) and sparked a great number towards either a foray into the culinary arts, or at the least a much heightened interest into the arena of innovative home cooking. For this, and more, it is to be commended.
Now the Iron Chef America abomination, on the other hand... it completely lacks the heart, the charm, and the innovation of its predecessor. The only personal link, even, is the ever-stuffy Morimoto. Too bad, really.
re: Chester Eleganté
I'm as mad about Iron Chef (the Japanese version) as you, but I have strong doubts about its popularity among people who weren't already inclined to watch cooking shows. None of my non-foodie friends ever paid it any mind -- never watched a single episode or maybe saw one episode and just could not relate.
See, that's where we differ. I know many people (who otherwise had no interest in cooking shows) who got hooked on Iron Chef, and others who acknowledge that it had some causality in heightening their interest in cooking and exploring new foods and cuisines, or chowhounding, to put it another way.
What I meant is that it seems almost every other celebrity chef has launched his or her own cookware and at least she stayed away from that. Listen, if people are stupid enough to pay $10 for a brownie mix (instead of just making it from her recipe which is readily available online) then that's their problem. No one is saying you have to buy her mixes - If you can't afford them or don't agree with the price, make them yourself. I don't buy them but if other people are, then we're supposed to criticize Ina? I wish I could charge $10 for a box of flour, baking powder and sugar.
I work in a retail shop that sells Ina's baking mixes--and I have to swallow hard when someone brings one the counter and asks me "Are these any good?"
I want to say 'It's just a box of flour, sugar, salt and baking powder!"
mostly I just say "we sell a lot of them."
The same people who buy $10 boxes of sugar cookie mix also buy $8 pie crust mix and $14 jars of pie filling.
These people have been told they can't cook and they believe it, which is a shame, because they are willing to try if someone else measures for them. Ina's (giggling demurely) all the way to the bank.
Hah...quizas, but for her, she's mainly there to eat great food right, regardless of who wins. She was cool too, though she didn't last long. I just enjoyed their manner of speaking...
Kanoh - Photographer (in a deliberate, thoughtful form): "Today, Chen has taken Nouvelle-Fujian cuisine to new heights with his forceful, yet controlled direction. He has shown us new ways to think about broth, and its many applications. I am... very impressed."
Kishi - Culinary Critic (in an indulgent yet stern tone): "Sakai-san...you have outdone yourself again! I never realised that cow entrails could be used in such a manner."
Random giggling actress: "This dish is fatty, but soooooo good!! Tee-hee-hee!! It reminds me of my childhood!!"
and so forth...
re: Chester Eleganté
Have to agree with the Iron Chef (original) comments... the original was awesome. Few things I love about the original:
1) Sense of importance - the "if I lose I disgrace my family and ancestors, I might as well kill myself" attitude that comes with each battle. ICA is all about friendly battles between chef buddies.
2) Creativity - when the secret ingredient is say truffles, and the challenger selects say Iron Chef Chinese, the dishes he makes are either deliciously awesomely creative or complete trainwrecks.
3) Cool secret ingredients - weird fish, natto, etc. again, pushing creativity. what would bobby flay do with natto?
4) Violence - The camera has no problem filming the chefs hacking away at a still-living fish or animal. Actually educational... for instance you can see how a gigantic piece of fish becomes a delicate piece of sushi.
5) Quirkiness - Love the chairman. Love the dubbing. Love the judges. Only decent judge on ICA is Rosengarden, or whatever his name is. He can be mean, but is still funny and fair.
Galloping Gourmet with Graham Kerr was great - funny, foreign, and sub-consciously educational, I loved watching this show starting in 3rd grade (either after school or over luch break I'm a little vague). I have his first cookbook, bought many years later.
I also really enjoyed Julia's shows and Jacques Pepin's.
I really liked Epicurious when there was the English woman (Ishfel MacIntire, I think) and her young male assistant, it was charming and very good - for this reason I really hate the present version, and present host (Ishfel wound up as his assistant briefly, it was a horrible experience for all including me) and never watch it.
I also really liked the Two Fat Ladies show.
Battali's Molto Mario is presently my favorite (oops, is it still on during the day?), it's hard to beat watching a world class chef cook every day - incredible variety and simplicity, packed with information.
Anthony Bourdain's show is my other recent favorite, great chow-travel humor.
IMO, many of the shows develope an underlying hostility between the host and the guests that I find to be a real turn off. One very notable exception is Burt Wolf who has one of the most appealing personas on these shows.
At one time I taped Master Chefs everyday, though I haven't done this recently, that was very good for learning tips about all sorts of cooking.
Rachel Ray ueber ugh. the twisted mouth, the caffeine-fueled run at the mouth.
Johanna Weir: her smarmy, condescending ways. Once in a while gives a good tip.
Lydia's short haircut freaks me out, but she also can give good tips.
ATK: pretty good, Kimball is the weakest link.
Joey Altman, a local bay area show, does shows with local chefs
Jacques with Julia is great; they show how you can disagree, whether white or black pepper is better, it is all just personal preference
re: Dafina Girl
re: Paula... I agree to an extent. She's done some pretty gross things that have raised my cholesterol just watching--like that casserole of white bread soaked in a dozen eggs and cream layered with ham, cheese, and sliced bananas. But there are times that after the initial horror wears off, I'm actually somewhat intreagued and would consider having a taste (though I'd have to be really really hungry and there was nothing else to eat!). Anyway, it's not food that requires a tremendous amount of skill or even a vast knowledge of food for that matter. And I'm sure she keeps cardiologists in business. But if we're talking just personality, I actually wouldn't mind hanging out with her for a few hours with some beer and chicken wings. She sort of reminds me of Larry Bly and Laban Johnson on Cookin' Cheap (also one of my all-time faves, though more for entertainment).
I didn't think anyone else remembered "Cookin' Cheap" ---
It was hands down the BEST cooking show ever !
It was like the Saturday Night Live of cooking programs (when SNL was actually funny).
The interaction between Larry & Laban was hysterical.
Larry always seemed a little soused, whether it was an act or not it only added to the fun (but I don't think it was an act--- God love 'em)
It still remains the only cooking show my boyfriend has ever watched.
We made a point of watching every time it was on.
Was the stringed up witch called the recipe witch ?
I wish it was available on video/DVD.
Gotta love Roanoak,VA !
I like the Colameco Food show on PBS. It's old-school and sort of the opposite of some of the FN's excursion shows--it doesn't feel like it's a generic production fronted by a personable host. There's a definite personal viewpoint behind it, and oh, there's cooking.
Also like the Mark Bittman show where he interviews chefs, then makes a simpler version of a dish.
I second the Colameco Food show! I find it very "honest," no-nonsense, unpretentious, and straightforward. He's able to converse with the chefs in a way that really brings the chefs, their visions, and their excitement about what they do to life. Wish Steve C. was the one with a show like "No Reservations" instead of the smug, tired Bourdain.
Indeed, if there's anything more personal/subject then food it would be food shows.
From my point of view, I don't like added or calculated "entertainment value", gimmicks or personalities larger then the food. Entertainment value is fine for other shows but food at its best is complex, subtle and has artistic and cultural value. People without the depth or ability to convey this or are too hypey don't work for me. I like to see real appreciation, excitement and wonder, not canned hucksterism. Any way, my likes:
"Cooking with Claudine" w/ Jacques Pepin and his daughter, very cleaver way to make Jacques seem less dry. Have to respect that guy's knowledge, skill and humility. He's there for the food.
"Lydia's Italy" - she knows what she's doing and she likes food and you can tell. Unpretenious on camera. She's there for the food.
"Without Reservations" - Hated Bourdain's first book..couldn't get through the first couple of chapters, pompous. WR was a surprise. He still comes across as a little bit edgy but he obviously likes food, the adventure, knows his stuff and shows enough humility to balance things out. He's there for the food.
Original "Iron Chef" - I generally dislike showmanship with food but this is the exception because there was just something right about the mix of show, obsession, food geekdom, and quirkiness to make it work. You really want to see what they made at the end. My sense is that the chefs are cooking and the cameras happen to be part of the gig. With Iron Chef America...I don't get any of this.
"Good Eats" -- mixed feeling about this. Hate the gags and gimmicks in presenting the info but appreciate why (to help move it along and make it easy). Great information but the too much science part kills the art/feel for me. AB is likeable and he there for the food, just a bit too geeky.
"Giada's Weekend" -- mixed feelings as well. GD is attractive and smart enough but the cheesecake soft porn shots are distracting because it calculated...and I'm a guy. I watched the show the other day and she did the lean over cleavage shot while explaining something and I honestly kept thinking, do I look at the cleavage or listen to her talk. Please don't confuse me because I can only deal with one sensory imput at once...and there's other channels for that. Seriously, she knows and likes food enough that you don't need that. Non-intentional, no prob...intentional = pandering, nada. I think she's 75%-85% there for the food.
I wouldn't want to eat most of what Paula Deen makes, but I sure would love to hang out with her on a big ol' verandah.
I'm still trying to figure out exactly what it is about Ina Garten's laugh that creeps me out.
I know lots of people here love Alton Brown. Maybe it's because I'm not American, and don't live in America but I absolutely cannot stand the man. There is something so smug and irritating about him.
I love Julia. I still have the madeline tins I bought over 30 years ago when I got Masterting the Art of French Cooking.
Nigella is an erudite goddess.
I like the early Emeril, when it was just him in a kitchen and chatting like you were sitting right there.
The Two Fat Ladies - brilliant and earthy, able to walk into any kitchen and produce a feast.
There's something smarmy about Michael Chiarello. And that busines with the 'grey salt' really irritates me.
I grew up very near Paula's home, and her food is very typical of traditional southern cooking and 60's and 70's church cook book type food, very common. I love watching her because she reminds me of home. I don't understand how folks can say her food has too much fat in it and not say the same about the 2 fat ladies. Love their show as well, but would never make any of their food! Paula's traditional southern recipes are very good for a once in a while treat.
You know I've noticed that lauph Ina has too. It's always at then end when she's doing the actual entertaining and interacting with her guests. It always strikes me as kind of an insecure habbit. It does kind of creep me out. The rest of the show I usually pretty much enjoy.
Rachel Ray seems to just lauph at the end of every second or third sentance which I find extremely anoying and just over the top in the bubbly department.
I agree, Paula Deen can make me lemonade anytime (served on the Vernada's with the dogs) but I will bring my own food. I do have to say her recipies are different from the rest. And thank you for mentioning the grey salt!
Lidia's hair bothers me as well. But I am sure there is a medical reason so I tell myself to stop being ridiculous. But the reason I dont watch that show much is that whenever her daughter cooks with her she yells at her and it makes me uncomfortable.
Best: I just plain can't find anything that measures up to ol' Justin Wilson. "c'mere, crabs. They're wondermous, I guar-awn-tee!"
There's a Cajun woman cook on the RFD channel, Lucy something. She often has her granddaughter there helping. She's pretty interesting to watch; looks like home cooking. She talks about how her mama used to cook--including cutting up onions in her hand b/c she didn't have a cutting board.
I don't mind Rachael Ray; there's been times I've watched her show and made what she was making for supper. (Could have something to do with the fact that she's on at 5:00, right before suppertime, when I'm getting hungry.
The absolute worst ones as far as I'm concerned are that Giada and the Take Home Chef guy. My dad told me he likes to watch Giada; I see why he likes it (he's not a cook), but I'm just plain distracted by that big giant head and the gratuitous "hey-look-here-are-my-boobs" shots. And the take-home chef is, I'm sorry, just boring.
Funny about Justin Wilson- I read a chapter about him in a book devoted to Cajun Humor by a professor of English at LSU. Turns out the Cajuns HATED him with a passion. He built his reputation as a humorist by telling what used to be known as Polish Jokes - the point of these being how stupid the subjects were - on the Cajuns. That and his fractured grammer and mispronumciation was a complete put-on.
He was only HALF Cajun, to rub it in, and he held advanced degrees in Engineering. He had completed a career as an Industrial Engineer, most of it up North.
As a son of the south I can say that the accent is real, but she seems to overplay it quite often to fit the role FN has created for her. When she first started on FN she reminded me a great deal of my own grandmother, in both mannerisms and cooking style. I find her current over-the-top persona to just be embarrassing.
Alternate titles for FN shows:
Guys Big Bites: Recipes that were rejected by Applebees
Giada's Big Weekend: Toothy Cleavage Lady
Paula Dean's Home Cookin': The Half Hour Heart Attack
30 Minute Meals: How to Butcher the English Language while Making a Meal That is Indeible
The Hearty Boys: Shakin' All Over
Semi-Homemade: My Trophy Wife Can't Cook
You know what I used to love (and forgot about on my previous post) - Two Hot Tamales! I loved that show and learned a lot.
Best in my opinion:
Any of the Bobby Flay shows. - I like to grill, enough said. He is a great cook in my opinion, and one of my favorite personalities on the Food Network
Alton Brown's show - entertaining, and informational
Anything with Paula Dean - love her recipies, especially love that she uses butter, and all the things some might not think are "good for you.." not all of us need to watch our weight, there are too many "healthy diet" shows on, its good to have one that doesnt care about what is p.c. in regards to diet.
The Hardy Boys - If I see these two clowns on, the tv gets switched to another channel, or off immediately
Emeril Live - his 20 mins of fame has well expired
I think Ina's laughter is creepy because...well, it make her seem like she's just one or two short sidesteps away from a full on manic episode. But what really creeps me out about her is that slurpy little noise she makes: "Oh, this looks (sluuuuurp) so good." I do love how much she and Geoffrey obviously adore one another, however; and all of her friends adore her, too. So she must be more bearable in real life.
Meaning no disrespect, I think your question should have been specific to "classic" chefs vs. "new/modern" chefs.
Julia Child, Jacques Pepin, even Rick Bayless deliver content, entertainment and make you feel good about food, confident about acquiring new skills and generally excited about cooking ("I can do it!).
I get the impression that folks like RR, Emeril, Giada and Ina are selling a product, further inflating their egos and not really teaching like the "classic" chefs do.
Really cannot stand RR, Sandra Lee, Emeril Live (although, as mentioned, Essence is OK). Maybe its a personality thing.
Good Eats is destined to be a classic (as described above) because Alton Brown gets one excited about cooking and food, inspires confidence, really entertains and delivers a whole bunch of knowledge.
Tyler Florence is the same, except I don't really like his "co-host" on How to Boil Water, she detracts from the show.
There was a PBS show, with two guys who are uncle and nephew (?). They made four course meals in the italian style and were very non-assuming, very entertaining and had great recipes. Miss that show.
I'm in Canada, and a lot of my favourite shows aren't on all year, or haven't been on in a while.
Jamie oliver (kind of embarrassed to admit the original naked chef is largely responsible for my deeper interest in food)
Rob Feenie (not on anymore?)
Iron Chef (Japan)
Bourdain (admittedly sometimes the ego gets in the way, but all in all I like all his shows, even when they seem to lean more on the travel side than the food side.)
Tyler Florance (I don't think he's on in Canada anymore)
Curtis Stone and Ben O'Donoghue, (the original Surfing the Menu) I had a roommate that calls it meat-head cooking, but I liked it. Curtis Stone's new show is hard to watch; it's such a blatant housewife fulfillment fantasy.
Alton Brown. He used to bother me but now I find myself always watching when I catch it.
Dave Lieberman hasn't been on here for long but I've already found myself using recipes.
Rachel Ray - Is it possible for her to get descent service anywhere anymore? I always feared she would come to Calgary and desecrate some place that I love to eat with her poor tipping and fat head.
Ina Garten - Is there anything she won't add a cup of mayo to? And I doubt Jeffrey wants the world to know that Chicago is his favourite movie any more than the world does.
Giada - Every time I watch this I am distracted by her head, teeth etc.. I've rarely noticed what she's cooking.
I should support the hometown boy but Kevin Brauch just irritates me to know end. I one ran into him in a brewpub here and wanted to smack him. He has horrible taste in beer for a guy who drinks it professionally.
Iron Chef America - just for the entertainment value, I'm usually exhausted by the end of the show, trying to keep track of what's going on. Love it when Jeffrey Steingarten and/or Ted Allen are judges.
Giada - aside from the big head / big cleavage issue, she does seem to know her stuff. I've made a few of her recipes and they have come out great.
America's Test Kitchen - Chris doesn't bother me and I do learn quite a bit from Julia and Bridget.
Sugar Rush on FN. It was a guy who did nothing but make fancy sugary desserts and visit little bake shops. Can't think of his name.
I can't warm up to Ellie Kreiger at all.
I liked Martin Yan when he cooked, when he started spending more time traveling and watching other people cook, I lost interest.
Jacques Pepin: what a technician.
America's Test Kitchen: sometimes the geekie approach to cooking kind of bothers me but you do get some useful information.
Iron Chef: good entertainment, especially when Mario is on.
Molto Mario: The guy is just so interesting to watch, it's not really my type of food but still.
Lydia: cooking without a safety net, no BS, I like that.
Roughly 80% of what's on the food network. I find the food Ina and Paula prepare to be so unhealthy (ingredients, portions, recipes). Sometimes it's just gross. And the fact that Ina makes a lot of reference to French cooking bothers me a lot.
At the bottom of the barrel, you find people like RR, the hardy boys (absolutely annoying), the spiky hair guy (useless), the fake food trophy wife (her food is cancer in the making).
They also have bad stuff on PBS: Daisy, Yan and the most annoying of all Nick Stellino.
Daisy is always adding Pork into something. Is it me or does she look like Ellie Kreiger? Ellie I can quite put my finger on but something is off about her... I have to do some thinking about that one...
the name escapes me - where they go everywhere and stuff thier faces. They are dull. They belong in the background with the hounds.
Lastly - What is the name of the show - with the creepy guy that also travels around and tastes stuff and does his best to act that everything he is eating is the zentith of man (looks to be in his late 30/40s). This guy did a show in a nearby school where I used to live (his kid went there) he visited the the cooking class at the school for a segment and spent the whole time hitting on the teachers. To the point that he scared them. So Classy!
By far the worst I've ever seen, hands down, no question is Low Carb and Lovin' It. Even for the FN it is a bad show. There is nothing good. Bad production, bad technique, horrible food, poor presentation. George Stella the host is about as interesting as cup of luke warm water. He is a man with a seemingly abnormal fondness for cauliflower.AVOID THIS SHOW AT ALL COSTS!!!!!!!!
What's funny about LC&LI is that it's clear that the producers told him to "be more energetic!" after the first few shows/first season. The first episodes had a more relaxed "Nigella Lawson" look and feel. Except George didn't have Nigella's captivating personality, so watching it felt like eating boiled chicken breast (no bread!)
The later episodes, he's jumping around like he's got low-carb ants in the pants.
LIKES: Ina Garten, even with her nervous laugh
Lidia B., even though she has thin hair
Tyler Florence, great personality & looks
Nigella, love her new show, she's great
DISLIKES: Rachael Ray, food looks like slop mostly
Sandra Lee, OMG, what a nightmare of a show
Guy Fieri, can't get past the tacky jewelry
Emeril, retire already
SoSo: Bobby Flay, not as arrogant as he used to be
Alton Brown, quirky, funny personality
Ellie Krieger, love healthy cooking shows
BEST ALL TIME SHOW & CHEF: Julia Child - I miss her
Likes: Alton Brown, Nigella, Ina, Essense of Emeril, Julia, Lydia, America's Test kitchen (hate chris but i get good info)
Justin wilson, Galloping Gourmet, Anthony Bourdain, Michael Chiarello
Hate: Sandra Lee, that show with Robin Skeletor, Tasty Travels, Guy Tater Tot Fieri
meh: Paula Deen, Rachael Ray, Giada, Molto Mario, Bobby Flay
What a topic, all subjective of course.
Disgusting: Sandra lee..uncanny talent for stating the obvious
Giadia knows how to cook, but that claevage keeps getting in the way
Ina Garten knows how to cook, if I cooked like her I would weigh about the same
Emeril, Alton Brown I'll watch if he's on
Liked Molto Mario, is he still on
Jeff Smith; still have 3 of his cookbooks and enjoyed his evolutionary cooking show, too bad about his problem...
Just about worthless for learning anything and completely phony:Iron Chef
Terrific:Jaques Pepin, Julia...what can you say, the PBS documentary on Julia was terrific
Rachel Ray: I must say I enjoy her, she knows food, knows how to cook, cute, her curves are real, did I say cute after 2 beers, too bad she is married, but i am too, doubt if we could have made it... always arguing about who cooks, but for a weekend, maybe....well her laugh is kind of scary, my daughter despises her...EVOO, ugh, not real crazy about the $40 /day
might post a few more later
Kylie Kwong, I don't see many of her shows, but they are wonderful, her food looks delicious. She made "jelly cakes" her mom's recipe and I didn't write it down quick enough, would love to have it.
Jamie Oliver, I adore him he is so quick and sweet. Love his food too, he is bold and to the point.
I can do without RR, I am just saturated with her shows, too much too phoney, and she is getting louder and louder and acting like Oprah. I like Oprah, ones enough.
Jacque Pepin now that his daughter isn't on the show with him she was not a good addition.
And Bobby Flay he's okay too.
re: chef chicklet
Pepins "Cooking with Claudine" was a riot, because the girl could not boil water to save her life (oh, the irony!) and I always picked up some sort of underlying tension between father and daughter...Pepin was always chastizing her (in a nice way, but chastizing nonetheless!)....she always looked happiest when they were about to eat, toasting with wine...when the ordeal was over...and Pepin would look relieved that his daughter didn't cut her fingers off...
Sorry, this is longer than I thought it would be.
Good Eats – Alton Brown (lots of good, sound, solid, simple cooking techniques)
Food 911 and Tyler’s Ultimate – Tyler Florence (good techniques, plus yummy food cooked by yummy chef)
Nigella Lawson (Recipes a little iffy, but it’s great watching her carelessly and lovingly throw meals together.)
America’s Test Kitchen – Christopher Kimball and crew (Great recipes. Always something to learn on this show.)
Lydia Bastianich (Have learned great techniques watching her.)
Jacques Pepin (the show without his whiny daughter)
Kathleen Daelemans (Show had good advice for real people trying to lose weight. Too bad Food TV dropped her and replaced her with Ellie Boring-Whats-Her-Face.)
Jeff Smith aka Frugal Gourmet (Yes, I know about the scandal, but I learned a lot about cooking from his show and his cookbooks years ago.)
Two Fat Ladies (What’s not to like with these two continually flinging a pound or so of butter into anything they cook? I miss them.)
Anthony Bourdain (Clearly much happier on the Travel Channel.)
Emeril Live (Actually my contempt is more for the Pavlov dog-filled audience. When he says “Gahlic!,” audience instantly responds with wild cheers and applause. Adding any type of booze to something? Same thing. Ugh. Seeing a few hundred people simultaneously lose their dignity is sad. Does he really need to be on every night at 8 p.m.???)
Ina Garten (As others have said here, “smug” and let me add “white-bread.” BORing.)
Semi-Homemade with Sandra Lee (Note to Sandra Lee’s handlers: Tell the woman frappé is pronounced “fra-PAY” not “fraPP”!! The fact that she passes ignorance like that on to thousands of American viewers, most of whom won’t know any better, makes me want to scream.)
Rachel Ray (Goofy, loud, abrasive voice, flip-top head, too many durn SHOWS – ‘nuff said)
Michael Chiarello (The quintessential smug Napa Valley wine snob and Ina Garten’s West Coast counterpart. *Too bad you people out there in TV land aren’t as wonderful and sophisticated as we are here in Northern California.* bleh)
Nick Stellino (Thinks he’s pretty amazing. Why?)
Among the absolute all-time worst shows: Low Carb and Lovin’ It with George Stella and Calorie Commando with Juan-Carlos Cruz. Both seriously too painful to watch.
Does anyone remember a show on Food TV several years ago with two women who were trying to cook light easy meals and be funny at the same time?? I think one woman was a comedienne. It was so horrible I had mostly wiped it out of my brain -- except for a close-up of their behinds. I think I’m scarred for life.
re: pisang goreng
Oh, I'm well aware of the French pronunciation. And I don't even know what concoction Sandra Lee is calling a "frap," so she may not even be using the non-standard correctly. Just pointing out that what the rest of the country calls a "milkshake," we in Massachusetts call a "frap." Spelled frappe with no accent on the final e, if that helps your sense of propriety ;-)
re: pisang goreng
"Semi-Homemade with Sandra Lee (Note to Sandra Lee’s handlers: Tell the woman frappé is pronounced “fra-PAY” not “fraPP”!! The fact that she passes ignorance like that on to thousands of American viewers, most of whom won’t know any better, makes me want to scream.)"
First, they need to tell her that it's pronounced ESpresso, not EXpresso. I've heard her pronounce it EXpresso on at least four different shows. And the fact that she used "gargonzola" cheese this week just made me roll my eyes.
You should at least know how to properly pronounce the ingredients you are using if you have a show on television.
Does anyone remember the Bobby flay show that used to be on, "Grillin' and Chillin" where his counterpart was some rube? It was funny. I still remember an exchange they had about how you shouldn't touch certain parts of your body after chopping jalapenos.....
All the second fiddles on How to Boil Water are distracting, annoying, and an insult to the female race! But, I guess they are supposed to be. Is there some special graveyard for former HTBW personalities? What happens to them?
Alton has some great info. HIs program on making chocolate chip cookies, either soft, chewy, crispy, etc. Was fascinating! How just a slight difference in technique and ingredients changes the finished product. I wish I had taped that one.
I can't even stand the sound of Rachel Ray's voice anymore. Not only is she extremely phony and toxically perky, she cheats. I've seen her on her "30 Minute Meals" show where she puts a giant pot of room temperature water on the stove, cut to a one-minute commercial, and end up with a violently boiling pot of water. Unless her stove is something like a jet engine, I'm not convinced. This gives the actual cook a complex, like they aren't as good of a cook as she is because they can't seem to get it done in the 30-minute timeframe. And she must be doing the network execs, because she's starting to spread all over the dial. Yuck!
Alton Brown is my favorite because he plunges the depths of food science like the Mr. Wizard of cookery. If you've had trouble getting something to turn out like it's supposed to, and he does a show about it, chances are your problem is solved.
The subject of troubled cooking brings to mind "Food 911" or specifically Tyler Florence. I don't know if it's his fault or some staffer's, but the version of the recipes he cooks on the Food Network website are sometimes different than what he actually cooks, sometimes with disastrous results. I followed one of his apple pie recipes to the letter. It was the most disgusting tasting thing ever. I watched the show again, and he actually prepared the dish differently on screen than what the recipe said. You can't rely on shows like that.
re: Tail Section
I've never felt any need to judge Rachael Ray's show by whether or not I can reproduce her meal in 30 minutes--because I can't. I'm a very meditative cook and it always takes me considerably longer than anyone else to finish things. So if Rachael finishes something in 30 minutes--really or just through the miracle of television--I figure I'm doing good if I finish it in 45 minutes to an hour.
I really miss the cooking shows that used to be on PBS. They had such good programs - of course no one could ever top Julia - but the focus was on teaching and education. I hate to think that the Food Network has put the screws to PBS in that regard - now they hardly have any cooking shows - and they could probably do with less of Joanne Weir (yech!).
Anyway, one of my favorites was Cooking at the Academy - it was filmed either at the CIA in Rhinebeck NY or at the CIA campus in Napa at the Danny Kaye theater - and it was CIA chefs cooking for students. It was great!
PBS - please bring back more cooking shows!
re: Cowgirl in the Sand
Cooking at the Academy was AWESOME! If ever anyone had an inkling to be a chef, this show would clinch it! Got a lot of good info from that show, seems kinda like a predecessor to America's Test Kitchen, only in large scale. You are so right about PBS getting it from FN. I wish FN would put the quality into their shows that PBS did theirs. Sad thing, commercialism.
re: Cowgirl in the Sand
I am under the impression that it was in California but I don't remember why.
And yes, I learned a boat load of practical techniques from "Cooking At The Academy". Among my favorite was how to quickly break an head of garlic into individual cloves: put it in the middle of a kitchen towel, gather up the corners and swing and whack it hard against a hard surface (like swinging a blackjack, or so I've heard :) ).
First the worst:
Only watch the last few minutes of Sandra Lee for the foofie cocktail, Kraft magazine does her cuisine better.
Rachel Ray has sold her soul, or cloned herself.
Flay burns everything and ditches his co-hosts.
Iron Chef, when Flay wins
Taste of America on the Travel Channel, he acts like a kid you have to coax to eat, he's bored, no spirit of adventure.
Top Five - sez who?
F-Word - boring
Duff and this exploding cake business his dad financed. Oh big woo, you gotta deliver an over-priced cake in a dusty van.
Caprial bossing her husband around is very annoying
Now for the best, some are off the air:
Julia Child anytime. On a Master Chefs episode you can see a very youthful Emeril. My favorite is Baking With Julia. I highly recommend the companion book. My inspiration.
Cooking Showdown - a Japanese show with English subtitles shown on Channel 18 here in Los Angeles. The best part is the field trip to see where and how the actual food item is produced.
Food 911 - hunky chef guy cooking in my kitchen, oh yeah
Take Home Chef - ditto
Ham on the Street - not so hunky but still very cute
Iron Chef - the original with subtitles
Iron Chef America - with Ted Allen or Joel from the Soup on E!
Lidia Bastianich - my other hero, anytime
Diary of a Foodie - lots of info
Baking Magic - with Rose Levy Beranbaum
Justin Wilson - his food looks darn good, full Cajun or not
Bittman Takes On - what a riot, the one with Michel Richard is the best
Taste with David Rosengarten - FoodTV should air his re-runs
Let's Eat Out - local PBS show on Channel 24 KVCR
No Reservations - Bourdain has mellowed along the journeys
Two Fat Ladies - I miss them
Kitchen Nightmares - the only Ramsay show I like
Fairway Gourmet - a French chef who loves to golf
Melting Pot - lots of good chefs were featured
I thought this would be really schmaltzy, what with bowling frozen turkeys, etc. But the host has a pretty dry sense of humor, making him completely different from your average FN host. And the stuff he makes actually seems pretty tasty and grounded in some sort of authenticity. (Like making his mom's special cheese or feeding Venezuelan baseball players hot dogs topped with crushed potato chips because that's how they serve them there and that's where he grew up.)
On the other end of the originality spectrum, I just watched the Hungry Detective because he was in New York. Ok, I like the Shake Shack and Dinosaur BBQ just fine too, but even in New York, the guy's eating barbecue with mac'n cheese and burgers? The show's perfectly pleasant, I guess, but I feel like whenever I catch a glimpse of him, he's pretty much eating the same big old platter of food.
Appreciate the honest feedback, I am a meat and potatoes kinda guy...so I tend to go that route...the fairway market in the NYC episode was fantastic, and for 29 bucks w a view...cant be beat! We try to find places that fit most people budget and tastes, as far as ethnic places go....later on in the shooting we got to check some out, like Viet in Houston and Bangladeshi in Atlanta...a few others...I love "dives" but sometimes...they really dont look good on camera...as far as BBQ goes...I was really skeptical of Dinosaur at first being its in NYC...but that guy knows what he is doing, it was better than many of the southern places we went to during the filming season...
The Hungry Detective went to The Shake Shack? The one in Madison Square Park in the center of Manhattan? The trendy place with absolutely huge lines? Run by a famous restaurateur? The place that usually tops most lists about where to get a good burger?...
Isn’t the whole point of the show about a guy ‘tracking down' good places off the beaten path?
Yea, but I have to say, its one of the best burgers around...and unless you live in NYC or that section of it, you dont know what the heck shake shack is...I sure as hell didnt...we liked the "middle of the park" thing and were choosing between the shack and another place....I was not into it until I had a burger...the quality speaks for itself...and thats what sold me...although the burger at B/R old Fashion here in L.A that I tool Alton to in Feasting on Asphalt still ranks #1
re: la vida dulce
Cooking Showdown! Yes yes yes!!! Awesome show! Very educational and entertaining, and it's neat how they compare two similar dishes. The cheesy b-list celebs are funny too. Wish more people watched this, but then again, if that happened it might go the way of the original Iron Chef and end up as a bastardized watered down version on Food Network.
Giada anyone? Yes her head looks big but that's b/c her body is so small. But I love Everyday Italian - Her recipes are easy to replicate and actually work plus I like to kid myself that they cant be that unhealthy as she is soooo tiny! She's very pleasant to watch.
Ina Garten is my ultimate fave - very reliable, easy and elegant dishes! I like the fact that her food are basically 'familiar' dishes that are just a bit fancier. Plus it's so cute the way she tries to impress Jeffrey with her cooking. She's def. a safe resource to turn to when entertaining . . .hmmm, I also enjoy watching Lidia Bastianach (sp??) sometimes, but her dishes look a bit too rich - lots and lots of butter!
And yes I agree that rachel ray's voice is migraine inducing and sandra lee is x-tremely annoying. Sandra is a stepford wife with her corny tablescapes. really, get a life!
Why is everyone so nasty to rachel ray? I don't think it's her choice that she's over exposed. Food Tv reruns everything to death. I enjoy watching her shows. Would any of you have said "no" to any of the opportunites that have come her way. I doubt it.
One thing that really BUGS me about all food shows in general is "wish you could smell this".
Where do I start?
RR is repetitive.
Her excessive hand-gesturing is out of control.
EVOO, Yum-O and Delish! (enough said)
She does NOT have a "cute" personality, it's annoying and her accent is like nails on a chalkboard.
HER FACE IS ON EVERYTHING AT THE GROCERY STORE!
She doesn't actually know what she's doing. (She herself has admitted it in multiple interviews.) Read reviews of her recipes on FN.com and see just how many of her so-called 30-minute meals have gone awry in real time.
FN has for some unknown reason given her multiple shows besides the one that she might have actually had *some* talent for (30MM) - there are so many other talented, qualified and more entertaining personalities that they could have gotten for these shows!
She's cheap - on her $40 a Day show, servers are lucky to get a 10% tip. As a former server myself, I find this highly insulting.
I'd take Ina's nervous laugh over RR's incessant, stupid giggling anytime.
Her 30MM show embodies everything that FN is moving towards - the fact that most viewers don't really want to know how to cook, they want to spend the entire day on their asses watching Rachael Ray and learning shortcuts, and then spend only 30 min. on dinner.
Chefwannab hit on some very valid points. If I may add my 2 cents:
Rachael Ray is nasty and unsanitary. She scratches her head on her show, does not pull her hair back when preparing food, NEVER washes her hands after shaking hands with audience and before preparing food, and rubs her butt at the beginning of each episode (talk show).
She has a horrid laugh that is so annoying. She morphs words together to form stupid, elementary words that we are supposed to find amusing (ex: "spoonula"). Not so, RR. She is repititious, refers to her family too damned much, and tries to convince us that EVERYTHING she uses to "cook" with ( I use that term loosely) can be found at "any old grocery store"). Again, not so.
Her recipes are supposed to be "figure friendly," yet she never gives a calorie count at the end of her sessions.
Her measuring of ingredients is NOT universal. ("a palmful," "eyeball it" , you get the idea). How would a blind amputee cook with these directions? They are at a disadvantage as it is!
I am sick an tired of her referring to her lineage being "1/2 cajun, 1/2 Italian." Yet, she NEVER cooks true cajun cuisine. Wonder why? Because she would be called on the mat by us southerners for fraud!
When interviewing her celebrity guests, she interrupts them and makes light of serious topics. So juvenile!
Get the picture? Perhaps watch a few episodes of her talk show and you will see and hear exactly what we have enlightened you about.
Otherwise, you merely asked a generic question.
Also if you pay attention to her family stories, you will find lots of inconsistencies. Over the years her father has gone from being Greek, to Italian, to Cajun, etc.
Last year FN aired four or so of her Thanksgiving episodes back to back and they were obviously filmed during different years. One year the Italian style turkey breast is what she claimed they ate every year at Thanksgiving. Next episode, next year, she claimed the rosemary roasted whole turkey was their family tradition. You get the point.
Bottom line, she is deceptive and unreliable.
Yeah, what is with the defrosting spinach while still in the box? That just turned me way off.
The only decent thing is that she is a short woman of relatively normal US size- not a scary skinny mini.
I like french food- Julia did put some very high calorie stuff in her dishes. But she had a great philosophy about eating well and enjoying food- in moderation. Not the crazy super-sized stuff that most of us 'mericans like to do.
Rachel Ray and Sandra Lee are very middle america. Most between the states of New York and California can relate to them. Most need Sandra Lee to tell them how to use the horrid things they purchase at big supermarkets and keep in their pantries and most need Rachel Ray to help them make quick family meals that aren't HOT DISH (i lived in minnesota for a couple of years) with tater tots on top every night.
I can't watch either, though I do find myself looking up Rachel's recipes on the food network website.
Call me an obnoxious new yorker, but I love Ina. And Nigella. Even though she's british.
This post cracks me up, in part just because it echos so many thoughts I've had as well:
- What's up with Giada's head? (And, yes, quite a pair for such a small frame too).
- Shouldn't Sandra Lee's show be called "Not Really Cooking"?
- Aren't you afraid Ina Garten is going to eat her husband one day?
- Why does Bobby Flay seem like such a prick? The throwdown show is at least a little more humanizing.
- When exactly did TV producers go in full-bore on the "food porn" analogy by borrowing production techniques from high-end blue movies (gauzy lens, slow-mo, second camera close-ups, the music...)
- Why does Rachel Ray have a show (shows, actually)? When did her waist disappear and why does she now sound like a barking seal?
- My wife got me started on Nigella - as she put it, "She talks dirty about food." And indeed, her descriptions do often sound like a bawdy romance novel. I love it.
- Why does the Hungry Detective guy seem to eat BBQ every single place he goes? ("I'm here in the Adirondacks, and I found this great BBQ place!")
- Why aren't there more Kylie Kwong shows? (every time it's on they're showing the same episode with pickled bamboo)
Bourdain - I actually think his first series was the best, he's actually become nicer and more obsequious in the new shows on Travel, but I still like them more than just about any other food-related program.
Iron Chef - prefer original, but the Iron Chef America is pretty good too. Batali in particular amazes me with what he's able to pull off.
F-Word - actually very hit and miss even within an episode but there can be some great moments. I especially like the food critic who's often a guest. Ramsay's shtick can get old. Particularly amusing that he does a little "throwdown" every week with a cook-off with an amateur - and loses as often as not.
Kylie Kwong - need new ones.
Road Tasted - OK, not actually a cooking show, but the Deen boys are pretty charming.
Molto Mario - I record these when they're on during the day and watch later - the focus on serious regional Italian is educational and dishes often sound great. Also a curious selection of guests, sometimes celebs but never identified as such (one episode, he says "We're here with Joe, Mary, and Maggie" - I'm making up the first 2 names - and after 10 minutes I realize that Maggie is Maggie Gyllenhaal).
Nuff's been said, I won't be negative!
I could say cause BBQ is just so darn good,we did hit a lot of BBQ places...but thats cause BBQ is such a big piece of America as far as food goes....I also eat a lot of Lobster....but in many different forms....funny thing, we actually "didnt" go to BBQ in DC and did it on camera...as in, nah I am not up for BBQ now....little inside bit...
OK, I'll play.
I love Nigella. Always have. Her lush, Raphaelite beauty draws you in, but her intelligence keeps you there. She knows she's not a trained chef; her goal is to teach you how to feed yourself and your loved ones well. She lets you know when she's whipping up something quick or when it's time-consuming but satisfying both in the preparation and the consumption. She camps it up as only an Englishwoman can (as her late husband noted, she's a gay man in a woman's body). What can I say? Hubba-hubba.
I used to think Giada was ripping off Nigella-- and I still do. But I've grown to love her as well. Her recipes are easy and reflect vernacular Italian cooking, her technique is good (that Cordon Bleu training!) and her enthusiasm infectious (I don't find it cloying-- she reminds me of the bubbly, pixie-ish Italian girls I studied with in my college days). She's pretty and telegenic, sure, but the whole cooking package transcends the cleavage.
I love Kylie Kwong-- the great food! That wild Aussie accent! Her hilarious mother nagging her about her extravagant kitchen tools in the same Aussie accent!
Anyone here like License to Grill? I actually enjoy that one as well (hey, I'm on my grill at least once a week-- in summer, four to five times a week).
Lidia Bastianich and Ming Tsai on PBS-- great shows.
Anything with Julia Child is wonderful.
I miss Sara Moulton. The Cooking Live show was fascinating to watch, and she even took calls while she did it! Love her.
I do NOT mind Rachael Ray at all, although her voice does sound like a belt sander on a rough oak floor. She's overexposed, absolutely. But if her 30-minute Meal schtick gets people off their fat asses, trying to cook something she does (and maybe gaining confidence in the kitchen in the process), I'm fine with that.
I frickin' hate Sandra Lee.
Actually, the moment I fell for Giada de Laurentiis was in her special show on Italy when, in Venice, she spotted a poster with her late grandmother pictured (actress Silvana Mangano) and asks a passer-by to take a picture ("Può prendere una foto?"). It was a bit silly and touristy, then she says gently, "Ciao, Nonna" with genuine affection as she goes. It was really quite sweet.
I have to give Rachael some credit, as well. Although I personally find her kind of annoying and I don't watch her show(s), I think that she really relates well to young audiences who are in danger of never cooking/only eating convenience foods. I grew up in a house that taught me to appreciate food, but most of the people I went to college with didn't.
I've never been able to maek it past two minutes of Giada, all the soft focus lense, crazy camera angles, etc. and the food seemed, well, really basic. I think its jsut for the guys to ogle at someone. And I've tried and tried to watch License to grill, but the camera work drives me crazy!! I like the host, and the recipes sound god, but I get a headache from the film school tricks
Nigella is a saint. This is probably the saddest thing. But when her husband lost his tongue to cancer - he could only make murmuring sounds and Nigella learned to understand what John was saying - they developed thier own language. I also love her because she doesnt hide her children from us (the way that the famous do) and because she didn't let sadness kill her. And through all that she did her show that first appeared on the style network and in England.
WOW, what is the back story on this? Did she lose her husband recently? She seems great. How long has she been doing cooking shows?
John Diamond was a journalist/broadcaster - you can find tons of stuff about him out there on BBC - he was pretty famous - he died in 2001 from throat and tongue Cancer - her mother and sister died of throat and oral Cancer as well. They had two kids - whom you will see on the show from time to time. Her father was Nigel Lawson member of Parliamant. I guess she was a writer for a long time, mostly food - which is how she got into TV. I think she has been doing this for about 7 years (TV coookbooks that is)- she wrote/writes a column for the new york times every thursday I think. She remarried one of the Saatchi's recently. As you can read she is a favorite of mine. She's tough.
Lidia and Jacques are the strongest technique-balanced-with-homecooking-sense on the market these days. They have also avoided the travel-lifestyle crap that infests most food and house programming these days (and intentionally caters to upper middle class and lower upper class demographics and wannabes). I hate that crap.
ATK is usually worth watching. I don't find the shtick annoying in the least, but I can understand that others would. The two main chefs are gems who should have their own show.
Daisy is quite good and underappreciated.
I miss Two Fat Ladies.
I miss the older B&W French Chef episodes; I wish those were rerun. (Just like the original Crockett's Victory Garden, episodes that are perennially interesting.)
I miss Sara Moulton. There is virtually nothing on the Food Network worth watching anymore except some Good Eats episodes. It's been downhill since David Rosengarten's departure: the network is clearly in an anti-technique tailspin. Horrible.
Ciao Italia features a local person (I am in Boston) who uses a local market of mine for props. Her technique runs unevenly, but when she's good she's good. She's the only person whose travel dimension at least sometimes is translated in a way that a home cook in the US might use for profit. But only sometimes. Normally, when there's travel on a food show, it's filler that's cheating time that could be used for cooking instruction.
Ina Garten, like Martha, is really a caterer. Catering is really a different kind of cooking, built around indestructible choices, as it were. Ina is good at what she does as the anti-Martha, as it were. The two personalities occupy two sides of a specific niche. Michael Chiarello used to be better but has gotten too self-absorbed in creating an atmosphere around his personality; very bad.
I thought Rachel Ray's growth was correlated to interrogation techniques being developed at Guantanamo Bay. She was preceded by Emeril in this.
re: Karl S
I completely agree that one of the worst shows is "This Food, That Wine"! My husband didn't believe me when I told him that they probably hired a porn director to film the show. But he too thinks it's ridiculous now.
Other hated shows:
Anything Rachel Ray. Her voice is so annoying and her ideas suck. I could go dumpster diving and make something better than what she comes up with.
Sugar. Who is that host and why is she sooooooooooo boring? She's also on that show Kitchen Equipped. Very flat personality and awkard interviewer.
Can't stand Bobby Flay. Ever since that incident on the original Iron Chef where he jumped up on the cutting board like an obnoxious prick, he's been on my blacklist. Plus a recent competition in Iron Chef America (turkey battle) was so uninspiring. No originality whatsoever.
Shows I absolutely love:
Good Eats w/ Alton Brown. He kind of looks like the Phantom of the Opera but he knows his stuff. I learned how to butterfly chicken from his show.
Also, Jamie Oliver Great Italian Escape. It's fun to live vicariously through his adventures.
And of course, the Japanese Iron Chef. Favorite battle was foie gras and lobster tie-breaker between Sakai and Chenichi!
Here's my 2 cents from a Canadian perspective:
-- Absolute Worst --
This Food, That Wine
No cooking or wine value and horrifying close-ups of people's mouths while they are drinking wine.
Geeks destroying any hope of making something edible.
Licensed to Grill
He was my teacher at college, annoying in person and on tv.
-- Just Plain Bad --
Food Network Special Presentations
How can ALL of these possibly be so bad
Kevin is annoying and I'm not sure why
Christine Cushing Live
She used to be good and each new show sinks to deeper depths
-- Surprisingly Good --
Ricardo and Friends
Uses lots of local Quebec ingredients and seems to know what he is doing.
We all know Mark McEwan is a pr*ck, but it's fun to watch on tv.
The Family Restaurant
Entertaining, the real deal about restaurants.
Return to Tuscany
I think this is BBC material, which explains why it is good.
-- Consistently Good and Great --
Made to Order
Jacques, Julia, Lydia
and of course The Two Fat Ladies
BTW - Please keep your Sandra Lee, we don't want her in Canada, we are already a bit afraid of your Paula Deen.
Historically, no one beats Julia, of course.
I don't catch it often, but when Felidia Bastianich is on, I revel in her wonderful mix of correctness and earthiness. I've learned a lot watching her prepare meals.
Nigella Lawson is great for her mix of style and contemporary dishes. Who wouldn't love to be a guest at the casual dinner parties at the end of her shows.
I remember seeing some of Martha Stewart's specials a good while ago, maybe ten years ago, and being incredibly impressed at her abilities. I find her boring these days; I think she's turned the whole thing into a schtick, with the celebrities cooking by her side.
And I can't watch the Food Network chefs who transform cooking into pop entertainment, with lots of slapdash technique, shortcuts, and secret formulas for jazzing up the flavor (which are usually spice mixtures or sauces that they have branded and sell in the supermarket).
Ms. Bastianich's given name is Lidia, not Felidia. Her husband is Felice and their restaurant name is a combination of their given names. I'm surprised how many people who really like her have misspelled her name (Lidia, not Lydia) and how many people have misspelled Rachael (not Rachel) Ray's given name.
My likes: virtually anything on PBS. Five years ago I broke my ankle and spent virtually all day Saturday watching food shows on the local East Lansing PBS station in the morning and the Detroit PBS station in the afternoon. I particularly enjoyed Joan Nathan and Lidia in the morning and adored Nigel Slater in the afternoon. I think it was Real Food. The episode with Nigella Lawson (she made her pea and garlic soup, which is great) is food porn of the highest order.
I liked Julia Child's last show (the one with celebrity chefs visiting her in her kitchen) but it seemed a bit sad. The extent to which she was slowing down was obvious and I was surprised by how frequently she referred to a guest's technique as something she'd never encountered before.
I've only seen the Food Network from time to time Sunday afternoons at the Y. So much of it is irritating in one way or another, although I enjoyed Ina Garten and Michael Chiarello, partly because they were so cool and calm throughout the show and really projected an air of confidence.
I can't conceive preparing any of Sandra Lee's or Paula Deen's preparations (I had one of Deen's once and it was vile). I can understand the objections to Rachael Ray but I loved the one episode of 30 Minute Meals that I watched part of ... I thought it was hilarious that she mentioned having to complete a certain number of tasks before the next break. And a couple minutes into a new step of some dish, she realized she had left out an entire jar of something from the preceding step.
And I will always remember a Kitchen Makeover (?) show that Alton Brown orchestrated. The crewmember who was on screen the most (perhaps more than Brown, himself) is, I'm certain, a veteran of gay porn. He stole every scene he was in.
Restaurant Makeover is frightening for the displays of filthy "before" kitchens and the designers are so arrogant. I remember one episode where the interior decorator dismissed the room as being too 1980s and the restaurateur made a very pointed comment about the decorator's hideous 1980s hair. I'd love to see the outtakes from that episode.
I always seem to like public access cooking shows the best,they don't seem so fake and without money or the look of the show so much as a motivator its much more personable,with the freedom to make mistakes.I like watching humans more than robots.One on Puget Sound Access here in Washington theres an overweight vietnam vet that went too cooking school and now he teaches people how to cook healthy and shows footage of his progress in the gym and loosing weight.Theres another where 2 women cook vegitarian food and drink wine,then when the foods done they invite all there friends over to eat.By the time the foods ready to server there laughing and about to fall over lol
I think I've read all the posts here and I'm wondering one thing: why hasn't anyone mentioned Paula Deen? It seems that, at least in my circle of foodies, that it seems split down the middle, OK, maybe a little to the left. Would mention of her horrific calorie/fat bombs and played up accent warrant some sort of retaliation, or is she "authentic Southern." Thoughts from fellow chowhounders? Just be nice to me, I'm only the messenger.
I wondered about that too with her 'super southern' accent. She seems a bit too fake to tolerate. yes, she does cook up fat bombs - well, it's kinda obv. that she's not a little lady - but my take is that if you slather enough butter on ANYTHING, it will taste good! She's in the Sandra Lee/Rachel Ray category as far as i'm concerned.
Worst: all of the programs we have to watch on the Gourmet channel (Latin America) that come from Argentina.
Whoever mentioned "Taste with David Rosengarten" gets a big +1 from me. Can't they replace one of Rachael's 17 shows with reruns of this? He was entertainingly smarmy, with just enough self-effacing humor to make the haughtiness tolerable. But what was up with the stark white set? It looked like he was cooking in the Matrix.
America's Test Kitchen
Iron Chef America (a distant third)-nothing really to be learned, just an hour of good, distracting entertainment.
Anything Racheal Ray--and people are dead on about her being a low-class weasel when it comes to tipping.
Something called "Chef at Home" that I stumbled upon once. God, this preening ass was annoying. If I was in a kitchen with him for 5 minutes, I 'd be driven to make use of the toaster a'la Dennis Leary's character in Suicide Kings.
Anyting with Anrea Immer--while she may be knowledgable she has become a complete product placement shill to the mass production, factory wineries. All that knowledge and no soul!
Honorable mention to the food/wine guy on Queer Eye. Don't spend all your Gallo endorsement money in one place.
What about the "New Scandanavian Cooking" show that was on PBS a while ago? It was so great. I don't think I ever would want to cook (or eat) much of the food but the show was fascinating.
"Molto Mario" was incredible (is it still on?) That guy is such a wealth of information.
There was a great show, I think it was on Style Network, that starred an Asian/Australian woman chef. Very interesting recipes and great production value. Anyone remember the name of it and if it's still on?
And of course, anything with Jacques Pepin is superb, especially the Quick and Simple series.
And Good Eats has a lot of great information, but Alton can be pretty cheeseball at times. And sometimes it seems like he is making things really complicated. But I watch it every time it's on.
Emeril Cooking Live. By far the worst. It's not cooking. No disrespect to the man himself, but the format of the show teaches you zip. You could read a recipe and get the same info.
I saw Rob Rainford give a cooking demonstration. He was a real jerk. I couldn't believe it because I LOVE Licence To Grill and was really taken aback how different from his TV persona and unlikable I found him to be. I think it is a great show and really showcases the beauty and versatility of grilling in a whole new way. Great show, great food, but what a jerk. That's all I will say about him.
Also, I don't get why everyone hates Rachel Ray. Ok, obviously her personality is a big target for us all. That much I get. But if you get past that I think her food is very strong. Not haute cuisine, I'll agree to that, but so what. Her food is nice, comforting, and done well. Nothing wrong with that.
This thread is so fascinating to read. I agree with much.
I love Lidia (who cares about her hair?) because I always learn and am inspired to cook and she really knows her stuff. I always want to eat her food. I also like Good Eats and ATK. Good Eats can be corny but it has the feel of a local show and I like that. Also I love the mister science stuff he does. I love ATK because they're not snobs - the food is real and the technique stuff is great and they don't assume everybody is rich.
I always wanted to like the Two Fat Ladies show - I found them charming - but I never liked their food so much.
I loved the original Iron Chef. I think ICA is horrible. Everything I loved about Iron Chef has been sucked out of it. The FN lost me with that show. I literally don't turn it on anymore.
Bottom line for me is I want to LEARN something. The trouble I have with 90% of FN shows is that they talk down to their audience. Even Captain Kangaroo treated his audience with more respect. This is clearly not about choices that individual hosts are making - it's a systemic problem at the FN. Some executive at the FN clearly decided that we all need to be spoken to like children. Once upon a time, they had some interesting food shows with hosts who simply cooked the food and discussed the cuisines as they cooked. No yelling. No stupid abbreviations. I don't learn anything from what they have on now, and even if I did stand to learn something, I couldn't sit through the show long enough to learn it because the hosts condescend so horribly. What happened to those quiet little ethnic food shows the FN had a long time ago? I seem to remember a nice show with two Latin American cooks and I seem to recall that I actually learned something, about specific traditional cuisines (not some quicky fake approximation of mexican something.)
I think it's sad, really, that there's a whole network devoted to food and I can't watch it. I thought I loved cooking shows but the FN has taught me how much I can hate them.
This has probably been said, but I think the whole food network is now about entertainment, not cooking or food. I never watch it, except for Barefoot Contessa and the occasional Alton Brown.
I adore Lidia Bastianich. I have her cookbook, most of which seems to be demonstrated on her show. And of course, Julia is one of my idols in more than just the cooking realm. What a lover of life she was.
Good Eats - I like it. Nice to have an entire half hour devotes to ONE subject on FN.
Nigella Feasts - I'm still waiting for FN to pull the plug on this or something, it's just waaaay too good for current FN standards.
Lidia's Family Table - always a joy to watch.
Everyday Food - being very anti-Martha, I really didn't want to like this show, but I love the show, love the recipes, even love the magazine.
America's Test Kitchen - again, nice, half hour show on one topic.
Jacques Pepin: Fast Food My Way - what? 30 minute meals are not all about nutmeg and "EVOO... that's Extra Virgin Olive Oil"?
Everyday Italian - I like Giada, she obviously loves cooking and while she can be a bit annoying, I like her much more than dislike.
Barefoot Contessa - Yeah, she can be smug. But her biography is an interetsing one, she's had a LOT more to her life than just being on FN and writing cookbooks. And Jeffery is a professor now, but in the recent past he was also Dean at the Yale School of Management.
Mexico One Plate At a Time - love this show, love how cute Lanie is when she's on the show.
Hearty Boys: Good show, when I remember to catch it. With once a week airing and the horrid timeslot, FN is really just trying to kill this show.
anything Rachel Ray - Get. Her. Off. My. Planet. NOW.
Sandra Lee - I'll sum it up to this... "to make our olive tapenade, we start with... a jar of store bought olive tapenade!" But I don't think her show is going anywhere because the cutting cheese sticks, melting them in the microwave and dipping in tomato sauce commercials seem downright gourmet when aired during her show.
that Robin Miller person - I think the most disturbing thing is that FN seems to be covering their ears, closing their eyes and going "LALALALALA!" to ignore the obvious eating disorder this woman has.
Rachel Ray - Claim to fame; EVOO or Sammies
Paula Dean - Take a stick of butter, a cup of mayonaisse and dig in.
Galloping Gourmet - I loved him, although he always seemed drunk.
Julia Child - She was in a class by herself
Lydia - I always learn something from her
Ina Garten - She is what she is but she can cook.
Sandra Lee - Ive only watched her a couple of times but she didn't bother me because I don't think we are meant to take her seriously.
i was watching Giada this weekend, and while I have to say I do keep watching, the most ANNOYING thing about Giada is the way she prounounces words starting with a "CR" such as cccrrrispy and cccrrrunchy and the way she uses her hands. she puts them up while she's describing something and sort of half bends her fingers while her eyes get all buggy while she describes something she's eating as ccccrrrrispy and ccccrrrunchy. Shove it, you waif.
She has huge ham hands.
And I have decided that she doesnt have a big head - she has a HUGE forehead.
I like her too... but I hate her weekend getaway show. She harrased some people this weekend who were making stone crabs - this is why when Rachel Ray, the deen boys and now Giada come by keep the fly swatter close.
Rocknrope - Thanks for creating this post. I agree with a lot of the responses (loved when someone said Giada has huge ham hands). I want to weigh in on Gourmet's Diary of a Foodie. Big, big snooze. I can't explain why I dislike it so much as I'm as epicurious as the next person and I usually like what Ruth Reichl does (in spite of her somewhat creepy last memoir). I've watched all of the episodes and have now deleted it from my tivo.
Jacques Pepin is always great, including the most recent "Fast Food My Way". Used to get a kick out of his series with his daughter Claudine - she was always trying to start a fight with him.
My husband hates the typing between the Diary of a Foodie segments. It just bugs him. I think the show is very interesting with gorgeous cinematography.
A friend and I used to watch a lot of Jacques and Claudine. We'd pretend we were Jacques and say in an exaggerated French accent, "This is my daughter Claudine. A bit toothy, and not much of a cook. But she is a nice girl."
my WORST... must be Rachel Ray, so little talent, so overexposed. She is the reason that some of us foreigners hate Americans (ha ha).
...closely followed by Gordon Ramsay ( foul mouthed British bully who delights in verbally abusing and screaming at powerless Kitchen Hands) Absolute pig of a man
NEUTRAL .. Martha Stewart. I don't mind her. At least she has class. Loved the movie with Cybill Shepherd too. Will watch any show where Andy Dick is her guest.
Nigella... Wow, what a looker although she does overdo the sex bit ! I am so busy laughing at her antics I cant work out if she is a good cook or not,
LIKE .. Jamie Oliver ( down to Earth British chef). His enhusiasm is a joy and he cooks stuff a non chef like me can actually copy.
Kylie Kwong _ Australian/Chinese chef. A credit to our Nation ( Australia that is !)
Gday, (ok not overly original)
I hope you are living in the US. I hate the idea off Ray having soiled the airwaves Downunder and points in between.
That being said Ramsay is a talented chef. Foul mouthed or not he is in fact an exceptional chef. His restaurants are definitely worth as visit.
PS. Very sorry about Steve Irwin…Now he would have made an interesting host of a cooking show.
I enjoy cooking shows that actually teach me something about food/food preparation/
ingredients/et cetera. Julia Child (when shows were filmed in black and white), Jeff
Smith (Frugal Gourmet), and Graham Kerr (before AA) were my introduction to
cooking and the enjoyment of food. The Two Fat Ladies (RIP Jennifer) were a
total combination of food and fun that made me feel like I wanted to be in a
kitchen with them.
So many of the FN cooks I liked are no longer there - Two Hot Tamales and Sara Moulton
(call-in show) thought I still get a 30 minute show with her. Iron Chef (both versions are
fascinating) have introduced me to many new ingredients or new ways to deal with
It seems that many of the "food" shows I really enjoy are about eating as much as
cooking: No Reservations, The Hungry Detective, A Cook's Tour, Jamie Oliver's
trip through Italy (although he did prepare several dishes), and some hysterical guy
named Floyd that I saw several times cooking out in a field, in the middle of a
street, on a dock, really had to improvise equipment!
Guess I should admit that I watch tv - FN, BBC, Style, TLC, Discovery, Travel Channel -
a LOT....... so, perhaps I'm really not too discriminating ;)
Paula Deen is like watching my mother, my aunts, my grandmothers in the kitchen. Yes,
some Southern cooks do use the butter, mayonnaise, sugar to excess - just not every
Alton Brown - quite interesting (in an AB way" and Feasting on Asphalt was a hoot)
Emeril is Emeril. I don't watch his shows as much as I did several years ago, but I
very much appreciate his influence on food and making the FN a reality.
That would be Keith Floyd. My favorite Floyd was Food a la Floyd from about a million years ago when he was trying to create some Roman dish using what they used at the time and out in a open field, over a fire, in the rain. He ended up getting a bit tipsy and bitching about the weather - hilarious.
He's completely insane but some of his recipes are pretty darn good.
And I love Ina Garten. She's not always that interesting to watch, but I've never had one of her recipes fail me.
Late post, but OMG, I used to love watching Keith Floyd!!. He did a show when he gathered and cooked cockles that was hilarious.
I too am a big Ina fan. She is a wonderful and smart chef. People often call her smug, but I think she is a genuinely shy person. She reminds me of myself. I'd love to meet and cook with her someday.
My favorite is Pairings with Andrea on Fine Living - I can't watch it anymore, because it got moved from an excellent 6 PM slot, to some impossible daytime slot, and I don't have Tivo - anyway, the host is Andrea Immer Robinson, former sommelier at Windows on the World (pre 9/11 NYC). Very knowledgable but unpretentious. Her vocabulary for describing flavors is immense (as it should be, given her Master Sommelier designation), and she's absolutely brilliant at explaining why a certain dish would pair well with a certain wine, and what you can do to tweak a dish to pair better with wine. Food is fast and easy, but sophisticated. She has a lot of the annoying tics that other food hosts do (foodgasms when tasting, etc), but they don't bother me because watching half an hour of her show is so informative it's like taking a class in food and wine pairing.
I don't drink wine but I love that show too, it's interesting to watch.
Also on fine living I recently began watching the cookworks with donna something-rather. Although it's very much geared to beginners I picked up a few tricks and somehow it's enjoyable to watch.
Worst to me on canada FN:
- Anna olson anything - she is boring and awkward!!
- Chrisine cushing live - so boring and shouldn't be "live".
- Rachael Ray of course, no doubt... for all the reasons mentioned on this page.
- Almost any BBQ show, road grill the worst, License to grill and bobby flay's shows.
- Don't like bobby flay for some reason
- Anthony bourdain - stuck up and annoying, sometimes constantly complaining and seems to have a negative attitude.
- Martha Stewart (stuck up, interrupting and constantly having to be one up on everyone)
- Ina, she seems talented and her recipes are great but the show puts me to sleep.
- Ingrid hoffman's simply delicioso: she seems ok as a person but her food is all the same, tortilla, avocado, lime, shredded cheese, enough already!
- French food at home - zzzzzz
The main - not geared to my type of cooking
Ace of cakes - artistic but fondant covered cakes are not my thing.
Love anything from:
Giada (fashionable and classy, she seems genuinely passionate about food and her heritage)
Jamie oliver (didn't like him at first even though watched naked chef but now I do)
Gordon Ramsey (picked up a lot of tips and basics)
PBS shows like Julia Child and Pepin
Good eats is informative if I'm interested in the subject as is food detectives
Iron chef America - some inspiration and a good watch.
French Canadian Ricardo and friends had good energy!
Everyday Exotic with Roger Mookin.
Food safari - excellent show showcasing local home cooks and traditional international recipes.
Guy's big bite: I kind of enjoy watching it. Not the diners and driveins though, yuck!
Cooking for real - sunny anderson has energy.
Michael smith: Not bad but on chef at home it's like he's constantly talking to a 2 year old. Chef abroad is interesting though!
Restaurant makeover is ok
Since you're also in Canada (and close to me, in pictureque Durham Region!) I thought I'd branch off your post....
Best: America's Test Kitchen, Cook's Country, Nigella Bites, Good Eats, Iron Chef (original series from Japan), Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares (UK version)
So-so: Cooking for Real (agree with you, love her energy), No Reservations, Bizarre Foods
Worst: BITCHIN KITCHEN (for those who've never seen it, every episode is available on YouTube...), Brian Boitano, French Food at Home (I think of her as Rachael Ray on valium), the one with the three slobs rigging up equipment from a junkyard (you know what show it is, they all speak French -- sort of like culinary Junkyard Wars), TASTE with David Rosengarten (he was more nauseating than Rachael), Christine Cushing anything
Not horrible, but waste of bandwidth: Top Chef, Iron Chef America, Ace of Cakes, Hell's Kitchen, Throwdown, Paula Deen, Kitchen Nightmares (US version), Anna Olson, Guy Fieri anything
For the Canadians out there, have any of you watched the new "Zeste" channel? Basically it's old Food Network reruns voiced over in French. What's even weirder is, Zeste is in HD but Food Network isn't, go figure....
wow...I have to disagree with you about TASTE. The Food Network has been on a downhill slide since David Rosengarten left. TASTE was a prime reason for watching the network...it was a laid back, informative, and always interesting show... and much better than the glossy crappy fluff they're airing nowadays.
And it's only gets worse. Now there's TWO channels of fluff with no substance. FN really blew it with their second channel.
re: The Professor
TASTE just never clicked with me. When FN first came to Canada (they didn't branch off their own Canadian version of the network until 3 years later) that was back in the days of Essence of Emeril, Emeril Live, Too Hot Tamales (I miss them, they were great!), Molto Mario, Hot off the Grill (I miss Flay's cute Canadian assistant!), East Meets West, Wolfgang Puck, Cooking Live with Sara Moulton, etc. Yes, the glory years of the FN, before they jumped the shark and became a game show/reality show network. I actually enjoyed ALL of their programs, except one.... as soon as TASTE came on, the moment I saw that stark white room and that annoying music, I was changing the channel or turning off the TV. It was the only show on FN I couldn't stand.
Back in those days the online flamewars were between Emeril fans and Rosengarten fans. You can guess which camp I was on....
This has been such a fun thread to see develop, and I've loved reading about all these shows that I either ignore or never heard of (abit too much Rachel bashing IMO, even though I'm not a fan.) It's tempted me to give Ina a chance....
As a different followup, I've posted a message on the Home Cooking section about recipes you've made from watching said shows, that either turned out wonderfully or terribly. Sometimes, as I've learned, what they show on TV isn't what works in the recipe, and vice versa...
I love reading this topic... it reminds me of the shows that I've forgotten from my younger years watching PBS.
Favorites: (Old School) - These folks were very engaging and tried to relate stories to the audience.
Julia Childs (Charming personality and stories... I would love to watch SNL's skit of her played by Dan Akroyd again.)
Martin Yan (humorous and presented food from his "heart")
Jacques Pepin (All good... kind of jumped the shark with me when he had a series with his daughter)
Jeff Smith (Informative and he cooked)
Galloping Gourmet (I was really young when this show was on... I always thought he had a magic oven. Uncooked food goes in... Cooked food comes out the lower shelf.)
Pure Entertainment Value
Iron Chef, Original - (The Aussie dubbing is hilarious. I wonder if they're translating directly or ad-libbing into the show since some of the comments seem so over the top)
Food Science Geeky (I can relate to that)
America's Test Kitchen
Shows/Hosts that scare me:
Rachael Ray - Can anyone be so perky without holding some type of anger inside?
Paula Deen - something about licking fingers and continuing cookings makes my stomach turn... Although I like her fried chicken recipe. (Paula Deen actually reminds me of a food science teacher I had in the university. She was a Southern Belle with a chemistry degree (ph.D?, I forget). She'd demo for the class then we'd go do it ourselves. There were a few times where she'd forget she was wearing big rings and they'd get covered in doughy goop. She was a hoot and definately a sweetheart.)
How many cooking shows exist at this point? Tons? Does anyone have any real stats on this? If not, where do you suggest I look? When did they start growing in popularity?
To be honest I'm not really a chowhound. I'm only just starting to learn about food and cooking. So I am a bit confused at the criticisms of Rachael Ray. Yes, her personality is annoying, but what about her food? I would love it if someone would give a detailed analysis of her general recipe style, with examples, explaining the pros and cons. Probably I could never actually make any of her recipes in 30 minutes, but that aside, isn't it possible that over 50% of her recipes are actually pretty good tasting?
I definitely have not actually gone through any RR recipes, so I can't tell you they taste bad... but a lot of what she makes is pretty simple... which isn't bad, per se, but a lot of people on this board (and really, many other non-gourmet-type people who make dinner for themselves or their families most nights) don't need a recipe, let alone a 30-minute demonstration, to make hamburgers or chicken. I would have probably found her show somewhat useful when I was first learning to cook -- when I was 14, but even then I would have found her laugh irritating. But to me what's fun about watching food tv is seeing people come up with amazing combinations I would have never thought of, or demonstrate gourmet techniques I don't know yet, or talk about ethnic foods that are foreign to me... I don't want to watch someone make meatloaf on a bun and giggle over it. I'm not learning anything from that. However, if you are looking on the foodtv website for recipes you want to try at home, I don't think hers should be avoided, if you're new at cooking and looking for something quick. I just think she makes boring, annoying television.
I checked one of her books out of the library to see if I could deal with her recipes w/o her onscreen mannerisms, and made a Thai Chicken that was actually pretty good -- enough that I copied it out to do again.
Ironically, the page design, font choice, and lack of exact measurements (two turns around the pan of oil, palmfuls of spices, and the like) made it very annoying to use...but then, I'm a professional writer with just enough graphic design training to give me a host of pet peeves.
Here are a few I remember from watching her show.
-- Guacamole (as in, avocados) with pomegranate reduction.
-- Quesadillas made with with pizza dough and fried in a ton of oil.
-- An Atkins-friendly meat salad made entirely of greasy/oiled up beef and pork.
-- Indian stir-fry made with spaghetti instead of rice or rice noodles.
-- A pasta dish called "Green With Envy" that looked like a pile of vomit.
-- HOT DOG NACHOS. WTF!!???!?
There has never been anything that RR has made that I have ever wanted to make. I mentioned this in an earlier post but the last show I saw was when she made hot dog chilli fajitas. Of all the shows to latch onto on FTV why that one? I you need to learn to cook watch someone who is an actual chef.
She threw olives, herbs, and garlic into a foil pouch and tossed it in the oven one day. I'd never in my life thought of or heard of doing such a thing, and I thought it sounded spectacular. While I'm sure it wasn't her original idea (I seem to recall she even credited a friend for introducing her to it), it was still the first I'd ever heard of it. A new pub here in town serves warm olives with garlic and herbs as an appetizer, and it really is phenominal.
I can't believe that there are only 2 mentions of Michael Colamecco on this thread! He is on PBS sunday late afternoon in NYC and also on WOR radio at 11am weekdays here in NY. Is his only a local show? I hope not cause he has a great attitude and is interesting and fun to watch. What are your opinions on his show?
Ramsey's Kitchen Nightmares, via BBC, was great... a different world from Hell's Kitchen.
Basically he'd go into a failing restaurant and try to help turn things around. It was raw. It was honest. It showed the business side of things... the need to change and adapt based on the market. The need to actually profit on food. To cook to your strengths. And it showed the human side - difficult employees, stubborn owners, stupid decisions, bad cooking etc.
These weren't fancy places catering to glam crowds (like the Rocco type show) - more likely cold little frumpy eateries in smaller cities/towns. Places, perhaps, where the chef/owner wanted to try something unique but found that people wanted the familiar crap and thus their passion simply eroded.
He'd get them going in a new direction, but it was never the typical formula ending. Places failed. Were sold off. Or the owner/staff simply reverted back to their old habits. Some seemed to do o.k.
I'm sure we've all entertained the thought of opening eateries (and kudos to those who have done so) - this series should be required watching for anyone near that decsion. It's nice to imagine a big, new, bright kitchen playland where cooking is the only concern. It's closer to reality when the dining room is ill configured, the kitchen badly designed, and there's 20 years of grease and smoke that needs to be scrpaed off the tiles above the 4-burner in a 6x6 kitchen that has to crank out 20 meals.
Now that's reality TV.
I really dislike most of the shows on the Foodtv network anymore, all you hear is the background music instead of what they are saying. I have written to foodtv about the background music, but it is apparent they don't care. I do like Michael Chariello as long as he doesn't squeeze the lemon in his mouth as he did one show and he has let up on the only gray salt bit, Kylie Kwong, Jacque Pepin, Julia Child, Ina Garten, the Two Hot Tamales, Rick Bayless, Sarah Molton, Martin Yan and Ming Tsai, as well as Giada DeLaurnetis when she is showing you some foods from her family. I am not a chef, but do like to cook, and want to learn new techniques, how to prepare foods, etc., from all countries, not who is more cuter or loud. I don't need anyone shouting at me or playing the loud music in the background. I use to like Rachael Ray when she spoke to you without shouting or all her slang words, those get quite old anymore. Too bad FoodTV did away with their message boards so they could learn what people really like or want. They use to have so many good shows on that have been cancelled, it seems we see only a few with so many shows that it is a turnoff the tv time.
I was just flipping channels and stumbled across Wendy Brodie's Art of Food, which I've never seen before. Wow!! Can't believe it hasn't been mentioned here.
Sorry, CH, I know TV personalities are people too, but this was just harsh - it reminded me of that old SNL sketch about NPR, with the two buttoned-up-to-the-chin doily-wearing hippie ladies. "Ooooh, and look at the mushroooms. Ooooh. Look at the coloooors. My, they look nice."
I'm not even sure if Art of Food is PBS but it had all PBS's worst failings, down pat.
Jacques Pepin: Fast Food My Way
Molto Mario. I am Italian-American, and I credit him with teaching me *real* Italian cooking
America's Test Kitchen
Top Chef (more for drama than cooking)
Hell's Kitchen (more for drama than the cooking)
Anything Lidia Bastianich
Anything Flay (except Iron Chef)
Anything Rachel Ray
Semi-Homemade with Sandra Lee
Anything Nigella (she tries too hard to be too sensual in the kitchen. I don't know, but I don't always want to think about *that* while I'm coking.)
Entertaining with Michael Chiarello - too smarmy, his "parties" seem contrived
Anything Jamie Oliver (tries too hard)
I don't know if it's The best, but has anyone else watched "The Best" on Discovery Home Channel? It is a competition show where three chefs each come up with their interpretation of the best dish in a particular category (i.e. steak dinner, sandwich, rice dish etc...).
Iron Chef (original)
Two Fat Ladies (vale Jennifer Paterson )
The Cook and the Chef (I want to have Maggie Beer's babies)
The Food Lovers Guide To Australia
Kylie Kwong (excellent food porn, but dodgy recipes, IMHO)
Nigella (see above)
Surfing the Menu
Anything with Ainsley Harriot
Anything with MArtha Stewart (she just doesn't translate well to the Aussie audience)
Anything with Peter Russell Clarke (it's an Aussie thing)
Anything with Iain Hewitson (another Aussie thing)
And the winner for the absoultely Worst Cooking Show Of All Time:
... and here in Oz, Take Home Chef was called "Suprise Chef" with Aristos... nary a Curtis to be seen... and he DID take home fat middle aged men.
If I heard EVOO refered to as "me old mate", I swear I was going to hunt him down and go postal on his lardy a$$.. and let's not even mention "A bit of "Arold"
(for a quirky review of this show, try http://www.4bitterguys.com/cgi-bin/co...
wow...thanks for the memories! My interest in cooking began with the shows on PBS, back in the early 90's. Like others have said, I learned most of my skills and most importantly, gained a passion for cooking from these shows. I have most of Jeff Smith's cookbooks....dog-eared and stained they are! I was surprised to read some of the comments on The Urban Peasant, earlier in the thread. I really liked that guy, for some reason. He had a wonderful set, I thought. Does anyone else remember "Bill, the mailman" who used to drop by for lunch, just as The Urban Peasant was finishing up his recipe? There was another guy who did a lot of German dishes...can't remember his name. Just wondering if he was the one the earlier posters were actually referring to. And, yes! The Great Chefs series on Discovery....the reason I went out and spent $24 on a bottle of sherry wine vinegar aged 25 years!
Guy Fieri was just at a local mall doing a Super Chefs Live! tour date - I made sure I wasn't anywhere near there.
http://www.simon.com/mall/event_detai... (Beverage sampling from Coca-Cola??????)
And while I'm ultimately not surprised, I'm still stunned to read that FN execs have said they don't want chefs or people with professional training. They have become the cooking channel's MTV.
What a great topic! Fun reading everyone's replies, and really got me thinking about what I like and why.
Good Eats. I like the schtick, but the science is what really gets me. Plus he's so enthusiastic, and that's contagious.
Kylie Kwong- She seems so sensible, down to earth, love the accent, her food looks like a real person could cook it, and the porny production values are fab.
Two Fat Ladies. What more can I say that hasn't already been said? Oh, except that John Goodman's portrayal of Clarissa on SNL still makes me laugh.
Iron Chef Classic. Weirdest and best. I have yet to see Battle Caviar...
Jamie Oliver's School Dinners- I never saw Naked Chef, but his obvious enthusiasm for his mission is endearing. It's good work.
Like it, don't love it-
Anything Nigella. Don't get me wrong, I adore her books, think her food looks great, and she's incredibly easy on the eyes, but I find the over-the-top porn steaminess a little precious.
Barefoot Contessa. Her food seems great, and I bet she's a wonderful friend to have (those parties!!) but the whole thing seems a little too smug and rich.
Sugar- On food network Canada. The baking recipes are nice, but host Anna Olson is as bland as her tasteful all-white set.
Molto Mario. We used to watch it all the time, but got a little tired of hearing "Parmesan-the-undisputed-King-of-cheeses" one time too many. Yeah, tell it to Roquefort.
Can't remember the name of the show, but it was about some celebrity English chef who moved to the south of France with his wife and their brood of children, where he pottered with local foods and was pushed around by his (apparently) spoiled and bratty kids. All quite self indulgent, if one has no other context for him.
Iron Chef America- like Mark Dacascos and AB; can't stand Jeffrey Steingarten and Kevin Braush. The whole affair is a pallid recreation of the fabulous original.
Chef at Large- some of the travelling scenarios are fascinating, though the man himself I'm meh over.
Kitchen Makeover- I don't like Ramsay's tv persona, generally, but the one ep I've seen of this so far impressed me. Will give it a chance.
Anything Giada- pretty lady, nice rack, food seems fine what little I've seen.
Anything Rachel Ray. What little I've seen sets my teeth on edge.
Bobby Flay. Too full of himself for my taste.
Anything Emeril. Overexposed, hate the syncophantic studio audience.
Chef at Home. Snore.
Hell's Kitchen- don't need to see vulgar, abusive temper tantrums in the kitchen, no matter how much they spice up ratings.
Surreal Gourmet- Bob Blumer just skeeves me out for some reason.
Fond memories of:
the Galloping Goumet: there was something about his blissed out expressions as he ate his dishes that let my primary-school self in on the little secret about food and sex being so entwined...
The Frugal Gourmet. He was a dear, and we had all his cookbooks. As an earlier commenter said, it's really a shame about his Problem.
And, because they're nice enough to mention twice, I really miss the Two Fat Ladies.
At our house, the tv is most often displaying the Sci-Fi Channel (me), HGTV (the Sturdy Wench), or TFN (both of us).
For food shows, my top picks are:
Good Eats - What hasn't been said already? His ribs and Thanksgiving turkey recipes are the best I've tried for those foods and required no tweaking. I always get an education from Alton's brain dump. Plus, I was introduced to Shirley Corriher (food scientist) on his show, and I was so impressed with her I got her cookbook, "Cookwise," which I recommend. Courtesy of Alton I also found out about Harold McGee and his famous "On Food and Cooking," what seems to be the premier food reference text.
Iron Chef America - OK, I admit I watch it mostly to learn about plating and presentation. I enjoy Jeffrey Steingarten's snarky comments, but it's always a bonus if Ted (from QEftSG) is a judge as well. I have fantasies about tackling Kevin Brausch and yanking off his soul patch. WTH is up with that? It looks like a dirt smear! My wife (the Sturdy Wench) and I like to propose future battle foods: "Cheez-Whiz!" "M&Ms!" "Breakfast sausage!" "Velveeta!" "Clam juice!" You get the idea.
Nigella Feasts - O man! I see her and I have to lay down on the floor, wave my arms and legs in the air, then curl into a fetal ball. Somehow, she's hard-wired straight into my libido. Nigella + a pot of apricot glaze + a small paintbrush = whew.... A cold shower sounds good right now.
Oh yeah; the few recipes of hers I've tried have come out pretty well.
Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares/The F Word - Not a nice man in the world, but he knows his food and restaurants. I learn a lot about restaurant life from him and it's prevented me from opening my own restaurant--a good thing since I'm not cut out to do so, but almost convinced myself I was. His recipe for broccoli soup is the absolute fastest, easiest, best-tasting I've ever found. (How could it not? Broccoli, water and a pinch of salt!)
Recipe for Success / Restaurant Makeover - I love biography shows, and these two are pretty decent, altho I believe RM is no longer in production. These shows clearly paint the expense, hump-busting work, and sleepless hours required of a food entrepeneur.
Barefoot Contessa - Good recipes. Does she ever cook for someone that *isn't* a gay pal? (Aside from Jeffrey.) She seems really down-to-earth.
Shows I Avoid:
Anything Paula Deen - I spent 16 years in Texas, I love all things Southern, and she seems like a genuinely nice person. I'd love to sit down over coffee with her and listen to her talk. Sadly, her recipes IMHO seem uniformly bland, stuffed with salt and fat, and are best avoided.
Semi-Homemade - Ditto Paula Deen, Sandra seems a nice person but crap for recipes. I find the color-coordinated kitchen/apparel too much to take. The Sturdy Wench likes her, however, and says her recipes appeal to lots of working women and moms short on time.
Anything Bobby Flay - I hated Bobby Flay for years when TFN first featured him. I thought he was arrogant, opinionated and a snot. Either he's mellowed some or I've grown more accepting, and now I can overlook his East Coast abrasiveness. However, I learn about the dangers of overcomplicating my recipes as he does. How many times do I really want to spend the ingredient money for Bue Corn Roasted Barbacoa and Bacon Tamales with Jalapeno Prawns with Tomatillo and Smoked Garlic Salsa and Anything Else Vaguely Southwestern I Can Cram In?
Rachael Ray - Ditto Paula Deen. RR is so over-exposed it's scaring me off tv watching.
Ace of Cakes - Food takes a distant second to technological cleverness and boho fashion and angst.
Guy Fieri - Yes, he's got passion and energy. So do Al-Qaeda terrorists, and I don't want to watch "Cooking with Osama." ("Today we cook Baked Oppressive Capitalist Running Dog with Trinitrotoluene Sauce!" Hey, when Osama says "Bam!" he *means* it!)
Anything Emeril - Please, Emeril, get off the air for a while and let America heal. Focus on your restaurants or your family or whatever, just get out of the public eye. You and Racheal Ray. Please.
There's others, but this is enough for now.
oh god, too funny. Does the sturdy wench know that she is referred to as such? It cracks me up because when my father bemoans my "weak and fragile" health, I tell him that it was his failure to marry a sturdy matron that resulted in such defective offspring. Sturdy wench has a far nicer ring to it... so evocative.
I like both of Michael Smith's shows Chef at Large and Chef at Home. Chef at Home is definitely my favourite I just love watching him walk around his great kitchen with his fabulous pantry and he just throws impromptu meals together.
I also like Christine Cushing.Some of her recipies aren't the greatest but I like her stage presence.
Before this post I thought I was in the minority as a Rachel Ray disliker but I now see that I was oh so very wrong.
You'd better believe it! She's the daugher of a high school football and baseball coach, and was a jock in her own right in school, so "petite" and "waif-like" don't describe her. When I was dating her, by way of letting me know what I was getting into, her dad told me she could drop into a football lineman's "hit position" faster than any guy he knew. Yet she's a girly as any other woman I know.
She is disinterested in cooking, yet she likes watching cooking shows. We argue about Sandra Lee but we both like Masurhiro Morimoto on IC/ICA, a serious "take no crap" chef.
Speaking of, has anyone tried cooking Ming Tsai's recipes? I saw his show several times and I have his Blue Ginger cookbook but his recipes seems to require exotic ingredients.
I liked the first couple of episodes I watched, just because I can appreciate the artistry it takes to make those cakes. BUT after seeing a couple of episodes it all seems the same...so I'm done.
Same with that Robert Irvine show. Watched a couple and now they're the same. Never need to see it again.
This has been such a fun thread that I actually have read the over 250 responses so far!
One caveat: I used to be a chef, so I mostly use these shows for ideas and/or entertainment-- if I want recipes, I go to a cookbook or, these days, online. And usually for baking, which is more exacting measurement wise...
Two Fat Ladies
Good Eats. Yes, I'm a geek. I also like his self-deprecating personality.
Both Iron Chefs. I liked the first for it's over-the-top and the take-no-prisoners-I'll-cook-anything attitude, and the new one because you get to see more actual cooking and judges are more knowledgable. ICA is my 9 years old's favorite show!
Molto Mario -- somehow even when he's immersed in teaching us how much he knows he still doesn't treat us like idiots. He's not at all afraid to make mildly obscure cultural references.
America's Test Kitchen
Ming Tsai. Both on FN and PBS.
I used to love Knock Knock Dinners with Gordon Elliott. Classic: The episode with Iron Chefs Michiba and Morimoto... where they used fish sticks! Boy, was I jealous.
We used to love Naked Chef when he was in what looked like his own kitchen with the little fridge.
I really like Epicurious, but the constant repeats drive me crazy. Is this show made any more?
Taste of America. Not a cooking show, but he's so unabashedly goofy...
Ellie what's her name. She immediately lost me even before her show with the commercial where she says "Call the food police, the nutirtionist is eating chocolate!" Talk about pandering to stupdity... I tried watching her show, just to be fair... yuck.
Paula Deen I had found to be OK, annoying laugh but some OK ideas. But she totally lost me with the commercial where she sticks her tongue in the chocolate fountain. Was this supposed to be folksy? Now I just find her annoying.
Hell's Kitchen. Anyone else find it insulting that the producers would think that we might find this trash entertaining?
Behind the Bash. What a waste of time. Generally I find "lifestyles of the rich and famous" shows to be a waste of time. An occasional interesting idea.
Sandra Lee: Liked the concept of using pre-made items, but the rest...
Good & bad; generally the details have been hashed over repeatedly, but I'll throw in a couple of cents:
Emeril Live (If he holds up the heat control knob one more time, I'll sceam. Oh wait -- I already have...)
Rachel Ray. 30 minute meals that take a crew and a script editor a day to plan and shoot? Anyone else notice all of her ingredients are within easy reach, each batch magically appearing in the front of her fridge or cabinet?
Bobby Flay; I like Throwdown but the others are only OK.
Bizzarre Eats: I don't know why I like this show, but I do...
Bourdain: Like his in your face attitude, but his regular insulting of vegetarians drives me nuts, as does his elitism in general. Yes, elitism.
Nigella -- good ideas, but if I wanted soft porn I could find it online.
Giada -- as with Nigella.
Top Chef and Next FN star. I have kids -- I hate it when these guy start cursing. Grow up already, both the contestants and the producers who air it.
Easy Entertaining w/Michael Chiarello
Yan Can Cook
There are other things that I find annoying:
Frequent use of items that most people impossible or expensive or difficult to find, such as creme fraiche. Hello? I have yet to find it anywhere in St. Louis. (Maybe Straub's, but I'll have to check my credit rating first...)
Complex recipes/presentations that the chefs keep saying are simple while they add layer after layer. Emeril does this constantly. I'm not daunted by complex recipes, just annoyed at the lack of reality.
Shaky cameras and too close close-ups: Concepts that are supposed to provide visuals that look interesting and artsy but have been overused for *decades*. Enough already; try something else.
The overuse of chicken stock. I realize I'm very much in the minority here. I find that in most (not all) cases it's heavy and covers up other ingredients, and yes, I've heard all the "you must have used..." and "you need to try..." lines. I'm not a big fan, OK?
Ditto for bacon and proscuitto. "Pork fat rules" is another triumph of self-righteousness over creativity. Yes, they have their places, but geez...
Chefs that talk while eating. Drives our whole family crazy. Take a bite, look delighted, and edit out the rest.
I'm sure I'm forgetting a lot of shows, but it's late...
re: Richard 16
I am so happy someone else likes Taste of America. The host, Mark Dicarlo I think, is so funny and engaging. I don't catch it that often, but my SO always teases me because he says it is one of the only things that makes me hold still for longer than to minutes.
As far as cooking shows go I like:
Quick Fix Meals with Robin Miller - more for ideas about multitasking ingredients than actual verbatim recipes and she is endearing in a Katie Couricy way
Easy Entertaining w/Micheal Chiarello- I have used several of his recipes and none of them have failed. His food tends to be well above the pedestrian level quality and taste wise but it is still accessible and somehow a bit more elegant.
Barefoot Contessa - Her baking recipes are always solid, but reserved for special occasions as they tend ot be so fattening. Her heavy breathing is a tad off-putting, but I still will watch for the food.
I used to like Dave Lieberman's show, but he just catered Lindsay Lohan's birthday beach bash, and as a pop culture lover who is a bit tired of LL's antics, it has momentarily put me off of him. Weird how that works...
A few years ago when Food Network Canada was born they started off with a whole slate of new shows, most of which crashed and burned with painful results.
1) Canadian Living: Based on the popular magazine that includes some easy to prepare recipes in it, they took the three main chefs from the magazine and plopped them in front of a camera. One of them stuttered all the time, the other didn't have any lines, and the third tried her hardest to keep you awake through the one-camera borefest. A magazine adaptation that deserved so much better.
2) Rob Feenie. Oh, Rob, if you were more stiff no one would've been able to tell you apart from the pine trees outside your kitchen window. Set in the glorious Okanagan Valley in B.C., the sheer impracticality of his recipes combined with his absolutely pedestrian delivery amounted to yet another borefest. The FNC bosses decided to give him another chance and retooled the show by changing the setting to one of his restaurants and brought in his sous chef, who looked like she wanted to club him with a saute pan whenever his back was turned to her.
3) Christine Cushing Live. Oh dear. Canada's version of Martha Stewart, except lacking the pretentious veil and the talent. So you got to see a mean spirited, control freak chef burn stuff on her stove live. Of course FNC just had to give her another chance so they retooled the studio at great expense and let her insult the staff, to boot. It's still on, banished to 6am EST in the morning.
And now for the good stuff:
1) Cook Like a Chef. Fun show to watch. They'd bring in a head chef from a different restaurant from all over Canada and they'd prepare some of their signature dishes. Sorta like Iron Chef without any of the competition and dubbing. And they actually gave recipes.
Okay, so there weren't that many good ones :)
I havent seen a show of hers in awhile but I think Kylie Kwong (Discovery Channel?) is fantastic. So different from any American cooking show.
Biro (PBS). He just sort of goes about cooking. No drama, and not a lot of stage presence, but it is great to watch someone that competent just go about their business. Great recipes, too.
Charlie Trotter: Amazing technique, althought he premise that he is just sort of making it up as he goes along seems a stretch.
Two Fat Ladies: How I miss them. Great food, interesting prersonalities. Pity they are no longger aired.
Anthony Bourdain : Cook's Tour. Very funny.
My least favorite:
Next Food Network Star, Top Chef, etc. Why do they have such low caliber talent? I understand Top Chef is supposed to be much better this season (and Harold seemed like he knew his stuff), but is Gordon Ramsey really amazed that the crew he assembled can't cook?