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Best Culinary Shows On Television?

There are so many to choose from and from different genres, what's your favorite and what do you think is the best?

I'd have to say Diary of a Foodie is my favorite right now

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  1. Simply Ming is my overall favorite because I like to cook in that East Meets West style.
    For entertainment value I like Made in Spain.
    Rick Bayless and Mario are high on my list too.

    1 Reply
    1. re: tofuburrito

      I like Simply Ming as well.
      I enjoy watching America's Test Kitchen, but that's probably because I like the Cook's Illustrated style of testing recipes.

    2. Great topic. Lots of different ways to go here.

      Best In the kitchen/demo show: Simply Ming. Tons of useful info and tips. Goes beyond the usual "How to chop an onion" stuff. Rather than just say "simmer for 5 minutes until tender" he shows you what to look for so you know it is done, without guessing. The anti-Rachel Ray.

      Best general culinary show: Both of Bittman's PBS shows. Never really followed his print column in the NY Times, but love his TV shows. He does a nice job balancing the focus between A-list chefs/restaurants and fantastic ingredients and where they come from.

      Favorite host: Tony Bourdain. Always entertaining but lately has the habit of drifting off the foodie track and off into some literary/ spiritual tangent. Guess that's to be expected on the Travel channel where he can't be all food all the time. When he's on food, there is no one better.

      Best Fun Show for Foodies: After Hours with Daniel on Mojo. Just an entertaining show to watch. Excess in all its' glory. World class chefs with top of the line food and wine in gorgeous settings and celebrities to boot. Season 1 in NYC was the best, but after less than exhilarating stops in LA and Miami, New Orleans looks like it has the show back on track.

      5 Replies
      1. re: DDR4040

        Bourdain quit smoking, got nicer, and is on a philosophical jag. Why? he just had a child with his Italian wife. Having kids will do that to you, I am not surprised it is seeping into his work. In this particular, good for him.

        1. re: DDR4040

          DDR4040- where do you live, and what stations are those shows on? I can't find them here, or perhaps I just can't find them in my enigmatic TV listings. TIA.

          1. re: Claudette

            I live in NJ, just outside Philly. Between Comcast and DirecTV, I get 4 local PBS stations, so my DVR's really get a work out. Not sure where you are located, but here are some links for the shows I mentioned.









            Everything but After Hours with Daniel should be pretty easy to find. After Hours is on Mojo. Mojo is a High Definition channel that is offered on select cable systems throughout the country. It used to be called INHD. It is owned by a group of cable companies like Comcast and Time Warner, for exclusive broadcast on their systems. The first season of After Hours in NYC is available on DVD and I highly recommend it.

            1. re: DDR4040

              Thanks for the listings, DDR4040, and when I asked why I can't get those shows, my home electronics tech support (aka Hubby) said we-have-basic-cable-and-that's-all-we're-ever-gonna-get-and-you-shouldn't-watch-tv-anyway-and-you-already-have-food-network-and-400-cookbooks-and-blah-blah-blah-so-there. Good thing he's a good eater...

              1. re: Claudette


                After Hours is indeed hard to find on most cable systems. However, I was excited to find out that you can view 18 full episodes from the first two seasons online at www.hulu.com.

        2. My current favorite show is License to Grill on Discovery Channel, I cannnot get enough of using my smoker, and grill, and enjoy the host, and the spin he puts on different recipies.

          I dislike the term "best", a very subjective, and debatable term, but this show is my current favorite

          1. Food Safari and In Search of Perfection. If I ever get a week to spare I'll try Heston Blumenthal's Baked Alaska.

            2 Replies
            1. re: sharonanne

              'Yan can Cook' is the most hilarious and enjoyable tv cookery programn ever. ever. find it and watch it. and laugh yourself silly.

              bills food and any nigella program are smugfests and should be cancelled and all tapes ever made erased from history

              1. re: pecandanish

                "If Yan can cook, you can, too!"

                Favourite line in our kitchen. ;)

            2. your thread title says "Best," but your wording says "favorite." imho, those are frequently two different things entirely.

              Which do you mean?

              1 Reply
              1. re: ChefJune

                either or, I'd assume your favorite would be what is in your opinion, "the best"

                entirely subjective

                I had mentioned ""Diary of a Foodie" because they happen to cover everything and the production quality of their shows are excellent

              2. Has anyone seen "New Scandinavian Cooking" ?

                3 Replies
                  1. re: attractivekid

                    Of course, lots of us have seen this show! I personally adore all three hosts, Tina Nordstrom is entertaining, and cute. She's not in the least bit annoying, as a few US female "TV personality cooks" can be at times.
                    The productions values are top-notch, and you get gorgeous views of the areas of Scandinavia each host has.

                    Andreas is a bit dorky, but in a very likable way. He's very talented in his approach to food. Claus Meyer is awesome. He's been part of Denmark's food education program, owns a few food-related businesses, and (to me, at least) comes across as very, VERY intelligent. (plus hey...I think he's very easy on the eyes! ^_-)

                    I love their website, as well. Very clean, and informative.


                    This is my favorite cooking show, followed by my wonderful memories of Jeff Smith, The Frugal Gourmet. I loved his passion for food, shame about what happened to him.

                    1. re: Honeychan

                      "New Scandinavian Cooking" definitely wins in the Best Culinary Show subcategory of "Best Portable Cooking Station in The Most Magnificent Locations".

                  2. The "Swedish Chef" segments on The Muppet Show are some of my all-time favourites. Season 3 is due out on DVD soon. Here, moosie moosie!

                    1. Lidia oh Lidia (Bastianich that is!) any of her shows; also love Made In Spain because of the visits to Spanish restaurants and the host; the Mark Bittman show where he works with guest chefs; like the Test Kitchen because of the mix of elements including the taste and equipment tests, lots of good info there; DD&D--love the owners and the eaters--pure Americana; Bourdain on anything, anytime; Ina's recipes look really good and the ones I've tried are always delish and approachable;

                      1. I love Lidia's Italy.

                        1. Let me go by chef first ....

                          Bobby Flay shows .... Any Bobby Flay show -- I mean really, even the Throwdowns show at least two and sometimes three recipes (when he has to do research) for a single dish. Boy Meets Grill is my fav.

                          Emeril's shows .... both Essence of Emeril and Emeril Live you can learn a lot on how to cook.

                          Wolfgang Puck shows .... There's the 2001-2003 Wolfgang Puck series now being re-shown on Fine Living. Excellent recipes, and there's the 2004-5 Cooking Class with Puck that is often rerun at 4am (TIVO or tape it) on Food Network.

                          Ming's shows .... the East Meets West reruns sometimes found on Fine Living and the Simply Ming shows on PBS.

                          After those, I'd say some of the two Michael Chiarello shows (Napa Style and Easy Entertaining). All of Tyler Florences (911, Boiling Water, The Ultimate) are good. Most of Giada's Everday Italian episodes and many of Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa eps are good.

                          I do like America's Test Kitchen (as much as I loathe their site and magazine shinagians) the show rocks. Well, one exception, I don't think finding a $200 pan instead of a $500 is a consumer breakthrough the way they think it is. But the recipes are outstanding.

                          Honor mentions: Rick Bayless (except I don't have and cannot find half of his ingredients which annoys the hell out of me) ... Ingrid Hoffman ... Todd English's show ... Martin Yan ....

                          1. One of my favorites is Daisy Cooks! with Daisy Martinez. Here approach is very sensible and relaxed. I like her, and I like how and what she cooks. Unfortunately, I haven't seen her on PBS for probably a year or more.

                            I also like the Chirarello shows, but mostly I just want his house/kitchen. His is more of a lifestyle show than cooking, to me.

                            I didn't know that Bittman has show(s)... my local PBS doesn't carry them.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: caviar_and_chitlins

                              HD-only PBS channel called Create has a lot of the shows that your local station doesn't carry.

                            2. Being a techie...

                              I enjoy the shows that explain the reasoning behind the recipes...
                              America's Test Kitchen
                              Good Eats
                              Simply Ming (since Ming Tsai was an engineer)

                              Older shows
                              Martin Yan
                              Julia Childs
                              Jeff Smith
                              Jacque Pepin (However, I thought he jumped the shark when he did the show with his daughter. It was a sweet concept that he wanted to teach her to cook.)

                              Best Parody/Bit
                              (SNL) Dan Ackroyd as Julia Childs.
                              (SNL) Phil Hartman as the anal-retentive chef.

                              Oh... and of course. Semi-Homemade with Sandra Lee.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: dave_c

                                Simply Ming and America's Test Kitchen on PBS prove that NO food network.... your don't have to show cleavage and be hyperactive to keep an audience interested.

                                1. re: dave_c

                                  OMG! Thank you for reminding me of The Anal Retentive Chef. I used to laugh myself silly at that one. I still miss In The Kitchen With Jacques And Julia, too.

                                2. jamie at home. every recipe is a winner yet benefits from being shown on telly.

                                  the pork and pepper stew is the best way to use pork shoulder.

                                  1. Nick Stellino is great too. Warm personality, delicious-looking food. The hour of him and Lidia is better than your average 8 hours of FN.

                                      1. For competition, none better than Top Chef and Iron Chef. Outside of the over-promotion of product in Top Chef, there is no better show on TV in my opinion.

                                        Love Good Eats and most things Alton Brown. Fitting in this mold is America's Test Kitchen which is a great balance of interesting cooking science, techniques, gadgets and I love the tasting lab. Good fun.

                                        Jamie at Home is surprisingly good and Lydia's Italy is also tremendous. She seems to really like what she does and her food looks flat out awesome every time.

                                        1. I've always felt that these shows can be divided into two general categories:

                                          entertainment shows (like throwdown, hk, top chef, cooks tour etc)
                                          where the emphasis is on the activity surrounding the stoves; and

                                          cooking shows (lidia, mike smith, ming, etc)
                                          where the emphasis is on presenting food in a manner that one can learn and try themselves.

                                          apples and oranges, really (food pun only slightly intended).

                                          1. Alphabetically and across eras:

                                            Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations
                                            - As entertaining to watch and follow as his writing is to read.

                                            Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives
                                            - Sure Guy can be as subtle -- and times, irritating -- as his spiked highlights but, the show is as honest and real as the subjects it features. Having read "Roadfood/Goodfood" cover-to-cover in 7th grade, I can appreciate this show to no end.

                                            Floyd on Food/Floyd on Fish
                                            -Engaging and self-deprecating, Keith Floyd was sort of "pre-Bourdain" with an English accent. Bonus points for having The Stranglers author his theme song.

                                            The Frugal Gourmet
                                            What a tragic end for perhaps the most folksy of TV food shows ever.

                                            Great Chefs of New Orleans/SF/Great Cities
                                            Classic. Timeless. The show that started my love affair with TV food shows.

                                            Iron Chef
                                            The original. The first. The best.

                                            Throwdown with Bobby Flay
                                            Contrived and feeling a bit padded and perhaps better suited to two 15 minute segments per episode but, ingeniously simple and no less engaging.

                                            Top Chef
                                            Concur with earlier comments here about this being one of the best current TV shows period.

                                            Best TV