Who Influenced You Most?
When I first started watching food shows, it was "The Galloping Gourmet" and "Wok with Yan". But, as I grew older, I stumbled on the writings of MFK Fisher, which opened up a whole new world of culinary ideas and concepts. I never had (thank the Lord) to resort to her "sludge", but I did partake vicariously in her many wonderful moments. With this summer's homage to Julia Child (every bit of deserved, IMHO), I wondered: who, among all the TV, book, magazine, etc. chefs influenced you the most?
I'll start by throwing in my number 3 and 4: Jeff Smith ("Frugal Gourmet") and James Barber (aka "Urban Peasant") . They taught me how to use under-appreciated and value priced ingredients to create great meals.
Martha Stewart? Meh...
My Mom (i grew up on the kitchen counter), as a kid I would read Larousse the Escoffier and James Beard. Now there are so many chefs to watch and read that I take cues from almost any quarter. From Bourdain's wanderings to Batali's manic simplicity.
Keith Floyd was my hand's down favorite television chef when I was a college student. He made you want to cook and throw a party and play loud music. And it didn't hurt that his show's theme music was The Stranglers.
I would have to say my biggest influence was/is Mrs. Sippi. When we got married I moved her to Canada. Being a southerner it was a big culture shock. So I set to work cooking southern foods to make her feel more at home. We had started watching more and more cooking shows and through those and her I was really able to hone my cooking skills.
I had been a tinkerer in the kitchen since I was a teenager. I could make stuff that was awfully tasty, I could never reproduce it. Through the cooking shows I learned to try to be somewhat consistant so I can make something good, again and again.
My favourite shows over the years have been, Emeril (It used to be really good), Good Eats, America's Test Kitchen, BBQ U (Reichlen is boring but his food is great), Jacques Pepin, The Inn Chef/Chef at Large (Both shows affectionately known at my house as "The Tall Man") and No Reservations/A Cooks Tour.
The Chefs on TV that have influenced me have been Justin Wilson, Julia, Yan, Jamie, Michael C, Mario and 2 fat ladies (they were great!)
However the most Influential people will always be my grandfather, he taught me what freshness is all about with his gardens (and how to grow my own garden)
Pappa Steve, he taught me how to make his infamous clam sauce and homeade sausage and not to be afraid to try new foods
My dad, he taught me how to hunt, fish, how to clean a fish, hog, deer, and others, how to use a knife ans to always use what you catch, never waste anything
And most of all my mother who brough it all together in the kitchen!