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Nov 13, 2009 05:55 PM

What TV Chefs have given you ‘mostly’ consistent recipes vs those that have been hit and miss.

Here’s a statement and my question:

FORGET personality, quirks, TV charisma, etc.

What TV Chefs have given you ‘mostly’ consistent recipes vs those that have been hit and miss.

SIDEBAR #1: I don’t watch cooking shows, so I don’t know these people like most of you do and I don’t most of THEM.

SIDEBAR #2: No average rating only GOOD or BAD allowed

SIDEBAR #3: I don’t cook from recipes (too damn old to teach a dog new tricks) but I do look at them and sometimes just shake my head in amazement at how technically wrong they are. So my list is garnered by just LOOKING at their recipes.

Here is my list (alphabetical by first name) on the


Anthony Bourdain
Bobby Flay
Emeril Lagasse
Giada de Laurentiis
Jacques Pepin
Jamie Oliver (just barely made this list)
Julia Child
Tyler Florence


Alton Brown
Guy Fieri
Lydia Bastianich
Mario Batali
Martha Stewart

WAIT: If you disagree then say so and put up some recipes (at least 3) that have worked very well for you in the past.

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  1. I'm competent beginner, casual home cook.

    Rachael Ray (I make her 60 minute thanksgiving turkey breast, and apple stuffing, every year)

    MIXED RESULTS: (May be more my own impatience and lack of skill)
    America's Test Kitchen

    Alton Brown

    1. BEST: Ina Garten. Lemon pound cake, barbecued chicken, Chinese chicken salad, filet of beef Bourguinnone. I'm sure I have made others, but this is what comes to mind. Also, her food is what I most want to try.

      I just made a fabulous osso buco by Bourdain. I have had some success with recipes from Bobby Flay, Giada, definitely Jacques Pepin, Tyler Florence. Can't think of examples off the top of my head.

      I will never try recipes from Rachel Ray, Sandra Lee, or the Neelys. They never appeal to me.

      5 Replies
      1. re: lisavf

        Please share your Bourdain Osso Bucco recipe!

        1. re: lisavf

          Ina Garten is our favorite too.

          Alton Brown's recipes always seem like unnecessary work.

          1. re: lisavf

            Definitely Ina.... standing rib roast w/mustard horseradish sauce, provencal tomatoes, cheddar dill scones, tzatziki, so many others, just very solid recipes. Only 1 epic fail ~ her cornbread (should have known for good cornbread, go w/a Southern cook).

            Emeril & Bobby Flay's recipes always turn out delicious. I've made too many to list, but 2 of Bobby's salsa's, Emeril's short ribs, chocolate pecan pie and a Caesar dressing come to mind. Jacques Pepin, Giada and Tyler Florence (Mexican Pot Roast tacos) all good. Also Lidia Bastianich, beautiful cookbooks that speak to my soul and educate me further about my ancestral homeland. Recipes Pasta con Pomodori al Forno, Minestra di Pasta e Fagioli and Cavatelli with Cauliflower, Almonds & Toasted Bread Crumbs have become family favorites.

            The 3 "never try" I absolutely agree with. In all fairness, my fellow good cook sister-in-law tried some of Rachel's recipes and reported they were flat, flavorless or just didn't turn out well.

            1. re: ALLIEBTX

              Rachel has an entire bookcase at my local used book store dedicated to her entire line of books. They apparently are not keepers.

              1. re: Manassas64

                Interesting, I've been noticing the same thing at the thrift store I buy used cookbooks from. I always find myself organizing the books as I look through them and it seemed like every fifth book I saw was a RR. For many there were at least 3 copies of the same book. I wondered whether it was a case of the recipes not working or perhaps folks receiving them as gifts but not having interest in them.

          2. Wow, how did Alton Brown, Lydia Bastianich and Mario Batali get on the BAD list?
            These people are very technically competent and knowledgable. I can't even begin to post all the recipes I've tried that they've developed, dreamed up, been responsible for or just claimed as their own. If their taste is not to your liking or their focus is not in your range, it doesn't make them bad, just not appealling to you, which is fine and fair.
            The thing is, there are chefs out in TV Land for every cook, every level of skill and every taste. I can't say anything negative about any one of their recipes or styles. There's something for everyone, chose to watch or not. One man's garbage is another's treasure. I even look occasionally to the ones I deem as lost causes; perhaps there will be that one bit of info, that one spark of inspiration I never could imagine, that will be a eureka moment for me.

            Well, except maybe Guy Fieri, although sometimes I want the cocktail he just made.

            OK, I said my peace, carry on.

            6 Replies
            1. re: bushwickgirl

              I'm not sure how the OP can say for certain that these chefs are good or bad when he's never seen their programs or watched them in action and never tried to cook their recipes, just glanced at a few cookbooks! I don't make a lot of recipes from tv chefs, and I rarely look at their cookbooks, but when I want to be entertained or inspired I'll turn on the tv and watch them in action - and then if there's something that I want to try I'll look it up online and I can usually get the recipe.

              Ina Garten seems like a very reputable cook... I've made a few of her recipes and they worked out nicely.

              Alton Brown takes you through things step by careful step and he makes them extremely understandable and easy to follow. After watching his program you really KNOW how to prepare that particular item.

              On the bad side Paula Deen's recipes are a disaster - they looked good on television and they SOUNDED promising, but the two or three of them that I've tried to make were awful.

              1. re: Kajikit

                I've made tons of Paula's recipes! Everything, especially her cinnamon rolls, turned out very good.

              2. re: bushwickgirl

                When FN first came on I liked Alton Brown's food science schtick. Then after I had started doing my own cooking using youtube and other FN shows as beginner guides, I tried his TV recipes. Alton Brown only one to get on my permanent "cancelled" list because of his recipes. I made his gross cajun hot chocolate milk, and then gave him a 2nd chance with his pork brining technique. Both simple. Both disasters. I looked up his background and saw he wasn't a practicing chef and got his recipes from some college food science department. The whole show is basically very heavily edited and processed and artificial that looks better than it tastes. IMO. Ugh! Fraud!

                1. re: dach

                  I'm not much of a recipe person, but my 12 yo son is enamored of Alton, so we've tried about 4 of his recipes, and I must agree - they're not very good.

                  Measurements are off, the language he uses to instruct is often vague and depends too much on personal interpretation, and the recipes are just complicated to all hell for no good reason. They're so bad that my son is actually thinking he should start listening to his mom instead of following Alton's recipes. That's how bad they are. :P

                  And anecdotally speaking, no one gets more positive reviews than Ina Garten. Her recipes just seem to work for anyone I know who's tried them.

                2. re: bushwickgirl

                  Concur with @bushwickgirl. I've cooked dozens of AB recipes and they are great. I've done quite a few of MB's as well. I have no idea how these two could end up on the 'bad' list.

                  I regularly experiment around with things done by: Mario Batali, Tyler Florence, Alton Brown, Rachel Ray, Ina Garten, Bobby Flay, Emeril Lagasse and Giada de Laurentis, Anne Burrell and Jamie Oliver. I've found most of their stuff to be solid.

                  The others not so much.

                  1. re: meadandale

                    I recently tried 2 recipes from Anne Burrell that I had seen on her show that I thought looked fantastic. Unfortunately, both were real losers. Even though I like Anne and I really like her approach to food on her show, those 2 failures have kind of put me off trying anything more. What did you try that worked?

                3. Regarding your 'bad' list could you possibly give just a couple of examples of what you found to be wrong with one of the recipes (" how technically wrong they are.") ? I ask because I've used several recipes from three of the five authors you have listed as 'bad' and, as the recipes have all turned out the way they were supposed to (I believe), and I am a cook (barely) who has to follow directions, I would argue that the recipes were 'correct' (at least for an untrained cook/me). Having said that there were some that I won't make again, because the people I prepare food for didn't care for the finished product, taste-wise (Alton Brown's version of onion soup springs to mind). Thank you.

                  1. HIT:
                    Anne Burrell
                    Ina Garten
                    Bobby Flay
                    Giada De Laurentiis

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: dmjordan

                      My "HIT" list would be identical, with the addition of Alton Brown and ATK. Everything I've ever made of Anne Burrell's has been amazing... even if I have to tweak/adjust based on ingredient availability, time constraints, etc. When I'm searching for a recipe for something on FN's site, I always see if she has a recipe for it first, or if one of her recipes can work with the ingredients I have on hand.

                      My "MISS" list would be "none" because when a recipe bombs, I assume it's something I've done wrong, and I don't think I ever go back and give it another shot to see if it was me or the recipe. I blame myself instead of the recipe because I rarely follow a recipe to the letter. I'm always trying to substitute ingredients to "lighten up" a recipe, or cram extra veggies in there, or avoid going to the store for something I don't have on hand.