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Jun 14, 2010 01:19 PM

Cooking Show Nostalga: Great Chefs

Upon reading many of the threads posted in this forum (especially Best and Worst Cooking Shows), it's pretty evident that a lot of readers (including myself) prefer simple, straightforward cooking shows that highlight technique and actual teaching over a particular cook's celebrity status. Before the days of The Next Food Network Star and Rachel Ray's daytime empire (not necessarily a bad thing), food lovers and enthusiasts alike gathered to watch many memorable tutorials, including the Great Chefs series on PBS/the Discovery Channel, The Galloping Gourmet, and of course, the talents fo Julia Child.

I decided to google some of these oldie-but-goodie shows and found that you can watch/buy the Great Chefs tutorials and recipes on their website, and you can also watch YouTube episodes of some of the classic episodes. One of my favorites that I remember from my childhood is the "Chocolate Dreams" installments (of course):

To me, there's something to be said about these videos because not only are they strictly about learning technique and how to cook this stuff, they're also being taught by absolute masters.

What about everyone else? Do you have a favorite nostalgic food series that you used to watch all the time?

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  1. I use to love Great Chefs - My wife and I always loved the way the narrator would say Butter.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Alex318

      You're so right. She'd say, "but-uh." Like I do, kinda. So I felt at home.

      For the poster below who said "I would love to here [sic] that narrator again," you never know, even after all these years she might still be working in voice-over. Google "voice-over Great Chefs" and you might be able to find out her name. Or get ahold of Edge Studio, in Norwalk (or maybe Stamford), Connecticut. They're a voice-over studio, agency and teaching facility who may have someone who'd know. Voice-over's a pretty small community.

    2. Great Chefs was the last cooking show I watched regularly. Nothing else has lived up to it (for me). One of these days I'm going to hire the voice-over lady to come over and narrate me while I cook. That would be awesome.

      1. My husband and I scheduled classes in college around Great Chefs - before I went to culinary school - probably had a LOT to do with that move. Why doesn't someone make that show again - I would love to here that narrator again. I do however have the first 4 books (are there more? I don't know) I love them plus looking through them reminds me of that show!

        3 Replies
        1. re: meginAB

          Just phoned Great Chefs at their offices in New Orleans. Her name's Mary Lou Conroy. A search of her name yielded another gentleman who said a few episodes were narrated by Andres Collandrea.

          I googled but couln't find an artists' representative for Mary Lou Conroy. Perhaps she's retired. That lady had a voice just like Mimi Gregory's; could sell ice to the eskimos...

          1. re: shaogo

            Just to clear up a bit of confusion here. Mary Lou Conroy & Andres Calandria almost always worked together on all of those shows we remember. In the credits at the end of the show, Mary Lou would be listed as the "presenter" and Andres would be listed as the announcer.

            Anyone who is a fan of Mary Lou Conroy should keep an eye out for the old Pizza Gourmet PBS series with Carl Oshinsky. She was actually on camera co-hosting the show with him. He would do all the cooking and she would sit and keep the show moving by asking questions and making comments.

          2. re: meginAB

            The Great Chefs is the reason that I bought a VCR in college. I recorded them in the afternoon and then I could watch the episodes in the evening as I studied.

            They weren't flashy but I learned an amazing amount of technique from that series.

          3. Wow - I didn't know that these series are now available for DVD purchase; I'm going to have to see about purchasing.

            1. I LOVED The Frugal Gourmet and Great Chefs series! I started watching these shows on PBS when I was 12-13 years old and they showed me the possibility of different cuisines (grew up only eating Korean, Japanese and Chinese foods plus school cafeteria stuff). It's because of these shows that I went to my first French restaurant and started looking for decent Italian restaurants.

              The female narrator's voice on Great Chefs was sooooo sooothing! I was mesmerized by the sound of her voice and I would watch and listen and feel so relaxed afterwards. I could tell when they used the other female narrator - her voice was not as nice and I would get annoyed that the voice was wrong.

              4 Replies
              1. re: SeoulQueen

                OK, this is pretty eerie. I grew up watching those shows too, I was maybe a few years older. I was in a Chinese household though. My parents actually were really good about trying different cuisines.

                1. re: Phaedrus

                  LOL! I wonder how many other Asian Americans were first introduced to European cuisines because of these shows? I still remember the first time I saw chocolate ganache being made on Great Chefs - culinary epiphany to realize that chocolate came in other, better forms than crappy Hershey's!

                  1. re: SeoulQueen

                    One of MY most memorable shows (well. there are two) took place in a Chinese kitchen. I was fascinated at how differently everything was prepared.
                    I was watching on KCET out of Los Angeles...

                    1. re: SeoulQueen

                      My epiphany came when they were doing a cake made of french bread. They kept layering the crustless bread with pounds of butter, raspberry jam, and pure sugar. They pressed it into a bowl, let it set and then covered it with buttercream. I kept thinking: these anglos aren't as crazy as I thought, then I passed out from the thought of eating that cake.