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Why Can't We Just Have a Decent Cooking Show on TV??

OK. perhaps I'm being too picky here but it has dawned on me that I hardly ever watch The Food Network anymore. I watch the Cooking Network even less. Was a time I remember watching good and decent cooking shows on PBS. John Folse. Nathalie Dupree. That Menonite Lady who always said "Essa Goot"; Justin; Julia Child; Jacques Pepin, Mary Ellen Esposito, Lidia, America's Test Kitchen...just to name a few. All entertaining in their own ways. I loved the banter between Julia Child and Jacques Pepin and learned a helluva lot of tips from them. I laughed at Nathalie Dupree's clumsiness because it was so natural and the same stuff would happen to me. I adored Mary Ellen Esposito's explanations of how she is cooking--listening to her was just like being in school and listening to your favorite teacher. John Folse--my fave--he even sent me a case of Steens Can Syrup when I called him up to tell him I could not find it in New York City--true story! These chefs/cooks/bakers really loved what they did and sent the message across that they wanted you to succeed.
Now we're stuck with personalities first/food second. Who would make half the garbage that some of these TV personalities make anyway? I cannot even look at Sandra Lee's finished products. Can Paula Deen have an episode where she does NOT use a ton of butter? Can Guy Fieri go one day where he doesn't say "MONEY"??? Iron Chef has lost it's greatness. Rachael Ray's 30 minute meals are a waste of ...well...30 minutes! I'm tired. Unwrapped is nothing but reruns. Mo Rocca's voice is more annoying than Fran Dresher's. Actually the only two shows on Cooking Network that I can get through are the French Cooking thing with Laura Calder and that Italian cooking show with that cute guy who films it in Italy. Oh..and the reruns of that Food Road Show with Jim O'Donnell--he should come back and host Unwapped.
So..am I the only one who feels this way? I want damn good recipes and want to be challanged..I'm tired of the entertainment aspect already.

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  1. Dessert First is nice and on Food Network. PBS still has good cooking shows with Lidia Bastianich, Rick Bayless, they are currently showing Jacques and Julia and sometimes Avec Eric (with Eric Ripert). They also show Cooks Illustrated people. No offense, but it sounds to me like all you really need to do is change the channel. I do like Unwrapped, but they are mostly repeats. The new ones I think come on the same day as the new Best Thing I Ever Ate. Funny when Food Network started out it was all Bobby Flay and Mario Batali cooking and some Michael Chiarello (the easy entertaining). I like Barefoot Contessa okay at least I know the majority of her stuff will come out well.

    2 Replies
    1. re: burgeoningfoodie

      Yeah. I know. I do change the channel, and I still watch a lot of those PBS shows now on "Create". It just gets to me how the evolution of cooking shows has just been dumbed down so much.

      1. re: jarona

        These shows may be entertaining but do not offer much in teaching, I don't like them and do miss the older cookings shows, I felt as if I were taking a cooking course online without a test.

    2. The two cooking shows you watch are Canadian. PBS is still decent, ATK and Cooks Country are the best.

      1 Reply
      1. re: mlukan

        I agree with those choices. I would also add Mary Ann Esposito and Nick Stellino as being some of the better cooking hosts/shows on TV today.

      2. Maybe you know too much to find what you want on TV. TV isn't a good medium for presenting challenging recipes. It's too fleeting. It can wet your appetite, but you still need a written list of the ingredients. And if certain steps need to be demonstrated, still photos, or a DVD that you can stop and repeat are better than brief TV segment.

        5 Replies
        1. re: paulj

          That's true, but TV today is better equipped for teaching than it was in the day when we didn't have DVR or even VCR. Heck, when I first was watching Julia and the Frugal Gourmet, you could write (as in, a letter in a stamped envelope) to the network for a copy of the recipes used in that episode -- no web, even! Why not give us reasonable instruction now that we can watch the eps on demand or on DVR (and pause/rewind) or online.

            1. re: paulj

              When I disconnected my TV because I was only watching cooking shows, I thought I'd just spend the $90-$100 monthly fee to buy all the cooking DVD's I wanted. That's been a long time now and I certainly ran out of cooking DVD's to buy after a short while. I find a lot of information (and enjoyment, too) on youtube. At least half of the time when I'm looking for a recipe and/or technique for that recipe, I automatically think, "youtube." Thanks, paulj, for bringing that to everyone's attention.

              1. re: Rella

                I second this idea ... so much on YouTube now in the way of specific cooking videos - and that's where you'll also find the channels of the food bloggers who regularly do videos. Also haunt the sites of some cooking magazines and bet you'll find entertaining content - at least, short form.

              2. re: paulj

                Add RunnyRunny to that list.

                Also: FoodWishes, Maangchi, ltkman (he's removed a lot of his videos)

          1. I want damn good recipes and want to be challanged..I'm tired of the entertainment aspect already.
            Guess what? That's what the marketing folks say sells ad dollars...that "entertainment aspect" of it.

            Those of us who want challenging or at least instructional cooking shows don't pay the cost to broadcast real cooking shows. The people who watch Shamdra Lee for her tablescapes and processed food dreck or watch Paula Deen's and Rachael Ray's over-the-top accents or smiles for that entertainment aspect of it are paying the bills - because they're buying the canned/processed food or kitchen items being subtly and not-so-subtly advertised on the show. "Oooh - Rachael Ray uses that cool single-use vegetable washing thingie - I want one of those!" and out they go and buy them (and probably never use them again).

            Believe me, I'm not saying it's a good thing. It's definitely not. But it's the way TV is sold nowadays, for the most part. Drumming it down to the masses vs. elevating it up so they can actually learn something.

            1 Reply
            1. re: LindaWhit

              i know its an old thread but this sums it up pretty well. look at the next food network star. look what food network has done to a "star" like pioneer woman. say what you want about her..but she has a sense of humor. she has a personality. none comes through on the show.

              its simply the producers who make a lot of money who think they know what sells.not only do they not know what makes a good cooking show they aren't aiming for chowhounders. they're aiming for the casaul people who'll never cook anything.

              think of it like comedies. most often the funniest people can't make a show. the comedians are always told what's funny by clueless producers.

            2. I grew up with Julia Child and the like. I was just thinking the other day how I miss those old shows. Nothing flashy just cooking!

              5 Replies
              1. re: libgirl2

                My heart is broken that everyone is talking about how bad the Food Network is, but no one is saying that the CHOW videos are great! We are trying to challenge everything you're describing above! OK, enough pity party...for now.

                Meredith of CHOW Video

                  1. re: mudaba

                    I've seen some of the Chow Videos and the web is a great resource. I think if the Chow Videos had a more prominent place on the site. Speaking personally, I'm so focused on the threads and the discussions the videos just get scrolled by. They are often in a place where other websites would put ads and so it gets lumped into the collective conscience unless I'm purposefully looking for a video or how to.

                    1. re: mudaba

                      I really love the Chow videos. I liked Aida's show, too.

                      1. re: mudaba

                        Mudaba ... indeed. Now, when I look at who Chow's owner is these days I HAVE to ask myself... why on earth isn't Chow stringing together a show for the network or one of its holdings or station affiliates? No matter what daypart, it seems like a real wasted opportunity. (Short form is great but I have to admit I only watch short form when I'm in real want-to-learn-about-this-specific-thing mode. Even a half-hour of good, cohesive content in magazine show style stringing together relevant clips is something I'd watch and set the DVR for.)

                    2. Hi there,
                      Thank you for posting this. It tough these days. Everyone wants to up the anti. More shows, more music, more noise, more jittery shots that make me want to heave. What I would love to see is an honest path to our food that is presented in a fun and honest way. I would love to see animals, from farm to table. I find myself sometimes taking things for granted. I would love it if it were more prominent that what we eat is living, beautiful, has to be killed, earned through hard work and such a gift. And an ugly beauty in the end.
                      Cheers, Oana

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: oana

                        Dirty Jobs just visited a traveling butcher in Michigan - from shooting the cow at a farm, to cutting up the aged carcase into steaks. They've had a number of other farm episodes. I've also seen live animal-to-table segments on the exotic travel shows.

                        1. re: paulj

                          I love that show! He is fantastic. I did not know they did farm shows but it seems obvious now that you've said it :). I would love to be the female host of a show like that! :)
                          It would also help it these things were on the food channels, you know?
                          Cheers, Oana

                        2. re: oana

                          Gordon Ramsay did that on one of his shows (The F Word?), where he raised animals in his back yard, then had them killed and butchered more or less before our eyes.

                        3. Have you tried the library? Ours has a great collection of cooking DVDs, Julia Child, Jacques Pepin, Lydia Bastianich, etc. I love being able to fast forward and see only what I want. We do have a cable channel that has them, also, but it's hidden away in a high channel. I don't know the station.

                          1. Scott Peacock gets my vote.

                            1. You're preaching to the choir. Most of us seem to feel that way. FN is personality first and food second. FN people have referred to Julia Child as a dinosaur.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Withnail42

                                "FN people have referred to Julia Child as a dinosaur."
                                Which just shows where their mindset is.

                              2. I was just watching Mario Batali on the cooking network and thinking to myself that he's the last one left that explains what he's doing and why.

                                I also set the recorder to find any of the old Great Chefs series' - they were the best. They were running recently on the moslem channel , of all places.

                                10 Replies
                                1. re: Dave_in_PA

                                  "I also set the recorder to find any of the old Great Chefs series' - they were the best."

                                  I absolutely loved that show. I think it is the first thing that made me start thinking about food outside my comfort zone. I could watch that show nonstop. Just chefs at the top of their game doing what they do best. No BS.

                                  Here's a previous CH discussion on it for those not familiar with the show:

                                  1. re: Dave_in_PA

                                    They absolutely were the best. They used to be on youtube, but they were all removed. Only a very few of them are now on the GreatChefs channel on youtube. There was a promise that there would be daily uploaded episodes but nothing has been added in months.

                                    1. re: sherrib

                                      Maybe the Great Chefs want you to pay for their work, instead of being a freeloader. :)

                                      1. re: paulj

                                        I checked Netflix but did not see them,
                                        nor Great Chefs DVDs for sale at Amazon.
                                        I did see this
                                        I'm not sure if it is a segment from Great Chefs, but it is the only one for sale.

                                          1. re: paulj

                                            I'm an ole' timer when it comes to watching TV shows; some of the first ones in the 70's, but I can't recall ever recall seeing the Great Chefs series, except I do recall when looking at the one on youtube, the woman's voice that people are talking about, so I must've seen them.

                                            Reading all the comments about the show, I found Buttertart's mention of Madeleine Kamman's show, too. I've not seen any DVD's of her show either as a re-run. For some reason I never cared for her at the time, and now I really regret it.. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7142...

                                            Thanks, paulj, it's really going to be fun looking at which one of the Great Chefs DVDs to purchase.

                                            1. re: paulj

                                              I went to their site when they pulled everything off youtube. Freeloaders find it very difficult to pay exorbitant prices for something that had been free not too long ago!

                                              1. re: sherrib

                                                A lot of the free content on the web will eventually be for pay at some point. Think of the free stuff as an introductory offer!

                                                1. re: ttoommyy

                                                  I was making good use of Historical Foods, a British site of recipes, past and present. But at the start of this year they switched content to RecipeWISE, which requires a paid registration to get full access. Fortunately I grabbed copies of the recipes I thought most interesting (e.g. Parkin).

                                                  1. re: paulj

                                                    One can pay for an internet product, save it to file, and when the paid prescription is up, one finds that the manner in which one saved and filed those pages/copies alas was not saved/copied appropriately.


                                                    Boy, have I ever got caught on that in years past with subscriptions that were accessible ONLY while I was a subscriber; even though I saved the links/pages, they were no no longer accessible once my subscription was up. I learned my lesson really the hard way and cost me mucho bucks - (genealogy, specifically).

                                    2. I grew up with the following chefs on tv in some fashion... Frugal Gourmet (sad story there), Galloping Gourmet (Graham I think his name was), Justin Wilson (Cajun Chef), Julia Childs, Martin Yan (Yan Can Cook) and some of the shows that are still on PBS now. Actually, I think one of the first cooking segments I can remember seeing was in an episode of Mr. Rogers Neighborhood :-p

                                      2 Replies
                                        1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                          Personality + Education + Good Food = Yan Can Cook

                                        2. I don't watch the food network anymore unless I am clicking by and see Alton or Guy Fiere (yep, I like him.). Do you remember one of the original shows 'How To Boil Water"? My how things have changed.

                                          PBS still airs classic cooking shows like Child, Galloping Gourmet, 2 Fat ladies... I do not think I have seen David Rosengarten there. A pity. I wonder what he is up to these days.

                                          Is Sarah Moulton on Food Network anymore? She used to have a show I enjoyed. Then she got a new format that did not really appeal to me.

                                          Totally agreed on Sandra Lee. She is the partially homemade lady? I will not elaborate on it since it will inevitably lead to some bit of snark about Rachel Ray... who I am sure is a lovely and enchanting woman outside her show. See? OK I better go.

                                          20 Replies
                                          1. re: Sal Vanilla

                                            What time of the day are checking. Yes, prime time is largely competitions, but what about midday, when 'housewives' are looking for a break from chores (yes, I know that's stereotype)?

                                            Current listing:
                                            guys big bite
                                            secrets of a restaurant chef
                                            cooking for real
                                            giada at home
                                            Aren't those all instructional? Or are they too basic for CHs who have been watching cooking shows for the last 30 years? I doubt if anything would satisfy those veterans (not even the second coming of Julia)! :)

                                            1. re: paulj

                                              Cooking should be fun! If you are sooooo serious about it all...then go to school, move to New York, start a resto that offers your "one of a kind take on meatloaf"....and be happy. Otherwise, food is fun...food is learning...food is satisfying for many reasons..... just enjoy it.

                                              1. re: paulj

                                                I am sure they are all instructional and there is something for everyone. As I said I have two that if I see them in passing, I watch. I find Alton instructional (He taught me how to make a mean pickle this year and I now brine poultry because of him. But I do not want to watch people make a casserole anymore I guess. And I LOATHE some of the personalities on that channel. I have tried to watch Mario Batali , but I do better just looking at his recipes and doing them. Finally I do not want to watch a group of people egg a loudmouthed man on toward finishing a hamburger the size of a minivan or a pile of pancakes that - if they toppled - would crush the guy attempting to shove them down... hmmm.... maybe not that last bit.

                                                1. re: Sal Vanilla

                                                  Let's not confuse Travel Channel with FN!

                                                2. re: paulj

                                                  I somehow doubt that Giada would have a show if she weren't part of a famous family in showbiz.. and is it just me or does she look like the Cheshire Cat from the latest incarnation of Alice in Wonderland. They are instructional but there is a disconnect I think between a lot of them and the audience. I mean Guy (to me) is the equivalent of the male Rayray..

                                                  1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                                    Agree that it's doubtful Giada would be where she is without the 'name'. She's made sure to use it every step of the way.

                                                3. re: Sal Vanilla

                                                  Funny you mention Sara Moulton. I watched her on PBS last night--well, a branch of PBS called "CREATE". Decent channel..has Lidia, Mary Ellen Esposito (whom I adore!), Eric Rippert; Julia & Jacques; Rachael Allen..and not to leave out my favorite PBS travel show--Rick Steve's Europe. Anyway, back to Sara--she is still around and still wonderful. She made fried rice last night and it was just like being in a friend's kitchen. That woman has amazing knife skills! She explains things in a no-frills way without all the kitchen drama!
                                                  Check out PBS' Create channels.

                                                  1. re: jarona

                                                    The Spanish sister channel, veme, has 2 hrs of cooking each afternoon as well.

                                                  2. re: Sal Vanilla

                                                    Last guess Sara Moulton has been touring the country to promote her new book. I don't think she is a part of FN anymore. I remember How to boil water. I blame this whole thing on MTV. I mean does anyone here remember Nickelodeon BEFORE Viacom bought it out... remember when MTV use to be about music... I think this started a trend.. Okay maybe not...

                                                    1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                                      I was just skimming this thread to see if anyone would compare MTV to FN-- and you did! YAY!!

                                                      FN is all reality programming and commercials for restaurants or personalities or both.

                                                      I'd like to see a show called "Open the Fridge" [maybe it could be a competition show to fall into the current style] where a chef/chefs were forced to make do with what was there, not "our completely stocked pantry" a la Chopped.

                                                          1. re: Kris in Beijing

                                                            It unearthed Paula :)

                                                            If you want serious cooking, no. If you like a brash MCs interactions with an embarrassed family and friends, yes. It reminds me a bit of one of those British garden or room make over shows.

                                                            NPR (radio) The Splendid Table has a short 'stulmp the chef' segment, in which a guest lists a few things (3 I think) in the home, and the host has to describe how she would make a good dish with them, and a 'celebrity stump master' would judge whether she succeeded. C Kimbal (ATK) was the original stump master, though Padma (from Top Chef) was on recently.

                                                            Given my cooking skill, Chopped and Iron Chef are more educational. I've already mastered producing a good meal from the contents of my fridge.

                                                            1. re: paulj

                                                              I hope I don't offend anyone, but I have put absolutely NO credibility in anything Padma does in the culinary world. No apparent training, education, skill...just pure eye candy...and, IMHO, not all that, either.

                                                              1. re: njmarshall55

                                                                I've been wondering if anyone felt that way. Ditto here.

                                                                1. re: njmarshall55

                                                                  Does anyone remember her old Melting Pot episodes? Or have one of her cookbooks? A FN search turns up 40 recipes. I used to find Melting Pot interesting, but I recall the Latino chefs better.

                                                                  1. re: paulj

                                                                    I liked those Melting Pot programs, too. Melting Pot had on also Cat Cora and Rocco Dispirito twice I believe as I remember on the "Mediterranean" episodes; Padma's episodes were "Padma's Passport." Neuvo Latino was under the "Melting Pot" too. I recall it was difficult for me to determine who was on which of the three groups of shows. The food was quite interesting to me.

                                                                    1. re: paulj

                                                                      I like Ingrid Hoffmann, but not that Marcela VIlla....

                                                                    2. re: njmarshall55

                                                                      Just because a person has no formal training does not mean they have no skills. I would pick dinner at my mom's over dinner at loudmouth Emeril's any day.

                                                          2. re: Sal Vanilla

                                                            I think there's room for the old-style cooking shows - but updated with 1080p HD video, better lighting, far crisper pacing than the old style, to bring the same wealth of information the old shows brought but in just a slightly more current style. I think there are arguably several shows that do fit this mold but they are amid this blitz of other kinds of food-related shows so a bit harder to home in on.

                                                          3. Does anyone remember David Rosengarten on the show TASTE...he had the element you seem to be looking for....i guess that is why food network canned him.... i found him a bit arrogant, but he did a great job instructing and cooking great foods..

                                                            3 Replies
                                                            1. re: Shasty

                                                              Yes, his show was absolutely wonderful. I have his cookbook, Taste, published in 1997, about the same time I started on Chowhound. His show was the first "in house" production on the food network.

                                                              1. re: Shasty

                                                                According to the WIki article on Rosengarten, TASTE, was on for 8 years. Not a bad run for a TV series.

                                                                I don't recall it, though.

                                                                1. re: Shasty

                                                                  You know, he WAS a bit arrogant and full of himself. However, I would take his personality over Aunt Sandy's or Paulers any day! Did watch the old TASTE show and it was in good taste!

                                                                2. Yep, "Taste" was a great show. One subject, explored thoroughly. The book is pretty good, too.

                                                                  Nice to read the OP's mention of Laura Calder. I just discovered her show, and it's wonderful.

                                                                  7 Replies
                                                                  1. re: SherBel

                                                                    Today's crop of "Reality chefs" is all part of the dumbing down of America. Paula D. cannot or does not speak high school properly constructed English, Giada just grins and over emphasizes pronunciation of Italian words, Guy F tries way to hard to achieve coolness, and the guy on Foodography lounges and wiggles around on the table.where food is prepared.....No thanks!!!!

                                                                    1. re: ospreycove

                                                                      Got a problem with POR-KAY-TA?

                                                                      I used to like Giada, then one day I realized how much she bugged me.

                                                                      1. re: ospreycove

                                                                        Please. Do not get me started on Mo Rocca from Foodography. I never thought any man on any food show could be more annoying that Guy F., but Mo Rocca has gotten that award. His voice is grating and...and..he serves no purpose whatsoever other than being annoying!

                                                                        1. re: jarona

                                                                          It took you 2 years to get around to ranting about someone you don't want to talk about? :)

                                                                          They are showing a couple of episodes this afternoon, but they are repeats.

                                                                          It's interesting that not only must the content of a show be good, but the voice of the mc must also be pleasing.

                                                                          1. re: paulj

                                                                            "It's interesting that not only must the content of a show be good, but the voice of the mc must also be pleasing."

                                                                            Seriously, what's your point here?

                                                                            1. re: paulj

                                                                              It took you 2 years to get around to ranting about someone you don't want to talk about?

                                                                              Really? Perhaps jarona is *just* seeing the thread now. That's happened a lot. A conversation is had on a thread, I missed it because I wasn't on a particular CH board at a particular time, and it wasn't until someone posted and resurrected the thread that I saw it and commented.

                                                                              And as for the voice of the host? I agree with jarona. If someone has a voice that I dislike, I'm entirely less inclined to listen to/watch a video/show.

                                                                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                Last week The Splendid Table interviewed Jacques Pepin for their Key 3 series. Talking about his early days in NY, he mentioned an editor who wanted him to look at a cookbook manuscript from a lady from California, who was described as 'a very large woman with a terrible voice'.

                                                                      2. No reservation
                                                                        Chucks Eats
                                                                        Unique Eats
                                                                        After Hours With Daniel
                                                                        TOp Chef
                                                                        Avec Eric
                                                                        Best Thing I ever Ate
                                                                        Top Chef MAsters
                                                                        Iron Chef
                                                                        Next Iron Chef

                                                                        I hate everything else pretty much. MOst shows are geared towards home cooks with no skill. The show I hate the most is semi Home Made. It reccomends buying pre chopped vegetables and tons of canneed vegetables. It is a disgrace.


                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                        1. re: tldmatrix

                                                                          tld, I just read a few entries in your blog. Very impressive - looks like a good culinary career in the making! And one HECK of a Christmas list for someone who likes food - good luck to you!

                                                                          1. re: tldmatrix

                                                                            What's wrong with shows geared towards clueless home cooks? Not all people have the aptitude for cooking. Besides, cooking shows should be educational to the masses. If you want to get serious, go to a culinary school. You won't learn much from cooking shows if you're already an accomplished cook.

                                                                            1. re: pearlyriver

                                                                              How about the idea of something for everyone?

                                                                          2. Take heart! G.F. and R.R. have teamed up to bring us a first class food show. LOL

                                                                            1. Good eats was the last good cooking show on Food Network. Sadly.

                                                                              1. My favorite is getting to be Laura Calder. She makes some interesting things.

                                                                                One thing I don't quite understand is the need to show cleavage on a cooking show. Laura does, Rachel does occasionally and Giarda does most of the time. What gives here?

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: noodlepoodle

                                                                                  It's not needed, but it makes things look nicer, like a garnish.

                                                                                2. The FOOD NETWORK SUCKS! It SUCKS because the IDIOTS who run it program Shit that appeals to the kind of Moronic Women who like to watch Soap Operas and other Crap. And they insist on using mostly Untalented boring Hillbilly Hosts like Sandra Lee, Sara Malton, and Rachel Ray. They do have a few good show here and there like when Mario Batali had his show Molto Mario and Guy Fieri's Diners Drive-In and Dives is quite good, although as good as Guy and his show DD&D's is his Cooking Show like the Food Network SUCKS. It's apally how much GARBQAGE the Food Network puts on and programs when there are many possibilities to produce good shows, yet the Food Network refuses to go this route and instead puts one Horrible whow after the other with even more Horrible Hosts like Sara Maulton, Sandra Lee and such.
                                                                                  Bring back Mario and Molto mario and save him from the Shit Show on ABC "The Chew."
                                                                                  This is the kind of crap the Food Network and other networks (ABC) give us, geared to moronic minds and horrible taste. Why do you think Hip Hop is so popular? A sad fact is that much of the population of this country has small minds and Horrible Taste, thus Hip Hop and The Food Network.

                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: xpicassox

                                                                                    So................... tell us what you REALLY think? ;o]

                                                                                    1. re: xpicassox

                                                                                      I personally think Guy Fieri (not his real last name) is the male equivalent of Rachel Ray. Sara Moulton is a very well respected cook and author which may not necessarily make her good at being in front of a television camera... just like actors in movies and taped television may be horrible at doing SNL.

                                                                                    2. I've noticed that FN goes in "waves" -- it seems to be dominated by 2 chefs at a time.
                                                                                      Remember when everything was Alton?
                                                                                      Or Sara M?
                                                                                      Or Bobby Flay?
                                                                                      Or Tyler?
                                                                                      Or Rachael Ray?
                                                                                      Or Guy? [we're in his waning days, I think]
                                                                                      I predict will be Anne B next.

                                                                                      I realize that my idea of "chef with personality" has been expanded and twisted by the people who conquer FN-- it's hard to imagine that I once thought Alton was the most vibrant TV Chef around.

                                                                                      1. I also liked Madeleine Kamman

                                                                                        I always felt that I could cook French with no problem here in the U.S. it was simple direct and supportive....now I just have here books to remember her by...

                                                                                        1. PBS is far and away the leader for "decent" cooking shows these days. When The Cooking Channel launched it was supposed to be a place for Spripps to air "decent" shows that were too dull for Food Network. At some point we have to just get the fact that there is a mismatch between the profit model and cooking shows that are not about entertaining the audience that much. We don't have to like it, but we should get it by now.

                                                                                          Personally, I'm OK with Symon's Suppers, Extra Virgin, and Easy Chinese ........ and I also like Chuck's Day Off. I Do agree that French Food at Home and Dave Rocco are better.

                                                                                          1. I've come to the conclusion that one's interest in a cooking show is the same as any other programming lineup. What is it you want to get out of it? IMHO, the answer falls into one of two categories - entertainment or education. Not that they are mutually exclusive, but in reading this thread and numerous others, it becomes apparent to me that what satisfies one group does not do anything for the other. Seems to be a very polar argument. Me? I'm in the education camp. I can cook...quite well, thank you. I'm very eclectic and selective in my entertainment choices, but I would like to learn from those who know more than I do. I place great emphasis on one's education and training as a role model and someone who I find believable. It's very enjoyable to be both entertained AND educated at the same time, but, sadly, I find VERY few shows that do it for me.

                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: njmarshall55

                                                                                              I think, though, that entertainment has bumped education out of the equation--well, at least on the "Food Network" it has. Although I'm enjoying the cooking shows on PBS and Create, I am still amazed at how when I channel-surf, the FN always has some phase of cupcake competetion being aired. Enough with the damn cupcakes already.

                                                                                              1. re: jarona

                                                                                                You should complain to your cable provider. They shouldn't be repeating the Tuesday night lineup everyday of the week.

                                                                                            2. PBS is running a new series called "Food Forward" that is about the food revolutionaries numbering in the millions in this country. It's not a cooking show but is about individuals taking back control of our food supply. The first epi aired this past week and I believe they are working on 13 more.


                                                                                              America Revealed or whatever the stupid name of that other "food" show on PBS recently was nothing more than propaganda for the manufactured food/agribusiness industry that is literally killing us.

                                                                                              Ditto on Padma. What a big yawn. Melting Pot is on the Cooking Channel very early in the morning, maybe around 5:00 or so.

                                                                                              1. I really like Extra Virgin on the Cooking Channel. It's a unique spin on reality t.v with the implementation of food. I don't use it as a way to learn more about cooking. I do want to say I've used many of their recipes and been really happy. Other then that show, the rest is annoying. The end. Sandra Lee scares the carp out of me, Guy Fieri just seems like a giant d... Anyway. The Food Network is, to me, for entry level home cooks. I'm not saying there is anything wrong with that, its just that if you progress past that point, it's not really for you anymore. In other words, I moved on.

                                                                                                1. I wish I had alternatives to suggest to you, but alas I completely agree with you so I don't. Today's cooking shows are for entertainment value, not for real cooking challenges. My recommendation would be to check out this and other sites to find food blogs with tasty recipes and inspiration to challenge you. There are a lot of them out there, and it takes less time than sitting down for a show ;-)

                                                                                                  15 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: DishingGourmet

                                                                                                    I can't think of a cooking show from that past that was a 'real cooking challenge' - unless it was caused by editing errors.

                                                                                                    1. re: DishingGourmet

                                                                                                      Agreed. However, I've found a pretty decent show--I don't know how old it is though. Jack Pepin. He prepares food in a quick and easy manner. I love that man. I'm also fond of the show Jacques and Julia--again, on Create/PBS. My NEW interest inasmuch as cooking shows go is Kelsey's Essentials. That girl is a breath of fresh air and actually knows how to show her recipes in a very step-by-step manner.

                                                                                                      1. re: DishingGourmet

                                                                                                        Food Network has sunk to an all-time low. Their bean counters have figured out that bottom-line profits are increased when the masses don't have to exercise their pea-brains while watching a cooking show. That's why you have shows with Sandra Lee and Ree Drummond pretending to cook. Semi-Homemade would be better suited to the QVC while the Pioneer Woman show belongs on Animal Planet.

                                                                                                        1. re: LindyCindy

                                                                                                          What kind of cooking show ever required someone to "exercise" their brain? LOL!

                                                                                                          1. re: LindyCindy

                                                                                                            Sandra Lee and Ree Drummond are cooking. They are just not cooking anything that appeals to you. What is pretending to cook?

                                                                                                            1. re: ttoommyy

                                                                                                              "Pretending to cook" is opening can goods and using pre-packaged products like Duncan Hines cake mix. Oh and pouring Mountain Dew over Pillsbury Crescent rolls and calling it Apple Dumplings. Cooking is what Joanne Weir, Jacques Pepin, Sara Moulton and Rick Bayless do on PBS.

                                                                                                              1. re: LindyCindy

                                                                                                                It's two interpretations of cooking. They are both cooking. I am an accomplished baker but I use cake mixes now and then. I use canned goods and frozen foods as well. I also shop at the farmer's market. It's all cooking. What Joanne Weir, Jacques Pepin, Sara Moulton and Rick Bayless do is just at another level. I cook like they do a lot but I also cook like Ree Drummond sometimes too.

                                                                                                                1. re: ttoommyy

                                                                                                                  Ree Drummond has an excellent Sloppy Joe recipe which I've made a few times now.

                                                                                                                  1. re: ttoommyy

                                                                                                                    Exactly. I love food and I believe there is a time and place for everything. I love s'mores and hot dogs at a camp out with little kids, nacho's and wings on Superbowl day, etc.

                                                                                                                    I can appreciate tasting menus and molecular gastronomy as well.

                                                                                                                    It always surprises me that on a "foodie" website like Chowhound, there would be such defense of such a narrow palate. I would think a broad range of food styles would be embraced and appreciated..and held up as more "foodie".

                                                                                                                    1. re: ttoommyy

                                                                                                                      I'd also like to add to my post that people are not making Ree's and Sandra Lee's recipes 3 meals a day, 7 days a week. Just like I could never make Jacques' or Sarah Moulton's recipes every night for dinner. I just do not have the time or energy after work. Yes, some nights I actually use store-bought food items to supplement a homemade portion of the meal. So yes, some times I do cook "semi-homemade."

                                                                                                                    2. re: LindyCindy

                                                                                                                      'pouring Mountain Dew over Pillsbury Crescent rolls and calling it Apple Dumplings.'

                                                                                                                      Good Lord! Who or what is responsible for that abomination!!

                                                                                                                      1. re: Withnail42

                                                                                                                        Those apple dumplings are pretty good, actually. I haven't made them, but I ate them at a potluck, and was pleasantly surprised of their origin.

                                                                                                                      2. re: LindyCindy

                                                                                                                        Joanna Weir is a funny one. While she is very informative, the format is a little to simplistic for my taste. I could spend the entire time laughing at the silly things her and her guests say.

                                                                                                                        It's as if these guests have never seen a potato before, much less a kitchen. You have someone cooking with jalapenos and they talk about the last time they had a tiny bit of jalapeno and their heads almost exploded.

                                                                                                                        My stomach lining is made of steel and I eat more pepper than the average human, but come on, lighten up.

                                                                                                                    3. re: LindyCindy

                                                                                                                      The worst, was Ainsley Harriott. Talk about an annoying person. I stopped watching FoodTV because of him.

                                                                                                                      1. re: CaptHank

                                                                                                                        That can't be. He was on Food Network back in the days when everything there was good.

                                                                                                                  2. This is an old thread, but I hadn't seen it before. There is a lot you can learn from the old classics mentioned above. I have all of Julia Child that is available on DVD. I often refer to Mary Esposito on her web site. But I don't get watch TV much, and I long ago turned off the food shows. I had seen Laura Calder in Canada, but couldn't get her locally. The shows I avoid most are those that treat cooking as a spectator sport.

                                                                                                                    1. The Food Network has become one of those channels that need a parental lock on it because it's just crap.

                                                                                                                      At first, I thought maybe FN was a nice intro for people who know nothing about cooking, but then that's pointless because why waste time learning bad habits. I have not watched the FN in a while and really try to avoid it these days because there's rarely anything of value. How many time do you have to watch some form of food or cupcake wars? Who needs cooks dumping a can of cooked food into a pot, adding another can of cooked or microwaved something into that pot and calling it a meal.

                                                                                                                      I was happy when Cooking Channel was added to my cable line-up, but the powers that be did an excellent job of trashing that network and turning it into garbage. You have Lisa Lilien from who shows us how to cook healthy meals by opening up packets of processed McChemicals and creating 500 calories meals. Maybe the weight-loss can be attributed to the constant diarrhea that keeps the pounds off!

                                                                                                                      It's no surprise that one of the major problems in the US is obesity because people know very little about food. No one's saying you can not use butter, but is a pound of butter really necessary? Carbs are not the devil, just don't eat your weight in pasta.

                                                                                                                      Anyway, back to the cooking channel. I have more than my share of premium cable channels and I'm glad I found the Create channel. This is what cooking channels should be! And it's on PBS.