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Jan 5, 2012 06:57 AM

Your all time favorite 'TV' cooking show chefs?

Keith Floyd (#1 IMO)
Gary Rhodes
J. Child of course
J. Pepin
J. Oliver (lately
)Nick Narin

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    1. re: Paprikaboy

      Although perhaps not "technically" a chef, Julia was my all-time favorite. I learned to cook
      primarily from her books, and her TV "mishaps" made me feel like less of a klutz in the
      kitchen. Also like Pepin, earlier shows probably more then some of the later ones -
      and the Jacques and Julia shows were priceless.

      Currently, I would say Eric Ripert and Batali. I was lucky to have the opportunity to
      take some classes and "side trips" with Mario with a group in Italy, and his knowledge and
      enthusiasm were amazing!. See some of that on the TV, though can't say I'm a big fan of "The Chew"

      1. re: ferventfoodie

        Julia attended Le Cordon Bleau at a time when that actually meant something. That you make her more of a chef than say Deen who had never had any formal training. LOL

        1. re: Puffin3

          Heston Blumenthal had no formal training, almost no 'training' at all, save what he taught himself. Thomas Keller never went to culinary school either AFAIK. Nor did Tom Collichio. Or Ferran Adria. I could go on.

          Ontological relativity aside, being a 'chef' means that you run a professional kitchen. For all her faults, Deen has done that. And Child has not. Formal training or lack thereof has nothing at all to do with it. As such, Deen is a chef and Child was not one. End of story.

          I'd still much rather watch Child, btw.

          1. re: cowboyardee

            correct, correct, correct, correct... and ditto.

    2. Alton Brown (How can you not love a guy who has Shirley Corriher as the resident geek?)

      Jeff Smith (He may have had problems but he also introduced me to cooking.)

      Cooking with Julia

      The Great Chefs series.

      6 Replies
      1. re: Kelli2006

        Nice list.....was The Great Chefs the series on the Discovery Channel where they featured masters, mostly from Europe? If so, that was indeed one of my favorites too.

        "ll add the The Galloping Gourmet Series with Graham Kerr, Justin Wilson and Biker Billy Cooks with Fire

        1. re: fourunder

          Great Chefs from New Orleans was the first of that series. It was on PBS in the 80's. Great show, one of my favorites.

          Justin Wilson, met him at a book signing.

          Pasquale (sp) used sing while he "steam and sauted" Dude was nuts.

          Julia of course.

          1. re: chileheadmike

            Pasquale was great, used to love it when he'd turn around on camera and say "Pardon my back"! liked "yoostan" and Martin Yan too.

          2. re: fourunder

            The Great Chefs series started in the US with NY, Chicago, San Francisco and New Orleans, then spread to other North American cities and the series ended with Great Chefs of Europe.

            I am almost convinced that the Food Network used that series when they started recruiting because Emeril, Bobby Flay, the 2 Hot Tamales and others appeared on the Great Chefs series.

          3. re: Kelli2006

            Ditto with Smith. He's the first one that made me go, "I'd like to try to cook that."

            As great as Julia is, I just never found her engaging as a TV personality.

            1. re: ediblover

              I still remember my son (in early grade school) asking 'Can we make pasta?' after one of his shows. It was one of the few times I've used my Atlas pasta machine.

          4. chef guy fieri

            i especially am entertained by how he wears sunglasses on to the back of his head in the kitchens that he visits. i saw him on the rachel ray show and he seems like a real great chef. one day i hope to work at one of the dinners, drive-ins, or dives that he visits.

            23 Replies
            1. re: mikey031

              Is that the guy with the bleached hair and big mouth? LOL He has had no formal training and he's cut a commercial for TGIFriday. Nuff said.
              Pasquale's Kitchen Express was hilarious! At least you knew exactly what dishes he would prepare on each episode. LOL

              1. re: Puffin3

                so is it the bleached hair that disqualifies him? the big mouth? the lack of formal training? the commercials? Im just wondering your thought process here.....

                There are alot of famous chefs that lack classical training, learning from others in the restaurant racket or even trial and error at home. The hair/mouth comments arent even worth discussing. The commercials? Im sorry, hasnt every name in this post had a commercial, have their own show, make (paid) apperances on top chef and shows of the like, have their own cookbook/pan set/knife set? Im just wondering which of these things prohibit somebody from being a "favorite 'tv' cooking show chef?"

                Fieri is the face of the Food Network due to his overwhelming popularity, id say he is doing pretty well for himself.

                1. re: joe777cool

                  yeah, like that rick bayless burger king commercial

                2. re: Puffin3

                  Many of the classic French chefs learned to cook from their mothers! I am sure there are many here on CH that could stand with the "best" of them that have not been formally trained. IHFS (I Hate Food Snobs!)

                  1. re: Jerseygirl111

                    They may have learned from their mothers, but then they did very long and rigorous apprenticeships in French restaurant kitchens. Home cooking is VERY far removed from being a chef in a restaurant.

                    1. re: ChefJune

                      Does being a chef in a restaurant make one a good home cooking instructor? Or are they too far removed from the home context?

                      Chef Pepin is as well known for his 'French chef cooks at home' and 'Fast food my way', as for the more formal La Technique.

                      1. re: paulj

                        that's a good point. I figured "chef" meant chef, prof cred, as in a resto. I would even put good home cooks in a category above tv personalities

                        1. re: paulj

                          <Does being a chef in a restaurant make one a good home cooking instructor?>
                          No, there is no correlation. Some restaurant chefs are also good teachers, but not in general. Jacques Pepin is a chef who has it all. He was celebrated as a restaurant chef, and also as private chef for DeGaulle when he was President of France. Then he ran R&D for Howard Johnson's -- a great corporate and creative gig. And he's been writing lucid, informative useful cookbooks for decades, not to mention teaching cooking classes all over the country.

                          1. re: ChefJune

                            some really really good restaurant chefs are terrible in front of an audience or camera. not everyone has a flair for teaching or marketable personal appeal, in any profession.

                        2. re: ChefJune

                          the term 'chef' is throw around very liberally, we are all aware of that and it has been debated on these threads up and down and needs not be repeated.

                          The matter at hand is what qualifies for somebody to be a tv show chef/personality/entertainer....whatever term you would like to use, and as we have already seen the personality, restaurant experience, training is very different for names like Fieri, Child, Kerr, Smith, 2 Fat Ladies etc etc etc. In essence probably the only quality that one really needs to to be interesting to an audience. Fieri made a name for himself on Diners, Drive In's, and Dives doing nothing more than eating!

                          1. re: joe777cool

                            Maybe Fieri made a name for himself on tv, but he did work in and run, and still owns restaurants. Besides, the question posed was favorite TV cooking show chef. I interpreted that as someone who has a tv show on which they cook...

                            1. re: Jerseygirl111

                              preaching to the choir, maybe you meant to reply to somebody else. Im not sure how a lack of formal training disqualifies someone from being a tv personality.

                            2. re: joe777cool

                              <The matter at hand is what qualifies for somebody to be a tv show chef/personality/entertainer>

                              Qualifies? Imho, it's the ability to sell the producer/network on one's marketability. Being good looking is a plus, as well. If one can cook, too, so much the better, but not required. The person who media-trained Rachael Ray for the cameras also taught her how to hold a knife....

                              1. re: ChefJune

                                " The person who media-trained Rachael Ray for the cameras also taught her how to hold a knife...."
                                Is this based on real knowledge? Or is it just supposition?

                                1. re: paulj

                                  rr's knife skills used to be appalling, but she put some work in and they are now not bad, although one can argue with her self-brand knife choices.

                            3. re: ChefJune

                              Of course, but the comment was regarding Fieri having no formal training. Yet, he also worked in restaurants...

                              Alas, formal training does not necessarily equate with delicious food. Taste is subjective. Just because someone attends culinary school does not mean they can cook a better tasting meal than say, my neighbor.

                          2. re: Puffin3

                            After a long silence, I have to chime in here. Guy Fieri HAS had "formal training." He has a bachelor's degree in Hospitality Management from University of Nevada at Las Vegas. In many ways, that's far more encompassing than culinary school. For the record, becoming a chef by way of culinary school is a late 20th century phenomenon. The traditional method was through apprenticeships and OJT with master chefs. Any kind of education relies heavily on opportunity and good information. Culinary schools may or may not deliver.

                            As for Mr. Fieri, I find him personable and amusing, but he is a crime walking on the kind of food he promotes. Heart attack on a plate! But it sells, and in a commercial world, that's the name of the game. He does do "good works" on his own to promote healthier eating when he's not in front of the DDD cameras.

                            1. re: Caroline1

                              And according the M Ruhlman, culinary schools have shifted from being trade schools to something approximating that bachelor's degree.

                              1. re: paulj

                                not just "approximating." One has options with schooling, yes, a certificate is still available, but the associate's and bachelor's degree is gaining ground.

                              2. re: Caroline1

                                Good to "see" you, C1! :)

                                Re Guy, I get a kick out of him, too--but not ALL the food he promotes is a heart attack on a plate. Though that may be true of much of the DDD fare, the recipes on Guy's Big Bite are definitely less so. Not that he's Mollie Katzen, but I wouldn't want him to be. He's bold. He's passionate about food. He can be a goofball. I covet his Camaro SS. I enjoy watching him and have learned from him as well.

                                As to my other classic TV chef favorites, I gua-ron-tee I loved Justin Wilson, too. And was a huge "Dessert Circus" fan before Jacques Torres became Mr. Chocolate and opened up all his chocolate shops. Also used to love to watch Sara Moulton, and wished I had as gorgeous a pepper mill as was featured prominently in her kitchen.

                                I don't watch as much food TV as I once did, but when I do tune in, I love Tyler Florence (haven't seen him in a while, they moved his show to an earlier slot on Saturday a.m.) and enjoy the hell outta Anne Burrell when I do have a chance to catch her.

                                ETA: Who remembers? :) I do--fondly!

                                1. re: kattyeyes

                                  Here's one thing I really like about Guy. I assume that hes not allowed to go "eww, this is shit!" But you can tell when he really likes something because he'll keep chomping on it rather than doing the obligatory tv personality taste.

                                  1. re: JonParker

                                    We went last year to a local place that was featured on DDD, and the staff there just raved about him. Said he was just as nice and genuine and easygoing as can be.

                                2. re: Caroline1

                                  Guy Fieri qualifies as a chef on every count. He does own restaurants, (that doesn't qualify as a chef, it makes him a restaurateur) but he does or has cooked in them. Runs the kitchen. RUNS THE KITCHEN. That's what makes a cook a chef.

                                  Whether or not one finds Fieri "personable and amusing," doesn't take away from the fact that yes, he IS a chef.
                                  BTW, we had a very salty, unimaginative dinner at his restaurant in Healdsburg last summer.

                            2. Graham Kerr and Jeff Smith. Those were the first cooking shows I ever watched and they were the ones that really got me into the kitchen. Even sober Kerr is a hoot!

                              I know Smith had some serious issues, but I still miss that crazy old pervert!

                              7 Replies
                              1. re: Avalondaughter

                                These two are the ones I remember most growing up. My dad even purchased Smith's book, the one and only time he ever purchased something over the phone (I can still hear him arguing with the sales person over the additional shipping and handling charge!)

                                Martin Yan was another that I was fond of with his "Cooking with Yan" show and his constant "Wok" play on words.

                                Today I enjoy Fieri, Alton Brown, Bobbie Flay (although he comes off that he is a prick in real life), Emeril, and Giada Di Laurentis - although maybe not as much for her food ;)

                                1. re: joe777cool

                                  Bobby Flay is one of my least favorite cooks, but he's got a reputation for being very sweet and humble in real life.

                                  1. re: mcf

                                    <but he's got a reputation for being very sweet and humble in real life.> I've been acquainted with him for years, and I would say just the opposite.

                                2. re: Avalondaughter

                                  I watched The Frugal Gourmet with my dad when I was a kid, so I have a soft spot for Jeff Smith as well. We had a couple of his cookbooks laying around, and I loved the little anecdotes before the recipes. A lot of his shows are available on YouTube if you search.

                                  1. re: Avalondaughter

                                    Never liked Jeff Smith. Pretentious. I liked Graham Kerr in both his "Galloping" days and the later "MiniMax" healthy cooking iterations.

                                  2. ah yes, CHEFS not personalities:


                                    Wasn't sure if Alton Brown or Justin Wilson really fall under the chef category, but I find them both entertaining and informative

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: BiscuitBoy

                                      Alton is a graduate of the New England Culinary Institute, but he has not worked in a professional kitchen, IIRC.