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When watching a food/cooking show what are you looking for in the host?

These are my opinions{

Bourdain is snarky yet informative about new things.
Guy Fieri is big-bold and tries to be funny.
Julia Child is just straight information

These are 3 that I enjoy.But what do you enjoy in food shows?

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  1. Destination cooking, off site out of the studio cooking shows. For me it's more about the setting and the menu than the host. But as hosts go, Luke has my undivided attention when I catch an episode.

    I enjoy watching this:

    Second, Chuck Hughes. Fun loving, free spirit chef. I enjoy his adventures.


    4 Replies
    1. re: HillJ

      HillJ, I'm also a huge fan of Luke Nguyen! I've always wanted to go to Vietnam to eat (it's my favorite food), but his shows have sent me right over the edge. I'm planning a trip now . . .if I can get my schedule to cooperate

      1. re: HillJ

        Ohh yes I enjoy Luke Nguyen. The food isn't really what I would probably attempt at home too often, but it's really enjoyable to watch, and I like watching him interact with everyone he meets.

        1. re: HillJ

          Watching both shows helped me become a better Asian ingredient shopper and customer. Because now the ingredients and individual dishes I wasn't familiar with have been broken down into understandable steps. Without the proper visual demonstration for dishes prepared with a bit of this and a dash of that, I'd miss something and the dish would be lost/different. I also find ordering these dishes off a menu makes far more sense to me now.

          The settings that Luke and Chuck tape in really make the food experience so enjoyable. The episode where Luke is grilling inside a small canoe while heading down the river stayed with me for days. Chuck makes me smile no matter what he does.

          1. re: HillJ

            Luke Nguyen is absolutely terrific. I also like Laura Calder, of French Food at Home.

          2. And, I'm still a Bobby Flay fan when he's doing the cooking and talking about new ventures (I don't watch the contestant shows).

            1. A good mix of cooking and travel with a knowledgeable host, preferably somewhere off the beaten path, not too flashy or gushing. Luke Nguyen is good, Bourdain in A Cook's Tour, Kylie Kwong in small doses.

              1. knowledgeable. appropriately enthused about the product being prepared and the methods being utilized. respectful of the work involved and free to express themselves fully regarding the finished product. somebody who's been there and done that - knows what it's like to be in a kitchen, to prepare foods, to work with the ingredients. not just someone who likes to eat - somebody that really gets it.

                1. When it comes to the host itself, I like more straightforward and calm... think Ina Garten, or Bobby Flay in his straight cooking shows (I really like his Brunch with Bobby show). I also enjoy Ching He Huang's Easy Chinese... not so much her Restaurant Redemption show. I also like Kelsey Nixon but she can get a bit annoying... her recipes are good though.

                  I'm not into folks who seem to shout at the camera and/or have lots of catchphrases and/or seem fake.

                  1. Essentials: Intelligence. Skills. Clarity so you can follow what's happening and, hopefully, pick up some new skills. Explanations of why things are done a certain way. A wide scope of cuisines.

                    A plus: being entertaining.

                    Unnecessary: Cleavage. Competition.

                    Examples of people who I've enjoyed and learned from are Chris Kimball et al, Sara Moulton (loved her cook alongs), Alton Brown, David Rosengarten, Jeff Smith (prior to knowledge of his predatory behavior offscreen) and Ina Garten.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: rainey

                      Hi rainey, I also miss the Sara Moulton cook along show. And I don't see that anyone has mentioned Jacques Pepin, who is my favorite chef ever. I've watched his shows for over 20 years now. This may sound weird but even now that he's older, I still think he's hot!

                      1. re: MrsPatmore

                        I just posted about him. Yes he is absolutely one of the most handsome elegant gorgeous men on earth!

                      2. re: rainey

                        You captured my thinking. I want to learn, and I like it to be pleasant. Don't shout at me, don't try too hard to be a hipster (Duuuude... I'm lookin' at you, Guy Ferry!) or force me to look at your cleavage. It's such a tired format now. Always ending with the "mmmm... so good!" taste mugging to the camera as the final shot.

                        I see where it gets stuck when I watch the "Next Food Network Star" competition. The network executives doing the judging are just so positive that the audience wants to know the cook's "story", that we want to become emotionally involved in some sort of soap opera. No, we want to know if this person can cook and has skills and technique that they can show me. As an example, right now, I'm enjoying the Jacques Pepin shows on Create TV. All the shouting and running on Food Network, the manic energy, just annoys me.

                      3. I'm looking for someone real; real personality, real food knowledge.

                        I'm so tired of sparkling, grinning idiots reading lines and over-the-top "personalities" - !

                        Bug-eyes and jack-o-lantern smiles, begone!

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: sandylc

                          That's why I stay away from 90% of the contestant shows. They play like a soap opera, all anyone talks about is the drama and the food is so secondary they could be working in wax.

                          Reality tv ruined television for me.

                          1. re: sandylc


                            Give me down home or haut. It's all interesting. But keep it real! Tell us why it's good and worth experiencing.

                            Stop inflating everything and everyone. Do good work and let it stand on its merits. Keep up the 30 minute commercials and the hypercharged personalities and you have no credibility and risk having no audience. I know I haven't watched the Food Network in 5 years or more.

                          2. Thanks for the ideas. I forgot some of the old ones that were really enjoyable. I hate the competitions also.

                            Please keep ideas coming.

                            1. I watch food/cooking shows to learn. I crave knowledge about technique, insights into food (ethnicities) I haven't tried, and intros to cutting edge ingredients, spice, flavor combinations IE: pickling, local, & nose to tail ideas.

                              That being said the host that exudes confidence, intelligence, enthusiasm, and a passion for food draws me in. Think David Rosengarten, Alton Brown, & Julia Child.

                              I'm not sure it was part of the question but I also enjoy shows that include real chefs at work, in the restaurant or at home. I love watching the pros do what they do!

                              I grew up watching Julia, Graham, and Justin WIlson, moved on to Sara, David, and Alton, and now feel somewhat let down by what is supposed to be the Food Network. The last thing I care about watching is a doggone cupcake competition!

                              By the way, have you seen Gordon Ramsay's Ultimate Cookery Course? Even though I haven't been a fan of most of his shows I recently found this on youtube and have watched every episode. More like this please!

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: LiveRock

                                LiveRock, I have caught a few of Gordon's videos and he is enjoyable left to his own devices. Fun series.


                              2. Unless they can cook great food and have wonderful recipes they better be really hot looking.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: scubadoo97

                                  Which begs the question, When will there be a hot shirtless guy hosting a cooking show?

                                  Wouldn't put it past them...

                                2. really used to enjoy Keith Lloyd and the destinations & odd kitchen sets he made his meals on.
                                  also enjoy watching Jamie Oliver when he creates meals either in his yard with the outdoor oven or that barn/out building where perfect utensils, bent spoons or knives, chipped bowls and/or saucers or tea cups seem to be of no concern.

                                  1. "two Pounds of butttttter"

                                    and lovely British accents.
                                    Of course.

                                    1. My all time favorite will always be Jacques Pepin. So handsome elegant and his knowledge of everything from how to forage...how to shop for ingredients is astounding. Him and Wolfgang Puck are so at ease in their kitchens and their creativity and skills are off the hook!

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: MamasCooking

                                        I agree about Pepin he is the best. I doubt I can be handsome and elegant.

                                        1. re: MamasCooking

                                          Pepin and a paring knife really floats my boat.

                                        2. In no particular order:


                                          Tony Bourdain, Jacques Pepin, Julia Child, Alton Brown, Andreas Viestad, Guy Fieri, Rachel Ray, Jeff Smith, Justin Wilson, Jamie Oliver, Nigella Lawson, Laura Calder, José Andrés, Mario Batali, Madhur Jaffrey, Lidia Bastianich, John Besh, Paul Prudhomme, "The Cooking Odyssey", "Americas Test Kitchen" / "Cooks Country", Nick Stellino, Earl Peyroux, Keith Floyd, the Swedish Chef on the Muppets,


                                          Mark Bittman, Nadia G., Paula Deen, Robert Irvine, Tyler Florence, Bobby Flay, Chuck Hughes, Daisy Martinez, Martin Yan, Emeril Lagasse, Pierre Franey, Steven Raichlen, Tommy Tang, Graham Kerr, Burt Wolf, Caprial and John, Maryann Esposito, Cat Cora,


                                          David Rosengarten, Nathalie Dupree, Giada De Laurentiis, Ina Garten, Sandra Lee, Anne Burrell, Dave Lieberman, Duff Goldman, Alexandra Guarnaschelli, Geoffrey Zakarian, Scott Conant,

                                          and the list(s) go on and on...

                                          15 Replies
                                          1. re: Gastronomos

                                            LOL on your endorsement of the Swedish Chef!

                                            I'm interested in what were the qualifiers that some folks in, some out and some on the bead.

                                            1. re: rainey

                                              it was just my answer to the OP, "what are you looking for in the host?"

                                              I lists my faves, my Ok's and those that I wish never did a show, like David Rosengarten and Nathalie Dupree.
                                              The rest of the - list are just my opinions of hosts that aren't/weren't that good on TV.

                                              1. re: Gastronomos

                                                Right. But what *makes* one a favorite?

                                                You don't need to answer. I just couldn't identify a thread running thru the red lights, yellow lights, green lights.

                                                That's OK. I don't have to. They're your choices and they're perfectly legitimate. I was just curious.

                                                1. re: rainey

                                                  I'm equally curious, gastronomous! I'm not being critical of your choices, but was surprised that you gave +1 to Rachel Ray, Guy Fieri - who I personally can't stand - but also +1 to my favorites, Jacques Pepin, Julia Child

                                                  You've piqued my interest. Likewise curious about Nathalie Dupree. Not that she's my favorite, but I'm curious what you don't like about her. As rainey said, you have no obligation to explain but I'm genuinely curious about your selection criteria

                                                  1. re: MrsPatmore

                                                    Pepin & Julia are hard to beat. Clearly they were about more than "themselves".

                                                    1. re: MrsPatmore

                                                      They are simply my choices for entertainment and cookery show hosts. Mostly about the Hosts, not necessarily about the cooking or knowledge of cooking, just the host.
                                                      Although Earl Peyroux 's show sucked, Earl was good, and entertaining in a very mellow and strange way.

                                                      Nathalie Dupree had a horrible show, was often very frustrated on camera and often at her assistants/interns that she regularly berated on camera. Sometimes because she was trying to follow a recent trend, such as using fresh herbs, despite her recipe calling for dried and her interns placing dried on the counter, and her basically firing them while the camera was rolling. She also had an attitude that her shit don’t stink. Horrible, Horrible show, Horrible Host and all.

                                                      Entertainment and fun in Rachel and Guy. Not a cooking show. A fun show about food with fun hosts. All their shows. Fun.

                                                      Jacques Pepin cooks exactly like I like to eat. His knowledge and attitude make me very comfortable with him. He knows what is classic French and he knows American tastes. He makes the classic accessible to American tastes, even bringing his old school French chefs on camera despite that they argue with him that he’s “Not doing it in the classic French way”. He even makes comments that he chooses to eat vegetarian twice a week, even though he is not a vegetarian. A foreign concept to American viewers that this exists at all let alone a worldwide way of living until just recently.

                                                      David Rosengarten was the most painful for me. I hated him, his shitty show, his ego, his attitude, his way of making what HE likes the center of everything, despite all else pointing in a different direction. The last time I watched his show he made a fillet of fish in a traditional manner of sorts. The dish called for halibut, but any firm fleshed white fish would work. He made it with halibut and with salmon. He professed his love of salmon, and although it doesn't really go with the recipe, although the halibut may be better, he prefers salmon and continued to eat the salmon on camera making yummy noises the whole way through the closing credits. Goodbye, good riddance.
                                                      I look for fun and entertainment. Many of my family and friends cannot watch a single moment of a cooking show, let alone as much as me. I don’t look for recipes. I do look for techniques. I have taken some of my old school recipes and made them a different way by a technique I saw on a show.

                                                      If you get the chance, do watch a show on PBS called “The Cooking Odyssey”.

                                                      1. re: Gastronomos

                                                        Jacques Pepin is a humble man too in spite of his fame and fortune. On one of his shows with his daughter Claudia he professed his love of *peasant* food and said his favorite comfort food is a bowl of gruel. How cool is he?

                                                        1. re: Gastronomos

                                                          Thank you, gastronomus, that was an excellent explanation! I love this, and totally agree:
                                                          <[Jacques Pepin] even makes comments that he chooses to eat vegetarian twice a week, even though he is not a vegetarian. A foreign concept to American viewers that this exists at all let alone a worldwide way of living until just recently.>

                                                          PS I'll look at Nathalie Dupree's shows more closely due to your comments. She hasn't been on the air here in awhile - perhaps because others agree with your assessment

                                                          1. re: MrsPatmore

                                                            FWIW, my current favorite host is Andreas Viestad. I love his show "New Scandinavian Cooking". I think they had a female host for a short while. I'm glad Andreas Viestad made this show. It's one of the best on TV right now.

                                                            1. re: Gastronomos

                                                              We think it's funny how much of his food is only in varying shades of tan and white. So Scandihoovian.

                                                              1. re: Gastronomos

                                                                Gastronomus, I'm not sure that show is on the air here. I'll look to see if it's available online (like I need another TV show to watch, LOL!)

                                                                Does anyone else remember the shows by Andrea Immer Robinson - Simply Wine and Pairings with Andrea? These were not straight up cooking shows, but I really liked Andrea as a host

                                                        2. re: rainey

                                                          let me add that I just heard Christopher Kimball admit he was and still is a Deadhead and he spent time at Wavy Gravy's commune.
                                                          I always liked his TV shows and now I like him even more :-)

                                                          1. re: Gastronomos

                                                            Fellow deadhead here . . . missed a couple of semesters of college due to East Coast tour back in the early eighties. I sold tofu sandwiches out of the back of my Honda CRX to pay my way! April Fool's Show 1985, Portland ME: I'm in the parking lot, looking for a miracle. A large white limo pulls up, the rear window rolls down and there's Jerry!!! No kidding. He mumbles something about "day tripper" which was totally lost on us until the encore. The Greatest Band in the Land played the Beatles' "Day Tripper" as an encore. https://archive.org/details/gd85-03-3...

                                                            BTW I don't remember ever seeing Christopher Kimball, but I definitely saw Bill Walton at several shows. I specifically remember seeing him at the (now gone) Boston Garden in the eighties.

                                                            1. re: MrsPatmore

                                                              What a long strange trip it's been ...

                                                  2. I think if I had to pick just one show and show host prototype, it would be Molto Mario.
                                                    I felt like I learned about geography and authentic Italian cuisine, how to cook from scratch, and cook simply, all while sitting in Mario's kitchen, waiting for him to put a plate on the island, right in front of me.
                                                    His banter is so easy, with no pretense.

                                                    3 Replies
                                                    1. re: monavano

                                                      I enjoyed and mix this show, too. It was interesting, informative, and inspiring. Mario was naturally enthused without that stupid pumped up "personality" crap that the food/cooking channels insist upon now.

                                                      1. re: sandylc

                                                        Fortunately, I can enjoy his cooking during his segments on The Chew. He just slips right back into food show host mode.

                                                        1. re: monavano

                                                          Mario is personable and so charming.

                                                    2. I'm a home cook, never been to culinary school, but I am an artist in fine arts and digital media so I'm looking for a host to be relateable and informative.

                                                      Funny and snarky keeps the entertainment factor.

                                                      1. I like instructional shows with real chefs (versus culinary personalities) like Lidia Bastianich, Jacques Pepin, Ming Tsai used to love Mullto Mario and I really like Americas Test Kitchen although they try to re-invent the wheel too much. Maybe because I'm a retired chef I hate the competition shows and all the contrived restaurant reality repair shows like Gordon Ramsey (if I ever treated one of my cooks like that I'd be stabbed) and that other oversize Brit. I want to learn something from a cooking show. The Food Channel has gotten silly over the years for the most part.Rachel Ray, Guy Fieri and their ilk.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: zackly

                                                          Funny you mentioned what would happen if you treated a cook like that. Years ago when I worked in restaurants a mouth like that would have been met by a big angry Greek with a massive mustache holding a 2 foot long chefs knife that looked like something out of the move Aladdin. Kept the late night drunks in line too without uttering a word.

                                                        2. Jacques Pepin
                                                          Ina Garten
                                                          Laura Calder
                                                          April Bloomfield
                                                          Sara Moulton
                                                          Ming Tsai
                                                          Lynn Crawford

                                                          People who have passion without being fake/obnoxious and loud. Guy Fieri is the opposite of what I'm looking for. I rarely watch foodnetwork anymore. Just PBS or Create.