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What are the most educational cooking shows?

Can Chowhounders recommend me good educational cooking shows which you have learned the most from, aside from Julia Child, Jacques Pepin, Alton Brown (I've read through the old threads)? I'm not looking for culinary journeys/documentaries or dramas among celebrity chefs. I want to improve (or probably rework) my basic cooking skills and improve my repertoire. Any cuisine is welcome.

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  1. You can find old Great Chefs, Great Cities stuff on youtube ( https://www.youtube.com/results?searc... ) and that stuff is just great. It's excellent chefs doing their thing but if you're already watching the stuff you've mentioned, you'll know enough of the terms and enough of the techniques to understand what's up and you can glean a lot.

    If you poke around, there are a lot of "Great Chefs....." series.

    1 Reply
    1. What channels do you have available?

      PBS and the PBS offshoot Create offer lots of good instructional shows. I particularly like Sara Moulton and Lidia Bastianich,but you should look at your local line-up and see what's available that you enjoy.

      If you get Food Network, Anne Burrell's show "Secrets of a Restaurant Chef" is great for her explanations of what she is doing. Some people are a little put off by her personality, but her techniques and dishes are solid.

      If you get Cooking Channel, there are good options there too. Laura Calder's "French Food at Home", also shows and explains good techniques. Anne and Laura are not for beginning cooks, but more like you describe yourself (and how I think of myself too), improving skills from the basics.

      Cooking Channel has a lot of interesting other shows too, unfortunately most of the educational cooking shows are shown early in the morning, so a DVR of some kind is necessary for me, but then I have shows saved so I can watch them whenever it's convenient.

      12 Replies
      1. re: pamf

        I don't live in the States and My pay TV only have Masterchef (USA and UK) and crappy shows like DC Cupcake so I have to rely on Youtube and some pirate sites to watch cooking shows. Thanks anyway.

        1. re: pearlyriver

          If you can view TouTube you should be able to stream other videos on your computer. There are many PBS shows available that way. I noticed some of the Martha Stewart shows when Googking for the correct name of the series I mentioned above. You can also get lots if good cooking shows through Netflix
          on line.

          1. re: Midlife

            Love her or hate she Martha did some really excellent home cooking instructional shows. Basic stuff watched through a camera lens with the faintest coating of Vaseline on it to give Martha's 'hazy' signature look. You tube has all kinds of MS's episodes.
            The one where she is shown, by an italian chef, who at the time was known to make the best spaghetti in NY city blew me away.
            I still make pasta that way.

            1. re: Puffin3

              I've grown to appreciate Martha.....Hearing her on NPR's "Wait Wait" proved that she does indeed have a sense of humor about herself. And her wedding cake shows are among the best episodes of "Baking with Julia."

              1. re: jmckee

                Ditto her segment on NPR's "Car Talk", and her many appearances on Letterman.

                1. re: jmckee

                  Ooh, I'll have to check out that segment on Wait Wait!

                2. re: Puffin3

                  I thought of Martha when I saw the OP.

                  Also, her show on PBS.

                  Love Martha.

                  1. re: Puffin3

                    would that be the chef at Scarpetta?

                  2. re: Midlife

                    Netflix is only available to America and parts of Europe. The videos on Food Network are not avaiable for people outside America.

                    1. re: pearlyriver

                      Curious about that last part. I've never even looked for an FN video on line, in America or anywhere else, but assumed. Any idea why they are blocked?

                      1. re: pearlyriver

                        For region specific videos, you can go to hidemyass.com and put the URL in the search box and you should be able to view the video because they can no longer tell that you are outside of America.

                3. I always learn something from Alton Brown and W on Good Eats.

                  1. America's Test Kitchen and Cook's Country on PBS are quite instructional in nature. They never skip steps and their recipes always work as intended. Whether you like or dislike Christopher Kimball is a different topic.

                    1 Reply
                    1. I always found Sara Moulton's live show on the early Food Network to be informative. One of the things I liked was that people called in and asked questions. Sara always seemed to give good practical advice and tips.

                      It's too bad those shows aren't available somewhere.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: Leepa

                        She answers questions on her website now.

                        1. re: EM23

                          Yes, I've seen that. But I still miss her show. :)

                        2. re: Leepa

                          Yes Sara's live show taught me a lot about cooking I loved it. I wish it was still around. She still has a show on PBS. I think she is fantastic.
                          Ann Burrell is wonderful to watch and really learn from.
                          Also Martha is very good.
                          Those are my 3 top picks to really teach a person about food and cooking.

                          1. re: Leepa

                            I really also LOVED Sara's old show on the old Food Network...sheesh...it was a very good network when it first started...Essence of Emeril was also great until he became so silly; I became embarrassed for him with Emeril Live. I bought my first cast iron pan and made my first roux due to his Essence show. Anyone know where I can find some old Essence shows? They are not on youtube. Thanks!

                          2. Maybe most won't agree with me, but I find Martha Stewart's shows informative and enjoyable.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: hueyishere

                              I like watching Martha. She is informative and has great ideas.

                              She is also one of a small handful of people cooking on TV that I like to watch for mistakes! Naughty of me, I know....

                              Recently, she scooped up sugar in a dry measure cup, and she just carelessly dipped it in the cannister without filling it all of the way, not getting the correct measure by any stretch of the imagination. It was three cups worth, so she may have shorted her recipe by as much as 1/4-1/3 of a cup!

                              Today, she had her mixer going, and she cracked an egg on the edge of the mixer bowl and dumped in the egg while it was running. Now, you and I do this all of the time and usually get away without an egg shell shard getting into our batter, but for an instructional cooking show this wasn't a good thing to do.

                              OK, now tell me to go get a life!!!!;-)

                            2. Several of Heston Blumenthal's series fit the bill. Check out:
                              In Search of Perfection
                              Heston's Feasts
                              Kitchen Chemistry (if you can find it)

                              There are also a number of decent educational productions for various cuisines available on youtube. I enjoy 'Cooking with Dog,' which is mainly focused on Japanese home cooking, and "Maangchi," which does videos of Korean cooking.

                              1. I've had good luck with Anne Burrell's secrets of a restaurant chef

                                1. I have learned so, so, so much from Ina Garten - the Barefoot Contessa. In every episode she gives wonderful tips. I feel I have become a much better cook over the years thanks to Ina. As an aside, her recipes are all fool proof and home runs!

                                  1. "Mind of a Chef" on PBS is less of a traditional cooking show, but it includes many segments explaining food science and history as well as a few segments per episode of actual cooking by real working chefs with things explained along the way.

                                    An example with David Chang making yakitori: http://youtu.be/BydQ71-sGsY

                                    1. A second plug for Martha Stewart here, but specifically for the PBS series Martha Stewart's Cooking School. Each episode focuses on a basic skill or method. I'm pretty sure there's one on knife skills alone, and I recall eps on things like sautéing, sauces, and stews. Sounds like exactly what you're looking for.

                                      1. Thanks every one for your input. I've been frustrated by the lacklustre and tasteless meals served at home lately so I'm determined to overhaul my cooking foundations. I've stumbled upon the How to Make the Perfect sth columns on the Guardian written by Felicity Cloake and I've learned so many tips from her. I'll check out the Cook's ILlustrated, Heston and Martha Stewart series.
                                        One question about Martha though: It seems like her recipes are very inconsistent from what I've learned from various comments but why do her cookbooks get such positive ratings on Amazon? Are they worth buying?

                                        4 Replies
                                        1. re: pearlyriver

                                          I think the claims of inconsistency with MS recipes are in a minority. She has a HUGE following that is happy with them. We all know that results can vary for a lot of reasons having nothing to do with the recipe. Quality of equipment varies, some cooks are less precise than others, etc.

                                          There is a vast reservoir of recipes on the MS website. You can try them for free without needing to purchase cookbooks. If you want everyday recipes, look for back issues of Everyday Cooking magazine on eBay. They are well-organized, and compact enough that you can carry one around for skimming in free moments, or keep it in the bathroom commode-top "library".

                                          1. re: greygarious

                                            I have to somewhat disagree. I have been cooking and baking for many, many years, and I have consistently had issues with MS recipes. I have also had great results; the ratio just seems to be leaning a bit too far towards the negative side in my long-time experience.

                                            I LOVE her books, shows, etc. The creativity and sheer volume of recipes is very inspiring. But if I need something to for sure turn out well and be delicious, I might take ideas and presentation tricks from MS and then find someone else's actual recipe to use, so that I know it will absolutely work and taste good.

                                            1. re: sandylc

                                              But if you are willing to hang on a little longer FN is coming out with what promises to be the 'seminal' food cooking show in the fall.
                                              Title? 'The Game of Cones'.
                                              That's right folks. And we thought the executives at FN had lost their passion for creating cutting edge cooking shows.

                                              1. re: Puffin3

                                                Are you sure it wasn't the proposed new vegan show "The Big Blanch Theory"?

                                        2. Just go to Youtube and type in Keith Floyd. He arguably created the traveling, boozing, fresh food tourist show. On BBC. The only show I would try to watch when close enough to England to get the broadcast.

                                          Best watched with a bottle or two of wine. Per show.

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                                            I have about two hundred KF Youtube videos 'bookmarked'. Never get tired of watching him. IMO the very best of the best example of the genre.
                                            Does anyone know where I can get the episode from Africa where he puts copious amounts of meat into a huge black pot filled with water over a fire? The pot is big enough to cook a whole missionary! It's the one where he puts a pigs head into the pot and submerges it. Than as he's talking to the camera the pigs head slowly appears floating on the surface. It's the most hilarious moment on TV I've ever seen.
                                            I've GOT TO find the episode!!!!!
                                            PLEASE SOME ONE HELP ME FIND IT!!!!!!!

                                            1. re: Puffin3

                                              You should probably start a thread for that request, so more people will notice it than when it's buried in a thread on educational cooking shows.

                                          2. I am surprised no one mention Jacques Pepin. I thought his PBS series " Fst Food My Way" and "More Fast Food My Way" were very good and made use of things you can find readily. I could certainly imagine them helping a home cook spice up a repetoire.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: bropaul

                                              the OP said, other than jacques pepin, etc. That said, he would have been my first suggestion too, the man is brilliant.

                                            2. The first cooking show I watched was The Frugal Gourmet, with Jeff Smith, back in the 80s. I believe a lot of the shows are available on youtube.

                                              More recently, Alton Brown's Good Eats - the explanation of how food works I've always been looking for - and Ann Burrell's Secrets of a Restaurant Chef, which occasionally deals with the problem of how to get several dishes ready at the same time. The latter is not recommended if you're watching your sodium intake, though.

                                              1. I have learned more about different meats, fish, produce, spices, etc. from Chopped than any other show.

                                                I find Symon's Suppers and Secrets of a Restaurant Chef to be very informative as well.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                                  It's probably more a function of the Canadian-produced shows being lower-key and keeping the focus on cooking (vs. the flashier American shows), but the chefs that have inspired me to cook what they are making have been: Chuck Hughes, Laura Calder, Bal Arneson, Lynn Crawford and even Roger Mooking. Although I've watched many episodes of Giada's shows, I'm never inspired to make any of her dishes. Ditto to Ina Garten, Bobby Flay, Pioneer Woman and Tricia Yearwood.

                                                  Like Janet from Richmond, I am inspired to buy and try different ingredients, as a result of watching many episodes of Chopped. I really wish the focus would stay on the dishes the chefs are creating, though, rather than the trumped up drama of their comments, all of which are recorded after the competition.

                                                  1. re: 1sweetpea

                                                    I see that many people swear by Ina Garten. I've watched only several videos of her shows on Youtube (foodnetwork videos were blocked here) but I don't feel inspired to make her dishes.

                                                2. For Indian cookery the Madhur Jaffrey show "India Cookery" from the BBC back in the early '80's was very good. It has a good simple recipe book that is still published which is basic but foundational.

                                                  Another from the same era is the Delia Smith's Cookery Course (three series) which probably taught a generation of British cooks....not certain her TV style has stood the test of time but her books have.

                                                  More recently the Australian "Poh's Kitchen" is pretty good. She has a great deal of enthusiasm and does a good job of contrasting Asian and other recipes cooked alongside other chefs.

                                                  Another more technical one is the Raymond Blanc series for the BBC called "Kitchen Secrets".

                                                  4 Replies
                                                  1. re: PhilD

                                                    I also like Poh's Kitchen, especially her relaxed presentation. I'm not sure but the Aussie chefs seem to be more friendly and down-to-earth than the American counterparts.

                                                    1. re: pearlyriver

                                                      I think she is good at diffusing ego's

                                                      1. re: pearlyriver

                                                        Ahh, Aussieland - now you're in my territory!

                                                        I am currently waiting for a dvd box set of "The cook and the chef" (Maggie Beer and Simon Bryant). I am thinking that this might be a good series for picking up some new skills.

                                                        Luke Nguyen is also worth looking up. But he might fall more into the culinary journey category.

                                                      2. re: PhilD

                                                        Thought the Blanc one was areally good approach. In only 30 minutes (?), he covered several dishes on a theme, starting with a relatively easy one building to a pretty complex one.

                                                        And I probably refer to Delia Smith's books more often than anyone else's. The BBC did a number of very good, "educational" series back in the 80's. I also rememeber Valentina Harris' Italian one - and still use the book as a reference.

                                                        Maybe I am stuck in a 80s timewarp.

                                                      3. I loved loved loved the BBC Masterchef Pro shows. idk if you can find them online, but all the recipes are on the BBC site. They did a skills test, where they were required to prep or make something, and then make a classic French dish, then make something of their own. One of the hosts did the skills test first, the other made the classic French dish first, so you could see what was expected. So you got to learn from Michelin star chefs, learn basic (often arcane) prep skills, classic and contemporary dishes. No backstabbing, angst, etc. Just cooking. I don't know if they're still producing it. It's not Gordon (effing) Ramsey's American show - that one sucks rocks.

                                                        4 Replies
                                                        1. re: joycebre

                                                          The last series was in the autumn so I wouldnt expect another until much later in the year. The usual format is for the main Masterchef series to run now (as it is), followed by a short celebrity series and then the Professionals.

                                                          By the by, Michel Roux has quit the Professionals show (or been fired) in a row over his commerical sponsorship of a product (which crosses BBC's rules about commercial endorsements). It'll be interesting to see who takes over - my guess is that Monica will find may find it difficult to continue, so there may be a new set of judges and I reckon it'll be headed by Angela Hartnett.

                                                          1. re: Harters

                                                            We have a Roux Scholarship show playing at the moment. It's a bit Master-chef Professional like and of course features Michel - being a cynic I wondered if his departure from MCP was related to the Roux's paddling their own canoe.

                                                            1. re: PhilD

                                                              No. It was related to his TV and press adverts for Rooster potatoes.

                                                              As I understand the BBC's "no advertising" rules it restricts someone contracted to them from endorsing products directly related to their TV shows - in this case a food product. It would have been fine for Roux to be in an advert for, say, Specsavers (Heston having bagged the job for Vision Express)

                                                              1. re: Harters

                                                                Hi John - well aware of the published reasons, just wondered if there was actually more to the story given the similarities of the some of the elements of both the shows.

                                                        2. One of my favorites is Simply Ming on PBS. Unobtrusive, collaborative, and gentle. i don't like food war shows.

                                                          1. I remember a lot of shows I used to love. m is, I have no idea where you catch them now. The ones that still come to mind are Pierre Franey on PBS and the Great Chefs series that used to run on the Discovery channel. Pierre was especially good for instructions. His recpies were always clear and repeatable. The Great Chefs series were always inspiring to try something different.

                                                            1. I'd like to see some NEW Great Chefs episodes made. In the old style - not with the hyped-up coked-up-looking smiley booby I-have-a-story shit of current day style.

                                                              1. For folks in the US, Inter Library Loan is a great thing.
                                                                You may have to wait weeks or even months upon occasion, but if it's out there, you can get it delivered to your local library for checkout.
                                                                Yes, this includes DVD's and videos.

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: Kris in Beijing

                                                                  UK also has inter library loan, although I'm not sure if it includes DVDs. Certainly a great way to access old out-of-print books.

                                                                2. I grew up on frugal gourmet and great chefs, so watching the "reality"/celebrity chef movement is nearly impossible for me. Even the early FN shows like Chef Du Jour and Taste were ok. Only thing I watch anymore are CI and CC on PBS...and of course anything with Pepin in it.

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: sugargenius

                                                                    I also liked the Frugal Gourmet. He taught me how to make pan pita pizzas a long time ago, and I have made them for countless parties. Agree with others about Pepin, especially since he's gotten more rustic (I know, the OP excluded that for reference). And since I've already mentioned Simply Ming, I wanted to add that there was an episode where Ming and Pepin cooked together. It was very enjoyable to watch them collaborate. I can't find the actual episode online, but here is a brief description.