Friday, January 30, 2009

Television Cooking: On the Road Again

have enjoyed
cooking shows since the days of Julia Child and the Galloping Gourmet. When they first came on the television scene they were associated almost entirely with Public Television. And PBS had a bunch of them, Justin Wilson from Louisiana, Julia Child, Jacques Pepin, the Galloping Gourmet, and Yan Can Cook (I still use a big cleaver for a knife because of him) - I watched them all. My favorite was Justin Wilson.

Then came cable television and the possibilty of more stations than the broadcast television's bandwidth allowed. Enter Food Network, and the cook show personality hit the bigtime. Rachel Ray was as popular as Oprah for a while.

Now, the genre is changing again. Reality TV has folded in with Food TV. Top Chef has been around for 4 years but I'm still not on board yet. I do like some of the competition shows like Iron Chef.

My favorite food shows haven't changed in the last few years: Good Eats because host Alton Brown explains what happens in the cooking and ingredient mixing process, America's Test Kitchen on PBS (the same people that do the Cook's Illustrated Magazine) and anywhere Sara Moulton shows up.

One new favorite: Mark Bittman and Mario Batali tour Spain and its many food dishes with friends and actresses Gwenyth Paltrow and Claudia Bassols. It is a good show if you like European scenery and cuisine. Here's the website: spainontheroadagain

Some I don't care for: Emeril annoys me. Bam this, Emeril. The lady from Louisiana has a voice that is like fingernails on a chalkboard to me. And her two boys need to cut the apron string sometime before they turn 50. Barefoot Contessa is a little too Hamptons, although she seems a likable person. The Cake Show with the Goth, Gen X'ers is way too hip for me, plus I can't watch anyone cook with tattoos on their neck.

Remember the Two Fat Ladies cooking show on BBC? That was an all time favorite because they were real bluebloods with the 1960's upperclass disdain for pretention.

So here's the question: what is your favorite cooking show?


Jennifer said...

This made me smile -I started watching Yan Can Cook on PBS when I was in elementary school. Current favs - Barefoot Contessa, though I've actually tried many of her recipes and they are just too pricey for the family. The Beef Bourguignon cost me $68. My husband got me hooked on Top Chef. And we always enjoy the Food Network Challenges.
Emeril drives me nuts with all the drama(!) and oh the nightmare that Sandra Lee. Shudder.

Lizzie said...

I love Paula Dean! I admit her voice can get annoying but I like that she started from nothing and is now the Queen of her own cooking empire, twang and all. Her husband left her with two small boys and she started by making sandwiches and the boys would peddle them to local businesses. Now the sons run a restaurant. I think you are right though, they need to cut those apron strings.

I also love Ace of Cakes but it appeals to the creative side. I honestly don't know or care if their cakes taste good. I'm just amazed at what they come up with.

I don't have cable so I can't watch all of the fabulous shows.

Francis Shivone said...

Jennifer -- My daughter and I would watch Sandra Lee just to kind of pychonalyze her. Kind of cruel but fun. I like Contessa, too, but the Hampton's friends bug me. I want to smack Emeril everytime I see him.

Liz -- I think Paula Dean is liked by woman. I respect her accomplishments but I can't take 2 minutes of watching her or her sons. The Ace of Cakes guy is way to Goth or GenX or whatever you call it for me.

Josie said...

"It is a good show if you like European scenery and cuisine." Yes, you said it best-I absolutely love Spain on the Road I won't erase them from my DVR because I love watching them. Gwenyth and Claudia are so beautiful and all the scenery is gorgeously shot and do not even get me going on the food.

I thought Mark Bittman came off as arrogant, but I bought one of his cookbooks recently (How to Cook everything Vegetarian) and I now have nothing but respect for the guy-he really knows food and his recipes are simple and delicious. I love watching Batali geek out on food also.

Francis Shivone said...

Josie -- Mark Bittman kind of rubs me the wrong way, too, as does Mario sometimes, and truth be told if the two girls weren't on the show I probably wouldn't watch it. But they really do have some great looking authentic dishes.

Nobody is better than Bittman on food today, in my view, even given his NY City bragadocia.

catherine said...

In my extended family, we are big fans of Everyday Italian. In fact, my brother’s infatuation with Giada De Laurentiis led him to name his first-born after her - they Americanized the spelling to "Jetta" (against my advice, haha).

Jake Good said...

I grew up watching Julia Child and The Frugal Gourmet (Jeff Smith), and of course Yan Can Cook on PBS... Speaking of Yan, he was recently at the Central Market near my house teaching a class... missed out :(

Then then of course when Food Network came on...

My likes:

Everyday Italian with Giada... yeah fantastic Italian and well, it doesn't hurt that she's gorgeous.

I *love* watching Good Eats for exactly the same reason, Alton is my favorite food personality and he brings science into it. Love it.

I like watching Top Chef or Iron Chef every once in a while. They just showed an Iron Chef with the secret ingredient being curry. Mmm.

My dislikes:

Food Challenge with the cakes. Enough cakes already.

Emeril. Enough of him please.

Francis... when it comes to food, we have very similar tastes...

Francis Shivone said...

Jake, Catherine --

I liked the Frugal Gourmet as well.

And Giada? You have to respect a guy infatuated with Giada.

Anonymous said...

I've loved the series and although the personalities were a bit annoying at times it was nice to see the various opinions and reactions to the local food and people. It isn't a cooking show as much as it is a cultural example of how food fits into the people's lives and how much tradition and care is involved. I think the Spain tourism board (sponsor) was very insightful because now Spain is at the top of my wish list for travel. We don't have cable so my favorite cooking shows are America's Test Kitchen and sometimes Everyday Foods. Rachel Ray is annoying and can't keep her tongue in her mouth--eeewww. There was a show called "Daisy Cooks" for a while that was my fav. Giada's head is too big and her forearms too short so she freaks me out when I watch her. (I know, I'm weird) I love to listen to Splendid Table on NPR and I read cookbooks from the library like novels.

Rambler said...

I loved the Two Fat Ladies. Best all time favorite cooking show.

That said, I like Graham Kerr back in the day, although it's hard to remember whether it was for his food or the exotic accent falling on these Texas ears.

A word about the Food Network: the same personalities I like on their 1/2 hour day time shows drive me insane at night. Paula Dean and Emeril Legasse are good examples. Paula's Kitchen I like; Paula's Party is way too frenetic and desperately FUN FUN FUN. Same with Emeril. BTW, I was in the kitchen store at the old Tandy Center mall years ago and voila! there was Emeril, actually... live.)

You can keep Iron Chef America (too faux martial arts theatrics - give me a break), Ace of Cakes (terminally hip,slick, and cool), Alton Brown (sorry, too silly), and almost everything else in the evening. Guy Fieri (sp?) seems to need meds. And that "Secret Life" guy is way too sweet, although the content of the show tends to be interesting. In general, Food Network evening programming is just to hyperactive,except for the Barefoot Contessa, who is too sophisticated, unless she is making fun of sophistication. I really do like most of the day shows, but, of course, I'm at work.

Bobby Flay and the other guy who sort of looks like him are ok. I usually like their food.

Jacques Pepin gets on my nerves with the Maurice Chevalier routine. I will watch repeats of the series he did with Julia Child because I did like her.

Man! Am I crabby tonight or what?

Lynn said...

I can't help you here; I rarely watch TV and don't have cable.

Raced home after school in high school to watch the Galloping Gourmet. Learned a lot watching the Frugal Gourmet [hot pan, cold oil, food can't stick] but heard gossip about what it was like to work with him, that put me off.

Would like to watch Nigella sometime; I waited for her "How to be a Domestic Goddess" cookbook to hit Half Price Books.

Brother Sushi is mad for Giada; haven't seen her, except on the cover of her cookbooks. She's gorgeous *and* she cooks?

I felt about Julia Child's voice the way most of you seem to feel about Ms. Deen's [haven't heard her].

callie said...

I'm a huge fan of Barefoot Contessa although she comes off as pompous at times with the Hamptons routine. Technically, she is spot on with her cooking.

Paula Deen and Sandra Lee make me want to shoot myself- seriously.

I like Giada's show format, photographs and recipes but she comes off as arrogant to me. Then again, aren't most chefs? :)

I also like Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares, Iron Chef, Top Chef and my new fav show is Last Restaurant Standing with Raymond Blanc.

Anonymous said...

i would like to know why cooks do not get the same respect that your chiefs get,because some of us know more tha your so call chiefs.

Anonymous said...

i am a cook not a chief, but I KNOW HOW TO COOK AND I LOVE TO COOK