Aug 072008
 

Television cooking shows have come a long way since the days of Julia Child and The Galloping Gourmet. While there’s no shortage of “celebrity” chefs, some are more worth watching than others, in my opinion.

Two Fat Ladies: Clarissa Dickson Wright and Jennifer Paterson

I loved this show. The two of them would travel around the UK countryside on a motorcycle and sidecar, invading kitchens and concocting some of the most interesting dishes–most of which I would probably never cook let alone eat. Still, watching them make Edwardian tongue sandwiches, pheasant breasts and haggis, stuffed quail, and deviled kidneys was somehow fascinating in a “holy crap do people really eat that muck?” kind of way. Besides, their personalities were what made the show–that and their puddings always kicked royal pastry butt. Sadly, Jennifer Paterson lost her battle with cancer in 1999.

Ah, Delia. She is the culinary diva that Martha Stewart can only ever dream of being. She is just as talented and knowledgeable, more charismatic, and without all the pretension. I love her How to Cook books. Not too long ago, she even showed the world a glimpse of her football hooligan side. Brilliant!

It was watching Can’t Cook, Won’t Cook and Ready Steady Cook that prompted me to finally learn how to cook (as opposed to just heat things up). Seriously. His flamboyant enthusiasm could probably motivate an agoraphobic to book a world cruise.

Anthony Bourdain

I’ve liked him ever since reading his book Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly (not the most family-friendly book and definitely not for the faint of heart). Talk about culinary exploration through world travel! In A Cook’s Tour and No Reservations he goes to places I would never have the courage to venture and he certainly eats fare that I would shudder to look at.

As you can see, I saved the best for last. If you haven’t watched Good Eats then you just don’t know what you’re missing. It is by far my all-time favorite cooking show. Why? Because it is entertaining, informative, and Alton Brown explains everything simply yet thoroughly. He also traveled across the United States in his show Feasting on Asphalt, which was like a culinary version of Long Way Round minus the the Ewan McGregor drool factor.

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