Lydia Bastianich is one of my favorites. She doesn't appear on Food Network, rather on a PBS channel here in Denver. She is grandmotherly and warm and cooks very simply, making what I would take to be family-friendly Italian food. I don't know what region of Italy her cooking represents, but it is always interesting. And she makes it all look easy.
Another cook, who could call herself a chef if she wanted to, is Ina Garten, host of the goofily named "Barefoot Contessa." The title sounds like a bad choice as a user id for e-mail much less for a TV program. Ina tapes her shows out in the Hamptons, complete with all kinds of gay guys, from the florist to many of her guests. For a long time Peter and I wondered if Ina's husband, Jeffrey, was gay. Then we saw a profile, one of a series of them Food Network did about it's star hosts, in which we learned that Ina and hubby were actually college sweethearts. I have borrowed many recipes from Ina's program. I hope she stays on the air for a good long time.
Another of my favorites was Dave Lieberman. Dave's show is gone I am sad to say. He is a personal chef in New York, and prepared very simple, budget-conscious dishes. What made it all the more appealing a show to watch was simple his handsome/cute face. Ciao, Dave.
"Down Home with the Neely's" features an African-American married couple (no mention of children) who run barbeque places in Memphis. They are a bit over the top but I like them. For some reason I never download their recipes. Recently they took over another show that is about travelling around the country and visiting restaurants and food oriented shops of various sorts. I've watched it a couple of times - once because they were in Denver - and the most startling impression the show gave me (I hope I can verbalize this correctly) was my visceral reaction at seeing, instead of Paula Deen's two white sons, a black couple interviewing and visiting with white restaurant owners and chefs. It made me realize that there are still things to learn about stereotypes (for me at least), not that I feel racist, but rather by the fact that I saw a small measure of progress was accomplished by giving "Road Tasted" to a well-deserving couple and, in an odd way, destroying another "taboo." I wish them a lot of success.
Alton Brown's show "Good Eats" has been running for quite a long time. I really enjoy watching it even though the gimmicky stuff he sometimes does can drive a fellow crazy. What at first seemed like an unlikely premise, a recent show on your home freezer, taught me a bunch of lessons. Alton did a road show a year ago in which he crossed the country, stopping in at out-of-the-way places and generally having a "real nice clambake." Another one, "Feasting on Waves," will begin soon. I believe it's going to be about his trekking around the Caribbean. I can't wait. Alton is also the very genial host of "Iron Chef America."
Speaking of "Iron Chef," I just remembered to Google Kevin Brauch, Alton's hosting colleague. He's a goofy guy who consistently mispronounces "Kon ban wa" as "Kan ben wa," the Japanese for "Good evening." And this on a program with a non-English-speaking Japanese chef, Masayaru Morimoto. Go figure. Kevin became a celebrity bartender in Canada and has, or had (don't know which, a TV show called "The Thirsty Traveler." I need to check it out if it is still on the air.
Guy Fieri is about to be aired in a new show, "Guy Off the Hook." I don't know yet what the premise is. I will certainly watch it.
"How to Boil Water" was a fascinating study in uselessness. Originally hosted by French chef, Frederick Von Coppernel, the show purported to be an instructional tool for people who don't function well in the kitchen. I doubt that such persons watch much food television. His sidekick, Jack Horgan (a woman), would help him out and seem entirely clueless the whole time. When Tyler Florence stepped in, Jack was relegated to a stool at the end of the cooking island where she maintained very well her vapid self.
And, speaking of Tyler Florence, when we first started watching him he was gorgeous. He has porked out incredibly. His hyperactive show, "Tyler's Ultimate," has given me cause to download some of his recipes, but the show is wearing thin with me.
Ellie Krieger does a weekly show about healthy eating. She does easy concoctions and is lovely to look at. A good show.
A couple of TV cooks not on Food Network deserve mention. "Daisy Cooks" features Daisy Martinez cooking South American and Cuban style food. She is very engaging and I think about trying some of the things she does. There's no reason not too, considering the plethora of Latin American/Mexican markets in Denver.
I wish some network would re-run Julia Child's cooking program. What a lady, what a story, what an entertainer!
Rick Bayless cooks Mexican and takes you with him to various places in Mexico, describing and demonstrating along the way authentic dishes. An excellent program. He was a contestant on "Iron Chef" last week and I'm sorry he did not win. However, he was up against Bobby Flay. 'Nuff said.
Well there, I'm tapped out (or typed out) on television cooking. I didn't mention everyone. But I did mention everyone who has made a fairly strong impression on me. If you read this, tell me your own impressions.
For a free sample excerpt of my book, “A Year of Food,” in which I opine, report, cook, muse and philosophize about everything that passed my lips for an entire year, write me at email@example.com.
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