I watch a lot of food t.v., partly because I love food and partly because the Food Network is the channel of choice to keep my dogs company when I’m out and about (For what it’s worth, Bubba really seems to really enjoy Iron Chef America).  As a result, over the years, I’ve come to form some definitive opinions about the programming and its various personalities.  There are shows I like, shows I don’t, chefs, hosts, and judges I enjoy watching and those that, for whatever reason, just rub me the wrong way.

What follows is my list of The Top 10 Food T.V. Personalities I Enjoy Watching.  In no particular order…

Anthony Bourdain (chef, author, host of A Cook’s Tour and No Reservations).

Quick-witted and cutting, Bourdain is as hilariously entertaining on screen as he is on the page.  A terrific addition to the judge’s table for Top Chef’s eighth season.  One of my fave Bourdain quotes = his opinion of vegetarians: “Bad.  Bad tourists.  Bad guests.  Not a lot of fun.  Generally flatulent.”

Tom Colicchio (award-winning chef, head judge of Top Chef).

Unlike a lot of his intense, high energy fellow chefs, Colicchio exudes a calm, genial confidence that makes him not only very watchable, but incredibly likable as well.  Given the opportunity, I’d love to sample his cooking AND go out for beers with the guy.

Gordon Ramsay (award-winning chef, restaurateur, t.v. personality – Hell’s Kitchen, Kitchen Confidential, F Word to name a few).

Love him or hate him, it’s hard to avoid him on television.  Most know him for Hell’s Kitchen (in which he comes across as a raving lunatic much of the time), but F Word is the show to watch for a glimpse of the real Ramsay – talented chef, dedicated family man, and a guy with a sense of humor.

Nigella Lawson (food writer, cook, host of shows like Nigella Bites and Nigella Kitchen).

Sure, there are plenty of cooking show hosts out there with a hell of a lot more experience, but Lawson always brings a little something extra to the table.  Sexy, sure, but also possessed of a playful self-confidence that makes her fun to watch.

Ted Allen (writer, host of various Food Network shows like Chopped and Food Detectives).

Allen always comes across as smart, fun, and funny.  Another amiable presence on the Food Network.

Jeffrey Steingarten (food writer, food critic, frequent judge on Iron Chef America, regular judge on The Next Iron Chef).

He’s been referred to as “the Simon Cowell of Iron Chef America” and it’s a fitting parallel.  Like Cowell, Steingarten is tough, knows his stuff, and can always be counted on for some witty insight.

Mario Batali (award-winning chef, restaurateur, television personality, Iron Chef, host of Molto Mario).

My favorite Iron Chef, Batali’s passion for food is palpable.  He’s incredibly knowledgeable, and his respect and love for what he does makes watching him a real treat.

Alexandra Guarnaschelli (chef and television personality, host of The Cooking Loft with Alex Guarnaschelli, frequent guest judge on Chopped).

Guarnaschelli exudes an empathetic kindness and sincerity onscreen that always makes me feel I’m watching a friend on television.  A veryfood savvy and observant friend.

Aaron Sanchez (chef, restaurateur, frequent guest juge on Chopped and Chefs vs. City regular).

I guess that one thing all my choices have in common is that they’re all very likable (well, I find ’em likable anyway), and that’s cetainly one of the first things that comes to mind when I watch Sanchez.  Smart and charming are two more.  Another guy whose cuisine I’d like to try, and then take out for a beer.

Mark Dacascos (actor, martial artist, Iron Chef America chairman).

The chairman is BIG and incredibly over-the-top, in marked contrast to Dacascos who is one of the most humble, soft-spoken individuals I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with – which is why I love watching him do his flashy, sound-effect laden, operatic thing on Iron Chef America.  Allez cuisine!

Honorable Mentions:

Martin Picard (chef and owner of my favorite restaurant Au Pied de Cochon, host of The Wild Chef).

He always looks like he just woke up after an all-night bender, but it’s all part of his endearing, down home style – which perfectly parallels his rustic and altogether delectable cuisine.

Gail Simmons (food critic, Special Projects Manager for Food & Wine, frequent guest judge on Top Chef, host of Top Chef: Just Desserts).

Tough but fair, Simmons commands respects and is a welcome Top Chef mainstay.

Claire Robinson (personal chef, host of 5 Ingredient Fix and Food Network Challenge).

Robinson is possessed of a goofy charm that makes her an entertaining watch.

Well, that’s my list.  Thoughts?  Who do you like to watch and why?

Tomorrow, The Top 10 Food T.V. Personalities Who Kind of Get on My Nerves!

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Mark
Mark

I agree with all your picks, but my all time favorite food TV personality has got to be Alton Brown. Few shows on the Food Network have inspired me to try a recipe like Good Eats. He is easy to follow, very informative and funny.

Thornyrose
Thornyrose

Somehow I managed to lose a day here.. ah well. Liked your selection of food channel personalities. Thought Maario Batelli was an interesting choice. I have to admit that i’m rather fond of Boby Flay as far as the ranks of the iron chefs go. Also have to admit I don’t really recognise all the faces. I just don’t watch the network that much. I’d rank Ramsey as number one though. Besides the glimpses we catch of him on F word, i love to see the train wrecks on Kitchen Nightmares. I also admire the way he’s taken his lumps as far as the waxing and waning of fortunes go, and he still manages to keep himself marketable. And who can resist the rags to riches story of his life? I generally pass on biographies, but admit to breaking down and checking out his.
Thanks for the post, and here’s to a good week to all.

Chris U
Chris U

Good list, as I didn’t scroll quickly through (to avoid spoilers) I was very Pleased to see Mark Dacascos on your list. He truly does his part to add to Iron Chef. When you catch glimpses of “The Chairman” prowling in the background of a challenge, he is really into it.

I am worried though that on your list of people who get on your nerves I will see Alton Brown, since he wasn’t in your Top 10 or Honorable Mention. I think he does an incredible job of capturing what goes on in Kitchen Stadium.

“Good Eats” is the show that my wife used to get me to watch the food network with her. The way he explains the science of cooking made me want to watch.

“Feasting on Asphalt” was a great “guys” food show as well.

Tammy Dixon
Tammy Dixon

Alton Brown even gets my hubby interested in cooking! 10 dollar dinners has interesting french techniques. Food detectives is pretty cool, too.

We have a snow storm headed toward us tonight. I stopped by the grocery to pick up carrots for my son and the store was packed. The shelves were nearly empty. No brussel sprouts (your picture yesterday got me wanting those) and the only carrots left were “carrot chips”.

The weatherman is predicting 4 inches of snow and everyone panics! Southerners do not handle snow storms well.

@iom666
@iom666

A dare for Joe:
Hey Joe, if Stargate comes back in any form, I dare you to do a Stargate cooking episode.
I don’t care too much how you could turn it, but I dare you to do it :))
I would so much see Colonel Young as a chef, or O’Neill as a waiter…
Just a crazy idea. You need crazy ideas in your life.
Take care wink

Sparrow_hawk

Hi Joe! Interesting choices. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of Chopped and I really don’t much care for Alex Guarnaschelli or Aaron Sanchez as judges on that show; I find them sort of harsh and unlikeable. But that’s just me. Maybe I’d like them better if I saw them in another venue. Love Mark Dacascos (of course!). Jeffrey is one of my favorite Iron Chef America judges and I enjoy Mario Batali and Nigella Lawson. Gordon Ramsay can be fun, but I have to be in the mood for him.

My Iron Chef America favorites are Matsuhara Morimoto and Michael Symon.

One of my favorite food network shows is Diners, Drive Ins and Dives with Guy Fieri. Always fun to watch.

Sue Jackson
Sue Jackson

I’m a Food Network junkie! grin I looove that channel! It’s always on my tv. Love Iron Chef America! Love Throwdown with Bobby Flay! Love Ace of Cakes! I wanna hangout with Duff Goldman. He’s sooo cool! wink Love Next Food Network Star! Love Next Iron Chef! My favorite chefs/cooks are…

– Bobby Flay
– Giada De Laurentiis
– Tyler Florence
– Duff Goldman
– Paula Deen
– Rachael Ray
– Michael Symon

I’m a bad cook myself. (But…I’m trying to learn. ;)) I just love to watch other people cook. I think it’s fascinating. When there’s nothing else on tv. I watch Food Network there’s always something good on there. smile

dasNdanger
dasNdanger

I like to watch albinos.

grin

das

Greg
Greg

I’m sure you’ve seen it but Mark Dacascos was great in “The Brotherhood of the Wolf.” I love that movie. Yeah an indian that knows kung fu doesn’t make sense but hey it was awesome. Come to think of it I’m going to watch it right now lol.

Raine
Raine

I’m not much of a cook, but for some strange reason I love watching the Food Channel??

Anyway I like all the ones you have listed. Ted Allen is my favorite off the list, just love Chopped. Cat Cora is also a favorite of mine. Since she wasn’t on your list maybe you don’t care for her.

I USE to like Rachel Ray but for some reason I find her a bit annoying now.

I also find Bobby Flay annoying, in fact I when I watch Throwdown I hope he loses.

I’m thinking you would be a good judge on Iron Chef. I saw that Lou Diamond Philips was one once.

DP
DP

Oh, Food Network. Some reality show pitchperson I turned out to be. Broke the first rule. Get the name of the network right. Show Joe: the Foodie Freelancer, FTW!

Bourdain
I feel less confident about his cultural savvy when he gets political. It’s not his politics, it’s the way he expresses them. I’ll leave it at that.

Anyway, chew the meat, spit out the bones. There was plenty of meat left over, a very meaty show. razz

Ramsay
My husband watches him a lot. Me, personally, I don’t want to reward a premise that thrives on treating people badly. He’s toning it down more recently so I’m glad I stuck with it, I mean, betrayed my principles and watched him anyway.

Batali
Yeah, he seems to love what he does. I can’t word it any better than you did.

I used to watch Iron Chef back when it was all Japanese. Great show. Is Dacascos really the nephew of the Chairman in Japan?

Julia Childs! Need I say more?

Sean D.
Sean D.

Hi Joe,

I’ve been watching some SG1 dvds lately and in the season 1 episode where they go to the “Heliopolis” place there’s an interesting number mentioned, I’m curious…

Is there any connection or what connection might there be between the number 46, introduced in SGU (episode “Human”), and the 146 elements, mentioned in SG1 (episode “The Torment of Tantalus”)?

46… 146… hmmmmm….

Thanks! smile

Sean D.

chevron7
chevron7

Hi everyone!!!

I generally don’t like cooking shows. But I do like Ted Allen – he was awesome on Queer Eye. I used to like watching a Canadian show…I can’t remember the name of it..there was a man and woman and they were hilarious…she always was messing up in the kitchen and generally annoying him. It would be like me cooking with James….haha. I think they cooked in a garage?? Anyone remember this?

I don’t like Gordon Ramsey but I don’t mind the kitchen nightmares…it’s scary though.

Joe, do you ever worry you’re in a future Kitchen Nightmare episode when you go out?

Cheers, Chev

chevron7
chevron7

Have you seen this Save #SGU vid it’s awesome!

Save Stargate Universe

No, I didn’t make it

Cheers, Chev

me
me

I like Claire Robinson. Cute and cooks with five ingredients or less.

I like the show Man vs. Food and the host (I’m drawing a blank on his name) on Travel Channel.

Ponytail
Ponytail

I stopped watching Cop/Detective/Lawyer/Medical shows a long time ago. For me they got boring. Come on Networks! Can’t you get a little creative? Like say, a space adventure…like Stargate! Now, I watch a lot of Food Network and HGTV.

I would expect the big chefs to be good. Like Flay, Batelli, Florence, Ramsey etc. So no comments on them.

One of my favorite shows is Chopped. I like all the judges and Ted Allen. I can’t help but think if I was a contestant chef on that show and Ted came into my kitchen area and started asking questions, I would be tempted to say, “Leave me alone!! I’m workin’ here!!”. When they are under the time limit, Ted must drive them crazy.

I also like Food Network Challenge. I can’t stand judge Kerry Vincent. She is mean! The contestants work so hard during their time limit and she just tears them apart. No mercy. I’d like to see her compete in a challenge!

I like Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives. I like going with Guy Fieri to different places and watching the food prepared. I can tell when he really doesn’t like it but pretends it is okay.

I like Dinner Impossible with Robert Irvine. It is fun to watch him pull off a big gathering and see what he can put together.

I like Man vs Food on the Travel Channel with Adam Richman. I’m waiting for that guy to explode one day. When he starts sweating I always think of the time you guys made Lawren eat a lot of something and the picture you took of him sweating and “near death”. It was funny.

I prefer the original Iron Chef over Iron Chef America. On Iron Chef, I love watching them talk and the words don’t match their mouth movements!

And for tomorrow, I can’t stand Alton Brown. And Duff Goldman is starting to get on my nerves for some reason. I think his cute is wearing off.

crayonbaby
crayonbaby

My five year old loves Food Network Challenge and Cupcake Wars. Of course when they had a Sex in the City cake challenge, she told me she wanted to watch it and even said the name. Luckily she had no idea what it meant. I should check out some of the other shows. I have Ace of Cakes DVR’d.

I tried watching Ramsay. His shows just made my stomach turn. Too much conflict, too much yelling. Kind of like talking to my teenagers.

Deni
Deni

Steingarten needs to learn how to use a knife and fork, and Ramsay is no “dedicated family man” as I hear it! I like all your other picks except Claire Robinson – too Rachel Rayish for me smile

Night!

JYS
JYS

I like Eric Ripert as a food personality. He’s got his own show now called “Avec Eric” on pbs, or on aveceric.com. Really great, plus you get a look into the Le Bernardin kitchen

Deni
Deni

And for tomorrow’s post, Paula Deen. Oy.

Tim Gaffney
Tim Gaffney

I agree with those that mentioned Man vs. Food. It is amazing how much Adam can eat. I would love to see a contest between the two of you.

Tim Lade
Tim Lade

Did you know Gail Simmons is from Montreal? Good ole Canadian girl who complements us fine Canadian men quite well I think.

DP
DP

You know which food personality I won’t watch?

Hint: Bam!

Sparrow_hawk

I love Food Network. I love cooking shows. Back in the old days, I watched Julia Child. I learned just about everything I know about cooking from that and reading Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Except for making white sauce and gravy – learned that from my mom.

My son corrected me: Aaron Sanchez is not the judge I have trouble with on Chopped. It might be Marc Murphy.

I also like watching Duff and crew on Ace of Cakes!

I don’t get the chance to watch a lot of TV, so I can’t comment on the others.

K-man
K-man

Great list Joe, I can’t disagree with any of them, except I’ve never heard of Martin Picard.

Additions to my list would be Bobby Flay, who seems like a great guy to hang out with, and I’ve made a bunch of his recipes with not a bad one in the bunch. Of course I love to grill, so he’s a good match for me.

Also Rick Bayless the PBS staple. Great authentic Mexican food!