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