I heart the Food Network. In fact, some of my friends make fun of me that all I watch is ESPN and the Food Network. Not unfounded. Generally, if I have the TV on, it is probably to one of those channels. And now that college basketball season is almost over, it will be exclusively the food network (except for the occasional SportsCenter and PTI, and maybe Around the Horn) for the next six months.
I've been an avid watcher of the Food Network for about fifteen years now. I was watching it long before it was all the rage to watch. But I will admit that I have become more and more of an avid watcher since it has become the cool thing to do, because now I get to be the one who was in on the ground level. :-) Bobby Flay was my hero long before most people could recognize him on the street. Anyway, all that to say, I feel like I know my way around the Food Network pretty well. So I wanted to talk for a minute, during FOODIE ROMANCE week, about my favorite Food Network shows, and why I love them so much.
Iron Chef America
I remember when this show first began, about five years ago, I had been watching the old Iron Chef for a couple of years, and thought it was interesting. And when I heard about the premise of this new show, I thought, they'll never be able to make it as good as the original. And for the audience who loved the old Japanese classic, that's probably true. But for a generation of American cooks who are interested in the cuisine of fusion and fashion, ICA is by far the coolest show you can watch. Mostly for its uniqueness.
Because it's such a high-pressure show, the chefs who participate pull out all the stops. They are putting ingredients together that I've never even heard of. And because Alton Brown (who is, by far, the most knowledgeable foodie on the face of the planet) is the host, you learn more about food in that one hour than most people will learn in their whole lives. Techniques, tastes, combination, preparation, it is truly amazing.
Plus, y'know, it provides a great template for your own cooking competitions... :-) More on that later.
Jamie at Home
But Jamie at Home would be a fantastic show, even if Jamie Oliver weren't the star. The genius of this show is the whole garden-to-table aspect of it. He shows you the way to grow the veg or care for the animal, and then he shows you how to prepare it to showcase its natural beauty, in many different ways. Everything from homemade pasta to jam to tarts... the guy is a genius at bringing out the natural essence of a food.
Plus, y'know, he's hot. But the show is only on once a week, and it's on at the buttcrack of dawn on Saturday mornings, so you'd have to probably get up before the kids to be able to watch it. This is why God invented DVR.
The Best Thing I Ever Ate
Because while Triple-D has done shows in nearly every major city in the Union, not all of my eating experiences at those places have been as good as I wanted them to be. Granted, they've always been at least worth whatever money I paid for them. But when I'm going somewhere I've never been, I'm starting to get to the point in my palate where I really want to eat food that is the best food I've ever eaten, and not just something pretty tasty made by a really amazing person. I know, I know, bring on the "elitist" remarks now. I'm at one with my inner bitch.
Anyway, the brilliance behind this show is that you're getting the best-of-the-best recommendations from the best-of-the-best chefs in the country. Not just food personalities from TV, either, but food critics and chefs without their own TV shows as well. Plus, I love that each show has a specific theme. Like the best-of-the-best cheesy dishes. Love it. There is one place in particular in Baltimore that I have to try the next time I go there. Not a big fan of Duff in general, but he took the cameras to this place with what he thinks is the best dessert in the world, and I'll tell ya, it looked like it. So time to try that out.
Down Home with the Neelys
I am telling you now, there is nothing that I love more than watching a couple who truly loves each other be in the kitchen together. It's inspiring on so many levels. On the food enjoyment level, they are off the charts. On the loving each other level, they rock the cas-bah. On the entertainment and humor level, there is no one on the FN who is better than this team. They are truly the most enjoyable half an hour of food television you can watch in the day. Every man on the planet needs to watch Pat Neely and the way he treats his wife. And every woman on the planet needs to watch Gina Neely and the way she treats her husband. It is beautiful to watch, and it's an inspiration to us all. In addition to being a place to find some killer food!
Boy Meets Grill
The best part about Boy Meets Grill is the laid-back attitude. He might be making curried lentils, or he might be making hamburgers, but Bobby Flay is always the epitome of a guy cooking. He's laid back and having fun. The atmosphere of the show is fun and funny, like it would be if you were in his backyard instead of watching him on television. He always makes great cocktails and drinks, and he makes some of the most creative grilled meals I have ever seen in my life. The guy just grills everything. It's incredible.
He also takes you around to the places he shops, which Ina Garten and Paula Deen sometimes do, and which I think is a fantastic idea. If I lived in NYC, I would definitely be going to where Bobby Flay says has the best cheese or meat or veggies. He always introduces you to the owner or the butcher or the baker or the manager, and he always gives you tips on how to buy the best of the best. People who don't cook don't know this... but when you use top-shelf ingredients, it makes all the difference. Even if you can't tell the difference right now between the $5 bleu chese and the $50 bleu cheese, let me tell you that it really does taste better, and it really is worth it once in awhile when you can afford it to spring for the good stuff, and use it in moderation.
So, now you've heard all about my favorite Food Network shows. What about you? What is your favorite Food Network show? Do you like the ones I picked? Or do you have other faves?