When I was growing up in the UK in the 1980s, the TV chef I remember most was Delia Smith.
But times have changed and the Delias of yesterday have been replaced with the Jamie Olivers and Gordon Ramseys of today.
I don’t watch a lot of cooking shows on tv (except for my one guilty pleasure) but there are a few chefs who have caught my attention – and they are listed below.
You can let me know if you agree with me in the comments. I look forward to a spirited discussion…
Of course Julia is at the top of this list. Of course.
Her no-nonsense, back to basics approach has made Julia the darling of the traditional food crowd and given her a newfound popularity that still endures almost four years after her death.
Julia believed in butter…and cream…and animal fats. She attended the legendary Le Cordon Bleu school in Paris but was utterly unpretentious about cooking.
Julia first appeared on TV in 1963 and stayed on our screens well into the 90s. What a pro.
And, as if I couldn’t love her more, when she was berated for her heavy use of cream and butter by the anti-fat brigade, she responded:
Everybody is overreacting. If fear of food continues, it will be the death of gastronomy in the United States. We should enjoy food and have fun. It is one of the simplest and nicest pleasures in life.
Admittedly I have not seen a single Bourdain recipe but he makes the list for his highly entertaining food/travel shows – shows the Food Network would be better off investing in rather than Man vs Burrito, or whatever junk they are currently hyping.
He’s currently doing Parts Unknown for CNN and the last episode I saw on Colombia was great TV (spoiler alert: he fell off a quad bike thingy and kept going, like a rockstar).
Everywhere the man goes he eats, he mingles, he drinks (a lot) and, at the end of the hour, you feel like you’ve been there with him (almost to the point that you feel slightly hungover).
It’s a new breed of true armchair food tourism.
Incidentally, diehard Bourdain fans might be interested to know that he went on Reddit last year as part of their Ask Me Anything series. The resulting conversation is worth a read.
Yep, I realise most of you US readers are thinking: “Hugh the wha…” about now but bear with me.
HFW is a British chef who runs the very popular River Cottage restaurants and TV shows. He’s one of my culinary heros because he is all about growing your own produce, seasonal foods, using wild (and sometimes downright kooky) ingredients and encouraging people to look beyond conventional, processed fare.
This is a man who laughs in the face of offal recipes (anyone for Paprikash of Hearts and Livers or Poached Tongue?), who loves nothing more than a bit of (sustainable, organic, pastured) duck and is not averse to foraging for hedgerow berries.
He can come round and cook for us any night of the week.
The Swedish Chef
What? He’s a chef, he’s on TV! IT’S MY LIST, DAMMIT, I’LL INCLUDE WHO I WANT.
Weigh in: Do you watch any TV foodies? Do you disagree with anyone on my list? Who would cook your fantasy dinner?