Or maybe you are!!!
Food shows on television are not novelties. Like me, you probably remember watching Julia Child on the local PBS station cooking food as you laughed at her quirky way of speaking, or as I called it, spinging (speaking+singing). But with the huge media boom and demand for on-air food content, more and more television networks are getting in on the game. Chefs have become today's new accessible celebrity. I say "accessible" because you can at least get close enough to Tom Colicchio at one of his restaurants to possibly shake his hand and tell him personally how much you enjoyed the Hen of the Wood roasted mushrooms. (How many times have you shaken Bruce Willis' hand to chat him up and tell him you loved every single Die Hard movie?)
Here are a few great food shows that you SHOULD be watching, that is, if you are a fan of food... and you KNOW you are.
Food Network's Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives with Guy Fieri. Fieri is a rockabilly tattooed and bleached doe'd dude who also happens to be a certified chef and foodie. Originally from northern California, Fieri tours the country in search of the greatest greasy spoons and unexpected culinary gems, testing for himself with lots of oohs, aahs and "that is amazing" coos of feedback. You'll definitely learn a thing or two about a small restaurant near your relatives in Maryland or San Diego, or for that next business trip to Lordknowswhere, Ohio.
Travel Channel's Man V. Food. Adam Richman hosts this wildly entertaining (and somewhat disturbing) conquest of the country's biggest portions of food. What makes Adam so much more appealing as a host is the fact that he is NOT professionally trained in culinary arts, but having worked in nearly every level in the restaurant business gives Adam a huge leg-up on other food and restaurant critics and perspectives. And he's funny and silly. Who wouldn't want to watch a guy sweat and cry tears of pain as he tries to eat five of the hottest habanero pepper fritters known to man... Or watch the world record holding hot dog eating champion consume a SEVEN POUND BURRITO in under three minutes. If nothing else, the show will leave you laughing and craving some of the celebrated dishes that Adam reviews and tries.
Food Network's Chopped. Everybody's favorite of the Fab Four (Queer Eye, not the rock band), Ted Allen, hosts this quicker version of Top Chef featuring four cheftestants vying for $10,000 by creating a three-course meal. One contestant is "chopped" after the judging process of each course until they whittle the four down to one winner. The catch to this game is the chefs are each handed a basket of ingredients that aren't normally or even ever combined in a meal and MUST include each ingredient in the basket in their next course, be it an appetizer, dessert or the main dish. The fact that this show is episodic is awesome enough because if you miss an episode, don't have to run away from the water cooler the minute you hear the words, "I can't believe what happened to Fabio last night!!"
NBC's The Chopping Block. Okay, a little unfair of me to throw this one on the list since it hasn't premiered yet, BUT... word on the street is this food game show is definitely going to be hot and spicy. Host Chef Marco Pierre White is widely known in the food and restaurant biz, but one thing some may not know about him is ... drumroll ... that this man made GORDON RAMSAY CRY!!! Yes, you read that right. Even though NBC's TCB is produced by the same production company for el screaming Gordo of Hell's Kitchen fame, White's show will feature two teams, a la Apprentice style, vying to win $250,000 as we watch them struggle and deal with the pitfalls and frustrations of opening a restaurant soup to nuts, no pun intended, in the toughest city for a new restaurant, NYC. This is definitely a must-watch!
Food Network's Throwdown With Bobby Flay. There's nothing like rooting for the underdog who may not have the professional training, celebrity status or flash like a world-known television chef like Bobby Flay. What's so great about this show is that Bobby goes head-to-head with everyday people and tries to recreate the foods those everyday people are famous for (anything from Mac n' Cheese to Sushi to Fish-n-Chips to Dumplings), adding his own flair, to literally try to out-do them at their own game. And quite often, the underdog wins. It's shows like this that will give you new recipe ideas AND possibly inspire you to find that new local celebrity chef in or near your hometown who beat Bobby at his own throwdown.
With the end of high-action sports and the beginning of a new spring harvest season, you'll be ready to have your own chopping block and throwdowns with your arsenal of food shows. Set your Tivos and DVRs soon, cuz they are about to get jam packed with great weekend roadtripping, cooking and barbecuing inspiration!!