Our earlier post about Todd English and his new television show got us thinking about food on television. Like many food-lovers, we have a love/hate relationship with the Food Network. We have a total crush on Dave Lieberman and we find Paula Deen inordinately fascinating, but Effing Rachael Ray drives us CRAZY and we’re pretty sure that what Sandra Lee does cannot be legally called “cooking.” We do, however, love television in general and television about food specifically. Because we also love you, here are three food shows worth the space on your TiVo.
•Good Eats (Weeknights at 7:00 and 11:00, Food Network): Minute for minute, the most charming show on television. Alton Brown is by turns silly, informative, brilliant, and hilarious. Unlike the vast majority of cooking shows (and television shows in general), you feel smarter after watching an episode of Good Eats. Or a marathon, for that matter.
•Iron Chef America (Sundays, 9:00, Food Network): We didn’t want to like Iron Chef America. We’re totally obsessed with the original Japanese Iron Chef and we’re really not sure what makes Cat Cora an Iron Chef on par with Mario Batali and Masaharu Marimoto, but we started watching because of Jeffrey Steingarten and we kept watching because it makes us sit on the edge of our couch and yell things like “Don’t make a foam! They never like foams!”. Good times. Good times.
•No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain (Mondays, 10:00, Travel Channel): We make no bones about the fact that we love Anthony Bourdain. He’s profane, irreverent and hilarious. His legendary bitterness, however, is not what keeps us tuning into No Reservations every week. What keeps us hanging on is his open heart. Unlike some food television personalities who look down on cuisines that many love (we’re talking to you, George Duran), Bourdain will try anything. What’s more, he’ll be appreciative of the time, effort, and thought that went into it. It’s absolutely the right attitude for an eater-traveler to have and, besides, watching him eat a still-beating cobra’s heart (as he did in Vietnam) is truly great television.
•Top Chef (Wednesdays, 10:00, Bravo): Yeah, it’s derivative of the best show ever, Project Runway. Yeah, the first season was better than the second. Even with all that, Top Chef is one of the most reliably enjoyable food shows on television. Tom Colicchio is the Simon Cowell of food competition: cranky, kind of mean, and absolutely correct 99% of the time. Rumor has it that former Queer Eye star Ted Allen will be a permanent judge this season, which can only up the awesomeness. Watching contestants pull together gourmet tasting plates in under thirty minutes (as they frequently do in the Quickfire Challenge in each episode) is truly awe-inspiring. All in all, an excellent weekly hour of television.