Cooking shows have become extremely popular, and it has turned into a widely produced format that has many networks jumping into the bandwagon. The best reality cooking shows provide much entertainment value that audiences can relate to and are relatively easy on the budget for producers. At the same time, these cooking shows on TV have spawned a new kind of superstar, the celebrity chef. Names such as Anthony Bourdain, Jamie Oliver, Paula Deen, Michael Smith, Ina Garten, Buddy Valastro and Gordon Ramsay have all become household names we are all familiar with. They enjoy as much popularity as regular celebrities, just like actors or news personalities, and have become brands themselves in the culinary world.
Upping the bar for wannabe chefs are also the beautiful faces we see in these shows. Now you don’t have to just cook well, you have to be pretty, too. Just take a look at Giada de Laurentiis, Nigella Lawson or Padma Lakshmi. Arguably, the best cooking shows are cooking shows on the food network, but that is not to say that they have a monopoly on the format. Other independently produced programs are also airing on other networks.
There is also the anticipated launch of the Cooking Chanel which is sure to introduce some new shows and personalities. Here are 6 of the best cooking shows that are on-air these days, or aired not too long ago, that are both entertaining and outstanding in their instructional capacity.
1. Giada at Home (Food Network)
It would be easy to imagine that half the viewers of this show don’t tune in to see what’s cooking, but rather just like to look at host, Giada de Laurentiis. Obviously playing-up to the male fan base, Giada can turn it on too with some of her suggestive ensembles, but that certainly does not take away from her legitimate cooking expertise. Her California Italian fusion style is certainly the best and she explains her methods quite well. Giada, the brand has a range of products too that are sold and marketed thru Target. They include a variety of utensils, stainless steel pots and pans, cooking tools, and stainless steel counter-top appliances. Giada also is a regular contributor and guest co-host on NBC’s Today.
2. Jamie’s Kitchen
This five part British reality TV special aired over Chanel 4 from November 5 to December 10 2002. The camera follows Jamie Oliver as he trains and mentors 15 disadvantaged teens, who if they make the grade, will be offered the best jobs at Jamie’s then new restaurant, Fifteen. Five of those original 15 contestants went on to successful cooking careers. Fifteen today has become a charitable foundation, as well as a chain of four restaurants. While this program aired over 10 years ago, it was the first of its kind to integrate humanitarian aspirations with reality TV drama. Many similarly formatted shows followed, proving Mr. Oliver’s trailblazing talent.
3. Cake Boss (TLC)
“You know what I’m sayin?!” A big part of the success of Cake Boss is the amiable host himself, Buddy Valastro. Mixing Italian charm with his amazing virtuosity of cake making, Cake Boss appeals with its wholesome involvement of family members in the business. The format simply involves the operations of Carlo’s Bakery, the family owned shop of Buddy that is located in Hoboken, New Jersey. Lisa Valastro, Grace Faugno, Maddalena Castano and Mary Sciarron, all appear regularly being part of the bakery staff. The show originally aired on April 2009 and is currently on its sixth season (which is so far, the best). Buddy has a spin-off series, Kitchen Boss that also airs on TLC.
4. Nigella Express (Food Network)
Sumptuous, delicious, and delectable, and we don’t mean the food. The voluptuous Nigella Lawson isn’t anything about eating healthy. Instead it is an indulgent venture into the sinfully delicious, throwing any form of calorie counting out the window. This show focuses on the best tricks to shortcut recipes and precious time saving tips, and is meant to guide people who love to eat and cook, but don’t have hours to spend in the kitchen. The show was a ratings success for BBC with the pilot episode garnering 2.85 million viewers.. Nigella can currently be viewed on The Taste, a competitive reality TV cooking show airing in the U.S. on ABC.
5. Throwdown! With Bobby Flay (Food Network)
Perhaps one of the best and most prolific celebrity chef hosts, this programs stands out from Bobby Flay‘s outstanding resume because of its spontaneous and inventive flavor as Bobby challenges cooks known for their specialties and signature dishes. The format calls for Bobby to show-up in a surprise challenge, as the guest restaurateur or chef, obliges his cook-off. Bobby is prepped by his two sous-chefs, Stephanie Banyas and Miriam Garron who do not mince words when critiquing hispractice attempts. The program also does not make any pretentions of Bobby’s lack of knowledge for preparing some dishes, which gives the show its honest appeal. Bobby’s record on the show is 32 wins, 68 losses and 1 tie. It ran for 92 episodes from July 13, 2006 until March 10, 2010.
6. Top Chef (Bravo)
With the alluring Padma Lakshmi as host, a format that allows any celebrity chef to guest as judge, and the drama of an all out throwdown, Top Chef has all elements for a winning show. Airing first in 2006, the show is now at 140 episodes and counting. It has had several spin-offs including Top Chef: Masters, Top Chef, Just Desserts, and Top Chef: Junior. It also has nine international adaptations. It was recently announced that the eleventh season of the hit reality show, will be set in New Orleans, Louisiana. This is, by far, the best cooking show to watch for novice chefs.
Learning to cook can be quite easy nowadays because of shows like these. Cooking shows are not merely a source of entertainment, but it continues to inspire and spark the interest of people who dream of being a chef one day. The best way to learn something new is to draw inspiration from people who are the best in the field.