Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Top 5 chefs I love to watch on tv whose dishes I could never, ever hope to emulate

List by Tosca

'The poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese.'
G.K. Chesterton

People who cook, and do it well, make me feel deficient. That there are people in this world who do it well and look good while doing it just adds further insult to my injuries :)



I discovered quite young that although I enjoy cooking I'm not brilliant at it. I do ok which saddens me because I do so love to eat LOL I have recently found that I really, really, really enjoy watching the food channel. Seriously, I fire up the laptop on a Saturday afternoon and go crazy working, blogging, tweeting, Facebooking or Tumblr-ing while avidly watching the food channel.

I am endlessly fascinated by the variety of shows and the heady mix of ethnic foods and the different styles each chef has. There are some chefs whose shows have become, I'm almost convinced, lifelong favourites (or as lifelong as you can become in a year, anyway). Narrowing my list down to 5 was an effort and a half *sigh* and then trying to find 5 whose books/dvds we hold was a bigger effort again. Probably worse because I didn't want to be cliché about my choices. I'd like to point out that you won't find Gordon Ramsay on this list. All I admire him for is his inventive use of the 'F' word (and isn't he entertaining enough without the cooking?) and, thanks to my paternal grandmother, I'm already fluent in cursing, thank you very much!

Do you have a Top 5 chef/cook list? If so, leave it as a comment :)

Honourable mention:
  • Jun Tanaka of Market Kitchen fame (yes, ok, I'm shallow and think he's cute but he can cook, too!) - you can request Market Kitchen Cookbook which we've just received
  • Ainsley Harriott - but not for his cooking, although he's a darn good chef, but because he's entertaining to watch/listen to
  • Lenny Henry - ok no, not Lenny Henry for his cooking but for his role as Chef LOL (no, that's not cheating, really it's not...)

    The cook and the chef. Series two, Winter comfort [DVD videorecording] / Maggie Beer & Simon Bryant
    Winter is a time for rich hearty dishes to warm you on those chilly nights, so Maggie Beer and Simon Bryant make food which is sure to comfort you. From recipes to cook with the kids, to ingredients sourced from the surf to the outback, Maggie and Simon start with the same ingredients and end in different places giving you a range of recipes to choose from over the winter months.

    Tosca's note: I enjoy the dynamics between Maggie & Simon and I also like how they take the same core ingredient and put their own little twist on it.

    The hairy bikers cookbook. Series 1 & 2 [DVD videorecording] / The hairy bikers
    Follows Dave Myers' and Si King's quest for adventure and good food. Packing their unpretentious Northern humour and enduring friendship on the back of two monster motorbikes, these amiable, leather-clad hairies rode out to make the best travel-cum-cookery-cum-comedy show ever seen. Around the world - from Transylvania to Vietnam, from Namibia to Mexico - they make friends, immerse themselves in local culture and learn to cook regional delicacies, however daunting. From hairy rickshaw peddallers to hairy caravan-trainee doner kebab merchants they'll try anything: from crocodile satay in Namibia, garlic-fried grasshoppers in Mexico to coconut worms in Vietnam they'll taste anything, and from the Isle of Man TT to the Fairy Circles of Damaraland they'll party anywhere. Full of zest, warm-hearted humour and plenty of suprising, yet easily made at home recipes, this is a fabulous series about two men, their sense of fun and the only thing they love more than their beloved bikes - food!

    Tosca's note: Two men who are hairy and love food - what a genius idea! They're irreverent, ballsy (am I allowed to use that word on here?) and they do things with food that should be illegal. How can you not enjoy that?

    Rick Stein's Far Eastern odyssey / Rick Stein
    A guide to the authentic food of Southeast Asia. It includes the author's favourite recipes and some well-known classic dishes inspired by the fragrant ingredients and recipes he sampled from local chefs, family-run restaurants, street vendors and market stalls.

    Tosca's note: Rick Stein does the most fantastic things with seafood and I don't even like most seafoods. To my parents' everlasting shame I am one of those pernickety Maori who screws her nose up at most everything that comes out of the sea and is supposedly edible. But Stein's food? Doesn't make it seem so ICKY. He also shares some amazing stories and has an unusual take/angle on dishes. I saw one episode where he was recreating dishes that Betjeman had written about in his memoirs. To me that was both brilliant and obscure. It'd never occurred to me that you could do that!

    Great British Village Show cookbook / James Martin
    Go behind the scenes of the Great British Village Show with Saturday Kitchen celebrity-chef James Martin and uncover prize-winning recipes. From starters and mains to jams and preserves: follow over 100 original recipes and prepare delicious meals incorporating the eclectic flavours and styles that make up British cooking today. Pick up judges tips on growing great-tasting fruit and vegetables, from the crunchiest carrots to the sweetest strawberries. It's a great British culinary adventure.

    Tosca's note: Totally shallow - I like to look at James Martin. Can't recreate his dishes to save myself but oohh they look divine. And he does, too LOL

    1. Emeril's there's a chef in my family! : recipes to get everybody cooking / Emeril Lagasse
    Provides tips for having fun and keeping safe in the kitchen, along with dozens of world-famous chef Emeril Lagasse's favorite recipes that families can make and eat together.

    Tosca's note: This is a kid's book but I can still say, hand on heart, my version of these easy recipes was not worth writing home about. To say the least. My nephews are big Emeril fans. Seriously, they watch his show and try to recreate the dishes (on a smaller scale, obviously, because my pantry is never that well stocked). When they heard I was going to be in New Orleans and, even better, staying near the Vieux Carré (French Quarter) they went online and printed out the directions to Emeril's NOLA restaurant and told me I just HAD to eat there. As if that wasn't bad enough, they then said I had to get a copy of the menu to bring back for them to ooh and aah over. Believe it or not, I actually did it, and even managed to wrangle a copy of their dessert menu that the wait staff (thank you, James) handed over in a discreet Emeril bag. I HEART EMERIL! Weirdly, my nephews still have the menus and I am now their lifelong hero (although I share that dubious honour with professional skater Tony Hawke which takes a little bit of the shine out of it all).
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