The Top 7 Television Chefs
We’ve picked our favourite TV food gods and godesses. Let us know whether you agree
And if not, then do tell us why not.
1. Julia Child: the original goddess
It doesn’t matter that Julia Child died in 2004 and her last TV show aired in 2001. It doesn’t matter that she dressed frumpily. It does not matter that you may not even know what she looks like. She will be, and should be, on every list of best TV chefs that is ever compiled. That’s the way it is with the originals, the classics, the call them what you wills. They always matter. Julia Child matters because she fought fiercely against processed and packaged foods much before their unhealthy effects became widely known. Julia Child matters because she never edited her cooking mistakes on her show, choosing instead to teach people how to fix them. And it definitely doesn’t hurt that she had the incomparable Meryl Streep portraying her in the 2009 Hollywood film, Julie and Julia.
2. Jamie Oliver: the good food knight
It helps, of course, that Jamie Oliver is fresh faced and endearingly chubby with that full head of hair worn slightly long. And of course it matters that he cooks simple and sweet, even showing you how to make a humble omelette with three eggs and grated cheese. But what makes Jamie really special among TV chefs is his serious foray into food activism and advocacy. His ambitious 2010 show Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution took on the challenge of making American kids eat more healthy. The programme has run into serious difficulties with many American schools refusing Jamie access into their premises. But even before this, in 2005, Jamie had launched the School Dinners Campaign in UK, with the aim of enabling kids in the country to eat healthier.
3. Tim Mälzer: the German charmer
With his roguish, chipped tooth charm, simple-is-beautiful cooking philosophy and big boy clowning around persona, the German chef Tim Mälzer makes for superbly watchable food television. His roaringly-popular restaurant in Hamburg makes marvellously complex food, but Tim himself chooses to make unfussy yet creative stuff that anybody can pull off. The man calls himself an awkward TV host, but truth is that he has a delicious spontaneity before the camera. So much so that he is the only foreign language category chef (his show is in German) on this list. Catch him on Youtube and you’ll know what I’m talking about.
4. Nigella Lawson: the laid-back oomph mama
That awesome Brit accent and the lazy, come hither charm is one of the best pick-me-ups at the end of a long day. Then, there is the laconic wit and the comfortable philosophy about food and life. And I love it that she cooks with regular supermarket ingredients, and indeed, uses pre-mixes and sauces. One time, and this was my favourite show, she made a bread and milk pudding where she tore up little bite-sized pieces of bread, put some sugar on them and then poured milk on it. Now, that’s unpretentious cooking.
5. Anthony Bourdain: the elegant fox
The suave manner, silver hair and good looks are serious plus points. But it is undoubtedly Anthony Bourdain’s intrepid palate for fare like a live cobra, a warthog’s rectum and fermented shark that makes for compelling television. In his case, the compelling viewing is also intelligent, because Bourdain’s show goes beyond food to touch on politics and culture. And rather smartly at that.
6.Kylie Kwong: the endearing grad student
There is a little bit of a scatter-brained, slightly harried look to Kylie Kwong, and this contrasts her wonderfully to the super well-turned out Nigella Lawson and Rachel Ray (check below). There is also something of the earnest grad (graduate) student in the bespectacled, serious Kylie, which gives her show a documentary style feel. And it’s a nice change to have a chef who focuses on all things Asian. Because truth be told, the raptures over Italian and French food can get tiresome after a while.
7. Rachel Ray: the energy bar
She promises a meal in 30 minutes, but Rachel Ray delivers a lot, lot more than that with her super perky persona and gift for coining phrases. Her term , E.V.O.O, meaning extra virgin olive oil, for instance, has been listed by The Oxford American College Dictionary. Other memorable inventions are the stoup, a a cross between a soup and a stew , and entreetisers referring to entree-sized appetisers. A chaotic part of me loves it that she doesn’t specify the quantities of ingredients, preferring to go with estimates like half a palmful. Though this also means that I have never cooked a Rachel Ray recipe. Still, I think, I watch her for her own sake. She is an energy bar.
TAGS: Anthony Bourdain, Jamie Oliver, Julia Child, Kylie Kwong, Nigella Lawson, Rachel Ray, simple food, Sohini Chattopadhyay, Tim Mälzer