Associated Press: Ina Garten, aka the Barefoot Contessa, prepares fruitcake cookies in her home kitchen, which also doubles as the set for her Food Network televison show “Barefoot Contessa” in East Hampton, N.Y. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
First, there were Graham Kerr and Julia Child. Known as “The Galloping Gourmet,” Mr. Kerr delighted and scandalized his audiences in equal measure. They relished his recipes and tittered over his double entendres and liberal use of wine.
Ms. Child famously said, “No food was ever made worse overusing butter.” Her rich and delectable recipes brought France to America in the form of cuisine and cooking style.
That was then. Two famous media chefs.
Now, the Food Network and its companion The Cooking Channel have overwhelmed our kitchens with advice, ideas, and personalities. Dozens of chefs, each carving out their own niche on the television landscape.
Everyone who believes the kitchen is more than a place to feed the cat has a favorite. Who are yours? Gildshire weighs in with our Top Ten favorite media chefs.
10. Ina Garten: Known primarily for her show “The Barefoot Contessa’ Ina Garten also served in the White House Office of Management and Budget before becoming a media chef. She often serves meals to celebrity friends as a part of her show. Her signature recipes include Strawberries With Balsamic Vinegar and Roasted Brussels Sprouts.
9. Robert Irvine: British chef Robert Irvine’s claim to fame is twofold. He was chosen as head chef for the 2006 Academy Awards, and he served aboard Queen Elizabeth’s craft “The Royal Yacht Brittania.” A specialist in restaurant rehabilitation, Irvine hosts “Restaurant Impossible” on Food Network. His signature recipes include French Toast, as well as Carrots and Rutabaga Mash.
8. Mychal Symon: A frequent competitor on “Iron Chef America” Mychal Symon reflects the competitive drive found in all top-notch kitchens. Midwest born and bred, Symon was the first chef to host the annual Farm Aid benefit concert. Reflecting those roots, Simon’s best recipes include Prime Rib and Macaroni and Cheese.
7. Ree Drummond: Known as “The Pioneer Woman” because of her show by that name, Ree Smith Drummond has lived an exquisite life. Raised on country club land the USC graduate was on her way to Chicago when she met, and subsequently married, rancher Ladd Drummond. Her top recipes include entries for Perfect Pot Roast and Roasted Thanksgiving Turkey
6. Rachael Ray: Gildshire knows Rachael Ray (above) came to the Food Network the only host that wasn’t trained as a chef. Her background was in management for a popular Lake George, New York bar. But, her infectious personality and quick, efficient meals made her a household name, especially among those of us without a ton of time. Her top recipes include 30 Minute Shepherd’s Pie and Fish Fry.
5. Bobby Flay: Like Mychal Symon, Bobby Flay (above) is known for his personality as much as he is for his expert culinary skills. The personable Flay invites all-comers to try to out-cook him in the popular “Beat Bobby Flay.” His popularity with the public, and his fellow Food network chefs, is on display in that show. Flay’s top picks are Pizza Dough and Brined Roast Rack of Pork with Apple Chutney and Sour Mash Sauce.
4. Nigella Lawson: Born in Wandsworth (what Americans would call a suburb of London), England, the Oxford-trained Nigella Lawson (below) began in the publishing business. Here publishing background served her well in the creation and selling of her many cookbooks. Her cooking style is casual, and her recipes require few of the myriad ingredients and tools employed by many of her peers. Her best recipes include Ham in Cola and Spiced and Super-Juicy Roast Turkey.
3. Guy Fieri: Ferndale, California’s most visible native son, the spike-haired Guy Fieri has carved a niche for himself. Namely, he celebrates the best in cheap food. His “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives” show (along with his ’68 Chevy Camaro and his signature “We’re rollin’ out!”) is a staple on the Food Network. Co-owner of Johnny Garlic’s and Tex Wasabi restaurant chains, Fieri’s top recipes include Dry Aged Prime Rib Roast and Chicken Marsala with Mushrooms.
2. Giada De Laurentiis: The lovely Ms. De Laurentiisis (below) a 2012 inductee into the Culinary Hall of Fame and host of the wildly popular Food network show “Giada at Home.” Trained at Le Cordon Bleu, she specializes in culinary artistry from her native Italy, and her million watt smile. Her favorite recipes include Chicken Piccata and Turkey with Herbes de Provence and Citrus.
1. Alton Brown: Los Angeles born Alton Brown (above) is known as the Bill Nye of the Kitchen. Brown combines science, humor, and a genuine expertise, and love of food into “Good Eats” and the “Iron Chef” competition platform. Recently, he helmed “Cutthroat Kitchen,” as well. His top recipes include Egg Nog and Steamed Alaskan Crab Claws.
Photo: Debby Wong, Helga Esteb, lev radin, FashionStock.com / Shutterstock.com