On my first day of NVQ Level 3 Professional Cookery, I remember my tutor saying to myself and my brand new tutor group that he loves watching food programmes on TV, because it enables him to carry on learning and opens his eyes to the fact he can’t ever know everything about the industry.
That got me thinking, as someone that had an obsession with the food network from an early age and has Bake Off episodes recorded so I can watch them at my convenience, I probably hadn’t realised how much I’d learnt from watching hours of foodie TV.
So here I’m going to highlight some of my programmes I’d recommend to get your fill of foodie TV…
- Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares – Just to make it clear how much I have an obsession with this show, there are normally about 8 episodes of this on consecutively on a Sunday afternoon and I normally watch a solid 7! For me, this programme shows Gordon Ramsay not as the alpha terrifying head chef in Hell’s kitchen but as an empathetic, caring, highly intelligent and skilled chef. I don’t know why I love this show so much – I just get drawn into it and become a critic on the sofa like “yeah, that menu’s far too big” or “look! No date labels on anything!” Something about this show turns me from a 17 year old into an Environmental Health Officer.
- Anna Olsen Bakes – I used to get up and get ready for school and everyday this show was on the food network from 7:30 till 8:00 when I was eating breakfast. I love this show because it’s semi-mesmerising to watch Anna bake so effortlessly. It’s such a good show because each episode centres on a very basic ingredient, then Anna creates three things using that ingredient at varying skill levels.
- Masterchef – The king of cooking programmes, whether it be the Professionals, Celebrity or Amateur, this format 100% works. Greg and John are fantastic hosts, as a serious competition and accolade (especially MasterChef – The Professionals) it’s a serious and heated programme, but their light bantering makes it so entertaining. I love the show and love seeing what people come up with especially in challenges and when they are thrown into a professional kitchen. For me, the episode at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons last series was one of the best.
- Bake off – Bake Off is so quintessentially British, and (even though there are adverts now) as a TV show it’s brilliant! Some of the characters we’ve been introduced to over the years are now brilliant chefs in their own right, e.g John Whaite, while others have become nostalgic characters from a much loved TV show e.g. Howard Middleton. Bake Off is also a well-structured show. Watching contestants run around in confusion during the technical challenge being is always the best part. One of my favourite technical challenges has to be the floating islands, I’ve never seen such a confused room of people in my life, but, to be honest, I would have failed at that challenge as well!
- Bake off Crème da la crème – So this is bake off 2.0, this show as a chef is a great watch as the pastry creations are mind blowing and the competition features industry experts. For me I love the judges Benoit Blin, Cherish Finden, Claire Clark, I could literally just watch the programme to listen to Cherish say the word “palette”. But this programme is less about teaching you to cook, and more about appreciating the skill of experts.
- Diners, Drive ins and Dives – This is proper Sunday afternoon viewing. I love this show because I think America is such an amazing place for hearty food. The size, the boldness, smoking, marinating and barbecuing the hell out of everything – all of it appeals to me! The food in America is huge and I love seeing the people over there enjoy and appreciate food probably more than we do. Warning – this show makes you extremely hungry!
- Amazing Wedding Cakes – A weird trait of mine is I get slightly obsessed with certain things for a period of time. Amazing wedding cakes was one of those obsessions. Before I trained to be a chef, I always wanted to be in the food industry, but it was more celebration and wedding cakes I was interested in. This show featured a woman called Laurie who owned a cake shop, and I vividly remember this one wedding cake she made was one of the most stunning things I’ve ever seen. It had LED lights running through sugar work in a silver colour, it was breath-taking.
- Michel Roux Jr Service – As a chef I think knowing and being interested in the front of house side of things is so important. I’ve always liked good service, and in this show, Michel took young people and trained them in the art of service with a chance of winning a scholarship at the end. One of the massive pros for this show is its where I first came across the First Dates master Fred Sirieix!
- Michel Roux Jr’s Chocolate Perfection – Ok, this is a one-episode documentary, but if you can get your hands on it I would. I actually have this on record because my angel of a mother knows my obsession with Michel Roux Jr, and recorded it for me thinking I would like it. And was she right! This programme explores the world of chocolate but my favourite part has to be the spellbinding chocolate sculptures from world class chocolatier Patrick Rodger.
- Patisserie with Michel Roux Jr – Again, like chocolate perfection, this is a one-episode documentary, but this has to be my most highly recommended watch on the list. This show is partly what made me make the switch from being a keen amateur baker to actually wanting to be a pastry chef (since coming to college I’ve enjoyed savoury even more). The programme opened my eyes to the world of patisserie completely, especially to chefs like William Curley. The “Dior of desserts” Pierre Hermé also features on the show and shares his expertise. But my favourite moment has to be when Michel carries a full scale croquembouche down the streets of Paris (hence my obsession with the croquembouche).
- Paul Hollywood’s City Bakes – As a massive travel junkie, this programme basically gives you a guide book on where to go. It was incredible to see some of the traditional foods of each city as well as some beautiful of the city itself. I loved the Jerusalem episode where bakers loved the Yemeni baking of their ancestors and showed Paul the breads and falafel.
- Jamie at Home – Ok, Jamie Oliver has to be one of the most hyperactive chefs, and I find that so endearing. My favourite thing about this programme is the fact he potters into his garden to get most of his ingredients. I love that, because it’s 100% the best way to cook, and you can’t cook with fresher foods than ones you picked out of the ground 10 minutes ago!
- Mexican Made Easy – Mexican cooking has always interested me. The vibrancy, bold flavours and colours of Mexican cuisine seem to personify what family dining is all about. Marcela Valladolid is the chef and host of this show, she’s Mexican with a Californian upbringing and her food always looks delicious and full of flavour.
- Ready Steady Cook – This brings back memories! Ainsley Harriott, a living legend, presented this 2000’s classic! Contestants had to create dishes in 20 minutes, which was always hilarious. Full of famous faces, Ready Steady Cook was ultimate day time TV.
- Restaurant Impossible – This food network show highlights the ins and outs of running a restaurant and the issues that owners can face during their journey into business. As an aspiring restaurant owner, it’s weirdly intriguing to watch chef Robert Irvine go into failing restaurants and rescue them. It kind of demonstrates how to be the trouble-shooter in your own restaurant.
- Saturday Kitchen – A show for lazing around on a Saturday morning! For me, I love the different guests on this show. Fellow Brummie Chef, Brad Carter, was on the show a few weeks ago. My favourite part has to be the omelette challenge; winning it is a dream of mine! (I can dream)
- Heston’s Fantastical Food – Ok this series was incredible! Only 7 episodes were ever made by each one of them was awe inspiring! One thing I’m never going to forget is the pub in a pie episode where Heston created a huge pub made of pies in Wales. Other episodes included a sky high 99 ice cream, a huge Kitkat and a giant boiled egg.
- This Morning – This Morning isn’t technically a cooking show but I wanted to end with the legend that is Gino D’acampo on this morning. I never get bored of watching the compilations of Gino, Phil and Holly messing around with food and innuendos in the kitchen.
So there are my recommendations to get you started on some great foodie TV. Happy couch potatoing!