The Top 100 Cooking Shows of All-Time

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20. Two Fat Ladies
Entertainment: 3
Education: 3
Tastiness: 3
Broadcast: BBC 1996-1999

The title is not misleading, they really are two fat ladies. They sure can cook, though, and they're hilarious.

It's a ton of fun listening to these old biddies bitching and moaning about something or other while they sluggishly slave over some rich concoction that is, nine time out of ten, quite good.

19. Floyd on Food
Entertainment: 3
Education: 3
Tastiness: 3
Broadcast: BBC 1986

When you watch Keith Floyd cook, you're upset that you can't be there with him. He's loose with his recipes and with his wine intake — both contribute greatly to the overall fun of the show.

"Floyd on Food" is one of his many stints cooking on T.V. but they're all equally as good.

18. Rick Stein Mediterranean Escape
Entertainment: 3
Education: 3
Tastiness: 3
Broadcast: BBC 2007

Rick Stein can cook just about anything, but his true genius shows through when he prepares seafood. The wealth of information he provides throughout his show is at once overwhelming, but appreciated.

Rick has numerous restaurants, cook books and TV shows to his name and he handles them all wonderfully.

17. Joanne Weir's Cooking Class
Entertainment: 3
Education: 3
Tastiness: 3
Broadcast: PBS 2009-

Joanne Weir's Cooking Class is a cooking show for the true beginner. The entire premise is that Weir takes someone with little knowledge of cooking and teaches them delicious and complex meals.

For those just getting into cooking for themselves or their family it's a great way to learn recipes that you can use instantly.

For those with a little more in-depth knowledge, the show might get boring, but could provide a few laughs at the expense of some kitchen greenhorns.

16. Great Chefs of the West
Entertainment: 3
Education: 3
Tastiness: 3
Broadcast: Discovery Channel 1990

"Great Chefs of the West" is another show in the Great Chefs line and it carries on the tradition well. Western US cooking has a lot to offer and this show highlights some of its best recipes.

The show aired in the days before big time celebrity names and it feels like it — the production value isn't terribly high, but the "characters" aren't obnoxious either.

Overall, a great pick that stands the test of time.

15. The Cook and The Chef
Entertainment: 3
Education: 3
Tastiness: 3
Broadcast: ABC Australia 2006-

"The Cook and the Chef" is a gem. The types of cooking and the recipes are well-researched and presented in a straightforward and concise manner.

The hosts are congenial, fun to watch and there's even a little humor thrown in.

Sadly, not all viewers agreed, leading to its recent cancellation. It will be missed.

14. Huey's Cooking Adventures
Entertainment: 3
Education: 3
Tastiness: 3
Broadcast: Channel 10 1997-

Huey's been on the air for quite some time in Australia and it's not hard to see why. His demeanor is endearing, his speech calm, and he pleads sincerely when he doesn't want you to over-spice something. It's like watching your grandfather in the kitchen.

Huey gives you the feeling that he's not been on television long — his matter-of-fact way of explaining things shows how litte he's been groomed by marketers.

13. Daisy Cooks!
Entertainment: 3
Education: 3
Tastiness: 3
Broadcast: PBS 2005-

Daisy is clearly excited about what she's cooking. Her energy and desire for food spreads infectiously to the viewer.

Her food looks absolutely delicious and her Puerto Rican/Brooklyn accent expresses itself when she really gets going.

12. Local Food Hero
Entertainment: 3
Education: 3
Tastiness: 3
Broadcast: UKTV 2006-2009

This show effectively serves as an advertisement for some of Britain's well run businesses. The viewer doesn't feel duped, though, since the businesses deserve the publicity — their use of local organic foods is a good example of how restaurants and bed & breakfasts could be run.

It's refreshing to see businesses being celebrated and congratulated for being healthy and responsible. The recipes are tasty as well and, in most cases, are actually original.

11. Fast Food My Way
Entertainment: 3
Education: 3
Tastiness: 3
Broadcast: PBS 2004, 2008

Jacques Pépin doesn't need to waste a lot of energy trying to entertain you. He gets right to the point.

The point in Pépin's case is awesome food that doesn't take much effort. He's a relaxed teacher and has the approval of noted chefs like Julia Child who he appeared with on "Julia and Jacques: Cooking at Home." Pépin is a real pro and a genius in the kitchen.

10. Great Depression Cooking
Entertainment: 3
Education: 3
Tastiness: 3
Broadcast: YouTube 2007-

Clara Cannucciari is a true Sicilian treat. This daughter of Italian immigrants is now 91 years old but has a mind as sharp as a tack.

Her show is both a wonderful and relevant look into the time of the Great Depression. Clara's stories are interesting and her food is both cheap and delicious.

The production value is admirable — the camera angles are clever and the editing is fine. The equipment used is obviously not professional grade, but it doesn't detract one bit.

Clara is a winner and "Great Depression Cooking" is a big success.

9. The French Chef
Entertainment: 3
Education: 3
Tastiness: 3
Broadcast: PBS / WGBH 1963-1973

Newcomers to cooking can start with virtually no previous knowledge and Julia Child will teach everything required.

Her approach is both calming and welcoming and her food almost always turns out wonderfully. And when it doesn't, she shows you how to fix it.

Sadly, Julia's popularity and offbeat charm made her a prime target for being reduced to caricature. But if you can watch her show without seeing Meryl Streep's impersonation, you will enjoy it immensely.

8. The Frugal Gourmet
Entertainment: 3
Education: 3
Tastiness: 3
Broadcast: PBS 1973-1997

Jeff Smith's "Frugal Gourmet" was one of those gems where entertainment and quality was completely understated.

He was a chef that actually loved to cook and the fact that he was being filmed was an afterthought.

Jeff had a face like Alan Ginsberg, but instead of spewing obscene poetry he was imparting delicious and practical cooking knowledge.

7. Martin Yan's China
Entertainment: 3
Education: 3
Tastiness: 3
Broadcast: PBS 2008-

"Martin Yan's China" is the latest in the Martin Yan series of shows. Yan is one of those treats that comes around so rarely that you don't want to miss him while he's here. And it's certainly not hard to catch him.

Martin has hosted such spectacular shows as "Yan Can Cook," "Marting Yan's Hong Kong," and "Martin Yan's Chinatown." His craft is both an art and a science — the latter legitimized by his Cooking Science degree from U.C. Davis.

Yan is a pleasure to watch (if you can keep up when he's deboning a chicken in less than 18 seconds) and his meals are delicious. He doesn't come off as jaded despite his long running career — hopefully it will continue much longer.

6. The Galloping Gourmet
Entertainment: 3
Education: 3
Tastiness: 3
Broadcast: CBC 1969-1971

Few of the new cooking show sensations have as much style as Graham Kerr. He is fun, funny and witty. His cooking is great, but was almost completely upstaged by his dynamic and endearing personality.

It should be noted that he's not slowed down a bit — continuing to produce cookbooks and working for such noble causes as the National Cancer Institute. Kerr is a class act, as was his show.

5. Delicious Miss Dahl
Entertainment: 3
Education: 3
Tastiness: 3
Broadcast: BBC2 2010

This BBC show plays like an independent film. The cinematography is dramatic, the music melancholic, and the beautiful Sophie Dahl makes you want to weep.

Then you remember it's a cooking show and you've burned your eggs benedict. The only criticism one can make is that it's almost too perfect.

Wonder where Sophie got her chops? You know Grandad Roald as the author of such iconic children's books as "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory".

4. The Naked Chef
Entertainment: 3
Education: 3
Tastiness: 3
Broadcast: BBC 1999-2001

The first of Jamie Oliver's TV successes, "The Naked Chef" launched the television career of this great chef and philanthropist.

Jamie really cares about the state of peoples' health and that shows through in his cooking. His food is simple and unadulterated by overproduced ingredients. Oliver will be around for a long time.

3. Good Eats
Entertainment: 3
Education: 3
Tastiness: 3
Broadcast: Food Network 1999-

"Good Eats" is, simply put, a supreme cooking show. The science of cooking and food is clearly explained, the host is a pleasure to watch and the food is delicious.

"Good Eats" has been described as a mix between "Bill Nye The Science Guy" and the History Channel — the description couldn't be more spot on.

Alton Brown is a load of fun and "Good Eats" is an exemplar of the genre.

2. Cookalong Live
Entertainment: 3
Education: 3
Tastiness: 3
Broadcast: Channel 4 2008-

As far as entertainment goes, it doesn't get much better than "Cookalong Live." This fast-paced show places novice cooks alongside foul-mouthed (and uncensored) Gordon Ramsay.

The result is a fun-loving atmosphere that makes the viewer forget he's watching a cooking show. Try cooking along with one of these episodes yourself.

22 Responses

  1. Guitar-Monster-Mike: The Top 100 Cooking Shows of AllTime Says:

    […] it to re-visit some of your old favorites, or study it carefully to discover some new gems.Source: Posted by Mike Devlino at 06:38 Labels: gems, old favorites, video […]

  2. Ivy Jean Says:

    I only get 8 channels, so where can I find these shows?

  3. Celebrity Chef News: Rick Bayless, Rocco DiSpirito, Paula Deen, Top Chef University | Endless Simmer Says:

    […] The Cook’s Den has a lot of time on its hands, ranking the top 100 cooking shows of all time. ¬†You get an “A” for effort, but you’re going to need to stay after class for […]

  4. Alber Tan Says:

    Another one that’s very good that’s not on the list is “After Hour with Daniel”, Daniel Boulud is cooking for his chef friends, and the foods are amazing.

  5. leonardo Says:

    Obviously the Creator of this list is semi-retarded. Emeril Live is ranked #100?

  6. M@ Says:

    I was pleased to see you had a good selection of shows from around the English-speaking world, including some Canadian gems. But unless I missed it, you didn’t include my very favourite Canadian cooking show, Pasquale’s Kitchen Express.

    A good man and a fine cook (and a decent singer as well), Pasquale entertained the largely Italian immigrant population in Toronto and its surroundings for many years.

  7. Wendy Says:

    What? No Biker Billy Cooks With Fire?

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  9. Miranda D Says:

    Although it was rather short-lived, I loved “Adventures with Ruth” (Reichl). A perfect blend of exotic travelogue and unique but totally palatable food. She even had celebrities!

    Also, there was a wonderful show on the Food Network around 2003-2004 called “Melting Pot”, which featured a different ethnic cuisine for each day of the week. It was a kind of starting ground for stars like Michael Symon and Aaron Sanchez.

    And even though I usually hate the contestants, I never miss “Chopped” because I love to imagine what I would cook with the mystery basket ingredients. It’s given me lots of great ideas!

    Although I’m not HUGE fans of the following, I find them a great deal better than many others that made your list, so I’d like to give a shout out to Ming Tsai, Sara Moulton, Michael Chiarello, Ina Garten, and… I can’t believe I’m saying this, Tyler Florence (I thought “Food 911” was a great concept and usually pretty educational).

  10. Tim Capehart Says:

    Cooking Live With Sara Moulton should have been in your top 10! It was one of the best and most educational food shows ever!

  11. The Top 100 Cooking Shows of All-Time | Listropolis Says:

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  13. Jennifer Says:

    In the same vein as Alton Brown was David Rosengarten’s Taste, one of my personal all time favorites. How many times does Emeril get mentioned? I loved his show when he didn’t have the live audience and band and didn’t continually say “KICK IT UP!”. As much as I loved watching the Frugal Gourmet, his gentile and proper tv demeanor belied his true wicked self. I can no longer even think of him much less watch his show without having a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.

  14. Jon Says:

    No Ming Tsai makes me sad.

  15. The 30 Worst Cooking Shows of All-Time Says:

    […] barbecued shark before bedtime. Want to read about a more uplifting set of shows? Check out the 100 Best Cooking Shows of All Time here. Enjoy the list. And, by all means, avoid the shows. Click Here to See the List Posted in […]

  16. Jo-Ann Burton Says:

    Melissa d’Arabian is just annoying. I can handle her maybe 5 minutes. And how did Hell’s Kitchen get in the Best of List while Top Chef made it to the Worst list.

  17. Slt Says:

    David Rocco is an Italian-Canadian…so I think that nasaly voice you’re referring to is actually his accent.

  18. Liz Williams Says:

    I think that you are mistaken about Dione Lucas being the first woman with a cooking show. Lena Richard had a cooking show in New Orleans beginning in 1947. Although Lucas might have had a national show, as opposed to the local show that Richard had. She was on WDSU.

  19. marie Says:

    how the hell did urban peasant get into the list of best cooking shows, the recipes were unispired and confusing at times(wait make that all the time)..and don’t get me started with the host.
    and how come did top chef and barefoot contesa end up in the worst list…i absolutely adore those 2 shows!

  20. » 100 Top TV Cooking Shows Says:

    […] Posted on April 10, 2011 by admin. This entry was posted in Food. Bookmark the permalink. « 7 Unglamorous Steps to Better Writing […]

  21. Hielke Says:

    I kinda miss my favorite show featuring Heston Blumenthal.

  22. summer Says:

    wow.. number 96 is a great show, i like how you feel the need to mention “shirtless scenes” and skintight clothing, but of course if it was a woman that would be perfectly ok. If you let that influence your opinion on a cooking show i have no further reason to keep reading this list.