TV Dinner

My wife and I don’t share the same taste in television, so it’s always a plus when I gain possession of the remote control for the evening. My idea of entertainment is sci-fi/horror action movies and my wife is more of a Reality TV/Housewives kind of person. There is one genre we both agree on, however. Anything food related seems to be a big hit with both of us.  I’m not sure if being housebound during the pandemic has anything to do with it, but cooking inspired television shows are at the top of my Must-See TV list.

Cooking has always been something my wife and I both like to do. I was blessed to have married a woman who is great in the kitchen. That would explain how my waist size went from 28 inches to 38 inches in my first year of marriage. And I’m no slouch in the kitchen, if I must say so myself. I learned to cook when our work schedules changed and I arrived home a few hours before my wife. I decided instead of waiting for dinner to be prepared for me, I would learn how to cook. I got a little too good at it, and now I do the majority of the dinner preparation at home. I enjoy the cooking part. The clean-up – not so much.

My DVR is chock full of food-inspired television shows. The Kitchen on The Food Network is one of my favorites. The hosts of this cooking show are entertaining and informative. Chefs Jeff Mauro, Katie Lee, and Sunny Anderson are full of helpful hints and easy-to-prepare recipes. Chef Geoffrey Zakarian seems a little snooty at times, but he’s originally from Massachusetts so I’ll give him a slide. I’ve made some really great meals from recipes demonstrated on the show. More about my Carrot Hot Dog recipe in an upcoming column. 

Food Network’s Chopped is a reality-based cooking television game show hosted by Ted Allen. The series pits four chefs against each other as they compete for a chance to win $10,000. This fun food competition gives contestants a basket of four unusual and unrelated food items to combine in a cohesive way to make a gourmet meal. I’d have no problem being a contestant on this show. This is how I create most of my meals anyway, so it wouldn’t be  much of a challenge.

I’m also a fan of Supermarket Stakeout hosted by chef Alex Guarnaschelli (also on the Food Network, I’m beginning to sense a pattern here). This cooking competition that takes place in a supermarket parking lot. Contestants buy their ingredients from the grocery carts of shoppers as they leave the store. Each round, a contestant is voted off by a panel of celebrity judges who critique the make-shift meals. It’s hard to explain, but very enjoyable. 

I’ve even found some entertainment in the pandemic inspired Amy Schumer Learns To Cook (yes, it’s on the Food Network). Some people find the actress/comedian grating, but I think she’s funny. Amy’s deadpan husband, Chris Fischer, is a legitimate chef. He has his hands full each week trying to walk his wacky wife Amy through the steps of creating a trio of complicated dishes, usually ending on a happy note.

On HBO Max I found another guilty pleasure called Selina + Chef. Pop singer Selena Gomez stars in an unscripted cooking series filmed in her home during quarantine. Along with Selina is a guest world-class chef who instructs the songstress how to create different cuisines in her kitchen via Zoom with surprisingly spectacular results. Each episode also gives media exposure to a food-related charity.

But wait, there’s more. I’ve lost my taste for Hell’s Kitchen and the foul-mouthed Gordon Ramsay, but Beat Bobby Flay is still fun to watch, especially when Bobby Flay loses to an up-and-coming chef. One of the first (and best) reality cooking competition shows, Top Chef, is another longtime favorite. This show features professional chefs at their best creating unbelievable gastronomic creations that look as complicated as they do delicious. Maybe it’s time I try whipping up a chocolate souffle. I think I just realized why I’ve gained 20 pounds since the pandemic started.

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