A Trip Down Memory Lane: My Top 5 Classic Cooking Shows

I JUST LOVE watching cooking shows. I cannot last a day without watching them. If other people likes basketball or running and such, I like watching and eating food. Although I have already gone passed the "takaw tingin" phase (that is wanting to get a particular food but can't finish it), it's more of exploring the different cultures and cuisines that is reflected on dishes that I'm really interested in.

Then again, perhaps like some people, I did not formally study cooking. I was not given the chance to go to culinary school, but I've spent half of my life watching chefs cook on TV. I learned a lot of things about techniques, some terms used in many cuisines, a lot of tips and tricks, and most of all, the art of eating and enjoying food. Although I know that I haven't learned enough, it's just nice that most of my cooking and eating inspiration came from most of the things that I see on those different cooking programs.

I am not sure when it exactly began, but as early as grade school I would usually see my grandparents watching "Yan Can Cook". What also got my attention was that very talented Chinese housewife-looking chef who was shown as a short segment after those ancient Chinese shows that were being showed during Sundays.

Remember Sandy Daza and his Kitchenomic Recipes? How about that guy from PTV Channel 4 who likes to cook at local restaurants all over the Philippines? Or Heny Sison and her sinful cake and pastry creations? Or those cooking shows during weekends on ABC5 that makes me salivate with all the deliciousness that I get to see on our TV screen?

It was during the 90s, alongside Laser Discs, the Internet and cellphones where the "in" things, I was just bumming around at home watching cooking shows on The Discovery Channel. Although at first you'll get curious (why the eff are they showing these shows? I thought this channel is about animals and science and stuff?), it wasn't too long before I became a fan. Then came the Lifestyle Network Channel (a subsidiary of ABS-CBN), where they had a number of hours devoted to airing selected shows from the Food Network. And now, there's also TLC Asia and the Asian Food Channel, where I just try to switch from time to time depending on what's on air.

Yet, with probably all those shows that I get to watch, I can definitely say that if only I can turn back time, then so be it, as all these moments will happen again without any hesitations. Only thing left to say is, here are my top 5 favorite cooking shows. I think these programs and the chefs who hosted them reflect to how I work in the kitchen today (sometimes unsystematic and spontaneous hehe). If you happen to have the same interests like me, let me take you down on a quick journey back in time and just tell us what you think about these shows.

Top 5 - Katie Brown Shows

Katie Brown (courtesy of the Glitter Works Studio Blog) 

Long before I get to finally knew Martha Stewart and Rachel Ray, I already knew Katie Brown. Like the former, she does everything at home, from arts/crafts, organizing, gardening, lifestyle, but most of all, I always watch out for her food segment wherein she always whips out different appetizers, entrees, desserts, etc. I have been looking for her old clips, but this video of Katie Brown making some nice vegetable roll-ups is what I got instead.

Top 4 - Entertaining at Home with Dean Fearing

Dean Fearing cooking with Julia Child ;
pic taken from the show "Julia Child with Master Chefs"
(courtesy of the PBS website)

Dean Fearing is a high-pitched chef specializing in Tex-Mex Cuisine, a certified cowboy (he wears cowboy boots in the kitchen) and a buddy musician all in one package! Although I often thought of him as a subtle type of guy (I thought he was gay, oops) but then again he hails as one of the best chefs in the US of A! Too bad I can't seem to find any old video clips from his show "Entertaining at Home" but I found one video on YouTube, produced by the online show "Behind The Burner", where he makes his award winning "No borders" Tacos.

Top 3 - Hot Off The Grill / Grillin and Chillin' with Bobby Flay

Jack Mcdavid and Bobby Flay
from the show "Grillin and Chillin"
(courtesy of the Urbivore Blog)
Combining Bobby Flay and "Happy" Jack McDavid in one cooking show is a healthy rivalry between two great barbecue and grilling masters in the US. Although we all know that there are far more people who just might be better than them (Bobby did the "Throwdown" series where he competed with regionally known cooks), I enjoyed watching this show because I like how their opposite personalities are established on the show. For me, it's a kitchen version of "A Tale of Two Mouses" with a happy ending.

To give you an idea of how these two are like, here are some videos featuring Jack McDavid and Bobby Flay.

Top 2 - Chocolate Heaven with Jacques Torres

Jacques Torres and his Chocolate creations
(courtesy of the New York Times website)

If you are wondering where I got my skills in making Chocolate Truffles, blame it on this guy! Although with the way that I make mine (putting liquor that is), I think it was more of how I like to explore certain combinations of liquor with cooking and dessert making. Jacques Torres was thinner and younger back when I used to watch him, and his French accent is really interesting as he explains how a certain chocolate confection is being made. From chocolates on a stick to chocolate castles and giant swans made with chocolate, Jacques Torres is the only man for the job. In this video his chocolate shop in New York gets featured. Oh how I wish I could go there soon and buy some of his creations!

James Barber (1923-2007)

Top 1 - The Urban Peasant

I can't exactly remember another cooking show that I was watching on The Discovery Channel, but I can recall the show called The Urban Peasant. And oh how I miss Sir James Barber! He is, in fact number one on my all-time favorite food personalities. I usually watch his show during afternoons or before going to bed if I can still remember it clearly. And the reason on why I like him is because he always tend to make funny remarks and informal techniques and sometimes even forgets to place some ingredients! But in the end it's always the thought of cooking and his emotional intentions on why every dish he makes becomes special. Best thing about the show is that before it ends he always have some last words which are usually some great tips in the kitchen, how to make people feel special using food, and how it reflects life in general.

Looking at it, I realized that the show made me to be like an urban peasant too since I always try to put my emotions to food. Too bad that he died last 2007 but his legacy lives on (through his books, videos, shows and a website dedicated for him). I also wonder what it is about chefs from Canada (take Michael Smith from Chef At Home) of having this mindset that you don't need to follow through step to finally getting a dish right.

If you would like to see what I mean, simply watch The Urban Peasant's pilot episode and you will understand where my thoughts are coming from.

As James Barber said, "Cooking is the simplest way of saying I love you". It does not need to be fancy or be too bold or too expensive. The act of cooking already speaks for itself and the rewards is that you get to enjoy practically made but deliciously executed food with the people you love.

How about you, do you have a favorite cooking show that you would like to share?

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