- Insider spoke to chefs and asked them about the cooking shows they love and the ones they don’t.
- Some chefs called out PBS’s “Martha Stewart’s Cooking School” for not being educational enough, and the Food Network’s “The Worst Cooks in America” for showing bad cooking skills.
- Experts praised shows like the Food Network’s “Chopped” and Bravo’s “Top Chef” for being interesting and insightful.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
With so many cooking shows on television vying for your attention, it can be hard to decide which are worth your time.
To help narrow your options, Insider spoke to real chefs to find out which shows they love and which ones aren’t worth their salt.
Here are some of the best and worst cooking shows on TV, according to the experts.
“Top Chef” earned high marks from one expert, who said it provides insight into the life of a chef.
Chef Gemma Kamin-Korn of Bar Beau in New York City told Insider that Bravo’s competitive cooking show “Top Chef” actually provides a peek into the real world of professional chefs.
“I loved ‘Top Chef’ when I was a young line cook because it was a window into the industry. It allows people with no restaurant background to better understand the inner workings of the professional culinary world,” said Kamin-Korn.
“Kitchen Nightmares” can offer valuable information for real restaurants and chefs.
On each episode of Fox Network’s “Kitchen Nightmares,” chef Gordon Ramsay takes on the role of restaurant consultant and helps dysfunctional eateries remake themselves almost overnight.
Jamie Woolner, professional chef and owner of Pizza of Venice in Altadena, California, had nothing but praise for the program.
“‘Kitchen Nightmares’ has to be one of the most educational programs in the history of TV. It’s a godsend for anyone in the culinary field. I’ve learned lessons that I use every day at my shop,” Woolner told Insider.
One expert said “The French Chef” with Julia Child was educational and funny.
If you love French cuisine and aren’t afraid of butter, “The French Chef” with Julia Child is a great way to pick up a few kitchen skills. The PBS show debuted in 1963 and was one of the first few cooking programs on American television.
Kamin-Korn praised Child and her program’s lighthearted, yet informative, approach to cooking.
“Julia Child was a great teacher. In general, I feel like the cooking shows of the past were much more educational and interesting, as compared to the more entertainment-focused versions of today,” said Kamin-Korn.
“Chopped” earned points for creativity.
The long-running Food Network show “Chopped” asks chefs to create gourmet dishes out of wacky ingredients. They race to beat the clock and each other for a chance at winning a monetary prize.
Woolner said he appreciated the show’s creativity and its quirky take on the traditional cooking-competition format.
“If you’ve ever wondered what peanut-butter-licorice lobster soufflé looks like, ‘Chopped’ might be for you,” he joked.
On the other hand, “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives” was a polarising show for some chefs.
“Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives” follows flamboyant host Guy Fieri as he travels across America to sample over-the-top dishes at small-town eateries.
Woolner told Insider that although he has discovered a few good restaurants through the show, he knows that it’s not for everyone.
“You either love or hate Guy Fieri. Liking this show requires getting over the every-town American-bro culture evident in Fieri’s bleached, spiky hair and backward sunglasses,” said Woolner.
Kamin-Korn also dismissed “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives” as unappealing.
“Cuisine doesn’t need to be high-brow, but there should be skill and craft involved. That’s not always the case with this show and others like it,” said Kamin-Korn.
“Giada at Home” didn’t receive high marks from one expert, who felt the show didn’t focus enough on the food.
As the host of Food Network’s “Giada at Home,” Italian chef Giada De Laurentiis cooks up casual fare and offers tips for entertaining at home.
However, Deanna Kang, a professional cook and recipe developer at Asian Test Kitchen, told Insider that she thinks the show focuses more on the host than the cooking process.
“‘Giada at Home’ is one of my least favourite cooking shows. It seems to rely on sex appeal rather than letting the beautiful ingredients and recipes speak for themselves,” said Kang.
“Martha Stewart’s Cooking School” was panned by one chef for being too simplistic and not educational enough.
Martha Stewart may be a household name, but her PBS cooking show “Martha Stewart’s Cooking School” didn’t earn high marks from one chef.
Kang told Insider that she thinks Stewart’s show doesn’t do enough to help viewers understand the ins and outs of home cooking.
“There is very little explanation of why certain ingredients are chosen over others and little mention of how flavours play together. All she seems to say is ‘mix this and that together,’ said Kang.
Watching “The Worst Cooks in America” is a bit of a nightmare for some experts.
“The Worst Cooks in America” on Food Network features amateur chefs competing against each other for a cash prize. Although observed by a rotating cast of professionals, the contestants often use unconventional cooking techniques, which can lead to disastrous results.
Kamin-Korn explained that she doesn’t find it entertaining to watch people struggle in the kitchen.
“As a chef, a show that highlights just how badly somebody does something is not exactly what I would want to watch,” she added.