All too often when I turn on the TV, someone is in the midst of being beaten up or shot at in a police show or action film. Fortunately, there is a whole other type of television programming where the only things being beaten are eggs, and all that’s being whipped is cream.
There is an abundance of cooking shows on both the Hebrew and English channels, where chefs prepare a wide variety of dishes before your eyes, generously sharing their recipes and providing valuable cooking tips. While that type of cooking show is standard fare, there are several others that have a unique flair and flavor – a little amuse bouche, if you will, to add some spice to the regular regimen of cooking programs. For people who like to cook or, better yet, for people who like to watch other people cook, these English-language shows are definite crowd pleasers.
One of my favorites on the Good Life Channel (HOT 41) is Private Chefs of Beverly Hills
. A company in Los Angeles called Big City Chefs sends out small teams of two to three chefs to do the cooking for some specialty party in clients’ homes in posh Beverly Hills. The party themes can range anywhere from a moguls’ backwoods barbecue or a teenager’s homecoming dinner party to a rock group’s shindig, a Renaissance costume murder mystery dinner or a luncheon for L.A. socialites and their dogs.
The entertainment value of this show is in seeing what creative menus the chefs whip up for the eclectic occasions; the interfering clients; the dynamics between the chefs; the drama that takes place in the kitchen when things (invariably) go wrong and how the chefs manage to salvage the situation.
Another posh program is Amazing Wedding Cakes
Here, too, we see how select and discriminating clients are catered to
by the chefs they hire. Spanning specialty cake shops in New York,
Chicago and L.A., this reality show takes us behind the scenes to reveal
how truly amazing wedding cakes are made – from the creative concept on
paper to the baking, structuring and decorating of the fabulous
Crafting such edible accoutrements as flowers, butterflies, windmills,
landscapes and skyscrapers – you name it, they can make it.
Another interesting cooking show is Anna and Kristina’s Grocery Bag
Here, the two women evaluate cookbooks by trying out some of the
recipes on camera. In each episode, they choose a particular ethnic
cookbook, such as Indian, Chinese or Mexican, and step by step, they
follow the instructions for three different recipes.
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Then they have an expert in that type of cuisine come and taste the
results. Before they start, they seek professional advice on cooking
utensils and recommend the best types and brands of implements for the
task. In the end, after slaving over steaming sashimis or mulling over
Mexican molles and subjecting their efforts to the polished palate of a
reputable chef, they rate the overall effectiveness and userfriendliness
of the cookbook.
On a much simpler and virtually foolproof level, Claire Robinson
presents her 5 Ingredient Fix. In each episode, she shows viewers how to
make a three-course meal, each course consisting of five ingredients or
less. Very personable and very passionate about cooking, she fries,
roasts, bakes or blends a menu of appetizer, main dish and dessert, all
the while explaining how easy it is to make and how delicious it is to
At the opposite end of the scale, Fearless in the Kitchen takes us into the homes of people who literally cannot boil an egg.
Every week, cooking maven Christine Cushing comes to the rescue of a
woman (or man) who can’t cook but wants to be able to make a meal for
her family that they will actually eat. In one episode, the featured
damsel in distress used her oven for storage and didn’t even know how to
turn it on.
In each episode, Cushing takes a woman by the hand and teaches her how
to prepare a dish in her own home. Then she takes her to a public venue
of some sort, such as a restaurant, events hall or bakery, and has her
prepare a particular dish for a large clientele. Once she makes it
through that ordeal, the woman returns to her own kitchen, where she
confidently prepares a full-course meal for her family and friends.
Knowing how useless the woman has been in the kitchen for all these
years, they cannot believe their mouths when they taste the delectable
meal she has made herself.
On a more professional level, chef Rima Olvera travels the world to hook
up with chefs on the show Duet. From Turkey and India to Israel and
Hong Kong, she and a local chef take a jaunt to the produce market, buy a
host of fresh ingredients and cook up an exotic meal. While they are
shopping and cooking, Olvera – and the viewer – get a mini lesson on the
ethnic cuisine and the culture behind it.
So whether you’re cooking for one, cooking for your family or cooking
for an army (which in this country is not just an expression), these
programs can help you put a little more panache on the menu.
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