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Top Food TV Shows for Geeks

30 March 2009

There was a three month portion of my life when my TV was permanently stuck on The Food Network, and one of the only decent reasons to get Digital Cable is for this channel (well, also IFC, but that’s a different topic). However, I wouldn’t ever consider myself a gastronomic enthusiast.

In fact, most of the shows that I watch have little to do with creating Haute Cuisine, and focus more on the entertainment and fun factor of preparing and enjoying food. Here is my rundown of the best Food TV Shows for the average Geek (in no particular order).

Good Eats

goodeats

I thought I’d list this first as it’s the most obvious. It’s been running for nearly a decade so if you’re not familiar with Alton Brown and his Science! meets Food! format you’re definitely missing out.

Why it appeals to Geeks: It’s funny, informative and entertaining. Alton often uses Hacked kitchen gadgets, and despises ‘unitaskers’ (a device that can only be used for one thing). He focuses on simple ingredients and even simpler recipe’s, and often uses scientific equations to explain certain baking or cooking principles (while also using funny characters, skits and superheroes). Also what other food show has guest spots by a nutritional anthropologist?

Hell’s Kitchen

gordon

Ok, not strictly a food show, but from my estimates 98% of average geeks love Gordon Ramsay, and in particular, Hell’s Kitchen. This reality show offers a group aspiring cooks/chefs the chance to become the head chef at a Top Restaurant (Season 4’s winner got the privilege of being hired by Ramsay himself), and $250k.

Why it appeals to Geeks: I’m not 100% sure on this one, it just does. It also appeals to non-geeks but the majority of geeks I know love this show. It might be that it’s a Reality Show, it might be that it has a cool video-game spin-off, or it might be some other reason. If you’re a Geek and you love Hell’s Kitchen, definitely leave a comment, because I’d like to get to the bottom of this.

Iron Chef

ironchef

The great Japanese Chef vs Chef cook-off. Part reality show, part cooking show, with an odd sport-like overtone this show has been popular ever since they started importing it over from Japan in the late 90’s.

Why it appeals to Geeks: Well, firstly, it’s hosted by aforementioned Alton Brown, King of Food Geeks. But even before they imported and adapted as Iron Chef: America, Geeks have been watching Iron Chef. I prefer the Japanese version, and still remember the whole Bobby Flay/Cutting Board controversy. However, Iron Chef: America has much of the same appeal as the original.  And who could forget that the short-lived precursor Iron Chef: USA featured William Shatner at The Chairman. Also, this TV show had it’s own spin-off Reality Series and Video Game.

Ace of Cakes

aceofcakes

I’m going to use the quote from the opening credits here to describe this show “After pastry school, I decided to make cakes my way. So I set up shop and hired the most talented people I know, my friends. We do it all, make it bigger, make it better, make it awesome“.

Why it appeals to Geeks: Watching geeks make giant, awesome cakes. What’s more appealing than that? This is my #1 favorite Food TV Geek show – and it has as much to do with the people in the show as it does the cakes. Duff,  Mary-Alice, Geof et al are hip thirty-somethings with a passion for cakes. Some of the best Geek Cakes they’ve made:  Super Mario Bros, Hogwarts, Stargate, and Star Trek.  Oh yeah, and lots of Star Wars. Chef Duff and the team are cake geeks and lucky for us they film it and put it on the TV for our viewing pleasure.

Honourable Mention:
Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives

guyddd

A bit of a long-shot for this list, I felt I should include it anyways. Guy Fieri hosts this road-trip style show featuring local American cuisine and fast-food.

Why it appeals to Geeks: Guy himself is not very geekish, but I think this show appeals to geeks who like watching people eat food bigger than their head. At least several times a show you’ll see Guy trying to take a bite out of something that’s either a) Ginormous b) Oozing with Cheese  or c) Deep Fried Questionmark?! Plus the locations he visits are often unique or interesting such as a Hot Dog Restaurant built out of an old Bus. Not quite as on-the-mark as the rest of this list, I though it deserved a spot, near the end.

Geek Food TV Fail

I wanted to mention a couple of food shows that are trying desparately to market to geeks, but I just don’t get it.

Food Detetives
Ted Allen of Queer Eye, and sometimes-judge of Iron Chef seeks to solve life’s Food Questions. Sort of like Mythbusters, for food – with a dash of Good Eats science. I just don’t’ get it. The most obvious of the obvious wanna-be-geek shows falls flat with bad humour and uninteresting topics.

Unwrapped
How it’s Made, for food. This show wouldn’t be so bad if they didn’t almost always focus on candy. There’s only so many times you can watch an assembly line of jars getting filled with liquid before you just don’t care anymore. And as much as I love Chocolate Enrobers, I can’t stand Marc Summers and it’s irritating ‘Did you know?’s

So that’s my life of the best (and worst) Food shows for Geeks. If I’m obviously missing your most-favorite Geeky Food show, please let me know. Happy NOMNOMNOMing.

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  • Laura F. formerly C.

    Theory on Hell’s Kitchen. I’m thinking there might be some inner child that gets a massage to the revenge muscle every time Ramsay cleverly rebukes some one. As a feldgling geek in my adolesence, there were many times that I received divine inspriation as to the perfect come back to “you’re a loser”. Sadly these juicy gems always came to me about 2 minutes after the offending conformist has walked away. Ramsay never fails to delight with his insghtful and “cut to the bone” style. He’s never two minutes late. Simply put, it’s a joy to watch. Also sometimes he’s nice to like fat kids and freaks on the show and gives them compliments from time to time. It’s like he’s the harsh instructor in the formulaic comedy about how to master (insert random hobby or sport here) and he finally gives that one timy compliment with a hint of a smile.
    In short, he slays the bad guys and recognizes the unsung talent.
    Can you say superhero?

  • Dusty

    Hell’s kitchen is one crazy show! ;)

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