Welcome to Chow Bella's Bites & Dishes, where Valley chefs and restaurateurs respond to a question New Times food critic Laura Hahnefeld has on her mind. Have a question you'd like to ask? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Miss a question? Go here.
Whether it's for education, entertainment, or a dose of "reality," most of us have our favorite go-to food and cooking shows. But for Valley chef and restaurateurs, those who live the drama every day, what do they watch? And which shows are they the least likely to tune into? I asked a few of them and this is what they had to say:
Chef Donald Fawcett, Renegade Canteen
Favorite: The British version of Kitchen Nightmares. It's different from the American version. Ramsey seems to actually care, and you get to see what trials European kitchens go through.
Least Favorite: The Next Food Network Star. Most of those people haven't been properly trained or paid their dues in stressful commercial kitchens. Before you can make it to that level, you should be required to put in your time and gain the respect of your peers.
Justin Beckett Chef and owner, Beckett's Table
Favorite: Jamie Oliver's Jamie at Home. I love the fresh, homegrown garden ingredients that he uses. I think the recipes are easy enough for the home cook or great to expand on. He has a great outlook on how to treat simple ingredients
Least Favorite: Hell's Kitchen. I can't stand the way they're set up for failure, and the "reality" is not all that realistic in a real restaurant kitchen.
Giovanni Scorzo Chef and Proprietor, Andreoli Italian Grocer
Favorite: La Prova del Cuoco on the RAI because they follow the tradition of Italian cooking.
Least Favorite: Iron Chef because they make me feel like I'm watching food being prepared in a mechanic's garage.
Amy Binkley Owner, Binkley's and Cafe Bink
Favorite: The original Iron Chef because the voice over is so campy and funny and the dishes are more exotic.
Least Favorite: Iron Chef America. It just irritates me because it's not the original.
Dana Mule GM and Partner, Hula's Modern Tiki
Favorite: I love Chopped because it's interesting to see what good chefs will do with a seemingly unrelated (and sometimes unpalatable) combination of ingredients and flavor profiles. Also, it's fun to watch the judge's faces as they take that first bite of the finished dish.
Least Favorite: Kitchen Nightmares. You really don't need Gordon Ramsey to tell you why your restaurant isn't doing well -- your food sucks, your kitchen is filthy, your service is abysmal, and you're a lazy, absentee owner. Some people just weren't cut out for the hospitality business.
Joe Johnston, owner, Joe's Real BBQ, Joe's Fresh Farm Grill, Liberty Market, Agritopia
Favorite: Alton Brown's Good Eats because he takes a thoughtful approach to food science and I usually learn something while watching. He is not particularly annoying and he definitely there to teach.
Least Favorite: I dislike Rachel Ray, because her food is boring and her voice is grating. I also think Chopped, Cupcake Wars, and Sweet Genius are formulaic, vacuous, and suitable only as background noise.
Romeo Taus Chef and Owner, Romeo's Cafe
Favorite: Chuck's Day Off with Chuck Hughes and and Tyler's Ultimate with Tyler Florence because they're cooking for me and it's great tasting comfort food with a twist. Also anything from Gordon Ramsey -- great entertainment.
Least Favorite: Restaurant Impossible. Two days? Please.
Brent Shinyeda General Manager, BLD Chandler
Favorite: Old episodes of Good Eats with Alton Brown. I could watch Everyday Italian with Giada all day long although the food is a little basic for me. I still love Top Chef and Iron Chef, but only if Mario Batali is cooking.
Least Favorite: Bitchin' Kitchen. Nadia seems like she's trying too hard
Devin Walsh Chef and Owner, Calistro California Bistro
Favorite: Top Chef. I think it still displays great talent in the culinary industry.
Least Favorite: Iron Chef. I loved the original, but now it just seems to be a promotional show for any chef that wants to go on it. I stopped watching when I learned the competing chefs were given the secret ingredient weeks in advance to prepare their menus.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
Christopher Gross Chef and Owner, Christopher's Restaurant & Crush Lounge
Favorite: Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations. It's a funny show and he has more balls than I do. I've done events all over the world and the other chefs will always find something off the wall to order while we're there -- some street food like deep-fried bat -- and I will say, 'no thank you' and, 'if it makes you shake for 30 minutes and you feel the need to smoke afterwards I'm on board.'
Least Favorite: Most all of them, but that's not fair because I really don't watch them. The ones I have watched seem to be to contrived. Plus, I know some of the chefs and they would never say some of the things they do.