I gotta start with my girl Martha. I know she's like the epitome of rich WASP lady who's out of touch, but her shows are great for showing simple, classic techniques that are actually useful in my kicthen adventures. My local PBS affiliate shows Martha Bakes and Martha Stewart's Cooking School back-to-back every Saturday. In fact, I'm watching right now! She is currently teaching me how to make stock (chicken, beef, and veggie). Thanks, Martha!
Next up is America's Test Kitchen. I love this show and find it pretty entertaining. I also get Cook's Illustrated, and the day that magazine shows up at my house once every two months is quite an exciting day. As a displaced New Englander, I always appreciate their references to NE, Vermont, and Boston. The problem with ATK, though, is that I am never realistically going to use a lot of their recipes. They go into a lot of science and do a whole lot of testing to find the perfect way to do things, but I find that their recipes usually result in about 2-3 more dirty bowls and/or pans and a hell of a lot more prep/cook time than other recipes. Sure, it might be the best goddamn food you ever eat, but is it worth all the extra effort?
When I was a kid I loved watching Ming Tsai. He's had a few different shows over the years, with the big ones being East Meets West and Simply Ming. My mom took me to Blue Ginger (Tsai's restaurant) once in middle school, which was a BIG DEAL because if you've been there you know how expensive it is, and I was so grown up that I could go to a fancy restaurant! It was really, really good. I watched his show with the hopes that someday I could recreate that food for myself, but of course I haven't come close. Unfortunately, he's not on TV where I am, but maybe one day I'll see Simply Ming again.
But there is only one winner for me in this competition, and it is a classic. Sometimes my PBS affiliate will still air an episode, and I get so happy when they do. What is this show, you might ask?
It is Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home. This is the greatest cooking show ever, y'all. Julia Child is at her goofiest and snarkiest, and Jacques Pepin just kind of goes along with it. I have seen Jacques, on multiple occasions, ask Julia if she like a particular ingredient (say, a cheese they were using in a dish) and she said "no, it has quite an odd taste." As in The French Chef, Julia was never afraid to show that sometimes things don't go as planned.
As you can see, all of my favorite cooking shows are from PBS. I don't watch actual cooking shows on Food Network or the Cooking Channel. I find most of their shows boring. But the PBS shows? I will sit in for an entire Saturday afternoon and watch them, even if I'll never make one of the recipes.