About Me
I'm a Melbourne boy, hailing from St Kilda with one ex, one current wife and four kids. Love the outdoors and making new discoveries. I cook a lot at home (cheers from wife) and do some preserving, mostly jams, pickles and fruit liqueurs. This is the diary of a cooking journey.

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1001 Dinners 1001 Nights
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essjay eats
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Tuesday, May 22, 2007
My Harem

Photo courtesy LifeStyle FOOD

It was one of those nights when not much was on the telly. I love those nights because that's when I'm allowed unfettered access to LifeStyle FOOD. We flicked across and there was Rachel Allen, as the promo says, Ireland's favourite chef. She was up to some mischief with a wok that was smoking away merrily. We watched for a while but my heart wasn't really in it; I'm sure Rachel is a great cook, but to me, she's not really engaging and doesn't come across as terribly friendly, there is something a bit Martha Stewart about her, almost if she is a bit of a clone and her food seems to lack spark, it's just everyday modern food that is very safe to make.

LifeStyle FOOD Thursday 8.30 pm

Photo courtesy Lifestyle FOOD

I said to my wife D that I wasn't really taken by her cooking and she then asked who I did like, knowing that there are a couple of female cooking show presenters that don't do much for me, particularly starting with Nigella Lawson, who in a previous post I compared to a Wusthof Trident knife. I may be fifty with everything in full working order, but Nigella's constant flirting with the camera is growing increasingly tiresome as is the sexually suggestive way she tastes her food. These sorts of things ought to be like seasonings to food - used judiciously, no one likes anything over salted or over spiced.

LifeStyle FOOD Monday 8.00 pm

Photo courtesy ABC Television

Well, to answer D, the first person I thought of was Maggie Beer. She is a marvelous Australian cook who has struggled to find the right show for her talents but now seems to have discovered the right vehicle. I've seen Maggie team up with Stephanie Alexander and no disrespect to Stephanie, she does seem to suck up all the available oxygen, but with Maggies new show and cooking partner, Simon Bryant, the amiable and slightly cheeky executive chef at The Hilton Adelaide, a real chemistry and spark has been created in The Cook & The Chef. Maggie can come across a bit like someones mum who likes to cook, but behind that image is someone who is dedicated to the art of food and between the pair of them, they draw you in with their tales and obvious love for what they are doing and they succeed in making cooking look very easy.

ABC TV Wednesday 6.30 pm, ABC 2 Thursday 7.30 pm & Monday 5.30 pm

Photo courtesy LifeStyle FOOD

D suggested that new girl, Laura Calder from French Cooking At Home. We've only caught one episode so far, the first one and Laura was coming across as a bit, I don't know, journalistic, when all of a sudden she dropped her guard and allowed a glimpse of the real her, which seemed just the slightest bit daggy, but in a nice way. Originally from Canada, she learnt to cook at La Varenne in Paris and now makes her home there. In the first episode, Laura tended to stick with the classics of France, so it will be interesting to see as future shows unfold whether she can put her own spin on things.

LifeStyle FOOD Tuesday 8.30 pm

Photo courtesy LifeStyle FOOD

Tamasin Day-Lewis is another presenter I have previously written about, possibly in a less than flattering manner. Well, I have been sticking with her and I probably need to adjust my assessment of her as I've gotten to know her. The earnestness is still there, but there is also a rather wry sense of humour. Also, she does manage to do interesting things with her food. Couldn't she just put on the tiniest bit of weight?

LifeStyle FOOD Wednesday 12.00 pm

Photo courtesy LifeStyle FOOD

No list of mine would be complete without that fabulous cooking mama, Lidia Bastianich. There is not a single thing I have seen her cook that I don't want to eat. All produced with warmth and love, not just for the food but the various family members she introduces from time to time. I've taken plenty from her shows, especially the episodes that feature pasta, but Lidia also delves deeply into Italian cuisine and creates family style dishes that get you wanting to invite the whole clan around for a Sunday feast.

LifeStyle FOOD Saturday 10.00 pm

So who are your favourite female cooking show presenters?
  posted at 7:27 am

At 9:36 am, Blogger MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

I can count on no pulled punches from you. I haven't been watching much food tv these days and I probably should get back to it some. I did enjoy Sara Moulton when I was watching.

At 9:40 am, Blogger Ed said...

I must admit that I find myself watching Maggie Beer and don't mnd it apart for one thing - she's basically advertising her own products, especially bloody Verjuice. I've never heard of anything so ridiculous when a splash of wine can do the trick. I'm surprised that nobody at the ABC has noticed this advertising.

At 11:58 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't actually bring myself to watch any cooking shows...regardless of who it is onscreen, about 5 minutes into the show I'll dart up and race for my cookbooks, intent on finding something to make. Though, I have to admit that I caught Hell's Kitchen on late night telly the other day and that had me captivated :D (not a cooking show, but I'm so SICK of Jamie Oliver, it's just not funny!)

At 1:47 pm, Blogger paul kennedy said...

Caterina Borsato's Regional Italian Cuisine is my favourite.

Saturday nights at 7 on 31.

Maggie Beer bores me to tears.

At 2:26 pm, Blogger Pille said...

I love Nigella Lawson, and the books I have by Rachel Allen are useful, too. After moving back home to Estonia, I'm not really watching any cooking shows anymore, so I'll just stick with those two ladies:)

At 12:16 am, Blogger ilingc said...

Hmm, the last time I watched a cooking show was Nigella in Singapore. She turned me off so much that I left the tv room and only went back to see the final product. Martha Stewart and Delia Smith don't do anything for me either, though if I had to choose between the three, I'd go for Martha.

Sorry Neil, can't think of any female presenters that would make me sit down for a whole show.

Oh! maybe with the exception of Maeve O'Meara. But she does Food Safari now. Does she count??

At 11:29 am, Blogger neil said...

Hi tanna, I haven't heard of Sara Moulton, if you watch, she must be alright. No pulled punches, but I allow myself to change my mind about them.

Hi ed, it's a wonder ABC aren't on to her about that, or perhaps the entire series is in the can.

Hi ellie, I'm with you on Jamie, it would be nice if he wasn't so ubiquitous. Your darting off halfway to make something is probably better than my waiting for the next day when I've forgotten half of everything!

Hi kitchen hand, I don't think we can get 31 through Foxtel which is a shame, I would definitely have a look. I understand what you say about Maggie, she used to do that to me as well, but if you try the new show, it looks like someone is being disciplined with her and she is on only half the time!

Hi pille, Nigella seems to polarise people, you either love her or don't, there doesn't seem like any grey areas there, though I can see why people like her, some of her food is quite good.

Hi ilingc, Maeve is in for sure! Wasn't she great in Food Lover's Guide, though I'd like to see her in a different format than Food Safari, it seems a lot like Food Lover's...time to move on.

At 3:09 pm, Blogger Squishy said...

My impression of Lifestyle Food channel has changed of late. There has been some smashing shows on. I have also noticed some new Aussie programmes which brings a smile to my face. Hells Kitchen, I am a total addict. Just love Gordon he is the bomb. Oh and Masterchef Is Going Large, is fantastic. I love my little fruit and veg friends comments, he is a doll.

Cheers Amelita

At 3:52 pm, Blogger neil said...

Hi squishy, Gordon seems to arouse strong passions in people, especially women. He is undoubtedly a great chef, but his manner takes some getting used to.

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