The Cooking Channel is a spinoff of the Food Network, so there is some spillover. But there are classic shows from Julia Child and the Galloping Gourmet, just to remind me of how old I am these days.
The Food Network, for all its obvious advantages, has turned into a bunch of stupid reality shows. People whining about how hard it is to bake cakes under a regimented time period is mindless entertainment that has nothing to do with what I want to watch.
I do enjoy the cooking shows, and that is why I watch the Food Network and the Cooking Channel.
Thanks to the Cooking Channel, I am discovering people who many already know, such as Laura Calder (left). Regular readers know that a Canadian woman who speaks French, has traveled to France, and knows her way around French cooking can make me very happy. And she is easy on the eyes and ears.
The truth is that TV cooking shows are no longer in the realm of Child and Graham Kerr, people who know how to cook and have some personality. If you are going to be on TV these days, you have to be visually appealing.
True, PBS is still the home of those who love to cook and who might not win a beauty pageant. I watched a show on PBS with Wendy Brodie, and I was a little surprised that she made it, even on PBS. This isn't so much about looks, but her voice seemed off. And the pace of the show seemed slow, even for PBS.
But we have become conditioned on Bobby Flay and Tyler Florence, who side-by-side look almost like identical twins. Alton Brown is more cute but in a non-threatening way to men and women. We comment on the looks of Rachael Ray, Sandra Lee, Ina Garten, and Nigella Lawson. And let's not forget Giada De Laurentiis and the "twins."
We really do watch cooking shows for the food, and there are plenty of shows that don't have sex appeal on the commercial channels and PBS. But there is a part of us that watch some cooking shows for the sex appeal.
Nigella Lawson's programs qualify. She had a calm demeanor and a soothing voice. To her credit, her appeal isn't based on being a size 6 and 30 years old. I won't guess her size, but she turned 50 years old this year.
Food can be sexy, and the preparation can work in that vein as well. But these people do keep their clothes on, so it's not "dirty" per se.
And it's not like they don't know what they are doing in the kitchen. They just present it in a way that appeals to senses other than taste and smell.
I like a mixture of the commercial shows and the charm, or lack of it, on PBS. Eric Villegas is difficult to watch with his show, Fork in the Road, but there is some good content. Again it's not about looks, but voice and mannerisms in Villegas' case.
Julia Child may or may not be your cup of tea, but she was successful because she was fun to watch. And regardless of whether the Galloping Gourmet makes you want to trot, Graham Kerr was always entertaining on his show.
Even those who think it's about looks has to consider that listening to what they are doing is a crucial part of the program. If Nigella Lawson had Eric Villegas voice and mannerisms, she would be less appealing, regardless of looks.
The good news is that the sexiness of cooking shows isn't just about looks: personality and demeanor are sexy in cooking shows. But information is most important. It is nice, though, when good information is presented with a little eye candy in mind. No harm in looking, eh?