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The Sacramento Bee: 10-17-2001 (dead link)

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Chefs du jour: Who hosts the best cooking shows today?
Our hungry critic picks his 10 favorites.

By Dan Vierria
Bee Staff Writer
    Exotic locations, adventure and mainstream appeal, but what's for dinner? Home cooks may be asking that question after digesting many of today's TV cooking shows. They're great for a double-batch of escapism, but not much for leftovers.
    The evolution of the cooking show can be summed up in the career of celebrity chef Bobby Flay, who began with backyard grilling shows, moved his show to a chic Manhattan apartment set and now travels the country in search of regional cuisine and interesting folks in "Food Nation With Bobby Flay." For home cooks, Flay's relevance has diminished.
    "The focus in prime time is on travel, adventure and food," says Amy Voll, spokeswoman for Food Network. "We think people coming home from work want to watch those types of programs."
    Fortunately, if you watch enough Food Network and PBS, you'll discover programs that still address the meat rather than the marzipan. Seekers of inspiring, practical dishes and useful techniques and shortcuts can find fulfillment. Here are our choices for the 10 best shows for the home cook:


3. "Good Eats" (Food Network) -- Show writer and host Alton Brown is as wild as his hair, which appears to have been styled with an eggbeater. Despite his MTV demeanor, Brown attended the New England Culinary Institute and has worked as a chef. We can't vouch for his cooking ability, but he's a gifted show host. Using wit, humor and sometimes biting sarcasm, Brown tackles single topics such as how to make jam or beef stock and boils it down to facts, basics and money- and time-saving tips.
    Unusual props, scientific explanations for those who might ask why, and bizarre camera angles add to the show's offbeat nature. The best thing about "Good Eats" is, after being thoroughly entertained for a half-hour, you realize you've learned something.
    Airs Wednesdays at 10 a.m., 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.; Saturdays at 3:30 p.m., 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.; and Sundays at 3:30 p.m. and 12:30 a.m.


The Bee's Dan Vierria can be reached at (916) 321-1119 or

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