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The 10 Best Food Network Shows

by Allison Waldman, posted Nov 13th 2010 10:00AM
food_network_logoFor a network that began just 17 years ago, the Food Network has become a cable television fixture and a pop culture sensation. Its cooks and chefs and foodies of Food Network have become celebrities.

Since its debut on Nov. 23, 1993, Food Network has expanded like mad. It launched food products that fill our supermarket shelves. There's media exposure via a website and monthly magazine ... and that doesn't include Rachael Ray's talk show and Guy Fieri's game show and Alton Brown's grape juice commercials. And it launched a secondary outlet in The Cooking Channel.

But the key to all the success is the Food Network itself.

Recently, a TV Squad reader offered us her favorite programs on the Food Network and there were some good choices on her list. In fact, a few made our list, too. The 10 shows we've spotlighted are entertaining and, in many cases, enduring successes.

Here's our take on the 10 best Food Network shows. You may agree or not, but please share your thoughts below.

brian_boitano_2009_food_network10. 'What Would Brian Boitano Make?'
Who knew that Olympic skating star Brian Boitano was such a good cook? And who knew that he would create such an entertaining and different food show for The Food Network? It's not at all typical because every episode tells a story; it's not just about making a dish or two. Add to that the off-kilter humor and you have a show that has some of the fun of 'Good Eats' and a lot of Boitano's gold-medal charisma.

9. 'Tyler's Ultimate'
Like Bobby Flay, Tyler Florence has hosted a lot of Food Network shows. With 'Tyler's Ultimate,' we go into the kitchen with him to perfect just one meal. From start to finish, he takes you through the steps and explains why he's doing what he's doing. It may be personal preference, but when it comes to southern cooking, Tyler's my choice over Paula Deen or the Neelys (although they're pretty darn good, too).

8. 'The Next Iron Chef'
This is Food Network's version of 'Top Chef.' The difference is that these contestants are already top chefs who are running restaurants. In fact, some have been challengers on 'Iron Chef America.' This competition is all about finding one winner who is worthy of joining the pantheon of America's Kitchen Stadium, to become an Iron Chef. That means the competition is intense and tough. And very, very entertaining.

7. 'Throwdown with Bobby Flay'
There are a lot of Bobby Flay shows on Food Network, but this is the best of the bunch. Bobby takes on the challenge of beating someone who has already perfected a particular dish. Bobby's a pro, so he knows how to compete, and he's helped by two Food Network sidekicks, Stephanie Banyas and Miriam Garron, who tell him when he's off-track. What makes 'Throwdown' work so well is that whether he wins or loses, Bobby's fun and personable when he's out of the kitchen and hanging out with the public.

ted_allen_chopped_food_network6. 'Chopped'
In 1995, there was a Food Network show called 'Ready, Set, Cook,' a game show with audience members joining chefs for a race to make a meal. 'Chopped' is a much more advanced variation of that, with professional chefs given baskets of diverse ingredients and told to make something appetizing out of them. Each round is timed and judged by three of the toughest food critics on TV. And it has Ted Allen as host. You can't watch this show without feeling for those chefs when they get a strange ingredient, even if they are playing for $10,000.

5. 'Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives'
Food Network truly found the right venue for Guy Fieri when they put him on the road and told him to eat his way from coast to coast. Guy is wonderful at eating and reacting. He finds fun, unusual eateries and goes into the kitchen to make stars of the cooks conjuring up the homemade specialties. Whether it's barbecue or burgers, tacos or calzones, Guy asks the questions we'd like to ask and tastes it all. This show is as much a travelogue as a food show, and it makes you want to find these places and order off those menus yourself.

ina_garten_barefoot_contessa_food_network4. 'The Barefoot Contessa'

There's no warmer or more welcoming home chef than Ina Garten. Ina takes you into her home, or around the garden, maybe into town to shop for croissants, rarely venturing far from the Hamptons. She has a style that's just easy and fun, assuring you that whatever she's cooking, you can cook, too. Adding to the ambience is the occasional appearance of her husband, Jeffrey, who is the No. 1 taster and Ina's biggest fan. This show is like a cup of really good cocoa.

3. 'Giada At Home'
It's not just that Giada DeLaurentiis' food looks delicious or that she's so much fun to watch. Giada's confidence and charm as she makes dishes is gentle and inviting. 'Giada At Home' is a real slice of life from Giada's life. She cooks for her friends, she cooks with her Aunt Raffi, she has her toddler Jade in a highchair and feeds her pasta, and there are family dinners with husband, Todd. That personal touch adds to the appeal of the show and makes every episode something special. It's also beautifully filmed and the food looks amazing.

2. 'The Best Thing I Ever Ate'
This is a simple idea that has really taken off. What are the best dishes the personalities on Food Network have ever eaten and where can we, the viewers, try them for ourselves. The enthusiasm of all the stars, from 'Ace of Cakes'' Duff Goldman to 'Iron Chef America's' Cat Cora, is infectious. The episodes are themed, so you have the best crunchy foods, the best thing between two slices of bread, and the best food off the grill. It's the kind of show that makes hungry just watching it.

good_eats_alton_brown_food_network1. 'Good Eats'

Alton Brown has described 'Good Eats' as a cross between 'Peewee's Playhouse' and 'Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood,' but it's much more than that. With every show, Alton doesn't just show you how to make something; he shows you the science of the food and the correct way to prepare it in a variety of ways. And every program is unique and clever.

There are goofy characters that appear now and then and situations are played for laughs, but never at the expense of the food. Now in its eleventh year, 'Good Eats' remains a Food Network jewel.

So there you have our 10 best Food Network shows! What did we miss and which show would you have added? Share your thoughts below.

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secrets of a restaurant chef....I like it, but Chopped is still my favorite.

September 01 2012 at 2:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Chopped is the best show ever! and lay off Guy! I like him. Diners Drive-ins ans Dives is a great show. Iron cheff is a good show but the host is a terrible actor. (no Alton but the other asian guy). Come on all those backflips he does at the begining of every show is stupid and over the top. All the pointing and extreme noises are crazy he needs to calm down.

July 16 2012 at 9:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jane Brennan

I really like Rachel Ray but some of her sayings are getting tedious, Shut the door is something she overdoes saying its over the top

June 28 2012 at 3:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

cannot believe the heart association isnt all over Paula, Ive never seen her cook a healthy meal

December 18 2011 at 9:54 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Brian Cleveland

Good eats is the best but What Would Brian Boitano Make, The Barefoot Contessa' or Giada At Home shouldn't be on the list, and what about Emeril he made Food network if it wasn't for him it wouldn't have lasted a year.

December 11 2011 at 5:20 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Judy Behr

love alton for his intelligence and wit. Ina because she is pleasant and represents and older gentle style of life.. Bobby is beyond skilled,. Sandy and Giada and 5 ingredient girl are boring, Aarti ?Rachel and Paula make good food,. Pioneer woman is fun and different, Guy is an overactive repetitious bore who has lost his cooking chops, please please enough contests, one or 2 could be good or better yet make the judges cook.I am sick of Barbque by fat guys. My new fave is Sugar High. I love what duff is doing and having such joy doing it. I like big daddy but a few less calories would be good., I dream of Brunch with Bobby, the food looks amazing. The Neeleys are creative but could lighten up one the sex bit for a while and just be married friends,the family thing is good.They make great food. Iron chefs are great and I really miss Emeril's smiling face. I have to record morning shows to find skill and fun and rarely watch envening game shows on the food channel. Thats my opinion for what its worth.

September 11 2011 at 2:02 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

While we're at it can we just give Rachael and Paula the boot?

January 01 2011 at 4:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Alton is seriously overcaffeinated.

January 01 2011 at 4:49 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

Get rid of Guy as soon as possible. What an absurd goon. It's unwatchable.

January 01 2011 at 4:45 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Shima's comment
Brian Cleveland

it's obvious you don't know anything about cooking.

December 11 2011 at 5:21 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

That would br tough he's one of FN tops guys genius. You're an absurd goon born from one.

May 29 2012 at 8:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Except for Ina this channel has become unwatchable. Where do I start? Rachael? Please. A totally obnoxious tramp. The new Anne Burrell? The voice alone is almost as horrible as Paula's, and that's saying something. Both are pathetic. And Guy? Why would anyone watch this absurd goon? All are a sad commentary on the decline of American society.

January 01 2011 at 4:42 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

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