Food is one of my favorite things in the world. I love to eat and I love to cook. In fact, my new three-book Special Edition mini-series, “Celebrations, Inc.,” which will be out September, October and November 2012, is about a catering company that finds itself at the center of a reality television show.
As I was doing my research, watching as many cooking television shows as I could digest, I noticed that there’s an amazing crop of men in the kitchens of the various food and travel television networks. Really, there’s a guy for every taste. I also noticed that the different chefs represented a smorgasbord of hero archetypes.
Here are some of my favorites – and I admit that most of them aren’t traditional archetypes…they’re made-up to order:
Jamie Oliver: THE BOY-NEXT-DOOR
He’s so darn adorable and unassuming that sometimes I forget not only is he a great chef, but he’s also civic-minded. Through his restaurant, Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen, he takes an active role in helping troubled, unemployed youth gain a sense of worth and belonging in their communities by training them in the culinary arts. The training equips at-risk young adults with a career so they can look forward to a better future, and all profits from the restaurant go to the Jamie Oliver Foundation.
Alton Brown: THE SEXY GEEK
His offbeat show Good Eats (which ceased production in 2011 after a twelve-year run), is smart and goofy. It blends equal parts nerdy humor, knowledge, history, pop culture, and science with basic cooking techniques. Long before this guy ever appeared on TV, he admits he used his culinary prowess to get dates. He parlayed his wit and unique approach to food into a gig that allowed him to write, produce and star in each of the 249 episodes of Good Eats.
David Rocco: THE METROSEXUAL
This Canadian claims: “I’m not a chef. I’m Italian!” In his show David Rocco’s Dolce Vita, he scoots all over Florence on a moped – and sometimes in a golf cart – exploring the city’s sophisticated cafes, trendy restaurants and lush markets. He and his friends, who are quite a cast of characters, are always dressed casually chic – and sometimes to the nines – as they prove that life is a party of pleasure and indulgence waiting to be discovered.
Anthony Bordin: THE BAD BOY
The first time I saw Anthony Bordin on television, he was gobsmacked by a 20-course tasting dinner prepared by chef Thomas Keller. Mid-meal he and the other reverent diners took a “coffee and cigarette” break. But not in the traditional sense. Their “break” came in the form of coffee custard infused with tobacco, which Keller said he created in homage to Bordin’s two-pack-a-day habit. I thought, whoa, anyone who would inspire tobacco-infused custard has to be a bad ass. I was instantly smitten. With books to his credit titled, Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly and The Nasty Bits (which, incidentally, is dedicated to punk rockers ” Joey, Johnny and Dee Dee Ramone) and a television show, Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations, that carries a viewer discretion advisory (because of his fondness for profanity and sexual innuendo), Bourdin has, in fact, proven himself to be the archetypical bad boy of food tv.
Tyler Florence: YOUR BEST FRIEND’S CUTE OLDER BROTHER
What I love about Tyler is that he delivers great food in a very unpretentious, easy going way. He also serves on the board of the national nonprofit Afterschool Alliance, an organization that works to promote and support quality after-school programs. He reminds me of a friend’s big brother I might’ve had a tiny little crush on back in the day. Okay, maybe I’m crushin’ on Tyler just a little bit now…
What are some of your favorite character archetypes - traditional or made-up? Or share your favorite food tv personalities. I’ll give a special surprise to one lucky person who posts today.