Discuss: Your favorite TV cooking shows

I am such a Food TV whore. I’ll admit it. Well, not quite a whore– I am a little picky. I grew up on The Frugal Gourmet (Terry loved him too and he still uses a lot of “The Frug’s” recipes; I remember a writing assignment I did in the sixth grade that involved an obituary for spoiled tuna salad whose survivor was Jeff Smith. I started really young.) and Julia Child (and, hey, The Swedish Chef. Hurdy, gurdy, gurdy!). I love Top Chef (I’d been rooting for Stephanie all season long, and never missed an episode of the previous seasons), I like Kitchen Nightmares and (to a lesser degree) Hell’s Kitchen. Alton Brown’s intersection of science and food makes cooking make sense to newer cooks (or those of us who just geek out on vaguely scientific things). I’m looking forward to Ted Allen’s new show, “Food Detectives” which is supposed to be Mythbusters for food. Nigella Lawson is essentially who I want to be when I grow up: a great cook, excellent writer, sophisticated, witty, and comfortable with herself. I’m not a fan of Paula Deen or Rachael Ray (though both were much better in their earlier years; now they’ve become photoshopped caricatures of themselves) and Sandra Lee is everything I hate about “American Cuisine”– the 1950s, packaged, processed, “better nutrition through science” version.

My favorite personality is Anthony Bourdain, and not just because he pals around with Michael Ruhlman. I read both of his books on airplanes, rushed out to get the Les Halles cookbook, and look forward to Top Chef mostly because I know he’ll guest judge at least once, and his blogs are hysterical. My DVR is already set to tape the new season of No Reservations. My favorite episode, by far, is the Paris episode– it made me want to go back so badly, and really captured the environment. Terry sighed longingly during the footage of a trip to Ireland. We end up wanderlusty and hungry after watching the show– a bad combination! I haven’t been to most of the places he covers, but I always feel like I’m getting a real taste– not the sanitized, travel-brochure version.

So who’s your inspiration? Which TV chef is overrated or annoying?