The Food Network has been airing cooking related shows since 1993, and has been a popular channel in my home for many years. Here is a list of my ten favorite Food Network Shows.    

Tyler's Ultimate: The show is hosted by Tyler Florence, a graduate from the College of Culinary Arts, and Food Network Personality. Tyler’s Ultimate features Florence’s "ultimate" recipes, which are his revved-up versions of popular or common dishes.

Florence combines the recipes he’s learned in the past and through his travels, and adds his own unique ingredients to create his "ultimate recipe." The entire meal is presented at the end of the program, with Florence describing the taste.

Some of my favorite ultimate recipes are the Italian meatballs; barbecued chicken; potato gratin; and banana pecan pancakes with maple butter.

30 Minute Meals: Hosted by Food Network celebrity Rachael Ray; 30 Minute Meals was her first show for the network and launched a lucrative career. The show debuted in the fall of 2001 with a unique twist, making full meals in only 30 minutes.  The show was recorded live, and Ray did almost all of the meal preparation in real time.

A popular feature on the show is Ray’s ability to recreate and shorten the cooking time of classic dishes that usually take a long time to cook. Some of my favorite 30 minute meal recipes are Mexican lasagna, lemon chicken, teriyaki chicken with warm ginger carrot slaw; honey nut chicken.

Ace of Cakes: This show follows Duff Goldman and staff at his custom cake shop, Charm City Cakes, in Baltimore, Maryland. Ace of Cakes highlights the sometimes slow and tedious work involved in creating the intricate details of a custom cake, while other times the fast paced and fever pitched frenzy to get a cake done in time for delivery or pick-up.

The viewer sees the process of making custom cakes from start to finish. The show also ‘takes the viewer’ along on some of the deliveries and we see the excitement of the person(s) receiving the cake.  

Some of the more interesting cakes created on Ace of Cakes have been a cake for the 100th episode of the television show Lost; the Hogwarts castle for the premiere of the Harry Potter in Los Angeles; a replica of Radio City Music Hall for the Rockettes; the Baltimore Zoo; and a cake for the Paramount Pictures premiere of the DreamWorks Animation film Kung-Fu Panda.

Barefoot Contessa: Celebrity chef Ina Garten hosts this program, which premiered November 30, 2002 on Food Network. Barefoot Contessa is taped in Garten’s own kitchen at her home in East Hampton, and features Garten making classic dishes.

The premise of the Barefoot Contessa is about cooking good meals for good friends and features many of Garten’s personal friends, as well as her husband, Jeffrey, who is often her ‘taste tester.’  Some of my favorite Barefoot Contessa recipes are the potato salad; meat loaf; Lobster cobb salad rolls; and spaghetti with meatballs.

 Throwdown! with Bobby Flay: A ‘throwdown’ in the Urban dictionary is defined as a fight. Flay’s throwdown is a challenge to specific cooks, chefs, and bakers, to a ‘cook-off’ featuring their signature dish.  At the beginning of each show, Flay is informed by a bicycle messenger with a package, which chef he will be competing against and that chef’s signature dish. Flay is given some time to practice making the dish then surprises the chef at a public event  and challenges them to a “Throwdown.’

If the chef accepts (there has yet to be one that hasn’t), both parties make the specific signature dish. Everyone in the audience gets to taste the dish, but they do not judge them. The dishes are evaluated and judged by two local experts. Flay's record is 32 wins, 1 tie, and 68 losses.

Chefs vs. City: Premiering on August 7, 2009; Chefs vs. City takes Food Network chefs Aarón Sanchez and Chris Cosentino into different cities in the United States to challenge two local chefs, in each city, to a variety of food-related challenges.

At the start of the show, the contestants each receive a backpack with tools and utensils they may need during the course of the contest. A dossier with information about their first stop is also given to each team. The teams are then each given a Ford Explorer to move around the city as they try to reach each stop ahead of the other team.

At each stop, the teams have to complete food-related tasks prior to receiving a new dossier and advancing to the next stop. After the final task, the contestants have to race through to a finish line together to win.

Not only is Chefs vs. City a competition game between two teams of chefs, but it also highlights various locations throughout the featured city as well as the residents. My family even appeared in one episode of Chefs vs. City (in the background crowd).

Giada at Home: Hosted by Giada De Laurentiis, shows the Food Network celebrity cooking for friends and family, at her ‘home’ in Malibu, California. Giada at Home first aired October 18, 2008 and was nominated for two Daytime Emmys in 2009 (Outstanding Culinary Program and Outstanding Directing in a Lifestyle/Culinary Program).  Giada at Home took home the Emmy for Outstanding Directing in a Lifestyle/Culinary Program.

Some of my favorite recipes are Baked Macaroni and Cheese Cupcakes; Sweet Basil Cheesecake; Grilled Sirloin Steaks with Pepper and Caper Salsa; Vegetable Chow Mein; and Bibb Salad with Parmesan Butter Crostini.

Cupcake Wars: The show premiered in June 2010 as a competition between bakers to create unique and professional-style cupcakes for various themed events. Four bakers compete in three rounds and a baker is eliminated at the end of each round. The final two bakers compete for a prized of $10,000 and to have their cupcakes displayed and offered at the shows themed event. Many of the winners have opened-up their own cupcake bakeries.

Paula's Home Cooking: Southerner and popular Food Network celebrity Paula Deen hosts this show, where the primary focus is Southern cooking and comfort food. Deen also treats the viewers to vignettes of Savannah, Georgia, and her sons often appear as guests on the show.

Some of my favorite recipes are Black Pepper Shrimp; Jamie's Chili; Bert's Southern Fried Chicken; The Lady's Cheesy Mac; and Lady and Sons Chicken Pot Pie.

Private Chefs of Beverly Hills: A reality based program that premiered October 12, 2010; Private Chefs of Beverly Hills follows six chefs from a private chef placement agency in Beverly Hills, California. The chefs are hired to cater lavish parties for sometimes eccentric clientele.

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