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Chefs-Table

Chefs-Table

 

Until I was 17, I thought the words “cooking” and “defrosting” were interchangeable. We ate “TV dinners” so much that we each actually had one of these things that looked like a tiny ironing board you unfolded and put in front of the couch at dinner time. They were made to hold a TV dinner, silverware, and a glass of milk. Or in Mom and Dad’s case, a Manhattan.

When I entered the Army at 18, everyone in basic training had to pull a day of what they called “K.P.” It stood for “Kitchen Police” even though we were neither cooks nor law enforcement officers. What we did was the grunt work in the mess hall; washing dishes, mopping floors, and peeling potatoes. It was there I discovered, to my amazement, that mashed potatoes could be made from actual, real potatoes instead of adding water to flakes from a box.

In years past, kids learned to cook at their mother’s knee… depending on how tall she was. But starting with my generation, both parents usually had jobs. When they got home, they wanted the kids fed, but weren’t especially keen on teaching them how to whip up a Crème Brûlée.

So, like a lot of my generation, I learned to cook watching television. Mainly, PBS. I had the legendary Julia Child, the entertaining Jeff Smith (the Frugal Gourmet), the hilarious Cajun Justin Wilson, Chef Paul Prudhomme, the Galloping Gourmet Graham Kerr, and Chef René (the Black Hat Chef) who was easily the meanest, most ill-tempered prick ever to host a TV show.

Type “Cooking” in the Netflix search bar and you’re going to see screen after screen of shows that have something to do with cooking. Marginally. But only five of them will actually teach you anything about doing it yourself.

 

  1. Good Eats Collection. Alton Brown, the host/creator of Good Eats, is actually a chef—he graduated from the New England Culinary Institute. Good Eats is a combination of old-fashioned “This is how to cook this” TV with a primer on kitchen equipment and an educational treatise on the underlying processes of cooking. It’s also pretty funny and Brown is an amusing guy. Ever since the Food Network stopped airing cooking shows and went into the “Game Shows for Gluttons” business, Netflix and Youtube are about your only sources for an education in the kitchen. Good Eats is the best of the lot.
  2. The Mind of a Chef. This Emmy- and James Beard Award-winning series isn’t all cooking, but hardly any series is anymore. What the producers of this PBS show do is combine travel, history, humor, and cooking by following one chef per season. With titles like “Pig,” “Noodle,” and “Rotten,” how could you not learn something from watching this show? It’s narrated by Anthony Bourdain, everyone’s favorite smart-ass, and is entirely enjoyable even if you never try to cook anything you see.
  3. America’s Test Kitchen. As basic as a cooking show is going to get. The host, Cook’s Illustrated editor-in-chief Christopher Kimball, features three or four actual recipes centered around a central idea; comfort foods, pasta, Asian cuisine, etc. Where Good Eats take the science of cooking and turns it into great slapstick, America’s Test Kitchen actually has a “Science Desk” segment to dissect what’s going on behind the scenes. The show also features an equipment review where they introduce kitchen gadgets and give you a run-down on whether or not the thing is useful. This is a more high-brow approach to cooking than most of the shows you’ll find, but not so much that it detracts from the entertainment value. Try it—who knows?
  4. Throwdown! With Bobby Flay. I hated Bobby Flay for a long time. Something about that wise-ass smirk on his face and the fact that he reminds me of a leprechaun kept me away from any of his shows. Finally, I gave in and tried Throwdown! Well… he is a wise-ass, but not in a mean-spirited way—and he’s also a good cook. This show sounds like it would be a game show, but it’s actually a very good cooking lesson. What they do is challenge Flay to compete against another chef who specializes in one cuisine or specialty. The guest chefs aren’t told ahead of time that Flay will be showing up to challenge them, so when he does show up, the contest begins. Now, Flay is the first to admit that he’s more at home with Tex-Mex than he is baking cupcakes, but the guy is a graduate of the French Culinary Institute, so it’s not like he’s never flambéed a tart. Still, watching he and his two sous-chefs attempt to “beat” the weekly guest chef they’re going up against is a real education in cooking. His record is 32 wins, 1 tie, and 68 losses. I still think he looks like a leprechaun, but now I like him.
  5. Back to Basics. Ina Garten, host of Back to Basics, does the best “how to cook” cooking show left on television. No “look at me,” no “I’m a celebrity,” and no Gordon Ramsay hissy fits. Just plain, everyday, good, simple cooking. What she does very well is make the ordinary extraordinary with just a few, very small and uncomplicated tips and techniques. If you’re having a friend or two drop by for lunch, you want to cook like Ina Garten tells you to cook. Ever had a roasted pear with bleu cheese? Me, neither—but when Ina showed me how easy it was and how delicious it looked, pears and bleu cheese went on the grocery list. This is the kind of cooking show I like.

Honorable mentions:

These aren’t really cooking shows as in “How To Cook,” but they’re worth a watch.

1. Chef’s Table is a Netflix-produced series that picks a famous chef and follows them both in their life and in their restaurant. It’s actually not as much a “cooking instruction” series as it is a “look at this” type series. Yes, you can learn a lot about cooking watching this show, but none of these chefs are going to look at the camera and say, “One cup of flour, a tablespoon of salt, and a pinch of yeast…” They don’t want to teach you, they want you to be in awe.

2. The Great British Baking Show. A game show with contestants, but one of the very few game shows that will actually teach you something. You won’t get any recipes—but really, who needs them when you’ve got the internet. I like to bake, so I like this show. I don’t like to fish, so I don’t like fishing shows. If you don’t like to bake, you won’t like this show. I think that’s called circular logic or something. Probably not.

I suppose it’s too much to hope for, but I wish Netflix would find some of the really old cooking shows and add them to their mix. I miss watching The Frugal Gourmet set off the fire alarm in the studio and I miss watching Julia Child body-slam a whole chicken onto a cutting board. But in the meantime, you can still find plenty of material to get you into the kitchen.

 Don Gillette is a horror/thriller novelist who can also knock out a Boeuf Bourguignon. His latest book, Old Leather, a collection of short fiction, is available at booksellers and on-line retailers world-wide.

Parks and Recreation

Parks and Recreation

We’ve all done it: binge-watched and obsessed over a show until it took over our lives. But what does that show say about you as a person? We’ve selected some of our favorite series currently on Netflix and (only somewhat in jest) analyzed their fans. Check out our list below to see what your favorite Netflix show says about you!   If you do not like the answers, you might want to pick a new series ;)

 

 

Friends

1

“Your life is a series of quotes about being a twenty-something. No matter the situation, these six best friends have been there. Whiten your teeth to the point that they glow? Ross feels your pain. Get stuck in a pair of leather pants? Yep, Ross gets it. Totally botch your attempt at a spray tan? That would be Ross again. These buds will always be there for you!”

Our Prediction: If Friends is your favorite show, you are probably in your 20’s, living a more college lifestyle. Basically, stuck in a similar situation as the Friends crew, and constantly have similar interesting situations with roommates, or friends. You probably worry about a lot of things that never happen, but also treasure what you also already have.

 

Greek

2

“You’re already nostalgic about college, and you haven’t even graduated yet. You don’t need to be a member of Greek life to appreciate the value of this show. From love triangles to procrastination, you’ll find yourself relating to these characters every time you watch a new episode.”

Our Prediction: If Greek is your favorite show, you are probably always into trouble. You are the trouble maker, who is full of drama, and stick situations. Just guessing from the show, but you are also probably younger. Possibly in college, but may still be in high school.

 

Parenthood

Parenthood - Season 4

“You need a good cry. This family drama addresses cancer, death, divorce and a lot of other heavy topics. But you’re prepared to stock up on tissues and let it all out.”

Our Prediction: If Parenthood is your favorite, we predict that you either have similar situations and tons of drama in your life, or you are completely opposite and have no drama. Some of us who do not have anything crazy going on in our lives, seek the drama and thrill, but we do it by watching shows like Parenthood. You are probably also into romantic comedies, or romance in general.

 

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

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“You’re looking for the latest cult hit that everyone is talking about. You love things that make you laugh until you cry, and you wish Titus Andromedon could be your roommate. Because you’re also like beef jerky in a ball gown.”

Our Prediction: If you are loving Kimmy Schmidt, you are a crazy one! You are unique, weird, and hilarious to be around, which means you are drawn to other people in weird and crazy situations, like Kimmy! You probably think her life is great, and not weird at all, just hilarious, but your super normal friends, probably think she is insane.

 

Parks and Recreation

5

“Your every day consists of waffles, friends, and feminism. You appreciate shows with a lot of heart that can make you laugh and cry within the course of a single episode. Also, Ron Swanson is your spirit animal.”

Our Prediction: So, Parks and Recreation is your show? You are probably among the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt watchers! You have a bold and wild personality, and you are hilarious. You may, or may not be a feminist, but you definitely do not disagree with many of the feminist jokes and comments made throughout the show. If you are in a relationship, you probably love what Andy and April have going on!

 

How I Met Your Mother

6

“You love having your heart broken. This sentimental series is a go-to if you’re looking for a tug on the ol’ heartstrings, but you know how to brace yourself for a major disappointment. Like the series finale.”

Our Prediction: How I Met Your Mother is such a classic, that you probably love shows like Friends too! You are relaxed, and have a more normal lifestyle. There is not much craziness in your life, and you desire a typical family lifestyle. You also enjoy close bonds and friendships.

 

Gossip Girl

GG

“You live for the day when Chuck Bass will whisk you away for a life of luxury and debauchery. There’s no match for the exploits that take place on the Upper East Side. You frequently hit up Henri Bendel and know that every proper lady loves peonies. And you’re probably a little bit paranoid that one of your closest friends is writing a salacious blog filled with secrets about your life.”

Our Prediction: Gossip Girl is a solid show, but it takes a certain person to love it so much. You are special, and you want to be treated like one of the highest socialites of Gossip Girl. You desire a life of luxury and fame, but also seek drama. Not only can you be a bit dramatic, but you can also be a bit of a hard one. Many people may not see you as bright, but you have more knowledge than they will ever know. You keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.

 

House of Cards

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“You appreciate dirty politics. While you wouldn’t personally push someone in front of a train, you’re captivated by the devious high stakes surrounding Frank Underwood.”

Our Prediction: House of Cards is not a show for everyone, and it takes a different kind of person to appreciate it. You are more serious, and enjoy things other than the glitz and glam. You probably are a schemer and are interested in politics. We would never want to mess with you, because you might be the one to get away with murder!

 

Scrubs

9

“You don’t mind a medical show… as long as it’s filled with laughs and dream sequences. Maybe you’ve got a weak stomach or you can’t handle the life-and-death drama of most medical procedurals. Regardless, Scrubs helps you fit in with all your pre-med pals.”

Our Prediction: You love Scrubs? We can see why! Scrubs is a great show, but it does not click with everyone. If you are a fan, you may just be going into the medical field yourself, or maybe you are not,  but you desire to. Something about the medical field keeps you interested, but you watch Scrubs because you get the fix of working, without having to do all of the work.

 

Once Upon A Time

JENNIFER MORRISON, LANA PARRILLA

“You’re a Disney princess at heart. The whimsy and fairy-tale atmosphere of this show—along with living representations of your favorite Disney characters—fulfills your every desire. Not to mention, it fills the void in between Disney’s slew of recent live-action films.”

Our Prediction: Once Upon A Time is a great show, but not for everyone. If you are loving this show you probably have a special place in your heart for all things Disney. You have wishes and dreams to be in the show, and live the life of the fantasy characters. You probably also have a very kind heart, and are caring.

 

Saved By the Bell

Saved by the Bell

“You want to relive your childhood. Sure, Zack, Kelly, and the rest of the gang weren’t exactly in high school when we were, but although the fashion may have changed, shows set in high school are timeless. Whether you’re thinking back on the glory days or trying to forget the time when you were a Screech, every collegiate can relate to this show.”

Our Prediction: Saved By the Bell is your favorite? Well, you have amazing taste! You also may be in your late 20’s, or older, because most of the younger generations probably have never even heard of this classic. You believe in friendship, and had a great time during your schooling years. You also probably have long lasting friendships and love looking back on your younger years.

 

Pretty Little Liars

 12

“You love a killer mystery, and you’re willing to stick with a show—no matter what it puts you through. PLL and its never-ending “A” story line have dragged you around so long you have permanent whiplash. But you’re not giving up until they settle this mess once and for all.”

Our Prediction: So you say Pretty Little Liars is your favorite? Well, you are probably a younger generations who loves scary movies, and things that go bump in the night. You are fearless, strong, but also a little dramatic. You enjoy drama, and although your tight group of friends are your world, you do not mind a little conflict every so often.

 

Scandal

KERRY WASHINGTON

“You like wine. Okay, that’s not the only appeal to this show. You probably watch this along with your friends and chat over Twitter during every episode. You’re not afraid of a relentless binge-watching session to catch up to the live episodes and the super-fast pace of the storytelling matches your level of addiction.”

Our Prediction: Loving Scandal? Well, you are probably not 18, but more mature. You have a solid lifestyle, things are going smoothly for you, but you need spice in your life, and Scandal is where you get it. You love a classic love story, but also love Fifty Shades of Grey. You enjoy wine, nights out with your girl friends, and romantic dinners.

 

House Hunters International

14

“Are you feeling nostalgic over an amazing study abroad experience? Or perhaps planning your departure from the U.S. upon graduation? Either way, this reality show gives you the opportunity to ogle international landscapes and see if living abroad is for you.”

Our Prediction: House Hunters International is not for everyone, so if this is your show, you are definitely different and constantly looking up towards your future. You may be looking to move out of the country yourself, or study abroad, because you have a love for traveling. You also have magnificent taste and can be a bit picky.

 

Law & Order: SVU

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit - Season 14

“You love true crime and you want to stay informed about it. This show can be haunting, but it’s also educational… it’s practically like going to law school, right? Chances are, Taylor Swift’s cat had something to do with your sudden interest in the series.”

Our Prediction: Law & Order: SVU is your favorite show? You must be always willing to help someone out, or be ready for a fight! You love action, adventure, but can handle your own business. You may be considering a career in law enforcement, or you may just be a classic Law & Order fan. Either way, you are a strong person!

 

If we didn’t cover your favorite series, let us know in the comments and we will be sure to add it in a followup post!  :)

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Did you ever wonder why you love Netflix so much? Maybe this is because you are destined to love Netflix, based on your astrology sign! Supposedly there are two astrology signs that are the kings and queens of Netflix.

A recent horoscope post says that Cancers and Libras are destined to be Netflix binge watchers. After the post stated that Netflix is at the top of these two sign’s charts, we had to find out more.

The Cancer astrology sign follows birthdays from June 21st through July 22nd. Cancers are said to be artistic, a home-body, and caring. Of course, there are many other traits that follows a Cancer, but these are the ones that stuck out the most. Being an artistic, home-body, who is caring, sounds like the perfect person to sit and watch Netflix films and shows all day. A Cancer person is easy going and is down for anything, they do not have a need for big plans, or spending a ton of money. So, ultimately, yes, a Cancer person is the perfect person to chill at home with and watch Netflix all day.

The Libra astrology sign follows birthdays from September 23rd through October 22nd. Libras are romantic, laid-back, and balanced. Of course, just like the Cancers, Libras have many more other traits, but these were the ones that we were drawn to, and completely told us that Libras are the perfect Netflix binge watchers. We can totally see all of you Libras sitting around, relaxing, and watching a few romance films. A Libra may like to enjoy doing things, but their laid-back personality says that they are always up for doing little to nothing, also known as, watching Netflix films the whole weekend.

It is official. Cancers and Libras, you are the ones we want to snuggle up with on rainy days, because you are both very okay with watching our favorite Netflix films all day, and night. Enjoy the binge watching, Cancers and Libras! We appreciate you!