Fun fact: I love watching TV Shows about food. If you’re adventuring around Spoon, you might too.
What I try to tell my friends is that they too can fall in love with their favorite Food TV Star. However, a lot of them have no idea where to start. Do they want to learn recipes? Watch competitions? Gather a stock of restaurants for their culinary bucket lists?
I’ve done most of the work for you. Here’s a compilation of the Food TV Stars every college kid should give a chance and why. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and watch someone you haven’t heard of before or a type of show you normally wouldn’t. Watch just a few episodes of any of these masterminds and you’ll be hooked.
1. Alton Brown
We’ve all had that one class with the wacky but incredibly endearing professor who is so in love with their subject that they practically bounce around the classroom speaking mainly with their hands. That’s Alton Brown, and he’s the master of being quirky and cool. He’s the wacky professor of the Food Network. He rocks a bow tie like it’s nobody’s business and he loves venturing into the nitty gritty of food science and genuinely teaches you when you watch him.
In fact, I have him to thank for becoming the verifiable Omelette Queen of my house. If you want someone with snappy jokes, pop culture influences and a passion for teaching all about food, tune into some Alton Brown.
2. Jamie Oliver
As far as big-time Food Network names go, Jamie Oliver might just be flying under the radar. But trust me when I tell you that you should not be bypassing this British food star. Jamie is known for his fresh and delectable garden-to-table meals. What I love is how wholesome he is – you’ll see him digging around in his garden and cooking in the middle of a forest (seriously, he did this more than once).
He puts a lot of care into his food, and that food always looks damn good. His specialty is choosing simple and wholesome ingredients, which are great for college students looking to cook and eat healthfully. The fact that he’s got an adorable accent helps too.
3. Giada De Laurentiis
Who doesn’t love Italian food? I’m talking the homemade, straight from the boot-shaped nation recipes that have you saying Mamma Mia. Giada De Laurentiis is the Goddess of all things Italian (just listen to how she says the word “pasta” and you’ll be convinced). She will teach you everything you would ever need to know about making the best Italian food imaginable with a broad smile.
The best parts of the show may be when she brings on her family members – her daughter Jade who seems to keep it as real as only 6-year olds can, and her hilarious Aunt Raff who could care less how famous her niece is and will still scold her with a wooden spoon.
Another great perk: Giada will teach you how to keep those Italian recipes lighter and healthy without sacrificing any flavor.
4. Ina Garten
We’re college students. Which means we do not have a garden-bordered house in the Hamptons, a squad of GBFs, or Steven Spielberg over for dinner on the reg (if you do, please email me your secret to success).
What we do have is the opportunity to watch Ina Garten do her thing in the kitchen. Ina is the best for learning how to throw parties and entertain guests, how to “turn up the volume” on simple dishes and how to make lip-smackingly tasty cocktails. If you can keep from being jealous of her lavish home and frequent trips to France and England (great Food Network specials, just saying) then make sure you give her show a try.
Shows: Barefoot Contessa
5. Guy Fieri
We’ve all been in that situation: it’s 2AM on a Saturday, we’ve been hopping around frats and we are looking to eat, and eat big. If your campus is like mine, you may have a diner within walking distance. But diners are more than just a drunk eats haven. In fact, Guy Fieri shows us just how incredible diners can be on his hit show, Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.
Simply watching him travel cross-country to the greatest hole-in-the-wall joints can provide procrastination material for hours. It’ll give you the perfect “To Eat List” with your friends when you finally make that grand road trip from Jersey to Cali after graduation.
6. Jeff Mauro
The number one reason college kids should watch Jeff Mauro: sandwiches. This self-proclaimed “Sandwich King” lives life with the view that any meal can be a sandwich, and any sandwich a meal. With how he carries out this motto, I will gladly follow in his footsteps.
As a winner of The Next Food Network Star, you know that he has earned his right to stardom. Watching his show, you’re guaranteed to want to be best friends with Jeff, who never seems to have left his college-aged humor and zest for life behind. Laugh your way to delicious, college-friendly recipes with this Chicago-native and never be disappointed.
7. Marcela Valladolid
Taco Tuesday might as well be a holiday at most college campuses (because who doesn’t want an excuse to have tacos and margaritas once a week?). If you want to not only make the world’s greatest tacos, but to also master working with everything from avocados to jalapeños, check out Marcela Valladolid.
She will give you the confidence to try your own hand at food you would normally only order-in and the know-how to impress everyone come Cinco de Mayo. And if you like Jeff Mauro (which I know you will), she is one of his co-hosts on the food-based talk show The Kitchen (which you should also give a try).
Shows: Mexican Made Easy, (Host: The Kitchen)
8. Mo Rocca
Yes, Mo Rocca is his actual name. Though his shows are on The Cooking Channel (sister of the Food Network), promise me you’ll still give them a watch. Truthfully, I have never laughed harder than when watching Mo’s shows.
Mo starred as a satirist with Jay Leno for several years before having his own food shows. I’ve watched him travel the country to knit with grandmothers and learn their old school recipes, cracking jokes all along the way. He will guarantee you a half hour of feisty entertainment leaving you hungry for more every time.
9. Bobby Flay
You can’t make a list of Food Network shows to watch without Bobby Flay. He is the epitome of a culinary star, making appearances on just about every food show that’s aired. He’s all about that Tex-Mex style grub, but can teach you how to make everything and anything on his educational episodes.
However, he’s even more into competition, and competes regularly with famous chefs and home cooks alike. He’s NYC born and raised and loves to use his hometown for inspiration, but will use the grill to make as much as he can. Chances are, out of all the shows Bobby Flay has, you’ll be sure to find one you love watching.
Shows: Grill It! With Bobby Flay, Brunch @ Bobby’s, Throwdown with Bobby Flay, Barbecue Addiction: Bobby’s Basics, Iron Chef America, Beat Bobby Flay (Host:Worst Cooks in America, The Next Food Network Star)