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5 cooking shows to watch in 2014

By Jessica Gelt
Los Angeles Times

Have the holidays made you food-obsessed? When you sleep, do visions of sugarplums, spiral hams and scalloped potatoes dance in your head? If so, you’re far from alone.

The past 10 years have seen a veritable glut of new cooking shows, many of which aren’t worth their salt. There are some, however, that are fascinating to watch, featuring knowledgeable hosts who really can teach you a thing or two. Here are some of our favorites. Check a few out, and live up to your New Year’s resolution to get cooking.

“Made in Spain with Jose Andres”: Part travelogue and part cooking show, this PBS series features the highly skilled and respected Spanish chef Jose Andres. He is known for his great Spanish restaurants in Washington, D.C., but he is also the chef behind The Bazaar by Jose Andres at the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills. Stepping away from his thriving businesses, Andres takes viewers on a gastronomic tour of Spain’s varied regions. Along the way, we meet the sultry country’s finest cheesemakers, vintners, restaurateurs and more.

“Everyday Italian with Giada De Laurentiis”: Italian chef Giada De Laurentiis was made for TV, with pep and charisma to burn. She grew up in a vibrant Italian family and on the show, which airs on the Cooking Channel, she offers updated recipes and techniques for preparing the delicious meals she enjoyed as a child.

“Top Chef”: This is an obvious one, but there’s a reason this Bravo show has lasted for 11 seasons. The show is one of the prominent forerunners of the current competitive cooking show craze. It pits aspiring chefs against one another in a race to see who can be the most inventive with a variety of ingredients under intense pressure for time. It’s easy to get to know and love (or hate) the characters and to become extremely invested in who wins the title of “Top Chef.”

“MasterChef Junior”: It may sound goofy, but this Fox cooking competition just got renewed for a second season. Featuring chef Gordon Ramsay of “Hell’s Kitchen” fame, “MasterChef Junior” has young cooks between the ages of 8 and 13 competing in a variety of cooking challenges. The fun part is watching the notoriously foul-mouthed Ramsay be somewhat cuddly with the little ones.

“Cutthroat Kitchen”: This new Food Network show starring its wonderful-to-watch, all-purpose host Alton Brown, features four chefs bidding on crazed kitchen ideas geared at sabotaging the competition. Straight-up fun to watch for anybody in need of some good old-fashioned schadenfreude.

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