I don't often like food programs on TV, but while channel surfing this afternoon I came upon the first episode of this series on my local PBS station. It was one of the best TV food shows I have seen in a long time. In this week's episode, Bittman visits Jose Andres at his Cafe Atlantico restaurant in Washington, D.C. The format of the show is simple and ingenious in the way it juxtaposes restaurant cooking with home cooking and traditional cooking with modern. In this episode, Andres starts things out by showing Bittman what he does at Cafe Atlantico with a demonstration of his small plates, multicourse tasting menu. But then he and Bittman get down to pseudo-dueling. First Andres takes out a giant paella pan and cooks a pork ribs and chicken paella for 20 people. Then Bittman offers a shrimp paella that people can easily make at home. Bittman then gets out chopped vegetables and a blender and makes gaspacho; Andres follows with a deconstructed gaspacho using raw vegetables, mango, and trout roe with vinegar jello as an accompaniment. Both sets of dishes offer a fantastic contrast between the way trained chefs and home chefs each approach preparing a meal, as well as showing food and cooking on a continuum, exactly the way it should be seen. The verbal jousting between Bittman and Andres makes for great entertainment and keeps this from being just another boring cooking show. Somebody finally decided to make a TV food show where the guest chefs are actually allowed to have personalities.
Highly recommended. Here is a link to the website so you can see the schedule and find out when it is going to be on in your area.