The roots of food culture and the success of a chef's celebrity status finds its genesis with culinary wizard Julia Child. The woman is a legend and a hero in kitchens around the globe, both commercial and private. She is a popular culture icon, quoted and imitated by many, from Dan Aykroyd's portrayal on Saturday Night Live, to Dr. Huxtable liberally applying her well-known accent whilst cooking a turkey on The Cosby Show.

The most recent cinematic shrine to Child, Julie & Julia, reminds cooks and chefs everywhere, man or woman, why they have a inextinguishable passion for food. We have all struggled in the kitchen, and Julie Powell's famous blogging during her Child marathon is, therefore, something we are all empathetic to.

This attraction to food, whether a habitual journey to restaurants in fear of entering the kitchen themselves or a desire to create masterpieces in their homes, is shared by all. The existence of the Food Network is a testament to that assumption. Now, most people can reference more than one food celebrity in daily conversation. The question lies in the quality of the shows and their hosts.

Check out our favorite chefs to both watch and attempt to emulate:

If you watch no other food-related show, let your sole choice be "Good Eats." Sure, Alton cooks and shows you how, but he also shows you why. This half-hour show and his indispensable books are pedagogical lessons in food science. The recipes are there, of course, but the ingredient or method themed episodes give alternative ways to enjoy favorite staple foods and encourage you to try to cook an ingredient you previously were frightened of trying. He also addresses the tools of the kitchen, debunking the myths of uni-task implements and providing countless uses for multi-tasking gadgets.

Alton Brown

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