If you watch a lot of cooking shows, chances are good that you have a favorite culinary personality. At the very least there’s a show you could have going in the background if you have a lot of tedious paperwork to do, and the soothing sound of their voice would make you less likely to tear out your hair from sheer irritation.
After a while, it becomes less about the food they cook and more about how bearable their voice and mannerisms are. For instance, you might have few reservations about bookmarking a Duff Goldman cake recipe online, but if Duff Till Dawn came on the TV, you would quickly change the channel to a Caillou marathon or an infomercial for Easy-Off BAM — or really anything less grating.
If you got done with that tedious paperwork early, you might even have the time to compose a list of which celebrity chefs you could see yourself hanging out with if they showed up at your door to cook you dinner. Or you would if you were us, which is exactly what we did, and here it is, in order from “No thanks” to “Please never leave, just crawl inside my heart and live there.”
10. Guy Fieri
Guy Fieri is your best friend’s awful boyfriend. The one who makes you wonder what she sees in him, because he has that laugh and a pinkie ring and those wraparound mirror shades. Plus he insists on bringing salsa every time you host a gathering because he professes it to be “like, the best salsa you will ever taste, swear on my mom.” But really the salsa is just OK, and you have to pretend it’s amazing, because he makes you sample it while he watches with an expectant look on his face and won’t go bother someone else until you agree with him that his salsa gave you a “mouthgasm.”
9. Adam Richman
Adam Richman isn’t really a chef, but he did have a show, and there was food in it, so onto the list he goes. He was bad-enough imaginary company when the only image you had in your head of him eating was as a whimpery-sweaty dude, but then he had his (temporary) come-to-vegan moment, and he’d be even more unbearable to hang out with. He would be like that friend of yours who used to chain-smoke but doesn’t now, so he took up the addiction of sanctimony to fill the void.
8. Ree Drummond
No one wants to admit it, but Ree Drummond was shoehorned into Food Network’s programming after Paula Deen’s unfortunate and embarrassing exit. So there’s just as much cream, butter and aw-shucksy faux rural quaintness as before, but with more references to cowboys.
7. Jamie Oliver
Jamie Oliver would probably give you very concerned looks and gentle but stern admonitions about the food you like, but he’s higher up on the list than Richman because you could probably make him cook your kids dinner just by alluding to the stockpile of SpaghettiOs in the pantry — and also because he’s British, and a British accent makes everything more pleasant. Even scoldings about artificial flavorings.
6. Rachael Ray
Rachael Ray is right here in the middle because she is very much like a grilled chicken breast: You don’t like it, you don’t hate it, you just sort of nothing it. Eating a rubbery, unseasoned hunk of poultry doesn’t get you excited, but you’re not actively looking to get it over with. That’s what we think dinner with Rachael Ray would be like. You invite her mostly because you hope she’ll leave her cookware behind.
5. Nigella Lawson
Nigella can stay for drinks after because you guys feel the same way about clean eating, and again, British.
4. Anthony Bourdain
Some people dislike Anthony Bourdain’s cocky attitude, but he would make excellent dinner company because he basically eats whatever as long as it tastes good, you wouldn’t have to worry about dropping an F-bomb around him, and if the conversation ever lulled, you could just bond over your mutual dislike of Guy Fieri.
3. Martha Stewart
Feel however you want about Martha’s immobile, silvery-blond bob and insider trading; you have to admit that she’d be interesting company. Plus, if you asked her to bring dessert, she would spend all day making something impossibly difficult to create and too pretty to eat, and serve it on a lovely platter that she fashioned herself out of reclaimed driftwood and some darling antique walnut-wood cradle parts that she found during a weekend jaunt to Cape Cod. Then later she would maybe have a little too much to drink and tell funny jokes and introduce you to Snoop and probably adopt you, and you could finally have that pony you always wanted.
2. Martin Yan
Besides teaching you how to do that thing with the knife without cutting off your own fingertips, Martin Yan has a freaking master’s degree in food science, so he’s exactly the kind of person you want to invite over and then casually try to make something that you’ve never succeeded at, like croquembouche or baked Alaska. Then once you started screwing it up, he could step in and be super nice about showing you what you’re doing wrong, and then he would reassure you that you can do it too! And you both would laugh and laugh, and you both would also know that that’s a bald-faced lie.
1. Ina Garten
No offense to your mom, but if you could pick your mom, it would be Ina Garten and not whichever one you unfortunately got instead. Her food is delicious, her manner is soothing, her marriage is stable, she has her pilot’s license, she would never be weird or inappropriate around your gay friends, she would have totally taken you to Planned Parenthood when you were younger, and she has cool friends. Ina Garten would be the most chill mom ever, and you would eat pretty much anything if it meant you could share a table with her. Even your best friend’s weird boyfriend’s salsa.