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Sunshine1245_1190's avatar

Could someone self teach themselves how to cook by watching the food and cooking channel?

Asked by Sunshine1245_1190 (144points) March 31st, 2011

I am not wanting to go into a cooking career, but I would like to minor in it. Cooking has always been a hobby of mine, and I was wondering if I could teach myself what is taught in Culinary school by watching the food and cooking channel?

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16 Answers

Randy's avatar

In my opinion, cooking is all about trial and error. It’s one of those things that you have to do to learn. One could get plenty of good ideas to try from watching the cooking channel though.

12Oaks's avatar

You bet they could. Trial and error also works.

kb12345's avatar

I have not taken any cooking classes in my life. I do prepare meals/desserts that are pretty challenging. I get these ideas from the foodnetwork then take the recipe and try it out myself! Try and watch Barefoot Contessa, Semi-home made with Sandra Lee or Gidia DeLourentis. They take simple fresh ingredients and make a wonderful thing with it!

WestRiverrat's avatar

I wish I had the food and cooking channels when I was teaching myself to cook. All I had was the Galluping Gourmet and Julia Childs.

blueiiznh's avatar

You can learn and watch techniques and get interested.
Those shows are not really showing you all the steps or the subtle nuances in determining things you can only find by doing it or following step by step.
But you have to actually cook in order to learn.
Practice, practice, practice

Bellatrix's avatar

For sure. The more you cook and experiment, the more you are likely to improve. So if watching cooking programs inspires you to try new things and shows you different techniques, you can only get better.

Depending on the shows you watch, you are likely to learn different terms (or at least become familiar with them and you can go and do some research on what they mean). Just watching won’t teach you and there are qualified chefs who say many of these programs are rubbish, but watching and then experimenting would get you started at least.

Blueroses's avatar

I’ve built my skills most watching Chopped and Top Chef. You can learn basic dishes and technique from many shows but these two teach you to improvise and what sorts of flavors balance others. Handy knowledge when you want to prepare something edible when you only have on hand a chicken breast, pancake mix and a bag of craisins.

janbb's avatar

I would think cooking shows supplemented by a few good cookbooks would be a good route. Joy of Cooking has a lot of basic information and Julia Childs will give you technique.

AmWiser's avatar

You’re already half way there. The mere fact that you like to cook and it’s a hobby, you should have no problem picking up other culinary techniques by watching cooking channels.

everephebe's avatar

You can learn from watching… But, it’s much more about applying what you’ve seen by doing some cooking yourself. A Chef once told me, to master any dish you have to screw it up 100 times.

[edit: PS I don’t think he did play golf… but you never know.]

12Oaks's avatar

@everephebe I bet that chef also played golf. Just a hunch…..

Sunny2's avatar

Definitely cooking shows could help you. Try some of them and see how they fit your style. There are many kinds of cooking teachers. Find one that you would like to spend time in the kitchen with. (I personally do NOT care for the showman type who use a lot of shtick). Take notes and the recipe for something you’d like to try. Get the ingredients and go to it. Maybe you have a friend you’d like to work with too. Sometimes two heads . . . . Have fun and do not give up if it isn’t exactly as you’d like. One great thing about Julia Child was that her shows were live. If she made a mistake (and she did) there was no taking it back and re-taping it. She’d show you what to do about the mistake.

Buttonstc's avatar

Don’t forget about YouTube also. There are some surprisingly good tutorials to be found.

Another good show which takes you through things step by step is “Tyler’s Ultimate”.

Tyler Florence is an excellent chef as well as being a real down to earth type guy. His show is very meticulously planned and shot for maximum teaching effectiveness.

As others have mentioned, Barefoot Contessa (Ina Garten) is also very thorough.

Another good one is Anne Burrell (Secrets of a Restaurant Chef).

I wouldn’t really be emulating someone like Sandra Lee as she depends so much on various over-processed food products rather than actual food. Her set decorations are pretty but that’s about it.

There seem to be more instructional shows on the new cooking channel since Food Network has devolved into one crazy competition after another. I mean “Cupcake Wars”? Seriously now? Really?

Depending upon where you live, check the local PBS listings. Most of their cooking shows are on weekends. Definitely find and watch regularly “America’s Test Kitchen” and “Cooks Country”. These are from the editors of Cooks Illustrated Magazine and are excellent.

And I saved the best for last. Alton Brown and Good Eats. The absolute best. Lots of knowledge, techniques, scientific explanations presented with lots of props and a quirky sense of humor. I have learned so much from episodes of his over the years. This is an award winning show and repeats run regularly on FN. You should tape them. I can’t describe how great his program is.

You can find some samples on YT to give you a little preview.

The other thing I appreciate the most about FN is that you don’t have to try to scribble down all the ingredients while watching a program. Most recipes are on their website year round.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

I am a pretty good home cook. I learned from my mother and grandmother, and they were both known as good cooks. However, the stuff I learned on the cooking shows put me way above and beyond what my mother or grandmother could do. My daughter is quite the little gourmet chef, and she learned on the cooking shows, too.

kitkat25's avatar

Yes I think you can learn to cook by watching cooking shows on TV. I learned how to knit by watching it being done on TV.

everephebe's avatar

@kitkat25 Except a sweater won’t make you seriously ill if you make it wrong. Just saying, apples and oranges.

It’s hard to learn from just tv, because without taste or smell, food is pretty pointless. If you want to know how to plate, then tv rocks! You can learn a great amount from tv, but do consider it supplemental learning material. And do review all food safety precautions for the dish you’re preparing! At least if you’re cooking for others! :D You can teach yourself how to cook without tv too, people have before. It just takes practice. However, tv is a great resource. But do remember it’s tv. Don’t expect results without some trial and error.

P.S. I mean it’s tv… They usually have the best ingredients, and tools to work with. And half the time somebody else does their mis en place for them, not to mention wash their dishes. The Chefs who do the demos generally are masters, and make it look easy, well it’s not always as easy as it looks. So, I guess I’m saying, it does take a little bit more than just watching tv but that’s expected right?

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