Lots of posts about the merits of TV chefs. I had the chance to have over for dinner a while back a friend who back in 1998 was a sous-chef for TV Star Ming Tsai.
I asked him the inevitable question - who's the best of the TV guys. He said, frankly, they are all very, very good - way out of the home kitchen hobby chef league in skill and knowledge. He also said that many of the other chefs "in town" are as good, but they don't have TV charisma.
In answer to my question, he said his top five were:
1) Batali - gifted, intuitive, and a complete head case.
2) Flay - he says that this guy is incredible at doing things off the top of his head, his food tastes great and he has the gift of keeping things simple.
3) Jaques Pepin - encyclopaedic knowledge, legendary knife skills, and great imagination.
4) Ming Tsai - a genius for combinations, pragmatic and skilled
5) Anna Olsen - this surprised me, but he said "try her recipes". They all work, she's a good teacher (he felt the best on TV) and he had eaten her food and was very impressed.
He also spoke highly of Lynn Crawford. He didn't offer comments on those whom he didn't know or had not tasted their food. Said it wouldn't be fair.
Did he start his own restaurant? No, he went to seminary and is now a Catholic Priest in Boston.
Yes, the meal went well!