In the subject at hand - for the current television chef, I would have to say Emeril. He's knowledgable, entertaining and I've not made a recipe of his yet that hasn't been absolutely foolproof and delicious )
I love Alton Brown's scientific explanations and how he takes an entire show to break down a particular facet of cooking. I really learn a lot from him and can adapt it to other recipies.
You a Biba fan Michael? she use to have a show on PBS..Her restaurant is very nice and her favorite drink, wonderfulLOL - the nice thing about PBS TV Chefs - they get recycled! I hadn't seen Nick Stalone on a cooking show in 5 or more years (he shows up on those home shopping network shows from time to time in the middle of the night or on weekends) and this morning there he was making an abominal dish from some lovely fresh tuna (I actually like his recipes - but he drives me nuts with his "follow the fingers walking" stichk!)
Maybe next week Biba will be a current television chef, too?
Look for 3 books:
On Food and Cooking - The Science and Lore of the Kitchen - Harold McGee
The Curious Cook - Harold McGee
Cookwise - The Secrets of Cooking Revealed - Shirley O. Corriher
Those will give you about 90% of the "science" behind Alton's shows - plus a lot more info.
While I like many of Ina Garten's recipes, her television show & personality trigger my gag reflex. WAY over the top PHONY. All those dinner parties - especially the "surprise" ones - make me nuts. She's no actor, & neither are her vendors or guests. I wish she'd just stick to cooking & cut all that garbage out.