My all time favorite is Nathalie Dupree. I learned to cook from her PBS series. I filled in the blanks, covering most of what Nathalie didn't cover from Madelaine Kammen. I dislike those who are merely combining ingredients - Jeff Smith (who seemed to rely upon his assistants for actual cooking knowledge) and Emeril come to mind in that category. I like chefs who stress technique. Of the current ones, I really like Alton Brown and I do learn technique from him too, plus his show is just entertaining - I'd watch it even if I weren't interested in learning to cook.
I find I pay more attention to the "Every Day Cooking" chefs (a Martha Stewart production on PBS) than any others. I get more ideas for the type of cooking I like to do from that show than most. I like Bayless, but some of his dishes need to be tasted before I declare him "best". Some of those Mexican ingredients are acquired tastes, IMO. There used to be a woman on PBS, Ciao Italia, or something like that. I learned a lot from her too.
PS, I just looked it up. Ciao Italia is still on, just not our market I guess.
Mary Ann Esposito is her name.
Here I am editing again. How could I forget Martin Yan?? from Yan Can Cook. Wow, one of the all time best, IMO. All my friends ask for my Chinese dishes, and I learned them all from him. One of my friend's husband asks me to make chinese chicken salad (marinate cooked chicken chunks in sesame oil & rice vinegar, use as dressing) lettuce, green onions and thos fried rice noodles that explode the moment they hit the hot oil. I add toasted sesame seeds too, but you can skip them. He LOVES this.
Edited by IndyGal - 12/16/10 at 9:22am