No matter how tangy the recipe, a formulaic series can start to lose some flavor as the seasons wear on. Bravo to Top Chef for not falling into a predictable haze during its fourth season. The show has always put a deliciously American spin on food shows, and we can’t help but eat it up. In its most recent season, host Padma Lakshmi, chief judge Tom Colicchio and one of the feistiest judging panels around brought the competition to serious foodie town Chicago, where they freshened up the proceedings with the infusion of surprise celeb chefs.
Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations, Travel Channel: It’s human nature to obsess over that which we simply can’t stomach, so it’s no surprise No Reservations has been Travel’s most popular series. After watching undaunted host Bourdain nosh on a still-beating cobra heart in a Thai marketplace, we really are thankful for our (boring old) supper.
Iron Chef America, Food Network: From Japan with love, the concept of a food game show took root among U.S. television viewers and continues to age like a fine wine. We can’t wait to see the new season’s celeb chef panel.
Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, BBC America: When it comes to global cuisine, Britain’s contributions tend to leave us cold. But we’re always starving for the U.K.’s most hot-headed chef, Gordon Ramsay.