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A Chef You’ll Want to Take Home

by Kaitlyn Edsall

Cooking shows are hardly a new phenomenon. Julia Child started them off with her no-nonsense approach to French cuisine. Martha Stewart made television cooking “a good thing,” and most recently, Rachel Ray has conquered everything from the airwaves to cracker boxes.

But today, many networks are trying to put a fresh spin on the old television recipe. Fox found a way to make cooking into a reality show with “Hell’s Kitchen,” a concept repeated on Bravo with “Top Chef.” In the UK, “The Naked Chef” has been mixing things up, but it’s TLC that has discovered the tastiest way to whip up a new cooking show, and it’s called “Take Home Chef.”

“Take Home Chef” combines cooking with reality television and a generous dash of sex appeal for a genuinely delicious TV treat. Host Curtis Stone — a particularly scrumptious, blond morsel from down under who also happens to be an accomplished chef — uses his extensive culinary skills to lend a hand to the kitchen-clueless women of Los Angeles.

Each episode begins with the tall, buff Stone roaming a supermarket, usually a Whole Foods, in search of a hot young shopper. Once spotted, Stone bombards the oblivious chick with his camera crew and offers to cook her and whoever she’s planning to cook for — usually a boyfriend or husband — a fabulous gourmet dinner. Of course, the girl never objects to taking Stone home with her, nor does she turn down the free groceries and Crate & Barrel housewares they inevitably pick up on the ride home.

The most entertaining part of the drama happens when they get home and things start heating up in the kitchen. The women, of course, flee to “freshen up” for the cameras, and presumably for the Aussie hunk, and then they get down to cooking. Or rather, Stone cooks while the women pretend to help, pour wine and giggle profusely. The most delectable part of this awkward display is that these women all have significant others due home at any moment.

And what do the men find when they do come home? Sure, dinner’s on the table, but there’s also a camera crew and a handsome chap greeting you at the door. Not exactly every man’s dream homecoming.

But there’s more to drool over than just Stone — the “Take Home Chef” does not ignore the necessary element of every successful cooking show: fabulous food. Due to his English and Aussie roots, Stone likes to make a lot of rich curry dishes and uses a lot of sausage to create an oddly delicious effect. All food is, of course, presented to perfection.

Stone also solved the mystery I’ve been trying to unfold since I saw LOVE ACTUALLY — it turns out that banoffee pie is pie made of bananas, caramel and whipped cream. How sweet.

Curtis serves up these culinary confections and then leaves the couple to enjoy their dessert without him. Though I don’t see why they’d ever want him to leave.

“Take Home Chef” conveniently airs every weekday on TLC from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m., and new episodes air every Friday at 7 p.m. — just in time to inspire you to get busy in the kitchen yourself.

Or you can just sit back with your Easy-Mac and devour each yummy episode. Either way, stay tuned.