Battle of the Cookery shows!

"Moi, overtly sexual? Surely not!"
When lusty, busty Nigella Lawson first graced my TV screen I was rapt. Not by her curves, sexuality or pouting but by the fact a TV cookery show could be entertaining rather than instructional. Maybe it was the style of shooting with quick fire cuts, close ups, steady-cam movements and the urgent feel of her making it in real time. Kind of like an NYPD of cookery without the body count. (Although, saying that, Nigella was merciless when it came to high fat, meat, cheese, cream and sugary recipes. I'm sure she has single handedly raised the UK mortality rate with her calorific recipes. Maybe there is a body count!) The new format, the sexed up middle class temtress and the glutonous food made TV cookery appealing for the first time in years.

There can be no doubt that the high fat, high sugar, artery clogging cuisine was a huge part of the appeal... The food wasn't healthy, it was decadent, desirable and yet entirely realistic. In her 2007 book Nigella Express every recipe is achievable with ingredients available locally and every dish was exciting. A hard thing to achieve if you are a celebrity chef familiar with exotic, unattainable, international ingredients that average folk can't pronounce let alone buy. Rather than 'celebrity chef', she is an enthusiastic, passionate cook, like the people in kitchens watching at home. Like me!

"This tray's really heavy"
"no, I didn't name the book"
Years later and her crown seemed positively woven into her shiny mane; the army of bright young things bursting onto the foodie scene all gradually fell away.

Lorraine Pascale and Sophie Dahl showed us pretty ex-models don't just eat, but they occasionally strut into a kitchen and cook. Neither seemed equipped to outshine their sachrine wholesomeness with their airbrushed bland food and neither held my attention the way Nigella had.

"C'est Tout!"
Then, I stumbled on little Rachel Khoo the butter-wouldn't-melt, cute-as-a-button, Francophile with a culinary capability to die for. The French inspired dishes, the Brit-girl-done-good, the 'Cordon-Bleu' training and the beautiful Paris scenery all make a great cookery show and like Nigella, there's a hint (just a hint) of sensuality to her. But, what's important here is that the recipes are centre stage again and each decadent, dish screams to be road tested in my very own kitchen. Again TV cookery is something you talk about with friends and something that inspires dinner parties.

"Where are ya?"
Where in the grand scheme does she fit in my humble opinion? Well, if there was a scale from One to Ten of these cookery shows and their resident experts then I am obliged to place Nigella Lawson at number Ten. And, because I detest her whiny, nasal, autobot voice and bland, dated recipes the famously-freaky-footy-fan Delia Smith must reign in at a 'poultry' One.

Jamie Oliver only saves himself from the bottom of chart and climbs to Five by virtue of his rather good restaurants. There can be no question he, as a TV chef is unbareable. Drizzling Olive oil over leaves, cherry tomatoes, olives and Parma ham is 'rustic' if 'rustic' is code for 'oily shitty salad'. But let's not forget Jamie came into being when idiot metrosexuals wanted to learn how to cook and look all 'cheeky chappy' doing it. Maybe his rise to fame and weak witted appeal is more about the decade that brought us the 'Manny' and less about Jamie's ability to cook.

"F**k*ng, sh*t, Bast**d"
"F**k*ng woof"
I can't forget the Jamie antithesis, Gordon Ramsay who put the 'Man' into MANge tout and the 'Grrr' in Potato GRRRatin. What a fucking prick..! to make a career from shouting at people and looking like a Shar Pei. That's just sad. Sadder still is the fact I recall the cheating on his wife, the shouting, the wrinkles, the awful TV shows but not one single recipe or dish. If that's manly - let's stick with Metrosexual pansies! He is in at Three.

Topping us off with some space age sustenance is Waitrose favourite Heston. He deserves a a Seven.

Now back to Little Paris kitchen... Where does Rachel Khoo belong? After buying the cook book to accompany the Rachel Khoo series I've been busy getting messy in my kitchen and stocking up on all the larder 'basics' that I shamefully don't own. My interest in the cookery is matched only by my interest with the Cookery show genre and the people we have trusted to show us the culinary light. Many have come and gone (some are annoyingly still with us) but I can honestly say Rachel Khoo sits comfortably right up at Ten with Nigella. The food is again the main attraction and all our dinner tables are richer for it.