Classic PBS Cooking Shows We Want Back on the Air

PBS Cooking Shows We Want Back

Cheapism; Lynn Gilbert (CC BY-SA); Burt Wolf Productions; Getty Images

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Public television has been broadcasting free programming to American homes for generations. Besides the beloved children's programs, news, and educational content, PBS has a long history of championing cooking shows. Many of us grew up fascinated by these shows, and even attribute our love of food, culture, and cooking to them. Here are some of the best classic cooking shows that PBS has aired. Luckily for us, if your local PBS station doesn't air these nostalgic shows anymore, you can find most of them on YouTube.

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Yan Can Cook youtube still
KQED / YouTube

1. Yan Can Cook

"If Yan can cook, so can you!" If you immediately heard that tagline in Martin Yan's voice, you absolutely watched this long-running show at some point since it began in 1982. He was personable and a bit of a showman, and he taught so many people about traditional Chinese cooking and cuisine. Plus, he could break down a whole chicken in about 30 seconds flat, and it was fun to watch every time.  

Related: Easy Chinese Food Recipes for an Air Fryer, Instant Pot, or Slow Cooker

Julia Child in her kitchen as photographed ©Lynn Gilbert, 1978, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Julia Child in her kitchen as photographed ©Lynn Gilbert, 1978, Cambridge, Massachusetts by Lynn Gilbert (CC BY-SA)

2. The French Chef

Julia Child's lasting legacy on food and cooking in America really can't be overstated. On "The French Chef," she made cooking accessible and entertaining, when America was still obsessed with convenience foods in the early 1960s. She screwed up a lot, and had fun on the show, and both those things were refreshing revelations at the time. When you watch old episodes now, it still feels incredibly modern, despite the vintage appliances. 

Related: Cheers to Julia Child: 11 Recipes for Leftover Wine

Louisiana Cookin' Justin Wilson youtube still

3. Louisiana Cookin'

Justin Wilson was quite a character, and he was the entire reason you watched one of his many cooking shows, including "Louisiana Cookin'." The Louisiana-born cook was always wearing suspenders, and had a thick accent. His catchphrase, "I guarantee," and the word "onion" always came out with a distinct drawl. 

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Burt Wolf A Taste for Travel
Burt Wolf A Taste for Travel by Burt Wolf Productions (CC BY-SA)

4. A Taste for Travel

If you ever saw "A Taste for Travel," then you probably already heard the title of the show in Burt Wolf's distinct inflection in your head — he always ended sentences like he was asking a question. This was kind of a cooking-meets-travel show before those were a dime a dozen, and if you had any wanderlust at all, then you were probably hooked. He's done many more similar travel shows since this one in the '90s. 

Nick Stellino show youtube still
Nick Stellino / YouTube

5. Cucina Amore

You can't convince us that Nick Stellino isn't just assembled from a bunch of Italian stereotypes. He makes big hand gestures when he talks, he loves telling theatrical stories, and they're usually about love. The food is honestly secondary here, since he's such a big, charismatic personality, and the camera loves him. It feels a little silly nowadays (especially when you notice the long rattail he's sporting), but we love it. 

Chef Caprial Pence's show "Cooking With Caprial"

6. Caprial's Café

Chef Caprial Pence's show "Caprial's Café" had one of the most '90s-themed intros ever, complete with smiling Caprials, checkerboard patterns, and seemingly random things flying around on the screen. It was a simple show, and she was a cheery but no-nonsense teacher. Her husband joined her in different cooking shows as well. 

Louisiana Kitchen Paul Prudhomme youtube still
VHS Ark / YouTube

7. Paul Prudhomme's Louisiana Kitchen

Paul Prudhomme was already a famous New Orleans chef with his own restaurant and cookbook before his PBS shows starting airing in the 1990s. He focused on teaching Cajun and Creole cooking, something that the American public outside of the South wasn't as familiar with back then. His show was always very calm and measured, and the chef's love of food always came through.

Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home julia child youtube still
Hungry / YouTube

8. Julia & Jacques Cooking At Home

This is perhaps the most adorable cooking show ever. Julia Child and Jacques Pepin, a French chef famous in his own right, were great friends, and they made for a perfect on-screen pair. Every episode was like tuning in to watch two siblings tease and take mild jabs at each other, even though it was obvious that they were very fond of each other. They would make recipes together, and Julia's cooking was a little more by-the-book, while Pepin enjoyed thinking outside the box, much to her chagrin. Not only do you learn a lot from this one, but it's one of the most wholesome and heartwarming cooking shows.