Which Chef has inspired your cooking the most?

I have been drawn to Chef’s that are usually women.
Recently, I’ve been watching many cooking shows and am quite surprised at which ones inspire me now.
Which Chef’s molded you into the cook that you are today?

attending a formal Culinary School is not a requirement to my question. As long as they know how to cook and helped make you the cook that you are today please list their name(s).
That includes my: Aunt, Mom, Grandmother, Father Grandfather neighbour etc. etc.


I’ll start of course enjoy Olia Hercules, Julia Child, Nigella Lawson, Ina Garten, Diana Henry, Nadia G and Diana Kennedy.
Most recently Nigel Slater and Stanley Tucci thanks to @Harters recommendations.


They aren’t chefs, but probably Marcella Hazan and Maangchi.


Thank you for your reply Small h.
As far as Im concerned, they count in my books.
Formal training is not a requirement as
a few of the names that I listed did not attend Culinary School, yet know how to cook.
I really like Maangchi her videos are amazing
I haven’t cooked enough from Marcella Hazan’s book to know either way. I’ve only ever made 2 of her dishes.

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I’m not usually drawn to chef cooking for the home cook. I’m much more drawn to cooks. Delia Smith was my first inspiration - she taught my generation how to cook. In my recent years, Nigel Slater’s simple, straightforward food suits my tastebuds and my limited cooking skills.


Nadia G is very funny and entertaining.


I learned how to cook sitting on the kitchen stool in my Nana’s house. Her name was Harriet. She kept a cook stove in the basement and used it for canning and roasting turkeys and hams at the holidays. I have her recipe box and some of her bowls. I learned cornbread from her, chicken and dumplings, and how to make biscuits. Then my mother, Carole, she taught me how to can and preserve food. We had five gardens and spent the whole summer canning, freezing, and preserving food. Supper was on the table at 5:30 pm and it was family style. You sat at the kitchen table and discussed your day and current events. I don’t know if Mother liked to cook or not, but she was good at it. We killed two hogs each year and a beef so we had plenty of food. She always had meat, some kind of potato cause Daddy was a tater man, green vegetables and salad. My most favorite meal that she did was fried pork tenderloin, quartered potatoes cooked in the pan after the tenderloin, gravy made from the fat drippings. and biscuits. Her vegetable soup was awesome, It was all vegetables and had a wonderful taste. Saturday night supper was country ham, fried potatoes, greens, and black eyed peas. What I wouldn’t give to have a taste of that soup again. As far as celebrity chefs, Martha Stewart when I was first married and into having dinner parties. Then later Ina and Nigella and even Giada.


The serious cooking really started on the barbecue so Aaron Franklin, Ron Lampe, and the owners/staff at the original Big Daddy’s Barbecue in St. Paul. As I branched out into the kitchen it would be Bobby Flay and some YouTubers.

My original interest in cooking came from Julia Childs and the Frugal Gourmet (Jeff Smith).


Me too! I loved that show as a kid. My mother was definitely my earliest influencer - she is not a creative cook, bit she is very competent and her timing skills are on point - I learned (or inherited) the knack of getting every dish done at the same time from her. I probably inherited my disdain for store-bought breads and baked goods from her too! :wink:

In the Food Network’s heyday, I loved Mario Batali and Alton Brown. Sadly most of their current lineup is absolute garbage. I’ve always been a big fan of America’s test kitchen and other PBS shows, especially old episodes of Julia Child and Jacques Pepin.


Love your story. Thanks for sharing that.


My numer one inspiration is my mother.

She has cooked at home on quite a serious level for as long as I can remember growing up.

She’s unfortunately not here anymore - but still she’s by far my number one inspiration.
After that comes my big brother.

Among youtube chefs, recipe30, Chef John and Chef Jean Pierre are currently my favourites.


Parents (mainly my mom.) Their cooking was southern American, basic but hearty and tasty. Lots of fried food. My dad was an avid gardener, so vegetables were plentiful. I still cook that type of food but don’t have it as often as I did growing up.

The first cookbook I bought was The Complete Book of Pasta by Jack Denton Scott. I was college age and looking for cheap and flavorful. That was my entry into cooking Italian food, so he gets credit for starting me down that road.

Madhur Jaffrey’s Indian Cooking was the first Indian cookbook I bought, and that was another big influence.


Definitely not my family. My mom is a health conscious freak, she always told me what to eat or what not to eat, and I just ended up eating the minimum. I had no interest in food. I’m a late comer in cooking.

The change came when I met my bf (now h) and settled in France, he loves eating, and can cook a few delicious dishes, but in repetition. I felt a bit bored after 2 years, and I slowly picked up cooking when I saw the TV program of Joel Robuchon, he was newly retired (around 50 something then) he invited a new guest chef every week to present 5 recipes, usually a terroir cuisine. Although it wasn’t him cooking, but his role was important as many chefs were quite evasive in explaining the steps in their recipes, Robuchon had the authority, and would ask repeatedly for the clear instructions, which sometimes annoyed the chefs. Also if the chefs were unable to do it, he would fill in. For a few years, I was following every episode. Most of the recipes work because of the clear instructions.

I’ve also have to give credits to Jamie Oliver, my friend lent me her copy of the book Happy Days with Naked Chef, which she didn’t use a lot because it was in English. I had a few success with the dishes I cooked, and it gave me confidence as a beginning I never watched his shows though.

Nowadays, I have more interest in baking. For basic techniques, it’s Mercotte’s blog. I also check out the videos of Phillippe Contincini.


If “chef” is the operative word, Alice Waters. But more elementally, French country cooking with fresh produce and varied proteins. Very much California style.


I’m including food writers I like.

Stephen Yan, Wolfgang Puck, Ottolenghi, Olia Hercules, Nigel Slater, Alton Browne, Felicity Cloake, Molly O’Neill. For Greek recipes, Akis Petrezikis.


Alice Waters and Deborah Madison, from way back. I get random inspiration from different TV cooks even if they aren’t making my kind of food. For example, over the weekend I had the food network on while folding laundry and saw Trisha Yearwood make a skillet granola. Made some and it was very good plus didn’t heat up the whole house. These days, on youtube I am inspired by Vegan Richa, Miwa, and YeungMan.

My mom is a good, experimental cook. Her mother DID NOT cook (on principle, she was a liberated woman) so mom learned from Sunset Magazine, the LA Times, and my dad.


Yotam Ottolenghi.

I quit eating meat and poultry when I was twelve. As dinner in our house was always meat or poultry, I started cooking for myself.

Buying Plenty rocked my world. A cookbook where every recipe was edible to me and the dishes tasted fantastic, wow. Plus Ottolenghi has me using ingredients I’d hadn’t previously.


It has been sort of an evolution over the years as I have discovered different cooks/cookbook authors/TV and/or YT presenters:

  • Martin Yan, the OG
  • around this time, my mom bought Secrets of Chinese Cooking by Stella Chan. I read it and looked at the pictures obsessively. I was 7.
  • Nick Stellino - I made my first risotto after watching his show on PBS
  • Ming Tsai - I loved East Meets West and I have spent a lot of time cooking out of the Blue Ginger cookbook (love the oxtails!)
  • Nigella Lawson
  • Maunika Gowardhan
  • Yottam Ottolenghi
  • Kylie Kwong
  • Rick Bayless
  • Pailin Chongchitnant (Hot Thai Kitchen on YouTube)
  • Chinese Cooking Demystified (YouTube/Reddit)

And many others I am sure I am forgetting.


Me too! My Mom was a lousy cook as she was just not in to seasoning or spices. Dad was mostly the BBQ guy and did mostly steaks (which I am not a fan of), but he did have a marinade for grilled swordfish that was probably the best meal I had at home.

I like Gordon Ramsay… not for his recipes, but more about his “always on” rant about tasting. The only failures I have ever had have been following recipes verbatim without tasting (no matter who they were from).

Now, even with cherished recipes I have… I can replicate them even if I don’t have all the called for ingredients by simply throwing things together while tasting. I always did this with cocktails, but it has only been about the last ten years or so when I have learned to cook this way. In hindsight it seems pretty rudimentary, but it was lost on me for way too long.

Recipe follower vs: recipe developer… as a software guy who always tests, it should have been a no brainer.


I can’t recall Dad ever cooking. And Mum was a lousy cook. Both stereotypical products of their post-war generation, I suppose. My companion in life came from a similar cooking background so, when we got together in the early 70’s, it was a slow process of improving our skills. And, more so, learning what we might like to eat.