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Blame it on Ricki: The Sexiest (Male) TV Chef

Okay, so I could write about the kick-ass Indian curry I invented for dinner Friday night, but before I get to that, I have been challenged by Ricki to write a post about the sexiest food guy on TV. I believe this request stems from my naked lust for Anthony Bourdain, so I can’t pretend to be completely surprised by the notion that I have strong opinions about Men with Knives. If you find this offensive, trivial or having a whiff of “E!” about it, you may register complaints on Ricki’s blog. I am just an innocent observer of foodie TV culture, giving the people (okay, the person) what she wants.

It is important to note, here, that this is NOT about objective physical attractiveness. There are many men in the world (Tom Cruise and Kevin Costner, for example) who are extraordinarily sex-appeal-y to some women, but do nothing for me. There are others (Bill Murray and Alan Rickman, for example) who do not appeal to everyone, but who I find particularly tasty. This is not about the chiseled jaw and the washboard abs; its about my personal, objective responses and what I hear from other women about Men who Cook on TV.

Off the top of my head, there are a number of men who may readily be ruled out of contention for a variety of reasons. Emeril, because he just does nothing for me, although I confess to a tiny twinge when he says “yeah, babe” to his garlic or salmon fillet. emeril_lagasse.jpgBobby Flay is too sure of himself, and seems vaguely contemptuous and hard to please. flay.jpgRobert Irvine has those giant, ham-like arms and yells a lot, (although I find him very charming and endearing), irvine.jpg

and Guy Fieri is too bleached and spiky and wears his damned sunglasses on the back of his neck in a way that is just too self-consciously cool for my tastes. fieri.jpg

Iron Chef Morimoto is intimidating to me for some reason. morimoto.jpg

I am conflicted about Jamie Oliver. He has a certain baby-faced, pouty-lipped sexiness about him, but he is somehow too young, too soft, too easy. jamie_oliver_narrowweb__300x4240.jpg

Duff from “Ace of Cakes” is pretty cute, but reminds me too much of the frat boys I see all over town with calculated little beards and baseball caps screwed on backwards to hold their brains in.


Now for my contenders, in no particular order: Anthony Bourdain,


Alton Brown,


Iron Chef Michael Symon,

Mario Batali,

Michael Chiarello,

Gordon Ramsay,


and Tyler Florence.


These men fall into three groups, in my mind: Nice Guys, Edgy Guys and Nice Guys with Edge. Chiarello and Florence are Nice Guys, Batali, Symon and Brown are Nice Guys with Edge, and Bourdain and Ramsay, well, you already guessed that one. I think that, for example, I could ask Michael C. or Tyler to whip up hors d’oeuvres for a group of obnoxious friends and relatives and that either would cook, serve and chat charmingly without once calling someone a jackass. I envision Mario, Michael S., or Alton presenting a civil front to the guests while hurling invectives in the kitchen. It is hard to imagine Anthony or Gordon suppressing their true feelings at the table, in the parlor or in the kitchen given the slightest provocation.

Now for the tough part: the actual, irrelevant, decision as to which of these men (all of whom are actually married with children, as am I) is most appealing to me. I can rule out the Nice Guys right off the bat, despite the fact that I find both of them to be fabulous examples of Tough and Tender in action. They are both prettier than I am, which would be both threatening and distracting. There are just practical limits on what you can cover up with a sheet. Therefore, I have to relegate them to the category of runners-up.

As for the rest of the guys, the main issue is hair. I like hair, which rules out Symon despite his toughness, sense of humor, great laugh and the vision to create destination restaurants in Cleveland (!). I also don’t like spiky hair, which rules out Alton and Gordon. Also, Alton seems so cerebral and caustic at times, that it is difficult to reconcile with, shall we say, the realm of the sensual, and Gordon mocks people because of their weight, which ticks me off. I’ll say Alton is second runner up.

Mario has hair, and seems like an absolutely fabulous combination of smart, funny, talented in the kitchen and creative. Unfortunately, I once heard him mispronounce a word on NPR. (If you knew me, you would understand). For this reason, he is only the first runner up in my fantasy Chef Hunk league.

The winner? Was there ever any doubt? I would go anywhere with Anthony, eat bone soup or brain sandwiches with him, listen to the Ramones with him, and polish his leather jacket.

You can make me feel less like an idiot by telling me your opinion on this burning issue; the mere fact of knowing that someone else thinks about this might be a relief.


About imagineannie

I feel like I'm fifteen - does that count? I'm lots of things, I get paid to be the Managing Editor for a local news publication, and I love my job. I am also inordinately fond of reading, animals (I have four), elephants, owls, hedgehogs writing, tramping in the woods, cooking India, Ireland, England, avocado toast, Sherlock Holmes, Harry Potter, Little Women, Fun Home, Lumber Janes, Fangirl, magic, Neil Gaiman, Jane Austen, YA books, not YA books, classical music, Salinger (OMG SALINGER), Brahms, key lime pie, indie music, podcasts, sleeping in, road trips, marmalade, museums, bookstores, the Oxford comma, BBC, The Miss Fisher Mysteries, birdwatching, seashells, kombucha, and stickers. Not a huge fan of chewing gum, jazz, trucker hats or dystopian and/or post-apolcalyptic fiction (but I'll try anything).

29 responses »

  1. Bravo! Wow, when you take on a challenge, you certainly do it up right. (I guess the fact that I, too, think about this kind of thing doesn’t really help with the relief you’re seeking, since I’m the one who suggested it in the first place, but oh well). Oh, and gee, thanks so much for sending any and all complaints in my direction ;).

    Before I tackle the chefs, though, I just want to declare that I am totally with you on the Tom Cruise/Kevin Costner/Alan Rickman points (and am I the only one who thinks Harvey Keitel is irresistible??).

    Okay, now, on to the voting! I have to admit that, being in Toronto, I don’t get all the US food TV programs, so I don’t actually know all these guys. I’m going to disqualify all the ones not on Canadian TV: Robert Irvine (whose photo creepily calls to mind Odo on Deep Space Nine; Guy Fieri (I could never get worked up about a guy who spends more time on his hair than I do, anyway); Michael Symon (who I’d guess to be a garage mechanic based on that photo); and Michael Chiarello (who seems to be the reincarnation of George Hamilton—oh, wait a sec, I think GH is still alive!).

    I must say, I agree with almost all of your commentary. I was lukewarm on Mario Batali before, but you clinched it for me with the mispronunciation issue. The pouty-lipped Oliver is, indeed, too young, and reminds me too much of many of my students. And I might have voted for Ramsay, but, given his fat prejudice and my being fat, that pretty much rules him out, now, doesn’t it?

    Okay, you win: BOURDAIN RULES.

    Thanks for a great post, Annie!

  2. agree totally on the Alan Rickman/ Bill Murray thing. Both are srcumptious but AR takes the biscuit! (How about that for a less than subtle referral to your original theme of chefs?!) I think it’s because these two are REAL men. They have principles, they are mature, they make you feel that you could trust them through thick and thin. They are not dependent on and trading on “pretty pretty ” looks. Who needs that? It’s what’s inside the man that counts and these men radiate integrity, honesty and inner strength.
    (And anyway they are sexy to look at – it’s the subtle things about them, not the “textbook celebrity – I’ve paid to get my face / body looking like every other celebrity jerk”

  3. Ricki, thanks, and thanks for the push to do something different. (Although I think I’d better get back to writing about actual food, lest I should lose my, uhm, foodie cred). Michael Symon is actually adorable if you see him in action, you’ll have to trust me on that. As for Michael Chiarello, maybe I picked a bad picture – he is very handsome, but again, when you see him in moving picture format he is less “pretty,” more crinkles-around-the-eyes and gracious humor. I have to say that I would also be outside of Gordon’s weight class.

    lilyalways, welcome! “Truly, Madly, Deeply” and “Lost in Translation” are two of my favorite movies, and among the only ones I watch repeatedly; maybe that’s Rickman and Murray are fixed in my head as the epitomes of male sexiness. Then again, maybe I watch the movies repeatedly because they ARE the epitomes of males sexiness..wonder if they can cook….

  4. heheheh Just perusing your entertaining blog and read “Menu Planning 2008:2”. I recognized the titles of three cookbooks used that week.

    I smiled!

    I’ll ask your husband to `critique` your offerings.


  5. tonyn, I am very excited about trying more recipes from those cook books, which I ADORE. Just having them in the house makes me smile. Thank you. 🙂

  6. I suppose I like nice guys, but I don’t usually go for the young cuties (Harrison Ford or Dennis Quaid are more my style). However, I would eat anything Tyler Florence fed me. He has always been on my “Top Ten Food Network Chefs I want to cook for me.”

    I definitely don’t like edgy and I would never eat monkey brains for anyone. Gah!

  7. Ooooh, Dennis Quaid. Forgot about that one. I have always been attracted to edgy (although my husband is a Nice Guy, through and through). There’s something about Tyler that makes me feel maternal, rather than sexy, despite the fact that he is nearly my age. Boyish good looks? As for the brains, they aren’t money brains (although I’m guessing he’s eaten those, too) they are fried calf brain sandwiches, an Indiana delicacy. On the whole, I’d rather not have any, but if it meant I could eat them with Tony, I’d do it.

  8. here! here! for the tortured bad boy types! anthony bourdain and gordon ramsey! be still my heart! robert irvine and mario batalli can stir my soup any day, and my choice for adorable book ends go to alton brown and michael symon *sighs* what a great way to start my day!

  9. jayedee, thanks. I fear that I may have veered so far off course that no one will ever come here for recipes again, only to seek softcore Chef Porn. However, variety is the spice of life, and I do like spice. 🙂

  10. Hi Annie.

    I think my husband shares your love of Mr. Bourdain. Our new DVR is chock full of “No Reservations” and it’s set to trump my shows for recording time.

    I have to admit, he is pretty hot. 🙂


  11. arolyn (welcome back, by the way) we don’t get The Travel Channel, so I have to rent Anthony from Netflix. If we had Travel Channel and a DVR its a safe bet that I’d be watching Anthony 24-7 and hiding it like a crack habit. Maybe its better that we don’t??

  12. chef porn? could be worse! lol
    but fear not! with recipes like your “as you like it curry” folks will keep coming for the food!

  13. Bless you, jayedee!!!!! Honestly (sadly?) I am more interested in chef and food porn thatn I’ve ever been in the other kind, which I find…skeevy.

  14. are you sure we’re not related? Although, i would remove alton brown from my list and add in govind armstrong…. drool!!!!! BTW, I love love love Alan Rickman! Good list!

  15. alpa, we may be related; I’d be honored. Govind Armstrong is quite delicious, and I think anyone who appreciates the dark, smoky, sexy menace of Mr. Rickman is a sister in spirit if not in fact.

  16. Bourdain is definitely OUT for me because he smokes but he is otherwise very appealing. Oliver is a cutie to look at but I am not sure about his real-life appeal. Florence and Batali have got to be my first and second place finishers.

    • imagineannie

      Sarah – he doesn’t smoke any more! Does that change anything? 🙂 I’m telling you, if you get the Travel Channel and watch “No Reservations” you’ll be in love with him, too…..

  17. Tyler Florence is the best he is so sexy,and Duff is so handsom,Jamie Oliver is so nice,Flay is so wonderful,Gordon Ramsay baby face,Mario Batali is so cute.

  18. Could not have said it any better. Anthony is incredibly sexy, just love him! He’s cool, he’s genuine, and I’d eat anything he fed me. Great list, I agree with many of your contenders. Thanks!

  19. I’m a new food-writer/blogger just browsing and found your delightful site. Yes, Harrison Ford, Dennis Quaid and Richard Gear, my favorites for naughty, intelligent, sexy men. Florence is handsome and love his cooking, Boudain is sensual, earthy, love his honesty, but I’d like to see him actually cook. I don’t like redheads so Flay is out, and Emeril is too full of himself, though I adore dark handsome men.
    The advertising widgets are fab and I want to know how you got them here as I read in a forum that advertising was not possible on WP.
    I’m adding you to my blogroll and will subscribe.

    • imagineannie

      JoAnn, thanks for stopping by; I’m glad you enjoyed the site and the post. My opinions about these men fluctuate, i have to say – I was not a fan of Emeril in his last incarnation on Food Network, but I have been watching his newest show, “Emeril Green” and enjoying it a lot. Much lower key, much less full of himself, just a really experienced chef teaching lay people how to select and cook good food.

      I much appreciate the addition to your blogroll and the subscription; I’ll answer you privately (via e-mail) about the other matter.

  20. michelle allen

    OMG!!! someone who feel the same way i do! am in a group of my peers! my husband always asks me why i think a “wrinkly ,alcoholic drunk is so hot”. i tell him it’s a woman thing, but it really isn’t. i’m of a different breed. i like a different kind of guy. i love anthony bourdain. he’s who he is and never apologizes for it. he’s had an amazing career as a chef and an even more amazing career as a travel host. he takes us to the places i want to see. you can see mcd’s, applebees, ect, anywhere in the world. i want to see how the rural people in china live. i want to see what they eat. i can’t get enough of his show. i love how he professes to be somewhat of a social retard, yet he has this fab. job. it proves that anyone can live their dream. and that is my dream, to work with someone like him, (or even him) travel the world, eat “indeginous” food, be exhausted from the travel schedule and change in climates. i’m so glad i found a subculture of anthony bourdain fans!!! i think he’s so hot, i’d lick the…
    broth from his chin!!!!! i know what you all were thinking!!!

    • Anthony is one hot, wrinkly drunk! I learn a lot from him, too, and find other travel shows to be kind of lame in comparison. I have LOTS of friends who agree. Broth Lickers Anonymous?

  21. Everyone knows I absolutely LOVE Bourdain (i got full season of no reservations for my bday) but i have recently fallen for Michael Chiarello! he definitely seems charmingly angelic but i was poking around the internet reading about him (when i fall, i fall hard) upon reading his quotes and interviews may actually fall into the nice guys with an edge category! Surprised no one else commented on this beautiful man…

  22. Luna Lycaeus-Ludus

    Oh, and let us not forget the writing talents of Mr. Bourdain, as well as his gift for the comedy and the timing of.
    I sustained multiple injuries of a very serious nature, on levels internal and exterior just upon my very first years ago reading of the “Kitchen Confidential”, including, but not limited to, 5 broken ribs, a punctured lung, severe bruising, a ruptured spleen, pulled muscles, cuts, stitches, whiplash, and an all expenses paid vacation to a very fine and expensive hi-crass mental rubber room resort. Dr. Haus, the nice Hi-Framptons Doctor there, and his fine assistant, Dr. Igor Fly, told me that had I not received assistance as soon as I had that I would have died from the very grave and rare condition of the “Laughter”.
    This only goes to show that Mr. Bourdain is nobody to fool with, and therefore is the obvious choice for a hot bad boy in The Iron Man Series. And I, too, have done hard time in the weeds…No doubt that Man Can Cook! Why Ask?!
    Perhaps he might care to speak at a meet-up of the local Jane Austen Book Fan Club? Now THAT would be REALLY NEAT! After those soirees, we always can eat…

  23. I’ve seen Alton brown, guy Fieri, anthony bourdain and my love Michael symon in person, and must say they are all hot. Guy is more a cool cat and super fun Alton is insane genius and also very sexy. Anthony bourdain made me nervous and I flirted relentlessly nothing happened tho lol. Michael symon made me actually super nervous and I love him even more now sexy sexy man and that deep voice yummmmmmmmmy!!!!! And those were my two cents lol :-))

    • (Btw I’m a food girl whom loves her food boys lol…) Guess living in NYC gives one the opportunity to mingle around these hot men..not mention I’ve seen Jean George, Daniel bouloud, Paul Bruni and others..right now I’m loving Marc Murphy he’s next on my list of sexy food boys;)

      And now I’m done


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