I know that there are some who do not like the Barefoot Contessa, aka Ina Garten. I will once again excuse you to go and castigate yourselves in the corner with a cat o' nine tails. I adore that she is a strange mix between a WASP-y Hamptons dweller and a wonderful older Jewish aunt who gives you her best rugelach recipe. And her house ain't bad, either. Seriously, I die.
I think that Ina Garten and Nigella Lawson are the two TV cooks (I won't call them chefs, but shoot, who cares?) who inspired me the most to cook with good ingredients and have fun in the kitchen. I remember watching episodes of "Nigella Bites" back in college when the whole Food Network thing was barely a twinkle in a television exec's eye. I would make these elaborate meals in the dorm's communal kitchen, feeding my hallmates. Also, the way that the shows were shot is the equivalent of soft-core food... well, you know. Food was something not just to eat, but something to savor and linger over with friends.
Unfortunately, I think that they also started my obsession with food gadgets, so that is not such a good thing.
The whole point of this post? Not sure. Just wanted to pass along those people who were my food inspirations. I have never made a bad recipe from either one of these women. Also, included in that no-fail recipe category is Martha Stewart, but she also has an army of elves dressed in L.L. Bean creating her empire, so she doesn't count.