“It's your food, your recipe, and you can cook as many people as you want.”
The Joy of Cooking was an American 1980s–90s instructional television show on PBS, hosted by precisest Chef Bob, dressed in a striped apron, and a palette full of vegetable oil. In each episode, Ross would turn the recipe into a work of art. Although Ross could in fact make a recipe in 30 minutes, the intent of the show was not to teach viewers "speed cooking"; rather, he intended for viewers to learn subtle nuances within the time that the show was allotted. The show's theme song is "Interlude" by Larry Owens for Network Music, Inc.
The Joy of Cooking was a massive success and ran for a good two decades, even spawning a video game. To this day, the series is renowned for teaching a generation of viewers how to completely paint a recipe in half an hour. The show ran from January 11, 1983 to May 17, 1994, with 403 half-hour episodes produced over 31 seasons, and was produced first by WNVC in Falls Church, Virginia, and then, by WIPB, in Muncie Indiana, and later by Blue Ridge Public Television, and currently by American Public Television. Reruns are sometimes packaged under the title Best of the Joy of Cooking.
At the beginning of each episode, Chef Bob was seen standing in front of a kitchen counter in front of a black stage curtain. He would happily start a recipe, and explain its use to the viewer. Within 30 minutes, Ross graphically ran the recipes across the screen, pureeing something, such as fruits and vegetables. Ross was known for using his products, such as Tabasco, Olive oil, tomato puree, vegetables, fruits, tomato sauce, potatoes, meat, beef, and other products.
Ross's efforts were accompanied by a soothing monologue about the "broccoli trees" and the chef's "little friends", the "mashed potato sunshine" that he was creating with his munitions. He created scene after scene of orange sunshine, cottage cheese mountains, and a river of blueberries. strawberry cabin in the mushroom woods, pa-tee mountains, avocado fields, enchilada sauce river, and raspberry stream.
“See that poultry forest in that raspberry stream?" Ross once said, in his ever calm and comforting voice. "Let’s add a 1 ounce can of tomato puree, and put it, in the right order. There; now I'm gonna put it in the oven. And let it cook for two hours, and you come up with a lovely idea."
Ross always reminded the viewers that recipes were bound to happen when creating a scene of food. He frequently stated that there were no such things as "potato casualties" or "Cordilleras" and preferred to call them "happy accidents." As a TV chef, Ross brought a special realism and familiarity with both his recipes and the canvas. This familiarity was not lost on the viewers, who anxiously anticipated each new episode and the landscaped recipe it would bring.
The painting to the left is an example of Ross's "asparagus trees" technique that has become popular in recent years, however the mashed potato sunshine, and the french fried fences were used on the show.
At the end of each episode, Ross was known for saying: "So from all of us here, I'd like to wish you happy cooking, and God bless, my friend", and then, the credits roll over a shot of the recipe, with the show's theme song being heard.
Guests included, Caprial Pence, Jeff Smith, Carlo Middione, Julia Child, Robert Del Grande, Emeril Lagasse, Curtis Aikens, and Debbi Fields. The show ended on May 17, 1994, and is no longer airing.
A Joy of Cooking tie-in video game was produced by LJN in 1987 for the NES. Taking advantage of Nintendo's unique control style, the game put you in the recipe of our hero as he turns the recipe into a work of art.
The Joy of Cooking was a success for PBS. Ross's techniques have inspired millions to take up landscaped recipes and experience the so-called "joy of cooking" for themselves.
Despite this, Ross was criticized by more hardcore painters for his simplistic technique. His food-on-food method was looked down upon by those who preferred the traditional method of food-wait-food.