When is a cooking show not a cooking show? When it’s a profanity laced artificial TV drama not so cleverly disguised as a cooking show.
As a foodie I watch probably more cooking TV than the average person. I enjoy seeing the cooking techniques, ingredients, and personalities. Competition based cooking shows are a different breed of show. While most cooking shows are instructional, competition based shows like Masterchef, Top Chef, Chopped, and The Next Iron Chef bring more drama and human element to the table, so to speak.
Recently, I was reading an article by James Cooper, a colleague of mine, and noticed that he referenced the TV show Masterchef. A quick search revealed that is played on Fox Broadcasting Network, but I was curious as to why I had not known of this show before now. The answer came rushing back to me in the first minute of watching.
Masterchef in a nutshell
The gist of the show is that average cooks from across America compete in an elimination style competition to determine whom among them is the best cook. That is a simple enough concept right?
Straight to the point here, Masterchef is a profanity laced shouting match that has about as much to do with cooking as Grey’s Anatomy has to do with medicine. The cursing is so prevalent that listening to the dialog is akin to Morse Code. It’s beep this and beep that. That’s just beeping horrible! All with angry scowls on the faces of the judges.
And speaking of the judges, this is where my familiarity with the show came rushing back to me. The first look at Gordon Ramsey triggered horrible memories for me. I had watched about 10 minutes of this show quite a while ago, and abruptly changed the channel for the same reasons I changed it this time. The yelling and demeaning of contestants is at times inconceivable. This is not unlike Mr. Ramsey’s repeated tirades on his other Fox show Hell’s Kitchen. It is difficult to understand why any of that is necessary other than a vain attempt at capturing ratings. What is even more difficult to understand is why the contestants put up with such abuse. It’s their choice I suppose, but artificial drama makes for horrible television in my opinion.
Chopped—a real cooking show
Switching over to The Food Network I enjoyed another episode of Chopped. This is another elimination style competition in which working chefs compete for money and title. Hosted by Ted Allen, who appears to be the consummate professional, Chopped gives the viewer everything needed for an entertaining experience.
The premise of the show is simple. Four contestants are given a basket of mystery ingredients in which to craft a plate of food. The ingredients are an odd sort such as goat cheese, dragon fruit, rattle snake, and cough drops. No kidding, this stuff can and does show up in one basket, and contestants are given a ridiculously short time is given for the chefs to complete their dishes. There are 3 rounds in which one chef is eliminated in each round thereby leaving the Chopped champion.
Brief interviews at the judge’s table reveals a personal side to the contestants as well as their motivation for being on the show. So in one show you have the human element, real drama, competition, honest cooking techniques, and insane ingredients. All of this is wrapped up in a neat little 60 minute package with no cursing, no beeping, no demeaning, and no stupidity.
Chopped is a simple choice for true foodies
People who are interested in food, and it’s various preparations, need to look no further than Chopped. It’s a great show with all of the elements present to give the viewer food TV satisfaction. Masterchef is a circus at best, and completely dishonest at worst. Portraying this TV show as a cooking show is a travesty. And haven’t we had enough of rude and obnoxious British TV personalities?