There are two new cooking competitions on TV. One’s been running for a few weeks on PBS, “Cooking Under Fire.” The other, “Hell’s Kitchen,” will begin on FOX on May 30. In many ways, both shows are very similar. Both include famous chefs as hosts, plus a group of contestants who are eliminated one by one until only one remains. But how do the rest of the details match up? Here’s the breakdown:
Show: “Cooking Under Fire”
The hosts: Chefs Ming Tsai and Todd English, plus food author Michael Ruhlman
Do the contestants live together?: No.
The aesthetic: Crummy and cheap looking. PBS never spends much on their reality faire, and this show is no exception.
The cooking locations: Various Southern California eateries.
The prize: A chef position at one of celebrity chef Todd English’s New York City restaurants.
Catchphrase: Your 86′d
Better viewing than “The Restaurant”: Nope.
The verdict: As you’d expect from PBS, their cooking reality show is informative and relatively conflict free. After viewing an episode you’re likely to meander into the kitchen in hopes of making a bitchin’ polenta. The production values may be minimal, but the show is pretty tasty.
Show: “Hell’s Kitchen”
The host: Pro soccer player-turned-Michelin-starred-chef Gordon Ramsay.
Do the contestants live together?: Yep.
The aesthetic: Slick and modern. Quick edits, a dramatic voiceover, and a full blown music score.
The cooking locations: Side-by-side kitchens, one red (for the red team) and one blue (take a guess which team this is for), both in a brand new Southern California restaurant called, cleverly enough, Hell’s Kitchen.
The prize: Your own restaurant.
Catchphrase: Get out of my kitchen.
Better viewing than “The Restaurant”: No sir.
The verdict (from the 2 episodes we previewed): As you’d expect from FOX, their cooking reality show is less informational and more about contestant confrontation. However the show is led by a wildly entertaining loud-mouthed prick of a chef. He’s what youd get if you crossed Simon Cowell with Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, and he nearly single handedly makes the show worth watching. It was a hit in England previously, and considering it shares the same pedigree as “American Idol” (British in origin and a foul-mouthed host), it just might be a hit in this country as well.