Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Next Food Network Star versus Next Iron Chef

Finally, a competitive reality show that I can get behind.

I had been boycotting "The Next Food Network Star," because I felt that they constantly misrepresent that show. The commercials for the show suggest that YOU could be the next winner! Well, unless YOU just happen to be a professional chef...not so much.

Yes, I submitted a demo tape to them eons ago, and it's not that I'm bitter for not being picked. I'm bitter because they gave people like me false hope that average Joes and Janes who like to cook might just have a chance.

Now, the Next Iron Chef show has no such pretensions. It clearly states that its contestants are "The best, of the best, of the best, sir!" So far so good. And, the emcee of the show is Alton Brown. Even better.

So I gave it a chance. Loved it.

Each episode has two challenges--one that is not judged, but gives the winner some kind of advantage (usually picking first ingredients for the next challenge), and one that is judged , which determines who stays and who goes.

First off, the contestants have lots of personality, and their interactions during the cooking challenges are very real, and (fairly) uncensored. That is, swearing is bleeped, but you still know they are swearing. Even the sweat that drips off the contestants as they scramble to finish each challenge adds to the realism (and is kinda gross).

Second, the challenges are really cool and varied. The first challenge that they did was "simple" food prep. They had to cut up a whole bunch of meats and veggies--salmon, chicken, lamb, oysters, coconut, and radish.

The other really neat challenge was when they got to play with all the gadgets--like an anti-griddle, that freezes instead of heats, and liquid nitrogen.

The show is only in its second week, and it looks like one contestant gets booted off each week, so I guess it will be a 7-week miniseries.

The only thing I didn't like is that they are trying too hard to show that "the chairman" is the one masterminding everything. It's pretty clear to me that a phalanx of Food Network producers, possibly even Alton himself, were the ones who designed the challenges. But I can forgive the dramatic structure, because, hey, we're supposed to have the cheese factor, or it's not Iron Chef.

The other thing that kinda sucks is that the only two female competitors have already been voted off. It would have been nice to see more female contestants, or see them do well. But, for the second week at least, I can't really disagree with who they voted off or why. Bummer.

Either way, it's gotten my interest back up for Iron Chef, and I've definitely got my favorites who I'm rooting for.

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