It’s no secret that I enjoy competitive cooking shows, mainly on Food – things like Chopped, Top Chef & their endless array of Halloween variations: cakes, cookies, giant cake sculptures & even one devoted to pumpkin carving. Sometimes the hosts & even judges, have a cooking background & one often sees competitors in one season show up on a different show the following season.
But wait there’s more! I also enjoy LegoMasters – US & Australia, Domino Masters, Project Runway, A Cut Above – shows where a different set of skills come into play. The first two are disguised ads for products but I’m not inclined to start building or toppling anytime soon. But the engineering of the builds is amazing. A Cut Above is the quintessential Canadian competition for chainsaw carvers! Some of the results are astonishing.
The structure for most of these is similar – a round for some sort of skills demonstration & an elimination challenge. All time limited & the winner of that first round often gets an advantage in the second – either more time or choice of ingredient, log, pumpkin. Luckily none of them makes me want to eat, buy a chainsaw or design evening wear using the contents of a dumpster.
Most of them rely on the personality of contestants to hold our interest. Top Chef & Project Runway were pioneers in diversity & have always had lgbtq competitors. Plus cultural diversity. Project Runway does suffer from edited cast interaction for drama though.
Some I have to confess I often fast forward through – as I get bored with ‘oh no my sauce broken’ ‘I can’t get this zipper in’ are so frequent I no longer care. I just want to see the reveal & the judging. Everyone is a good loser – ‘I’ve learned so much & am grateful etc.’ Sure – learning how to cook steak in twenty minutes in front of cameras is a useful skill. I’d love to see a contestant say ‘you assholes got it wrong’ but then again the shows are so heavily edited if someone did call out the judges we’d probably never see it. I’m looking at you RuPaul.
Competitions I’m waiting for: food plating: who cares how it tastes, as long as it looks good on the plate. Halloween costumes are due for their own show. Maybe it’s time to make Monty Pythons’s Summarizing Proust a reality.
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