If You Can’t Take The Heat

Despite the fact that my cooking style is not a style at all, I love food shows like “Restaurant: Impossible,” “Unwrapped” and those that are competition-related.

I admit I enjoy seeing people running around kitchens and getting judged on things that will never happen in real life—like creating 1,000 cupcakes in two hours or seeing the Iron Chef chairman back-flip into the kitchen with a sword and orders to cook a whole meal with a walnut.

I also realize they’re bit ridiculous, so I’ve included a few things you can expect to see almost every episode from a couple of them that I watch.


When it comes to American Gordon Ramsay shows, I prefer “Kitchen Nightmares,” but the new season of “Hell’s Kitchen” just started.  The gist is 18 competitors subject themselves to verbal abuse and backstabbing manipulation in an attempt to cook their way into a head chef position at one of Ramsay’s restaurants.

With his reputation on the line, Gordon doesn’t take any of the bull crap. This produces a lot of colorful dialogue, gourmet dishes and the illusion that the cooks have learned something other than British profanity.

  • When actually asked to cook, contestants suddenly forget how to boil water and Gordon will throw things at them.
  • Someone will overcook fish and undercook rice, crimes ranking second only to “being a cow” in the world of Ramsay.
  • Gordon will yell, “Shut it down!” in the middle of the service.
  • Gordon will yell, “This is raw! You’re going to kill somebody!”
  • Gordon will yell that every service is “the worst dinner service in history!”
  • Contestants will sell out their mother in a dramatic tribal counsel-like elimination ceremony in an effort to not have their picture burned as the show fades to the closing credits.
  • When dramatically forced to give over their apron, the eliminated chef will say, “you haven’t seen the last of me.” You will have seen the last of them.

Moral of the story: It’s scripted and over the top, but until the British versions of Ramsay’s shows are available OnDemand, I take what I can get.

Also, don’t ever make a mistake or Gordon will throw it at you.


Four chefs compete before a panel of three expert judges to create a three-course meal in under 30 minutes or so with “mystery ingredients” found in a basket. Once they’re done, they present each course to the unenthused judges and one chef gets chopped. The winner gets $10,000.

  • First of all, the secret ingredient in every single dish is sweat. Although entertaining to watch, you’ll be completely grossed out and wonder how anyone can eat anything presented.
  • Whoever creates the basket is a sadistic bastard. “For the dessert round, you have to use unicorn horn, pancetta, pink currants, crème fraiche.” Really?
  • At least one contestant will bring up the fact they’re self-taught, are competing for a dying relative or that they “didn’t come here to lose.” (That’s probably a good competition strategy.)
  • One of the judges will flap their hands around in the final seconds of a round yelling, “just get something on the plate!” and then bitch about whatever ended up on the plate.
  • The host—Ted Allen—will inevitably try to talk to a contestant while they are moving really fast, get in their way and stress them out even more.
  • After forgetting to use a required ingredient or stabbing Ted when he tried to talk to them, a contestant will angrily blame the judges, the oven or the contestants for losing.
  • When interviewed, they will say, “you haven’t seen the last of me.” You will have seen the last of them.

Moral of the story: The only way I could compete on this show is if the basket ingredients were avocado, sprouted grain bread and Bobby Flay himself.

So spill it—do you watch any food shows? If not, what’s the one thing you would cook if you were put on the spot?


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58 responses to “If You Can’t Take The Heat

  1. did you see his new show coming out, hotel nightmare? Oh it looks good!

  2. i used to watch iron chef. fukisan! sigh. ill never forget on my wedding night iron chef was on and he wanted to finish watching it instead of, well, you know. i thought he was just being funny, but looking back, i suppose it was a red flag. i was never high on his food chain.

    dear god sorry. that shits ruining everthing right now, even the joy of food! anyways, thanks for mentioning avocado, damnit now i have to go buy one and eat it for lunch.

    • I’m not so into “Iron Chef” as I was “The Next Iron Chef” for some reason. Part of the reason is probably that “Iron Chef” is on at 10 pm and the other one used to be on at 9pm. Along with not being a cook, I am also not a night owl 😉

  3. Food shows should be left to the professionals…Bravo TV (read: Andy Cohen). Top Chef is a classic, and a must watch.

  4. I cannot stand Gordon Ramsey.

    The British shows are exactly the same. He shouts profanities at people and throws kitchen equipment at their faces.

    I also can’t stop staring at the deep crevices on his forehead.

    Sometimes, if I’m bored whilst cooking, I pretend I’m presenting my own cookery show. I use my wooden spoon as a microphone.

    Can we still be friends?

    • Of course we can. Especially because I usually only watch sports, which is something else I know you have no interest in. If that hasn’t broken up our love fest, Gordon Ramsay has no shot. 😉

  5. Hahahah, you don’t even have to watch cooking shows (i don’t) to appreciate this. Wait, contestants didn’t show up to lose?! This blows my mind. 😛

  6. I’m burnt out on cooking shows. Too many! I like No Reservations, but that’s more of a travel show right?

    • Those are actually the kind of shows I like–ones that don’t exactly involve a lot of cooking, as I don’t get into that. Plus, I like T-Bone 😉

  7. Spot on description of the food shows. Afraid I could not watch after the first shows – it reminds me of when I was a kid and went to the fairs that passed through our town and I saw the awful ways poor people would debase themselves in the side-show just to earn a little money. Now people do it for their 15 minutes of fame.
    If I had a couple of hours a rice pudding with strawberry jam would be the way to go. If only 30 minutes it would have to be a vegetarian spaghetti bolognaise – yum . . . .

  8. My new one I like is “Around the World in 80 Plates.” We watch a hella ton of food shows. I’ve weaned myself off the house shows but Mike still likes them, so he’s declared every Sat. Morning “House Show Saturday” where I have to watch 5 back to back episodes of House Hunters (which I hate) and House Hunters International (which I can deal with to see other countries).

    • I’ve never heard of that one, but I just have basic cable. Plus, I’m not too into house shows. But I also know your House Hunters marathons usually involve wine, so I think I could manage a couple…

  9. If I were put on the spot and had to cook my way of having my mother dropped into a pot of boiling oil (that is the outcome if you lose right?) I’d go out there and make the meanest shepherd’s pie anybody has ever tasted. I just hope I wouldn’t under mash my potatoes. I love my mom…

  10. My favorite is MasterChef, although I love the fact that, every time after I watch Hell’s Kitchen, if I get mad at LO, I tend to yell, “YOU DONKEY!” in a British accent.

    • The judges on MasterChef are even more ridiculous, but I admit I still get hooked. I really liked Ramsay show called something like “Ramsay’s Restaurant” or something that was OnDemand. He didn’t yell, but traveled around England finding the best restaurants in a bunch of different ethnic cuisine categories. No yelling. I miss that show…

  11. This reminded me of the first time I saw Iron Chef … it was in Japan. And in Japanese (which I don’t speak) but I was still somehow captivated. I was hooked for the duration of my visit. Then imagine my joy when Iron Chef came to America …. with captions! Oh bliss. I haven’t seen Ramsey’s show but my son and I used to watch Top Chef religiously.

  12. Had to laugh. You are so right about the person who puts the basket together on Chopped–sadist! I think that’s why I enjoy it so much. I sit on my couch and cackle whenever the contestants open that dang basket.

  13. I am not a fan of Gordon Ramsey, but I do love Cupcake Wars! I’ve been told I make the best mac’n cheese around.

  14. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched Chopped and yelled at the screen, “You need to wear a headband or a cup strapped to your chin!” So much sweat in the food. So much sweat.

  15. I watched Chopped, Iron Chef and Sweet Genius with Bobina. She’s a trained chef so the Food Network is mandatory at our house.

    It always amazes me when they open the baskets on Chopped or that doofus Ron Ben Israel hits that button and bubblegum or joo joo root or turkey jerkey or something ridiculous comes out. I wish the contestants would shout “you’re a doosh!” at the judges.

  16. OHMYGOD Abby, I am laughing soooooooo hard!! I can never eat risotto without hearing Ramsey’s voice calling it rubbish. And the sweat as part of the secret ingredient basket??! Dying of laughter. You are the best!

  17. Gordon Ramsay cracks me the hell up. But, since I cannot cook to save my life, I pretty much steer clear of any and all food shows.

  18. I love Gordon Ramsay’s passion but he is a drama queen.
    I watch Chopped quite a bit but sometimes the basket ingredients are unappetizing! Too many things with tentacles for my liking.
    One show I never got into watching was “Throwdown With Bobby Flay.” I just couldn’t get into watching a cooking program that had both “throwdown” and “flay” in the title!

    I’m stopping by on the Not Mommy hop.

  19. I’m going to start saying, “You haven’t seen the last of me” as much as possible. Raising the rent? Check memo: “You haven’t seen the last of me.” This is going to be awesome.

  20. I used to watch the Food Network all the time. I’d get myself on our treadmill downstairs and turn on the Barefoot Contessa or whichever woman was cooking at the moment. It was the only way I could not start eating. Those shows make me so hungry. So, I’d kill two birds with one stone.

  21. The only food-related show I watch is Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. I like to watch the guy eat all those crazy things, or try to eat them, as in the time he tried out the burger loaded with jalapenos, habaneros AND ghost peppers. He turned purple and they went to a commercial. Since I can’t cook, I feel too close to the ones trying so hard and failing. If someone yelled at me like GR does, I’d pee my pants, burst out crying and run from the kitchen. Or else slice his throat with the nearest knife.

  22. The first ever episode of Iron Chef I ever watched involved a guy beating an octopus to death with a daikon radish. I still have scars.

    However my local cupcake shop was a winner of Cupcake Wars during season 4 and the whole town was proud of her.

    So yeah, I have mixed feelings about cooking competition shows.

  23. I watch Unwrapped, which Tom makes fun of because of all the passive voice writing, and Cupcake Wars. Cupcake Wars wrings every bit of drama and use of gongs and editing it can to stress you out over an under-baked cupcake.

    • I LOVE Unwrapped so, so much. Part of it is that you find out people have jobs like “Dorito Authority” and “Tootsie Roll Collector” simply by the ridiculous captions under their name on the screen.

  24. what I’d cook is easy as long as they didn’t film me, lol, or they’d know my secret. Pink shrimp bisque. big bag of raw, deveined etc. shrimp. one can Campbells tomato soup, one can Campbells pea soup. One pint cream. Stir together, heat til hot, let shrimp hang around in soup for a few minutes before serving so you don’t “kill” anyone. Serve. DONE. Actually tastes GREAT, who knew? Won a home-ec award for it in highschool but again, didn’t let the teacher see my “method” and I tried to look sweaty, lol. Shouldn’t be good but really is! Take that Gordon!

  25. Ohhh, let’s see. I’ve watched a few seasons of Top Chef (it’s very dramatic of course), I’ve watched Iron Chef (original and american). I’ve never seen past the commercial for Hell’s Kitchen because that kind of yelling makes me curl into a ball. But, I will watch Kitchen Nightmares because he really tries to help out (or at least it seems that way). I’ll also watch shows like Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, Unwrapped, and Man vs Food. Oh! And I love watching Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations…puts me right to sleep! Sprinkle in other food shows now and then if they’re on. Please don’t judge me 🙂

    • I actually agree with all your choices. No judging here! Plus…hello? Like I’m in a position to judge given my own choices? 😉

  26. I’ve watched very few of the competition cooking shows, but you did a great summation.

  27. My hubby works at a restaurant, and he says sweat is in about every meal you eat…but that the pans cook it out, so it’s all good. I don’t agree with that, but I’m always happier when we go to frou frou places that require chef hats, because I know he’s right. Screw hairnets, I want every cook to wear headbands, rockin it like it’s 1983.

    And now I have scarred your restaurant experiences for life. You will forever (like me) look through every open kitchen, praying to see chefs wearing hats or headbands. But just think of that sweat as extra seasoning. You are welcome.

    • I’ve also worked in my fair share of restaurants–and only eat in them when I travel and am forced to–so don’t worry, you didn’t ruin anything for me 😉

  28. Pretty much addicted to cooking shows! Chopped, Restaurant Impossible, Diners/Drive-Ins/&Dives, Throwdown with Bobby Flay, and my new favorite – Heat Seekers! That’s the best – Áarón Sanchez and Roger Mooking eating the most ridiculously hot & spicy stuff EVER and just about dying while they do it…totally awesome.

    • Aaron just annoys me on “Chopped” because he always makes people say his name all fancy and only throws out the accent when it’s convenient. However, yes to all your shows–minus Throwdown. I feel bad when Bobby wins.

  29. I think the closest I’ve come to watching cooking shows was catching part of an episode of Cake Boss. I have seen shows completely unrelated to cooking where an eliminated contestant says “You haven’t seen the last of me.” I imagine that happens frequently enough to make a kickass montage.

  30. For about three months last year I ended up working a gig that employed a guy who came in something like 8th in season 8 of Hell’s Kitchen and man, I wish I could have kept him and took him home with me every night because that man made probably some of the best food I’ve eaten.

  31. I’m basically addicted to anything on the Food Network here in Canada. Cake Boss, Chopped, everything. We don’t have a TV at home so at hotels I hog the control and leave it on the Food Network watching reruns.. it’s probably really annoying now that I think about it..

  32. Food Network is my go to channel if I can’t find anything else on TV. Although my favorite cooking show comes on the Cooking Channel. Have you ever watched Bitchin Kitchen?

    • I don’t get the Cooking Channel, which kind of stinks, as I see tons of commercials for shows I would probably like. Then again, that might be a good thing.

  33. My favorite is MasterChef, always will be. 😀

  34. I used to watch Hell’s Kitchen every season but got tired for exactly the reasons you laid out here. It became too predictable and I wondered just how many restaurants does this guy have because he’s on TV ALL the time.
    I like Top Chef. Plus I’m watching the Food Netwrok Star show and the 80 Plates one. It beats cooking!

  35. Oh man. The food competition shows. How I love them! I am currently watching Next Food Network Star (I don’t know why I keep watching that, as I never actually watch any of the winner’s shows, and Guy Fieri gives me the shakes), Top Chef, Restaurant: Impossible, MasterChef (Ramsey with a little less yelly insanity), and an occassional Iron Chef. I used to watch Ace of Cakes before it was cancelled, because it was filmed in my city. I actually like to watch some with my oldest son, almost 7. He loves all the reality shows, but I have to be careful what kind of language they are using, or what kind of lesson they are teaching. Most are ok, because they are about working hard and being judged for your creations, but some are just trying to be “riveting television” which includes lots of bad language, bad behavior and bad lessons (hello Hell’s Kitchen) so we avoid them.

    • I’m watching “NFNS” too, although I hated that Guy was the guest last night. He does totally creep me out. It sounds like our food TV choices are quite similar. Go us!

  36. Having watched way too many episodes of Restaurant: Impossible, I have developed a terrible inner Robert Irvine when I go out to eat. “This menu is WAY too large! You’re making bisque with crab stick?!”

    I really can’t imagine how they make edible dishes of some of the stuff on Chopped!

  37. I actually never watched any cooking shows-gasp! You did a great recap though! Feel free to link this up on my Sat laughs:)

  38. I would RULE these shows, because every day in the kitchen is like Hell’s Kitchen except there are 2 hosts, they aren’t British, they’re shorter than me, and there’s more cursing. I take that shit in stride, sister.

    I’d blow them all with my butterscotch cookie bakes with dulce de leche ice cream in the center of them, win the prize, then throw it in their faces while screaming YOU HAVE SEEN THE LAST OF ME, SUCKAS!

  39. I don’t watch any food shows, but you are making me want to do that right now. I’d love some more sweat recipes. They should make a cookbook, “100 things you can make with sweat” or something. Mmmm… It’s making me hungry!

    (Thanks for linking this up to #findingthefunny last week, by the way!)

  40. I love all those shows you mentioned and one of my favorites is Worst Cooks in America. It makes me feel much better about my cooking. “Beat it like you mean it.” Ann Burrell once said. One problem with those shows is I pretty much have to eat while I’m watching them which is probably why I gain weight.

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