Friday, July 27, 2012

Top 5 Best "Chef" Shows

Food shows are huge these days, and though I've seen a few lists of the best cooking shows (think Julia Child), I haven't seen any looking only at shows about chefs (a la Restaurant: Impossible).  Of course, it's the job of the Kooz Top 5 to bring you such a list, so here you go:

5: Chopped - This show pisses me off so much, I've ranted about it on this blog.   Conceptually, it's pretty good.  Four chefs have a set amount of time to use a mystery box of ingredients to make an appetizer, after which a panel of judges tastes the app and chooses one chef to send home.  The process is repeated for a main course, then finally for a dessert, after which one of the remaining two chefs is crowned the winner and given $10,000.  Simple and straightforward, the only problems with the show are those I ranted about.   Just go read the rant, we'll wait.

4: Hell's Kitchen - Chef Gordon Ramsey is a whore for television shows, which he abuses to rake in cash and subsidize his fine dining establishments.  That said, though his shows are incredibly formulaic, they are entertaining as hell.  In Hell's Kitchen, contestants are chefs from a wide range of backgrounds who compete over the season to become head chef in one of Ramsey's restaurants.   It becomes immediately apparent that most can't cook and are socially inept, so the show is really about the drama.  The best part of the show is waiting to hear what obnoxious name Ramsey thinks up to call the biggest idiot of the night.

3: MasterChef - Another Ramsey show, this shows pits amateur chefs against each other in a season-long contest for the *meaningless* MasterChef trophy and the *meaningless* title, MasterChef.  The show is fun because of the personalities of the people, who are considerably less dysfunctional and somehow, more talented) than the actual chefs on Hell's Kitchen.  There are a few heartwarming stories, some jerks to root against, etc.  The challenges are sometimes interesting too, such as a barbecue for 100 cowboys or a dinner party for 100 kids. It's a fun, no-brain-use show.

2: Iron Chef - We're talking about the original Japanese version. The one where you can't help but love Chen Kenichi and hate Bobby Flay's pathetic appearance against Morimoto.  It's a brilliant concept--there are a few "Iron Chefs"--chefs with legendary talent.   A challenger gets to choose an Iron Chef to compete against in Kitchen Stadium--complete with fans, judges, an announcer, and an on-field (?) reporter.  The contestants have an hour to use a mystery ingredient in as many fine dining dishes as they want, after which the judges rate them on various categories and a winner is chosen.  The American version is sloppier and less interesting, but still pretty good.

1: Top Chef - This is the only show on the list to (1) seamlessly combine cooking with "reality" television, and (2) take itself seriously.  Top Chef is always a good show (Top Chef Masters too), with interesting people who can cook really well.  The judges aren't nuts, the tasks aren't stupid, and the show really is about cooking as much as it is about the personalities of the contestants. Plus, Gail Simmons is hot.

Agree?  Disagree?   Argue it out in the comments below, and don't forget to like us on Facebook and share us with Twitter!


  1. Gail Simmons is hot ???? I am still puzzled by this comment. I definitely agree with you that Hell's Kitchen really does seem to pull in the most ass backward red-necks available, and that Master Chef pulls in what appears to be better talented and socially adapted people.

    Another show that I have been watching, also made by Bravo, is Around the World in 80 plates. A number of contestants all professional chefs race to a predetermined destination collecting ingredients or local cooking advice in order to compete to make a local traditional dish. It has Interesting challenges both physically and culinarically (Is that really a word) think of it as Amazing race meets Top chef.

  2. Yeah, I've seen that show--sort of passively watched it this year. Pretty good, although it has some kinks to work out. If this list were made 2 years from now, that very well could be on it...

  3. NathanielRichmondAugust 1, 2012 at 1:51 PM

    I'm not really a big fan of "Iron Chef", but I
    guess that’s because I'm not that into Japanese cuisines. My favorite shows are
    "Hell's Kitchen" and "Masterchef". I love to hear Chef
    Ramsey get his crews in line to prepare the most awesome dishes from all over
    the world. Since I've gotten my Hopper I've been able to watch both shows
    without being at home the day they air, and without scheduling any DVR timers!
    My Dish coworker told me that my Hoppers PrimeTime Anytime feature
    automatically records all my prime time shows that come on CBS, NBC, FOX and
    ABC everyday in HD.

  4. How much does Dish/Hopper pay for this? I'm happy to have your comment, and will gladly leave it up (and feel free to come back any time), but I must admit, I am curious...

  5. Watched "Hell's Kitchen" for a few seasons, but got tired of it. Too many non-cooks just to create a Ramsey freak-out fest. The dude is a full-on sadist and rewarded handsomely for it. "Chopped" is pretty good, but I don't go out of my way to watch it. "Top Chef" is deservedly number one, though I'm also puzzled about your interest in Gail Simmons. Are you confusing her with Padma? Or perhaps Tom? You should be sure to watch "Top Chef: Just Desserts" as she's the host of the whole enchilada.

  6. She's hot. I don't understand why nobody is agreeing! I thought my taste was decent...

  7. You got it right at least once!