From Top Chef to Chopped to Hell’s Kitchen and many more, people are freakin’ obsessed with Food Network cooking competition TV shows. Maybe it’s the fact that food is a passion pretty much all of us share or maybe we just like seeing what goes into making the perfect dish. Whatever it is, the worldwide obsession with cooking competition shows has turned us all into foodies.
You’d think that the only complaint people have about a genre this popular is that they don’t get to taste the food when it’s done. But actually, one real complaint that keeps popping up within the fandoms of these shows isn’t far from that. So what is this complaint and what could be behind it?
Fans say cooking competition shows have too many celebrity judges
For TV producers, a celebrity judge is supposed to be a draw. If you know that some celebrity you adore is going to be on your fave cooking show, you’re more likely to tune in and see how things turn out. At least, that’s the idea.
But some people are saying that the celebrity judge thing has gotten out of hand. Namely, they don’t want to see so many celebrity judges showing up to influence how these competitions turn out, especially if they’re not that into the celeb.
They also don’t like seeing the same cooking personalities from one network show up on every single other show in that network just because the TV network is trying to cross-promote their other cooking shows.
Fans prefer hearing what real people have to say
This discussion came up over on Reddit when talking about the different food celebrities that appear on Food Network. A lot of people mentioned not liking particular personalities and thus not wanting them to show up on shows they usually like otherwise. Others mentioned that if they’re going to have celebrity judges, they should at least sometimes come from outside the network so that they don’t have the same people over and over again on every show.
However, one redditor made the observation that they actually prefer hearing what regular old people have to say about the food. One reason could be that it better mimics what their own experience would be if they got to taste it, too. They pointed out that Beat Bobby Flay does this to great effect. It helps change up the judging formatting, too, so it’s not always the same thing over and over again every time you watch.
The fans have other good ideas for how to mix it up
Another idea had to do with the formatting of the cooking competition shows. Specifically, they talked about how cooking shows often like to zoom in on live-action, trying to make the kitchen sound more thrilling. Or they use a loud and sensational host who constantly narrates the scene like he’s a game announcer.
An alternative post described it as occasionally “[going] old school Discovery channel” and simply filming kitchen scenes with a more traditional narrator voice explaining what is going on in the kitchen and what sort of steps competitors are taking along the way. Shows like The Great British Baking Show and Nailed It! already do something like this. There might be a way to incorporate even more of this style of narration in other shows and that would also break up some of the fast-paced intensity of traditional cooking shows.
Regardless, the only reason fans have so many opinions about these shows is because they watch them all that time — and that means they’re a huge part of our current culture and likely will be for a long time to come. Who knows what kind of innovations in the cooking competition format we’ll see next?