The Curmudgeon’s New Rules for Television Cooking Contests

You’ve seen them:  television cooking contests.  Whether it’s Iron Chef America, Top Chef, Chopped, Cupcake Wars, one of Gordon Ramsay’s disgraceful programs, or any of the many other such programs that currently fill the airwaves, people seem to love watching cooking competitions.

But a few easy steps could make those competitions better, and just as he offered his suggestions for improving professional football and baseball in the past (and The Curmudgeon won’t gloat about how some of his suggestions about baseball go perfectly with the sport’s current interest in making its games shorter), The Curmudgeon presents a few easy rules that would improve television cooking contests.

Remember when the circus came to town, And you were frightened by the clowns…

Rule #1: 

Contestants may not cook with bacon.  It’s almost like bribing the judges:  they all love bacon and using it is both the ultimate in brown-nosing and an easy way to mask less-than-quality cooking.

Rule #2:

Contestants making desserts may not prepare crepes or French toast.  French toast and especially crepes are the go-to choices for cooks who’ve been given a disparate set of ingredients with which to work and lack the creativity to do something with them other than throw them into a crepe or on top of fried bread and dare call it a dessert.  Creativity is part of the contest, so if they can’t do better than French toast or crepes, the judges need to see that.

Rule #3:      

The judges don’t get to watch the contestants cook or know which contestants cooked which dishes.  Viewers see it all the time:  the judges convey expectations of individual contestants based on dishes those contestants cooked in an earlier round or a previous contest.  It’s a form of prejudice and inherently unfair, so in the future judges don’t get to know who cooked what until after they’ve articulated their opinions of the dishes themselves.

Rule #4:    

Contestants may not tell the judges about the addiction or near-fatal illness they overcame or the father/mother/sister/child/abuela who recently died or is dying or is suffering from some horrible disease.  Unless that sad state produces tears needed to salt the food it’s not relevant to the competition and is nothing more than a sleazy attempt to win the judges’ pity and influence their decision.

Ringleader of a fundamentally dishonest judging process

Rule #5:      

Contestants who are self-taught or who learned how to cook in the kitchens of others instead of cooking school may not remind judges or viewers that they’re not “classically trained” like some of their opponents. You’re in the contest, fella/lady, so please spare viewers your inferiority complex or your defiance because it’s gotten old.

Rule #6:     

Contestants may not tell judges about how they have something to prove to themselves or their parents or their kids or the people with whom they work.  It’s a cooking contest, not Dr. Phil.

The Curmudgeon has no problem with any of these cooking contests being on television.  From his perspective, there are many cable networks and tons of airtime to fill so there’s room for pretty much anything and everything.  Still, he thinks these suggestions would make televised cooking contests more interesting to watch and make the outcomes of those contests a lot fairer than they are today.

Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.


  • Peaches Shimmerdeep  On December 24, 2018 at 10:46 am

    Agree, agree, agree! Especially 3, 4, 5, and 6! And may ai offer one other suggestion? The chefs should not have to go hunt for the food or find someone who will lead a kitchen. These are cooking shows, not episodes of “Survivor”. Julia Child would be horrified.

    • foureyedcurmudgeon  On December 25, 2018 at 11:27 am

      Ah, so you saw the shark-jumping Top Chef episode where they made the contestants dive into a body of water to catch the raw materials for their entree.

  • Peaches Shimmerdeep  On December 24, 2018 at 10:47 am

    I, not ai. Oy.

  • Peaches Shimmerdeep  On December 24, 2018 at 10:47 am

    Lend not lead. Time for more coffee.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: