Cooking competitions satisfy reality TV cravings

Neha Seenarine, Associate Arts & Life Editor

Illustration by (Peyton McKenzie)

Move over Kris Jenner, the marketing strategies for your children are no match for competitive cooking shows.

On the surface, reality TV is Kim Kardashian West and unrelatable controversies surrounding her family on the internet. However, the genre is not limited to cameras following around rich people. There is a reality television show for anything that caters to your niche interests from “House Hunters” to “American Idol.” You couldn’t spot me talking about “Pawn Stars” on a date.

There are similar strategies among reality television shows such as manipulative editing and cherry-picked quotes in confessionals. The big idea is to have audiences tune in for the chaos between characters, keeping the fuel throughout the season. The formula of reality television works like a charm every time.

“I find myself frustrated by the same copycat ideas repeated again and again,” TV producer Richard Drew wrote for The Atlantic. “People always criticize reality shows for being mean-spirited but trust me, there’s nothing more boring than watching people sunbathing, enjoying dinner, or shopping. Reality has to be dramatic and high-stakes — and there are only so many ways to push people’s buttons.”

Reality television shows can be associated with “trash entertainment.” I’ve seen the majority of “The Simple Life” and as much as I love Paris Hilton, it rotted my brain.

However, the cooking competition subgenre is far more intriguing. I have never felt more stressed than watching a contestant on “Chopped” have no idea what to do with their random basket items. Aside from my heart rate going up watching the competition timer go down, these cooking shows are an easy watch. At any time, I can tune into “Guy’s Grocery Games” without any prior knowledge because the rules are explained in every episode.

Cooking competitions are the most relatable to viewers out of all reality television. The most common factor is we all have to eat. I couldn’t imagine Tyra Banks bullying me for my unruly eyebrows on “America’s Next Top Model.” However, if I overcooked lamb chops, I wouldn’t be surprised if someone was upset with my poor performance.

The one cooking competition host I cannot get enough of is chef Gordon Ramsay.

His persona is not boring, to say the least. His patience is limited, but he offers his cooking expertise in any way he can. He’s portrayed to be crude or a guy you would never want to play “Monopoly” with.

Ramsay being called a jerk is inaccurate. Sometimes people have it coming; if you had a disgusting restaurant in “Kitchen Nightmares,” I’d curse you out too. In reality, you can’t be a Michelin star chef and expect people to respect you in the restaurant industry if you’re impolite.

In “MasterChef Junior,” he encourages the young chefs to improve when they make mistakes. If Ramsay was mean to the children, I’m sure we wouldn’t be hearing much of him in entertainment anymore. There are also times when contestants get eliminated, and Ramsay offers scholarships to culinary schools. In 2017, he offered finalist Gabriel Lewis in season eight of “MasterCheftuition assistance to continue his culinary journey.

Ramsay is basically the LinkedIn of the culinary world. He welcomes other chefs to be judges in “MasterChef” and “Next Level Chef” from American cuisine connoisseur, chef Richard Blais to pastry queen, chef Christina Tosi. It is interesting to watch chefs across the board critique a dish whether it’s as simple as macaroni and cheese or as complex as soufflé.

I know I won’t attempt to recreate any dishes, but watching someone cook with a lot of passion is top-tier entertainment. “‘Catfish” could never give me the same adrenaline as Ramsay screaming at contestants on “Hell’s Kitchen.”