A cooking show is a popular TV genre that focuses on the considerably less-than-popular chore of cooking. Set in a kitchen studio, a typical cooking show demonstrates the flawless preparation of a dish by a celebrity chef, who spends most of the show doing a variety of activities, including frying food, chopping food, and providing the audience with knowledge and advice - about food - that no one will remember because they're too busy drooling over all the close-ups of him frying food.
Though cooking shows have been labelled by some as "pointless", or even "stupid", they are anything but. In fact, cooking shows are very educational, with the host of the show teaching the viewers about the many facets of cookery. In particular, that no one should ever have made a TV show about it.
A cooking show typically opens with a short title sequence, and then cuts to the chef in his kitchen. Before he begins cooking, the chef must take a short moment to acquaint the viewers with the dish he is about to prepare; introducing the ingredients, talking about their individual flavours, chatting about his inspiration for the dish, recounting his life story, etc. This short moment must last for approximately half the show, before the chef realises he may have overdone it and should probably start cooking.
The bulk of the program then focuses on the chef's preparation of the featured meal. TV chefs never make mistakes while cooking, as such an event might undermine the genuineness of their expertise, or - even worse - make the program almost seem believable. Instead, the chef's cooking is perfectly executed and faultlessly performed, owing to their combination of natural talent, life dedication, and a lot of editing afterwards to remove all their mistakes from the final cut.
Over the course of the show, the chef completes many impressive feats of skill. He flips food off his frypan without dumping half of it on the floor, slices up ingredients at lightning speed without cutting off his fingers, fast-forwards time itself when he doesn't feel like waiting for his lasagne to bake, and remembers to pre-heat his oven before he starts cooking. All of which, it should be noted, are usually considered sorcery in real life.
As cooking shows are educational programs, the chef must also be sure to supply advice and knowledge as he cooks. This usually amounts to a phrase about "bringing out the flavours" which he repeats several times during the program.
With the show coming to a close, the chef begins to wrap things up. He takes a minute to garnish the immaculately finished dish, and then - instead of cleaning up the kitchen - goes outside to eat with his family, who have been waiting patiently the whole time and have no complaints about the food at all. This, apparently, is a realistic and common occurrence for families. Just... not yours.
Finally, the credits roll. And if you were wondering, yes; they are undoubtedly the most engaging part of the whole program.
Famous cooking shows
The Naked Chef
The Naked Chef was a BBC cooking show starring the British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver. Though the title of the show suggested otherwise, Jamie actually spent the show fully clothed - with the title in fact referring to the simplicity of his dishes. Jamie has frequently admitted that he was not entirely happy with the title he chose. “I guess it just sounded like a great name at the time," he confessed in an interview. "Now I know that naming my show so it sounds like some weird porno flick probably isn't the best idea.”
Of all the cooking shows Jamie Oliver had produced (and the number is estimated to be in the millions), The Naked Chef was particularly significant because it was his debut program, and his only one to not have his name planted somewhere in the title.
The French Chef
The French Chef was one of the earliest cooking shows, featuring the enigmatic and beloved Julia Child as its host. Even though Julia was American, and not French in the slightest (a pretty big mistake, if you ask me), The French Chef was a momentous success in its time, contributing largely to the popularisation of the cooking genre. It remains fondly remembered by nostalgic grandmas everywhere.
A Japanese cooking show produced by Fuji television, Iron Chef features a dramatic cook-off between a guest chef and one the show's resident 'iron chefs'. Both of whom, despite the misleading title, are made out of a hundred per cent authentic human flesh.
Each show features a specifically chosen key ingredient, which the two chefs must use to come up with a recipe in an absurdly small amount of time, and then deliver the dish to the judges at the end of the episode. Fuji TV will air a new version of the show - titled Bronze Chef - beginning in October 26, 2012. Copper Chef, Aluminium Chef, and Potassium Chef are expected to follow.
Jamie's 30 Minute Meals
Jamie's 30-Minute Meals was a series of 40 episodes that aired in 2010, in which Jamie Oliver (yes, again) cooked a three- to four-dish meal in less than thirty minutes. Based on Jamie’s recipe book of the same name, it operated under the premise that Jamie would be able to prove that anyone can cook a complete meal in under half an hour - as long as they're professional, experienced, and have the power of video editing at their fingertips.
The show is not to be confused with Jamie’s other program, Jamie’s 15 Minute Meals, Rachael Ray’s show 30 Minute Meals, Jamie’s other show Jamie’s 30 Second Meals, and Jamie’s other other show Jamie’s Meals of Indeterminate Length.
A competitive cooking show franchise, Masterchef pits amateur and home chefs against each other, forcing them to compete in a number of intense challenges over the course of a season. It is one of the most successful cooking shows of all time, topping charts in many different countries, and with the Australian version of the show receiving just under 20 bazillion viewers for its most recent finale. Which, most agree, doesn't even make sense.
Those two are coming out next year.
The American version of the same show, showcases a pool of 18 amateur chefs who must compete for an opportunity to be the head chef of an elite restaurant in Hell's Kitchen. The show is hosted by the respectable Gordon Ramsay, a man of impeccable refinement and taste, and whose modus operandi for hosting a television show is to stand around and scream obscenities at everyone.
While Hell's Kitchen has been very successful, Ramsay's quirky nature has often come under fire from critics - including Satan Himself, who sued Ramsay in 2010 for "giving Hell a bad image". However, a date has yet to be set for court, and while the Prince of Darkness has explained that this is due to his continuing poor health, it's more likely that he is simply too afraid to be in the same room with Ramsay.
“At the end of the day, I enjoy nothing more so than sitting down to a good cooking show. Well… except maybe spending a few hours listening to static on the radio, or staring at a blank computer screen.”
With their unique blend of style, education, and crushing repetitiveness, cooking shows have captivated millions of viewers worldwide.
Cooking shows have been especially praised for their educational qualities, as they teach ordinary people valuable cooking skills and knowledge. It's sort of a pity that most of these people watch so many cooking shows; they don’t have time to get up and actually use these cooking skills and knowledge.
- Though with the possible exception of the 'fast-forwarding time' thing.
- Whatever that means...