Cooking competitions have led to shows like Chopped, cookbooks, and celebrity status for numerous chefs, but which of the series are most captivating?
The Food Network has always been a leader in culinary television, but the cable channel has had plenty of competition through the years from other networks and streaming services. People who are passionate about food love the suspense of challenging cooking contests, especially when the heat gets turned up in the kitchen.
Competitors bring a piece of themselves to everything that they cook, and viewers love to see what they create. Competitions have led to shows, cookbooks, and celebrity status for numerous chefs, but which of the series are most captivating?
10 Food Network Star: 6.2
Food Network Star is the ultimate contest for aspiring television chefs, and it aired from 2005 to 2018. The series was a staple for Food Network every summer as viewers tuned in to see who would win their own show. It’s still fun to watch the contestants get really competitive as they navigate the weekly challenges presented to them. Gourmet recipes, everyday cooking tips, and camera presence are all crucial for a Food Network Star.
9 Guy’s Grocery Games: 6.5
Guy’s Grocery Games (2013-present) is a lively competition that hearkens back to Supermarket Sweep. The best part is, the winning dollars go to charity. Host Guy Fieri walks the contestants through their interesting challenges, they run through the grocery store procuring their ingredients in a short time, and there’s always a caveat. For example, they might have to make an original meal using foods from the freezer section. Once the goods are in the cart and everything checks out, it’s time to cook and produce meals that stand out and meet the challenge qualifications. This is definitely a popular series for the network.
8 Hell’s Kitchen: 7.1
Helmed by Gordon Ramsay, Hell’s Kitchen has a reputation for being one of the toughest cooking competitions. Since 2005, contestants have gone through rigorous tests in hopes of winning the prized position as a restaurant’s head chef.
In more recent episodes, the series has taken place in the Las Vegas Gordon Ramsay Hell’s Kitchen restaurant. For fans who like to be on the edge of their seats, this is the cooking competition to watch.
7 Iron Chef America: 7.1
Food Network’s Iron Chef: America (2004-2018) was derived from Fuji Television’s original Japanese version. The intense competition is set in Kitchen Stadium where contestants sweat through complex meals at their stations. There’s always a secret ingredient that the competitors must factor into their preparations. Talented chefs go up against Iron Chefs like Masaharu Morimoto, Bobby Flay, Mario Batali, Cat Cora, and more. The legendary program is surely one to revisit.
6 Rachael Ray’s Kids Cook-off: 7.2
There’s something special about kids who are gifted cooks. Food Network has showcased young culinary talents in a variety of ways, and the short Rachael Ray’s Kids Cook-off is a great example. Rachael Ray and her colleagues coach the children on the series, holding them to high standards throughout each assignment. People who enjoyed the Kids Baking Championship should check out the cooking series, too.
5 Cutthroat Kitchen: 7.3
It isn’t called Cutthroat Kitchen (2013-2017) for nothing. This competition will put anyone’s food skills and character to the test. Chefs each start out with $25,000 so that they can partake in auctions to secure items for themselves and hinder their opponents’ success. Everyone has to be careful with their spending because the remaining funds determine the amount of prize money.
4 MasterChef: 7.3
Another great Gordon Ramsay choice is MasterChef (2010-2019). This series is specifically designed for home cooks, and thirty-six of them compete for the Master Chef title, trophy, and money. Everyone can feel the pressure while working through timed challenges as they hope to pass through elimination rounds. The American show is based on the BBC version and has led to other spin-offs. A new season of the series reportedly began production in 2020.
3 Chopped: 7.5
Since 2007, Chopped has been one of Food Network’s most serious cooking competitions. Ted Allen hosts the series and interacts with an esteemed panel of judges including Aarón Sánchez, Alex Guarnaschelli, Geoffrey Zakarian, and Marcus Samuelsson, to name a few.
Contestants try not to get chopped as they prepare each dish from a basket. Inside the basket is an unorthodox combination of ingredients, so part of the fun for viewers is seeing how exactly contestants salvage (or botch) their mystery food contents.
2 Top Chef: 7.6
Hosted by Padma Lakshmi, Top Chef has been on the air since 2006 and has spawned multiple spin-offs. The popular series returns in April 2021 for a new season full of new challenges to suit the current climate. The winning chef, obviously known as the Top Chef, goes home with $250,000 along with a ticket to the Aspen FOOD & WINE Classic. The Top Chef gets a feature in FOOD & WINE magazine, too. With all those perks, the contest is certainly worth the work.
1 The Final Table: 7.7
2018’s The Final Table is a Netflix Original, and it’s a genuinely refreshing cooking competition. The series intentionally curates a global food theme as pairs of chefs from all over the world cook dishes that are representative of many nations. The best chef of each country judges the food for that country’s episode. Though the competitors begin in pairs, there is just one winner earning a seat at the final table.
NEXT: HGTV: 10 Throwback Decorating Shows You Forgot You Loved
10 Documentaries Fans Of Survivor Will Love (& Where To Watch Them)
About The Author