Why I Love Cooking Shows

I genuinely forgot that this one would be going up on my birthday. If I had remembered, I’d have written an article about how booze is used in movies. But it’s too late now; I guess my rant about drunken romantic comedies will have to wait.

Cooking is one of my favorite pass-times. I’m not good at it by any means. The best thing I can cook is a burger, and even then I can’t promise you anything amazing. It’s just really satisfying to put a meal together! Especially if you have people to feed!

But you know what’s even more fun? Watching people who can’t cook claim they can on TV!

I’ve never been much one for reality TV. Mostly because it tends to be about as real as a soap opera. But I’ve always had a soft spot for cooking shows. Whether it be a cooking tutorial or a dumb game show, I’ve always found them to be super enjoyable. Kids used to make fun of me for it back in school, but I don’t give a shit.

If I had to point a reason to it, it would be my mother. She’d always watch these shows when she was relaxing. As a kid, I didn’t have much to do; I didn’t have any friends that would spend time with me outside of school, and I only had a few games to play and a small collection of books and movies. Plus, it was nice to spend time with my mom.

All of these shows can be categorized like this:

  • Game show: chefs compete to win a prize, typically money, with odd rules in place that test their cooking chops; Chopped is a good example
  • Boot camp: the same as game show, only more intense and with a bigger prize, such as their own restaurant; Hell’s Kitchen is the best example of this
  • Cooking tutorial: exactly what it sounds like
  • Fix my restaurant: successful restauranteur helps fix a struggling business; think Kitchen Nightmares

If you’ve seen one episode or season of one, then you’ve seen them all. I discussed this a long time ago, when I discussed why I loved Gordon Ramsay shows in particular. Everything I said in that article can be applied to this one.

The main reason I still enjoy these is simple: insight. Watching someone cook is a fascinating little insight into their psyche. What kind of ingredients do they put together? How do they cut and cook meat? How confident are they in their abilities? Does that confidence match their ability?

It’s especially fun when the show has a varied cast of crazies. You’ll have your normal people, your energetic people, the crazy people, and my personal favorite: the idiots. The lattermost is easily the most entertaining because they’ll have the wildest ideas! They’ll either put together a billion ingredients that don’t work or they’ll just straight-up cook a meal out of a box!

Seriously, what kind of ego do you need to have to do that? “I’m so great that I can cook a box of Kraft macaroni and cheese on national television and win the prize! That guy that made the ornate duck dish doesn’t stand a fucking chance!”

It also makes me feel better about my own cooking abilities. People who are bad at it make me feel better, while the people who are good at it don’t make me feel completely inadequate, considering that they went to culinary school and I have not. Plus, I get to steal some recipes.

Because we all know that you can’t just Google ‘grilled chicken recipes’ and get a million results.

Are these shows trash? Yeah, probably. Like I said, they’re all basically the same thing, over and over again. But if I had to draw a comparison related to the subject, I’d say it’s like comfort food. Sure, you already know it inside and out and it may not be the most healthy thing in the world. But god damn it, it’s tasty and it makes you feel good!

Also, it makes for excellent white noise while I’m working. Because I have the attention span of a gnat and I’d only get distracted by music.


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