Tonight saw the premiere of yet another food related show with Fox’s Master Chef. The reality competition takes a little bit of American Idol, complete with a curt and “honest” Simon Cowell style judge in Joseph Bastianich, and Hell’s Kitchen. They’re placed in a blender and what arrives at the end of the muddling process is a network food show that finally delivers what we want: love of food.

The problem with nearly every show that isn’t Top Chef or No Reservations is that the food is lost in the spectacle of the Ramsay yelling or silly contrived challenges. It’s never enough to just cook on these shows, because producers think the public won’t care.

Master Chef certainly contains a lot of the flaws of other food programming. But it finds a better balance between the care and attention most of the contestants put into their food, even when it’s a sloppy potato casserole mess of a dish, and the need for spectacle on television.

As a chef I found myself rooting for these doctors, lawyers, office workers, and every day people to rise up to the difficult challenge of perfecting food. It’s inspiring that there’s such a strong heritage of food in America. And as long as people on this show are going to be ballsy enough to put up a bouillabaisse for a guy like Gordon Ramsay I’ll continue tuning in to be inspired.

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