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During these many months of quarantine, we’ve all been stuck at home, trying to stay safe while binge-watching so many TV shows that it’s sometimes hard to keep track, from fantasy series to some of the best shows on Amazon Prime or Hulu. However, one thing I’ve learned that I love is actually cooking shows - specifically, cooking competitions.
There’s just something about the competitiveness of contestants and some of the amazing (or not so amazing) food items they make, to the prizes at the very end - these cooking competitions always seem to capture my eye, and have also made me want to be a better cook. From classics like Hell’s Kitchen and Top Chef, to newer ones like Sugar Rush and Nailed It!, these are some of the best cooking competition shows that you can stream right now if you’re looking for some good TV and some good food.
Hell’s Kitchen (Hulu)
In this popular cooking competition show, several chefs of various levels compete on the red or blue team in Hell’s Kitchen, cooking for celebrity chef Gordan Ramsey. The chefs are eliminated challenge by challenge, until one is crowned with a massive cash prize, and the cooking opportunity of a lifetime.
This has always been my favorite cooking competition show. There’s just something about it, which explains why it’s been running for 20 seasons now. From the very creative challenges, to the chemistry between contestants, to the memes that Gordan Ramsey’s anger can produce, you can never quite beat it. Now, where is the lamb sauce?!
Halloween Wars (Discovery+)
Food Network has come out with some awesome cooking competition shows, and Halloween Wars is one of the best. Five teams are made up of cake sculptures, sugar artists, and pumpkin carvers, who are pitted against each other to produce the ultimate Halloween display and win a cash prize of $50,000.
Look, I freaking love Halloween. I love watching the best horror movies, I adore the Halloween franchise, I will spend hours baking Halloween treats when this time of year comes around, so you know I had to include a great show like this. What really makes this one stand out is the inclusion of professional pumpkin carvers. You never really think of them as someone who could be on a food competition show, but they are actually phenomenal, and give this holiday-themed show a charm that none of the others have.
Sugar Rush (Netflix)
Hosted by Candace Nelson, a co-founder of Sprinkles Cupcakes, Sugar Rush features four professional teams of two, competing in a baking competition to win a prize of $10,000, during three rounds - cupcakes, confections, and cakes.
Sugar Rush is certainly a standard cooking competition show. I personally don’t think that there’s any crazy razzle dazzle that’s added to it. But, what I really love about Sugar Rush are the creations that these bakers come up with. They are truly outstanding, with so much personality and thought put into everything, from even the tiniest cupcake to their biggest cakes. It’s like art but on another level, because sometimes you can’t even believe that some of their things are made with food. They’re all super talented.
Guy’s Grocery Games (Discovery+)
Hosted by chef Guy Fieri, Guy’s Grocery Games features four chefs competing in a three-round elimination contest, cooking good with ingredients found at a grocery store, while Fieri poses unusual challenges for them. The winning chef of each episode can earn up to $20,000.
What I like about Guy’s Grocery Games the most is definitely the host himself, Guy Fieri. He has such a creative mind which makes these challenges that he gives these chefs so fun. From certain price limits to weight limits, to crazy dishes and food that chefs can’t even touch, his challenges are always entertaining.
Top Chef (Peacock)
In this classic cooking competition, Top Chef features chefs competing against each other in many culinary challenges, who are then judged by a panel of professional chefs and other notables from the food and wine industry, with a contestant (or more) getting eliminated each episode.
Top Chef is an excellent example of what a reality cooking competition should look like. Amazing food, awesome contestants, valuable feedback from the judges - and the guest judges themselves are amazing. We’re talking about big stars in the culinary world, like Wolfgang Puck, Emeril Lagasse, Graham Elliot and many others. There’s a reason why there are so many spin offs of this show after many years on the air. It’s truly awesome.
Iron Chef America (Discovery+)
In this adaptation of the Japanese show of the same name, Iron Chef America features a new competitor each episode, who is competing against one of the resident “Iron Chefs” in a one-hour long cook-off based on secret ingredients, or a theme, or other big surprises.
I think what I like about Iron Chef America is that it doesn’t hold itself back from being just a standard cooking competition. Instead of putting amateur cooks up against one another, they are putting regular people up against some of the best chefs in the world. It creates this air of suspense to see if someone is actually going to beat them, out-flavor them, or do anything that might get them to be the next Iron Chef. Alton Brown is an incredible host, and really pushes along the competition with charisma and style - and some great cooking skills to boot.
Another Gordon Ramsey-created project, Masterchef collects several talented unknown chefs in a long competition to see who is going to become the next Masterchef, win a large cash prize, and possibly the culinary chance of a lifetime, going through crazy challenges, intense cookoffs, and many more moments of insanity.
Masterchef is another show that I personally relate to a little more than some of the others on here, because it usually features regular people. While shows like Hell’s Kitchen or Iron Chef often feature professionals in the business, Masterchef is stay at home mothers, firefighters, dog trainers - just regular people who have a true passion for cooking. The way they interact with food reminds me of Jon Favreau’s film, Chef, because they truly love the culinary world, and want to make it big, and this might be the best chance for them.
In this popular series, Chopped features four chefs, who are put up against each other as they compete for a chance to win $10,000.
Hosted by Ted Allen, Chopped is a great show because of its one big twist - every single competition, each food item has strange ingredients, ones that would never really go with anything. It’s up to the cooks to somehow make these weird food items work, and to advance into the next round. Some of these things are so interesting and creative, it makes me want to try them at home, but they have more talent in one of their fingers than I do in my whole entire body, so I’ll leave the cooking to them.
The Great British Baking Show (Netflix)
In this popular British baking competition, The Great British Baking Show follows a group of accomplished bakers who are competing against each other in a series of challenges, attempting to impress a group of judges with their baking creations, and trying not to get eliminated to reach the final round.
I feel like everyone has heard of The Great British Baking Show at least once. From the charismatic contestants to the hilarious judges to some of the funny moments that come out of this show, The Great British Baking Show will not only impress you with some of these people’s baking skills, but will make you smile and laugh.
Nailed It! (Netflix)
Last but not least, we take a look at Nailed It! This popular Netflix original show features several ametuer bakers who are tasked with recreating insanely hard and intricate baking designs in a timed bake-off, and whoever nailed the design the best wins a cash prize after two rounds.
This one is definitely the most relatable show for a reason. We all wish we had the baking skills but in reality, most of our creations would probably turn out like these contestants' do - and that’s totally okay, because it’s hilarious. Nicole Byer (who was actually just in the Vivo voice cast) hosts and slays every episode with funny bits and hilarious moments, and the rest of the show is entertaining and full of laugh-out-loud worthy baking creations. Truly, one of the best shows on Netflix.
God, talking about all these cooking competition shows has made me hungry. While I go and make a sandwich, you decide which show you want to watch. No matter what you pick, you will be entertained and rooting on the contestants just as I have - and probably be hungry afterward, as well.
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Big nerd and lover of Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire. Will forever hate season eight. Superhero and horror geek. And please don't debate me on The Last of Us 2, it was amazing!