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What's Cooking--Top Reality Cooking Competitions


Cooking competition serve up some of the hottest viewing on reality TV. There's the schadenfreude of watching chefs at war with each other (and all the back-stabbing, ego mania and melt-downs that go with it) and those are the shows without judge Gordon Ramsay screaming obscenities. Then there's the bonus of the cheftestants' innovative solutions to challenges and the mouthwatering results. What's not to love? So here are some of the best cook-off competitions currently airing:
  1. 'Hell's Kitchen'
  2. 'MasterChef'
  3. 'Top Chef' Franchise
  4. 'Top Chef: Just Desserts'
  5. More on cooking competitions

'Hell's Kitchen'

Hell's Kitchen logo

Okay, Hell's Kitchen's Gordon Ramsay is short tempered and foul-mouthed. But if you were going to hand the reins of one of your restaurants over to the winner you might have high standards too--and be pissed when chefs make what seem, in your experienced eyes, stupid mistakes. The high pressure situation of cooking at an operating restaurant are only jacked up by Ramsay's ever present hawk eyes and volatile temper. If you like watching people pushed to their breaking point and either making it or failing spectacularly, Hell's Kitchen may be for you.


Photo of MasterChef Judges Gordon Ramsay, Joe Bastianich and Graham Ellio

MasterChef is a Fox cooking competition that pits amateur chefs against each other in high pressure challenges developed in part by judge Gordon Ramsay. But Ramsay, famous for his Hell's Kitchen persona, is mellow on MasterChef, maybe because he share's judging duties with Joe Bastianich and Graham Elliot.

'Top Chef' Franchise

Photo of 'Top Chef' Judges

Since 2006, up-and-coming chefs have competed on Bravo's Top Chef, battling through Quickfires and Elimination Challenges in the hopes of cooking themselves to the finale and the chance at bragging rights and $100,000 to launch their own restaurant. The Top Chef franchise also includes Top Chef Masters, where renown chefs battle for $100,000 they donate to charity; and Top Chef: Just Deserts (see below).

'Top Chef: Just Desserts'

Photo of Top Chef Just Desserts Judges & Host

Year-after-year cheftestants on Top Chef were stumped by one thing: desserts. This led the producers to create Top Chef: Just Desserts which features nothing but those chefs who specialize in baking, candy, chocolate or other deserts. The challenges are similar but the eye candy sweeter than on the original.

More on cooking competitions

Around The World in 80 Plates logo with Hosts Cat Cora and Curtis Stone

The number of cooking competitions continues to grow and they have new elements, like Around the World in 80 Plates which takes the competition on the road and 24 Hour Restaurant Battle is like Top Chef's "Restaurant Wars" on crack.

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