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I am not shy about the fact that I love reality television. American Idol season is one of my favorite times of year. Sidebar – I’ll be seeing the Idol’s in concert on Sunday. VERY excited.

Now, when you combine food/cooking and reality TV? You’ve really got me excited.

My favorite of all the cooking reality shows has to be Bravo’s Top Chef. It’s totally the combination of people who clearly can cook, some who can’t and pushing them through insane challenges to show off their skills. I mean a challenge where you have to get all your ingredients at a gas station? Make meals on an airplane for flight attendants? Gratuitous Anthony Bourdain? What’s not to love! I’m still peeved about last season’s finale and winner, espescially since it was the New York edition. However, I haven’t lost love for the show.

Top Chef will not be returning until August 19th. That may not sound like a big deal to people, but I like to have something on while I’m working or cooking and we don’t have cable. My options for what I can watch are pretty limited.

Hulu has been doing a stunning job of filling in the blanks in my reality TV obsession. They have an entire channel devoted to Food and Leisure. I’ve never been much of a fan of Gordon Ramsay, but I got drawn into his show Kitchen Nightmares.
There’s something so irresistible about seeing the crazy things people think are acceptable to do in a restaurant.

That led me into watching Hell’s Kitchen. The show is sort of similarly themed to Top Chef – a bunch of chefs competing to win a top prize spot. The whole aspect that is supposed to set it apart is Gordon Ramsay’s legendary temper. In the promos for the show, they always show Ramsay red with with rage, screaming and spewing profanities at contestants. The whole appeal is supposed to be that Ramsay abuses the contestants.

However, since watching the show, I have to say I that I don’t think Ramsay is quote so bad. He definitely has moments of completely unnecessary vitrol. However, I am consistently shocked by what some of these contestants fail at. Case in point? People whose job it is to cook for a living regularly fail to adequatly cook meat. At least 5 times a show a customer has to send back their food because it’s undercooked, overcooked or worse it’s raw. As a chef, I have to say that would flip me out as well. Another aspect of the show that you don’t get to see is that Ramsay often gives credit where is due; complementing chefs who have done a good job. It’s not to say that I think he’s a pussycat, but maybe I understand what Ramsay’s trying to do more than I thought I would.

Or maybe we both have ridiculously Type A personalities and I sympathize with that.

I’ve caught up on this season of Hell’s Kitchen and watched last season as well. I’ve got another season to watch before I’ve exhausted Hulu’s cache. I can only hope that by then, Top Chef will be back. *fingers crossed*



Cristen, a New York City school teacher who loves to cook, even if she's not always amazing at it. Lives in Queens with her husband and two pit bulls. Total cheese addict. Fan of anything savory and sweet, espescially Thai food. Likes to eat seasonally. Trying to be a locavore. Learning how to explain what she likes in a red wine: dry, medium bodied with hints of fruit. If I could only have one network on my TV, it would be the Food Network. I cannot get enough of competitive cooking shows like Top Chef and Iron Chef. I adore Anthony Bourdain more than I probably should.

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