The Feeding Tube

Food TV: Keeping Track of 10 Upcoming Cooking Shows

Ilan Hall and Brendan Collins in <i>Knife Fight</i>.
Ilan Hall and Brendan Collins in Knife Fight. Photo: Courtesy of Esquire Network

Sixty-seven years after James Beard popped onto the small screen with I Love to Eat, TV producers continue to crank out new food shows, no matter how many half-baked concepts before them have been lost to the airwaves. Major and minor television networks alike have recently announced a whole bunch of new food-related programming, full of innovations in the food-centric genre, along with a lot of derivative material that reads like a Mad Libs test of buzzy food words and previously flopped ideas. To help you tell everything apart, we’ve broken down ten new food programs heading to the boob tube in the coming months and determined their chances of survival.

The Show: Parts Unknown
Premiering: 9 p.m., April 14 on CNN
The Hollywood Pitch:No Reservations reprised, with a pinch of Vice T.V. and liberal inspiration from The World’s Most Dangerous Places, lead by Anthony Bourdain, the ubiquitous personification of the professional kitchen’s raging id.”
Pros: Exotic foreign locations, weird food, the ever-present threat that someone might behead Bourdain.
Cons: Not everyone still loves hearing Tony pontificate on his every fired neuron as much as he does we do.
Chances of Survival: High. Should easily slide into the hole left behind by the end of No Reservations.

The Show: Knife Fight
Premiering: 9 p.m., April 23 on Esquire Network
The Hollywood Pitch: “Take an Iron Chef/Top Chef cooking competition and make it grittier. Ilan Hall’s in the host slot.”
Pros: Shit-talking, friendly rivalries between chefs, guest judge Eric Wareheim.
Cons: It’s produced by Drew Barrymore’s Flower Films, making actual shankings seem unlikely. Plus, we’ve seen this all before.
Chances of Survival: Medium. Maybe a sense of rowdy pirate fun is what the aging genre of cooking-competition shows needs.

The Show: Giving You the Business
Premiering: 10 p.m., April 25 on Food Network
The Hollywood Pitch:Undercover Boss crossed with America’s Next Great Restaurant, sprinkled liberally all over with ‘Quickfire Challenges.’”
Pros: Random fast-food employees risking their dignity on hidden cameras to own their own franchise, Dallas Mavericks player turned Tony Robbins type, Walter Bond, a payoff that tugs on the heartstrings.
Cons: Are we really prepared to see what chain restaurant staff are doing behind the scenes?
Chances of Survival: Medium to low. Even Chipotle’s Steve Ells couldn’t create a single successful franchise location out of America’s Next Great Restaurant.

The Show: Iron Chef America: Tournament of Champions
Premiering: 10 p.m. May 5, Food Network
The Hollywood Pitch: “Take Iron Chef. Deliberately concentrate contents. Repeat.”
Pros: Recognizable names sweating it out in Kitchen Stadium. Again.
Cons: We’ve really seen this idea before, and everyone still likes Chopped better.
Chances of Survival: Medium. This fits right into a familiar and successful mold that can be enjoyed easily while awake or passing out on the couch.

The Show: The American Baking Competition
Premiering: 8 p.m., May 29 on CBS
The Hollywood Pitch: “An American remake of the very-successful U.K. show The Great British Bake Off with Jeff Foxworthy as the host.”
Pros: The British original was really good.
Cons: Almost everything else.
Chances of Survival: Low. Or maybe we just can’t hear the hordes clamoring for another serving of Top Chef: Just Desserts.

The Show: Eat.Drink.Love
Premiering: This summer on Bravo.
The Hollywood Pitch:The Bachelorette meets The Hills, with a soupçon of Top Chef’s behind the scenes drama, starring single women who work in, around, and on top of L.A.’s restaurant industry.”
Pros: Salacious rumor has it that one of the show’s stars admits to an affair with a famous married chef.
Cons: Hollywood bartenders with scary tattoos and scarier STDs; the flagrant overuse of the words like and amazing; plus, the original working title, Sex and the Kitchen, bodes badly for the perception of women in a tough industry, not to mention L.A.’s reputation as a serious restaurant city.
Chances of Survival: Medium to high. If it’s good, we’ll probably watch it. And if it’s a train wreck, we’ll definitely watch it.

The Show: America’s Best Restaurant
Premiering: TBD on Bravo
The Hollywood Pitch: “A remake of the Gordon Ramsay-hosted U.K. show Ramsay’s Best Restaurant.”
Pros: Conflict; cursing; the world’s inexplicable interest in watching Ramsay reprise his role as a frustrated, scarlet-faced spazz who will scream your restaurant into shame or success.
Cons: The country’s actual best restaurants surely won’t go anywhere near this show.
Chances of Survival: Low to Medium. Like a high-speed car chase, it’s hard to turn the dial once Ramsay reaches Crazytown. The challenge is getting that far.

The Show: Undercover Critics
Premiering: TBD on Food Network.
The Hollywood Pitch:Restaurant Impossible crossed with the reviews from your favorite monthly magazine’s food section.”
Pros: In an intriguing new twist, we’ll gain insight into how critics operate and formulate their standards in the restaurant arena, revealing their strengths, weaknesses, and crucial fuck-ups.
Cons: Most of the time, witty review-speak works better on the page than on the screen.
Chances of Survival: Medium. A fairly straight-forward concept that could work, especially if amped up with enough backstory to get viewers rooting for (or against) the restaurants under scrutiny.

The Show: High and Low
Premiering: 2014 on Bravo.
The Hollywood Pitch: “A Me-Decade Mad Men about rival brothers who inherit a restaurant, blending elements of Wall Street, Perfect Strangers, the family drama of The Godfather, and a dash of Big Night.”
Pros: Sopranos actor Michael Imperioli is the executive producer and lead writer; squirt-bottle-era nouvelle cuisine deserves tribute way more than shoulder pads and Tab; and it’s also on cable, which means F-bombs and blood.
Cons: Dorky giant cell phones; wicked coke problems; the perception that greed is good.
Chances of Survival: Medium. Fictional food shows are few and far between, so this could go either way.

The Show: Food Fighters
Premiering: TBD on NBC
The Imagined Pitch: “The best home chefs cook against pro chefs to see if they can hack it.”
Pros: Overconfident home cooks getting stuffed by the pros; the thrill of watching your aunt in Nebraska absolutely crush a cocky restaurant chef.
Cons: Do home cooks really stand a chance? Something tells us this will be like watching the U.S. Olympic men’s basketball team dominate over Nigeria again.
Chances of Survival: Medium to low. The only surprising thing here is how long it took someone to produce this idea.

Food TV: Keeping Track of 10 Upcoming Cooking Shows