Food Television on the Air

The past decade has seen a big change in food television that has moved from the standard cooking shows to reality contests in which some of the best chefs in the country compete against each other. With this shift, the public appreciation of food television has increased tremendously and some of the food shows have become high grossing hits for their respective networks. In addition the popularity of these shows have led to the creation of channels that specifically deal only with food concerns, such as the Food Network.

The first change came when celebrity chefs started having regular shows to demonstrate their talents in a way that people could follow at home. These new shows merely whetted the appetite of the public as they realized that high quality meals were not only the luxuries of five star restaurants, but could rather be created within the confines of their own home kitchens. Names like Paula Deen and Emeril Lagasse became household words and the food revolution was born. However, it was not until the merging of these cooking shows with reality programming that brought food television to its current height.

The first major shows that featured cooking games were Top Chef and Iron Chef. The latter was imported from Japanese television and featured a mystery ingredient on each show that the chefs would need to use in various ways to create excellent dishes. On the other hand, it was Top Chef that captured the American audience. In this elimination style reality show, the ‘cheftestants’ compete against each other, losing one each week until the top three vied for the title. Many of the popular contestants opened restaurants shortly after their appearance on Top Chef, with instant recognition from their time on air. More food television programs followed shortly, including Hell’s Kitchen and MasterChef Australia.