"Cooking Under Fire" -- new PBS reality show

Stumbled on a new show on PBS last night: Cooking Under Fire. Twelve chefs compete for a job with a Big-Name Chef (Todd English, who I’ve never heard of, but I’m not a foodie). Ming Tsai, who has a cooking show on PBS, is another judge – he’s the most comfortable in front of the camera, so he’s the most vocal of the three judges.

They aired the first two (half-hour) episodes last night: the auditions and casting, and then the first two challenges (cook an egg and create a set-up for your station in the kitchen). Knowing PBS, you may be able to find a rerun on these over the weekend sometime – “check local listings.”

This looks like fun – you foodies should definitely check it out.

I’m just happy Bobby Flay wasn’t one of the judges. If he were, both Todd English and Flay’s egos would take up the who kitchen, dining room and there would be no room for the contenders.

Bobby Flay don’t do public TV – he was a judge on CBS’s Wickedly Perfect, the show looking for the next Martha Stewart. (Which I was one of about 10 people in the country watching.) FTR: The judges on that show picked the wrong, wrong, wrong person. Let’s hope this group does better.

Drat. I was planning on watching this, but my local PBS said it wasn’t on until the middle of May! Grr.

I saw it. I liked it. I think I’m developing a schoolgirl crush on Ming Tsai. :o He really is cute and funny. I felt so bad for those contestants though… most people, myself included, have no idea how to cut up a giant fish.

Giant fish what giant fish??

On Iron Chef America, Tsai beat Flay I was so happy :smiley:

Tsai beat Flay? This calls for celebration!

On the show, the contestants, as part of their, erm, “entrance exams,” had to butcher a big fish of some kind… I think it was salmon. They got it whole and had to cut it up in the appropriate manner. If I’m being vague here, it’s because I have no idea what such a job entails.

I watched it.

The contestants had to “break down a salmon” which appeared to mean taking a large knife and removing all the flesh from one side of the salmon in one stroke. (Stroke being defined a little bit differently by Ming than as I would describe it, but without removing the knife from the salmon.)

I liked the fact that all the contestants were competing directly against each other rather than in teams, and just the judges opinions mattered. And I like the fact that the guy who got “86’d” lost mostly because of his attitude, though with a dollop of if he’d really knocked the judges socks off the second time around rather than still obsessing about how he got screwed the first time, I don’t think they’d have held one mistake against him.

Ming Tsai also has/had a cooking show on Food Network. He’s lovely to watch.

I think I saw a preview for this. Isn’t it basically Iron Chef… but with too little too late? I think its safe to say that IC jummped the shark.

I caught the first two episodes this weekend, and thought they were fairly entertaining. I really liked that the first couple of challenges were essentially simple – make an egg dish, and set up your mis en place.

I was ready to feel bad for the guy who ended up losing, but he was such a jackass that it was pretty easy to see why he got cut. Obviously it’s frustrating to have someone else screw up your process, but I think it’s also obvious that it wasn’t malicious. And if it were me, while I’d probably mention that my pot was interfered with, I wouldn’t immediately attribute it, publicly, to maliciousness. Cap that off with his inability to take an apology – one that she obviously felt emotional about, because I’m sure she has no way of knowing whether she’s just signed her own 86ing papers – and he was just irritating.

If you’re going to be bitchy, the NY woman knew how to do it. She’s not friendly, and I’m not fond of people who feel that enjoying yourself during a competition is somehow showing weakness, but she took care of her stuff and knows what she’s doing.

It seems to me, in general, that there are two kinds of competition reality shows. There’s the kind like Survivor or The Amazing Race, where you’re running for a fixed, one-time prize – a million dollars. Getting the money is the primary thing, and messing with other players to the extend allowed by the rules is probably a useful skill.

But then there are shows like this or The Apprentice, where how you play the game is likely to affect how suitable you are for the prize, because you’re not getting a wad of cash. You’re getting a job. So messing with other players is, at best, a short-term strategy that could cost you the big prize because who wants to work with a sabotaging jerk? Ego is fine, but paranoia and Machiavellianism don’t help out.

Also, I’d like to mention that Michael Ruhlman’s books (the non-chef judge) The Making of a Chef and The Soul of a Chef are excellent books for anyone who likes this show or professional cooking in general.

I found out on Thursday night that a family friend is one of the contestants (Sara Lawson). I don’t have TV reception, so I’m going to be relying on you fine people[sub]or the PBS website[/sub]for updates on her status. Keep watching, people!

This is a somewhat interesting series. The eliminations so far have been entirely justified – which also means that they’re obvious and predictable. Fair, yes. Nailbiting, no.

Kentucky/New York chef Katy’s complete lack of affect really gets on my nerves – I’m glad to see them ding her on communication skills, recognizing that talent with food and skillets is not the only thing that matters as a chef.

I’m rooting for Autumn, because she’s a hometown girl and because she’s cute. Undercooking the lamb was not a great move, though, and I don’t know if she’s quite good enough to go all the way.

It is funny that so many contestants thought that they’d get bonus points for not spending their entire $40 – and that all of the judges commented on it. Nice idea giving the change to the winning team.

Anyone else still watching?

I had people over last night, and forgot to tape – what was the task?

The chefs were paired up, introduced to the kitchen they’d be using, then went to the L.A. farmer’s market with $40. Another local chef there talked about how much he loves said market and about the fresh ingredients.

The competitors were told to “impress the judges” with their dishes. They were not told to spend as little as possible, but some candidates did indeed give back as much as $20, which all the judges thought was odd. The bald intense dude from Seattle was sent home – he and his partner (Miracle, I think) only did one dish, topped with an inedible garnish, and every part the 86’d guy cooked was not well done. Ruhlman basically said he was sent home because he couldn’t cook.

Well, not the worst reason for an elimination ever – :wink:

Thanks for the recap!

scout1222. I’m reasonably certain that Sara Lawson and partner were declared to have prepared the strongest offerings. They recieved the leftover money, a tour of someone else’s restaurant (with specially cooked food) and didn’t have to help clean up the kitchen.

If this show is an imitator of IC, what does the quality of an imitator have to do with whether or not the original has jumped the shark, especially when the makers of the original (AFAIK) have nothing to do with the imitator?

After the speech at the beginning, I can understand why the competitors thought they’d impress most by making nice dishes while spending less money. The emphasis was heavily on bottom line in that opening speech.

The former military dude reminds me of the guy on “Dodgeball.” It’s eerie.

Oh, it was understandable, but I think the judges thought there was a difference between staying within your budget and not using all of your resources. I can see shooting for $35 or even $30, but spending just half of your money is also poor planning, so I’m not surprised that team got axed.

The big problem with this show for me: 25 minutes is really not enough time. I still don’t feel like I know much about these people, especially in the kitchen, after 4 episodes.