Prediction for 2009: Total Food-Based Reality Television Overload
2009 is poised to be the year that food reality TV is going to peak. Besides the classic stalwarts (Top Chef, Hell's Kitchen, etc.) there are so many new food competitions hitting the cable box that we can't help but be reminded of the famous line by the radio comedian Fred Allen, "imitation is the sincerest form of television." Everyone wants a piece of the ratings pie, with two spin-offs of Top Chef, three Gordon Ramsay series, and even Marco Pierre White getting his own program.
Many of these shows have no official start date, but here are the potential eleven food-based reality TV series we can expect in 2009.
Top Chef, season five. Currently airing, continues into 2009.
There hasn't been any announcement of a season six, but it's to be expected.
Top Chef: Masters (new). Starting June 2009.
According to Bravo's press release, this spin-off "unites some of the brightest stars in the world of food, award-winning, widely-renowned Chefs who will compete against each other in a series of weekly challenges."
Top Chef: Junior (new). Start date unknown.
Bravo's press release tells us: "teens (likely ages 13 to 16) will compete to see if they have what it takes to become a junior 'Top Chef.'"
Chopping Block (new). Starting March 11th.
Hosted by Marco Pierre White, the show will feature couples attempting to win their own restaurant. "Eight couples chosen for the series will be split into two teams, with each team assigned side-by-side restaurant spaces in Manhattan. They'll then be charged with reality-style tasks, such as designing the space and generating buzz for their establishments."
Chopped (new). Starting January.
The show (promo video here), hosted by Ted Allen, "challenges four up-and-coming chefs to turn a selection of everyday ingredients into an extraordinary three-course meal. After each course, a contestant gets "chopped" until the last man or woman left standing claims victory."
The Next Iron Chef, season two. Start date unknown, possibly 2010.
Confirmed by Cat Cora and by Michael Symon, the show is a reality spin-off of Iron Chef America where well-known chefs compete to literally become the next, er, Iron Chef.
Next Food Network Star, season five. Starting June 2009.
The reality show, where the winner is awarded their own series on the Food Network. Auditions across the country occurred in October, and the application deadline was December 1, 2008, so we can safely expect the show to appear in 2009.
Eat The Clock (new). Start date unknown.
A culinary version of The Amazing Race, casting went on back in August, so we can expect the show in 2009.
Hell's Kitchen, season five. January 2009
Season Four finished as the highest-rated season in the show's history, and Gordon Ramsay has signed on to do at least two more seasons.
Kitchen Nightmares, season two and three. Currently airing, continues into 2009.
Part of Gordon Ramsay's contract included another season beyond the current one. Based on the previous seasons, season three should start at the end of 2009.
Man Camp (new). Start date unknown.
Another part of Gordon Ramsay's contract was a "blind commitment" to make Man Camp, a "boot camp for men whose 'ladies are slightly concerned about how feminine they’re becoming and by the time they’re done, 'They’ll know how to cook for a living' says Ramsay."
Hell's Kitchen, season five. August 2009
And don't forget about BBC America rebroadcasting Kitchen Nightmares UK and Last Restaurant Standing, either.
* Since they're not entirely reality shows, the list above doesn't include Bourdain's No Reservations, Zimmern's Bizarre Foods, Travel Channel's latest food show Man v Food, Food Network's Dinner Impossible and Iron Chef America, or the Batali/Bittman/Paltrow travelogue Spain... on the Road Again.