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7+ Excellent Cooking Shows That Deserve Way More Attention

 Guy Fieri hosts Tournament of Champions.
Guy Fieri hosts Tournament of Champions.

Random cooking shows are my not-so-guilty pleasure. I have seen a nearly endless amount of Food Network shows and cooking programs on various streaming services. Gordon Ramsay has cornered the Fox cooking show market. Selena + Chef is a favorite among many, especially those who want to learn from cooking shows. Then there are the very popular series Top Chef, Chopped, The Great Food Truck Race, Worst Cooks in America, and anything with Guy Fieri.

Food and cooking shows continue to maintain a loyal fanbase. However, there are plenty of entries in the category that don’t get nearly enough attention. I have probably seen all of them (yes even that obscure one you’re thinking of now), but these are a few that I enjoy and think need some more attention.

Guy Fieri in Tournament of Champions
Guy Fieri in Tournament of Champions

Tournament Of Champions

Tournament of Champions is similar to shows such as Iron Chef and Chopped. It focuses on elite chefs competing for bragging rights as a top chef. Guy Fieri hosts this reality cooking show with the help of Justin Warner and Simon Majumdar. Various chefs compete head to head to advance in a bracket-style competition. It adds some twists like random ingredients, themes, and cookware. As of January 2024, four seasons have aired.

The series features many well-known TV chefs. The ones you have probably seen countless times on Food Network. This includes Antonia Lofaso, Michael Voltaggio, and Brooke Williamson. Tournament of Champions isn’t anything I (and many cooking show fans) haven’t seen before, but it’s just fun to root for these chefs like they’re trying to win the Super Bowl. It’s the spirit of the competition that makes this an addictive watch.

Stream Tournament of Champions on Max.

Gordon Ramsay, Nyesha Arrington, and Richard Blais in Next Level Chef
Gordon Ramsay, Nyesha Arrington, and Richard Blais in Next Level Chef

Next Level Chef

Bet you thought I wouldn’t dare include a Gordon Ramsay show on this list. What can I say, I love Gordon Ramsay's shows. However, not all of them are created equal. As a newer series, Next Level Chef has not achieved the same loyal fanbase as Ramsay’s shows such as Hell’s Kitchen, Kitchen Nightmares, and Master Chef. Ramsay, Nyesha Arrington, and Richard Blais act as mentors and judges to groups of chefs. Each of them mentors a team of their choosing. The chef contestants cook in different levels of kitchens, which are selected randomly at first and then based on performance in previous challenges.

The bottom-level kitchen has the worst cooking equipment, and the team banished to this place picks the ingredients last. The top kitchen gets first picks and the best equipment. Middle gets second pick and adequate equipment. In each episode, players from the worst-performing teams must compete head-to-head to stay in the competition. This continues until only one chef remains. Arrington, Ramsay, and Blais have fun hosting chemistry. It’s also nice to see Ramsay act more as a mentor than someone destroying these chefs' self-esteem.

Stream Next Level Chef on Hulu.

Tiffany Derry, Michael Voltaggio, Brooke Williamson, Bobby Flay, and Michael Symon
Tiffany Derry, Michael Voltaggio, Brooke Williamson, Bobby Flay, and Michael Symon

Bobby’s Triple Threat

Bobby Flay hosts a cooking show where chefs compete against Bobby’s Titans, Brooke Williamson, Michael Voltaggio, and Tiffany Derry. The challengers must compete against a different Titan in three rounds. They also have the obstacles of pre-selected ingredients and timed cooking.

The Titans and the challengers have cumulated scores. The team or chef with the most points at the end of the episode wins. If Bobby’s Titans win, the chef leaves with no money. If the chef wins, they win money and a place on the winner’s wall. Bobby’s Triple Threat is a fun evolution of the Beat Bobby Flay format. Additionally, I enjoy this version of the series more because Voltaggio, Williamson, and Derry offer a new flavor to Flay’s world, especially as a team.

Stream Bobby’s Triple Threat on Max.

Eddie Jackson hosts Out Chef'd
Eddie Jackson hosts Out Chef'd

Out Chef’d

Host Eddie Jackson tricks home cooks into believing that they are auditioning for a Food Network show. Instead, they will compete for $5,000. Randomly selected members of the general public vote on the dish that they think is best. The home cook only needs one vote to win the money.

Jackson carries Out Chef’d. His host charisma makes you want to watch more food shows with him hosting. It’s a natural and inviting charm. Most Food Network shows have become all about professional chefs, so it’s refreshing that Out Chef’d gives a spotlight to Food Network fans and home cooks.

Stream Out Chef’d on Max.

David Chang in Secret Chef
David Chang in Secret Chef

Secret Chef

Secret Chef is a Hulu series similar to Netflix’s Pressure Cooker. It follows a group of contestants through a series of challenges to win the title and cash prize. This competition series combines home cooks and professional chefs. The difference between this and many other cooking shows is this Hulu show has no judges.

The contestants rate each other with blind taste tests. They also have fun aliases to help keep their identity secret during blind-tasting tests. David Chang is the executive producer and occasionally makes appearances. It also has an animated host. This hits the sweet spot of whimsical and serious competition.

Stream Secret Chef on Hulu.

Alton Brown hosts Cutthroat Kitchen
Alton Brown hosts Cutthroat Kitchen

Cutthroat Kitchen

Cutthroat Kitchen is the hill I will die on for the best cooking show. The Alton Brown-hosted series aired for 15 seasons and allowed contestants to sabotage each other. Each contestant starts with $25,000. They can use this money to bid on sabotages to give to the other contestants. However, it’s important to keep as much money as possible because it’ll become the winner’s prize money.

Every round involves an elimination, and the sabotages increase a chef's elimination chances. Brown revels in the ability to hinder these contestants. It’s not all sinister, as the series often shows the creativity of these cooks. A talented chef can usually overcome the obstacles and demonstrate their cooking skills and creativity.

Stream Cutthroat Kitchen on Hulu.

Dan Levy hosts the Big Brunch
Dan Levy hosts the Big Brunch

The Big Brunch

Wholesomeness isn’t often a word used to describe the world of competitive cooking shows. However, The Big Brunch changes this. One of Max’s best original shows follows contestants exploring new ways to make brunch better. Dan Levy hosts and acts as judge alongside Sohla El-Waylly and Will Guidara.

Unlike many cooking competition shows, this one seems most invested in the progress of the contestants. The winner gets a cash prize that will help grow their brand and start or further a business. It’s about being rewarded for making great food and helping the contestants beyond the show. The Big Brunch is a gem that we hope gets a second season.

Stream The Big Brunch on Max.

Mike Huttlestone, Ben Ebbrell, Jamie Spafford, and Barry Taylor of Sorted Food
Mike Huttlestone, Ben Ebbrell, Jamie Spafford, and Barry Taylor of Sorted Food

Bonus: Sorted Food

Sorted Food isn’t technically a cooking TV show. Instead, it’s a YouTube channel devoted to cooking and food content. School mates Ben “Ebbers” Ebbrell, Mike Huttlestone, Jamie Spafford, and Barry Taylor created the channel in 2010 to help encourage others to try and learn about cooking. Over the years, the channel has greatly evolved. However, the content still focuses on food, food products, and the love of food and cooking.

The program sometimes experiments with content, but generally has certain types of videos it releases multiple times a week. The best Sorted series are the “Chef Skills Challenge,” the battle content, and the chaotic “Pass It On” challenges. Start with Pass It On Season 1 Episode 6 for a real treat. Two words: cloud eggs.

Check out the Sorted Food channel.

Random food content will continue to be some of my favorite to consume. Therefore, I just expect to continue to expand my list of lesser-known but great series.