PBS Joins Great American Recipe Television Food Contests News, sports, jobs

Judges Tiffany Derry, second from left, Graham Elliott, host Alejandra Ramos and judge Leah Cohen gather around the contestant’s seat in a scene from the Great American Recipe series. AP photo

NEW YORK – America perfects the stressful television cooking competition by pitting amateur or professional chefs against each other in such high-pressure shows filled with screams as “Sliced”, Skinny Kitchen or “Chef”.

PBS hopes to change that with an original food contest show, The Great American Recipe, which eliminates the anxiety and scary graphics of the knife. That’s more The Great British Baking Show than “Hell’s Kitchen.”

Gently and supportively, the show brings together 10 home chefs from all over the country and gives them the opportunity to show their original dishes. The eight-episode series premiered Friday on PBS, PBS.org and the PBS Video app.

“Yes, they competed, but they were really there to show their best and tell stories through their food.” says show host Alejandra Ramos, a chef and writer who contributes to “today” show.

Competitors include a hotel receptionist from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, who makes soul-satisfying linguists; a Providence firefighter, Rhode Island, who makes Sicilian meaty chicken; and a small business owner from New York, an expert in fried cod or bakalaytos.

Sylvia Bug, chief program officer and general manager of general audience programs for PBS, says the stories behind the food make the show captivating.

“We hope people see themselves reflected in the stories through the ‘Great American Recipe,’ which they may not have seen otherwise.” she says. “It’s a good race, great characters, great story. You get this emotion, which I think is just the recipe for success, and we’re pretty excited about it. “

Home chefs are tasked with creating two dishes for the two rounds of each show, which are judged by taste, presentation, performance and how it emphasizes the theme – things like eating on the go, entertaining the audience or a dish for a special occasion. The judges are Leah Cohen, Tiffany Derry and Graham Elliott.

“The dishes were delicious and amazing. We loved to eat them. But listening to the stories was, frankly, the most satisfying part of participating in the show. “ says Ramos.

The dishes on offer offer a wonderful rainbow of flavors, from chicken toasts and Zuppa Toscana to quiche with potato peelings, fried rice with pineapple and shakshuka, a Mediterranean version of huevos rancheros. Many recipes have been handed over to the contestants from the family, but have been added and played with the American Melting Pot.

“American food is not just one thing. I think it can often be dismissed as, “Oh, these are burgers or it’s pizza.” While everything else gets its own separate identity, ” says Ramos.

“But the reality is that this country is a mixture of cultures and histories and regional differences, ingredients and climate, and all of those things together – that’s American food. It’s not just one thing. It’s really about celebrating this diversity. “

Among the contestants there is a companion who will offer to help others when they finish early or try someone else’s dish for advice. In a sweet scene, a woman with an Italian heritage admits that she is anxious to turn around to make a taco with lime shrimp.

“Are you nervous about playing Mexican in the elimination round when I’m Italian?” Yes it’s me. But I don’t really have a lane to stay in. “ she says. And that’s kind of the show’s motto: The only bar is the good-tasting food.

“I think that’s the beauty of the show – it’s not just about putting people in boxes, but it really gives them the opportunity to tell the breadth of their story and all the different stops, beginnings and turns that the road takes.” says Ramos.

One of the sweetest challenges in the show was when participants were asked to illustrate how they show love through food. One man prepared a dish he made for his wife, another prepared something their mother made for them when they were sick, and a third offered something they prepared for a friend who was heartbroken.

The series – filmed in a barn in Southern Virginia – ends with a finale in which the other home cooks prepare all the food for the judges. One of the winner’s dishes will decorate the cover of an accompanying book, The Great American Recipe Cookbook which will also include recipes from all contestants and the show host and judges.

The home chefs are in their late 20s to 60s and also include a Minneapolis sports operations specialist; a small business owner from Boise, Idaho, with two boys; and digital content creator from San Luis Obispo, California, who makes a vicious choric. It is clear that they are the food people of the rock stars of their circles.

And the ties between them grow to the point that the survivor’s guilt emerges. “Every time there was an elimination, it was as if almost everyone else was sadder about the elimination than the real person coming home.” says Ramos.

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Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits

Copyright 2022 Associated Press.

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