I will never understand why they cook on TV. I can’t smell it, can’t eat it, can’t taste it. The end of the show they hold it up to the camera, ‘Well, here it is. You can’t have any. Thanks for watching. Goodbye.’
It’s your usual Cutthroat Kitchen tournament-style episodic cook-off…with a catch: the contestants - pretentious, self-important chefs from around the country - are judged not by top-of-the-line famous cooks, but by normal people.
And not just normal people, but normal people with everyday limitations that the chefs must adhere to. Each episode is a new competition that challenges the chefs with a new limitation or change based on various people’s food realities.
Here are some possible episodes:
Create a dessert (pastry/cake in one episode, ice cream-type dessert in another) for Diabetic people
Make a traditionally spicy dish for people with Sensory Processing Disorder
Cook for a kids’ birthday party, bearing in mind that children have very simple tastes and will be put off by “gourmet” ingredients
Again with SPD, make a meal that normally has too many mixed textures for the judges to comfortably eat
Catering for elderly judges who both cannot chew/crunch very well (and are sick of soup/oatmeal)
Catering for elderly judges with a combo of “can’t taste unless the flavors are very strong” and “aging body can’t handle too many spices”
“We surveyed 100 low-income families to see what their most common ingredients/spices/brands are and you may ONLY use those. Now make Thanksgiving dinner.”
Traditionally cheese- or milk-heavy recipes for people who are lactose intolerant
“We surveyed 100 college students and– look, just make really good ramen out of these $0.99 noodles from CVS and some cheap spices.”
Various religious restrictions
Each of these will be judged by people who are really in the given situation. The low-income competition is judged by people who have those budget limitations every Thanksgiving. Their judges for the SPD episode are all Autistic (or have other SPD-inclusive disorders). The kids probably aren’t actually having a birthday party but they ARE all actually young children giving their honest opinion of what the contestants cook.
Most chefs, when faced with making, say, a non-spicy hollandaise sauce will panic and say “the dish is ruined!” because all they did was make the sauce minus cayenne. Those chefs would soon be eliminated, leaving only adaptable, accepting contestants who know how to work inside the box to improve a given dish. Add, not just take away. Chefs who are ready to take classic meals in a new direction are the ones who win.
The ultimate moral of this show is that given dishes can be made many ways, not just the traditional ways.
Audiences in the mentioned demographics will both love seeing themselves represented on TV and learn new recipes invented under pressure/on the fly that they can copy at home.
Feel free to add episode ideas to this!! I’m sure I missed a lot of people.