Don't you just love to hate celebrity chefs? Like a bad accident, I can't stop looking. I feel the need to see what they are up to and read about their exploits and scandals. A guilty pleasure, you could say.
Another guilty pleasure for me is reality TV. But, I am super fussy about the reality TV shows I like. The ones I like are few and far between and have more to do with ability than dumb luck. Seeing people use their actual skills is much more interesting than seeing them eat something disgusting or rely on trickery and manipulation to win a prize or a spouse.
The combination of these two guilty pleasures along with one of the things PBS does best--cooking shows, means that I can't wait to watch Cooking Under Fire. This is a first for PBS, a documentary style series that will follow twelve contestants on a cooking competition that takes place in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Miami, and New York. The show intends to give an inside view at the mental and physical challenges and intense pressures faced in the restaurant industry, and demonstrate the combination of talent and skills that it takes to succeed. The grand prize is a chef's job in one of Todd English's New York restaurants.
The judges? I'm so glad you asked, they are each celebrity chefs! In this case Ming Tsai, Todd English and award-winning cookbook author, Michael Ruhlman. There will also be local guest chef judges including San Francisco's own, Michael Mina (that episode takes place in Las Vegas).
Cooking Under Fire premieres tonight at 8 pm on PBS, channel 9. After the first "audition" episode stay tuned for the second installment as the competition begins in Los Angeles.