PBS Enters ‘The Great American Recipe’ in Food TV Competitions Filmed in Virginia – Daily Press – Low Calorie Diets Tips

NEW YORK — America has perfected the stressful TV cook-off, pitting amateur or professional chefs against each other in punchy, screaming shows like “Chopped,” “Cutthroat Kitchen,” or “Top Chef.”

PBS hopes to change that with an original food contest show, The Great American Recipe, that eschews fear and creepy knife graphics. It’s more The Great British Baking Show than Hell’s Kitchen.

Gentle and supportive, the show gathers 10 home chefs from across the country and gives them a chance to showcase their signature dishes. The eight-episode series premieres Friday on PBS, PBS.org and the PBS Video App.

“Yes, they fought with each other, but they were really just there to put their best foot forward and tell each other stories through their food,” says the show’s host, Alejandra Ramos, a chef and author who attends on the “Today” show.

Participants include a Winston-Salem, North Carolina hotel receptionist who makes soul-satisfying linguini; a Providence, Rhode Island firefighter making a meaty Sicilian chicken; and a small business owner from New York, a connoisseur of cod fritters or bacalaitos.

Sylvia Bugg, chief programming executive and general manager for general audience programming at PBS, says it’s the stories behind the food that make the show compelling.

“Hopefully people can see themselves reflected in the stories from The Great American Recipe that they might not have seen otherwise,” she says. “It’s a beautiful competition, great characters, great story. You get that emotion, which I think is the recipe for success, and we’re pretty excited about that.”

The home chefs are tasked with creating two dishes for the two rounds of each show, which are judged on taste, presentation, execution and how they highlight the theme – things like a meal in a pinch, a crowd pleaser or a meal for a special occasion . The judges are Leah Cohen, Tiffany Derry and Graham Elliot.

“The dishes were delicious and amazing. We really enjoyed eating them. But honestly, listening to the stories was the most satisfying part of the show,” says Ramos.

The dishes presented offer a beautiful rainbow of flavors, from chicken tostadas and zuppa toscana to potato-crusted quiche, pineapple fried rice and shakshouka, a Mediterranean version of huevos rancheros. Many recipes were passed down from family to participants, but added to and played with the melting pot of America.

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

“But the reality is that this country is a mix of cultures and histories and regional differences and ingredients and climates and all of those things together — that’s American food. It’s not just one thing. This is really about celebrating that diversity.”

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There is a camaraderie among participants who offer to help others if they finish earlier or taste someone else’s dish for advice. In one sweet scene, a woman of Italian descent admits she’s afraid to turn around to make lime and shrimp tacos.

“Am I nervous about doing Mexicans in an elimination round when I’m Italian? Yes I am. But I don’t really have a lane to stay in,” she says. And that’s the motto of the show, so to speak: the only clue is good-tasting food.

“I think that’s the beauty of the show — it’s not just about pigeonholing people, it’s really empowering them to tell the breadth of their story and all the different stops and starts and turns that journey takes ‘ says Ramos.

One of the cutest challenges on the show came when contestants were asked to illustrate how they show love through food. One man cooked a dish he made for his wife, another cooked something their mother made them when they were ill, and a third offered something they made for a heartbroken friend.

The series – filmed in a barn in southern Virginia – culminates in a finale in which the remaining home cooks prepare an entire meal for the judges. The winning dish will grace the cover of an accompanying book, The Great American Recipe Cookbook, which will also include recipes from all contestants and the show’s host and judges.

The home cooks range in age from their late 20s to their 60s and also include a sports operations specialist from Minneapolis; a small business owner from Boise, Idaho, with two boys; and a digital content creator from San Luis Obispo, California, who does a mean choriqueso. It’s clear that they are the rock star food people of their circles.

And the bonds between them grow to the point where the guilt of the survivors sets in. “Every time there was an elimination, it was like almost everyone else was sadder about the elimination than the actual person going home,” says Ramos.

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