The Unappetizing Side of Reality Cooking Competition Shows

Television today has no shortage of reality cooking competition shows. The dramatic music, intense personalities, contestant conflicts, celebrity chefs, and of course, the food make up the 

ingredients in keeping viewers interested and salivating.  I came across an article on Reddit and it’s worth a read. The perspectives on reality cooking shows are from a winner of a reality cooking competition, producers, and other people who have had experience or exposure one way or another.

I’m not going to spoil everything that’s on the site, but below are some highlights.  

Nothing about reality TV is real. “Act yourself” they say. “Do it again” they say. “Do it like this and say it like this” they say. “Act natural” they say. The producers have a storyline in mind and that’s how it is edited. If they change their mind, they can and will redo audio after the fact to make it fit their goals, even if that is weeks after the fact.

It was a total cluster fuck and shit show to say the least. The editing blew and the show still pretty much blows as far as I am concerned. However, I had a blast doing it. I won, so I can’t bitch about that, and now I have a little “appeared on Food Network cooking show” blurb for my resume.


As a reality tv producer, I could tell you some stories… I guess this is a response to a lot of the comments here: A. Casting IS reality tv. Production companies don’t hire entire casting teams (usually at great expense) for no reason. Every single person on any show that you watch was not just picked by a couple of people, they were closely watched, edited, discussed, over and over again by everyone from low-level casting associates to network executives over weeks. Your personality is selected for a reason and you’re certainly not placed to compete against someone else by chance. They have a story in mind for you from day one. Literally. You’re given a “title” based on your story/personality/look in your first pitch (contestants will be pitched 3-5 times at least in the casting process). On some shows, that title is there before you even apply, as they are specifically looking for a certain archetype. B. Storylines are well thought-out before the cameras ever roll. Depending on the style of show, from the heavily staged “docu-soap” (Anything on TLC, Duck Dynasty, Housewives, etc) to the far less staged “competition reality” like above, producers know what they want in advance.


yeah, i had a friend who was a “culinary assistant” on the first episode of Cupcake Wars. all she did was place the finished cup cakes on the table before it was presented to the judges. She told me how fake everything was and how accidents were all the producers faults. i.e. an oven wasn’t hot enough, really was a camera man turning it down, told by producers, when no one was looking.


my friend appeared on a Canadian one… but it was about cooking school. He said it was complete bullshit, they made him re-wear the same clothes from previous days and basically said the exact same shit you said about “say this, act natural” etc. They actually called him back for a 2nd season, so he said, “Ok, I’ll do it if I get my own trailer” and all sorts of other outrageous riders.


My coworker’s sister was on one of the well known cookoff shows where they start with like 15 people and eliminate chefs one at a time. She finished around 4th or 5th and got a lot of air time as the asshole/bitchy/egotistical chef.  Total edit job, nothing like she is in real life and she was stunned when she saw how she was portrayed on the show.


Here is the link for the entire thread.

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