5 Cooking Shows That Completely Changed the Way I Thought About Food
Written by: Mica Mackenzie
It’s no secret that I love cooking shows! All throughout late elementary school and the entirety of my junior high career I was infatuated with shows like Cake Boss, Cupcake Wars and Cake Wars. I even opened an in-home bakery business in high school because of this early inspiration! Little did I know, though, all of those shows were only the tip of the iceberg in growing my love of food.
Just for fun, here’s a little sneak peek at some of the cupcakes I used to make:
As I got older I began to branch out from my sole interest in sweets and experiment with regular and savory foods as well. Cutthroat Kitchen, Chopped, The Final Table, Beat Bobby Flay and Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives are the shows I credit for getting me into cooking and challenging my childish palette. Thanks to the experimentation that came from watching these shows, I’ve become really passionate about good and good-for-you food.
Things weren’t always this great, though--with me eating whatever I wanted and trying all these new things. There was actually a time when I was very sick and was limited to an almost plant-based diet. Being a teenager while simultaneously having to balance the stress of a plant-based diet was trying and it honestly made me hate food.
I’ll be honest, I wasn’t really able to give the “vegan diet” the best chance because I wasn’t educated about it at all. Had I been older, and had more time to research it, I think my feelings about it would be much different. But anyway, that’s where I ended up in my very early high school years--hating food.
It’s a pretty big deal to hate food since food is something humans require to live, so you can imagine how that impacted my quality of life at the time. I was really miserable and just wanted to find a way for this to not be so bad, and then, all of a sudden, I got back into watching cooking shows. I had found some much-needed inspiration!
If you’re unfamiliar with the show, it’s basically a generic cooking show except the contestants get to sabotage one another. It sounds silly, and it actually is, but at the same time I found it supremely interesting because they were all people being forced to work with ridiculous disadvantages, like I was.
If they were making french toast, they would sabotage someone by taking away their eggs, which as we all know is a very important ingredient in creating the classic french toast texture. Another example is taking away someone’s bread if the dish was a sandwich--something I could relate to having to be gluten-free.
I drew quite a bit of inspiration from these chefs and learned the important fact that there are always alternatives, if you’re willing to put in the work to find them. This proved a valuable tool over the years when I struggled to make my restrictive diet work, and its usefulness peaked when I opened my in-home bakery while in high school in order to bring in some extra cash.
My ability to create gluten-free and dairy-free confections expanded my market completely, presenting me with many more opportunities than I would have otherwise had.
I enjoyed the show Chopped for very different reasons than Cutthroat Kitchen. Chopped has four contestants that compete in front of judges for a cash prize, but the catch is they are given a basket of ingredients they must incorporate into the dish, usually ingredients that are unsuitable to one another.
This caught my attention because it was teaching me how to take ingredients I’d never even heard of before and turn them into fantastic dishes using knowledge of food, creativity, and experimentation. Another thing I took away from Chopped was a new exposure to international foods. Never had I been inspired to try such exciting, exotic flavors!
Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives
I think this show has a special place in my heart because I grew up watching it with my mom and step-dad! Hm....I wonder if it has anything to do with my deep-rooted love of soul food? What do you think?
Anyway, I love to put this on after a long day when I feel like being entertained and laughing my ass off at Guy Fieri’s classic humor! It’s also super cool that all of the places they visit are in the U.S., so you can actually Google the ‘triple D’ restaurants near you and try one out yourself! This show gave me some real pride in American food, but Southern food especially.
Beat Bobby Flay
I remember I really liked to watch this show late at night! It’s a pretty short show, only thirty minutes per episode, but it keeps you interested the whole time since it has to be so fast-paced.
Bobby Flay is a famous American Chef and people come on this show to try and beat him in a competition of cooking their own signature dish. Of course, there is a preliminary round first and not everyone gets to compete against Bobby, but that’s the highlight of the show, for sure.
Something I really liked about this show was the chefs had to accommodate any dietary needs of their rotating judging panel, giving them an added challenge. I could absolutely relate to this and would watch closely to learn any new tips/tricks I hadn’t picked up on before!
The Final Table
This is a recent Netflix find of mine and I am obsessed! They took chefs in teams from countries all around the world and brought them together to compete for a place at the ‘final table’.
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed watching the teams create the signature dishes of each country represented on the show and I always love looking at their beautifully designed plates. It continually reminds me of the never-ending potential of food and the appreciation it truly deserves.
The Final Table is one of those shows that you know you’ll never be able to replicate at home, but you keep coming back because you enjoy watching other talented people do their thing!
What’s your favorite cooking show and why are you drawn to it? Did it teach you anything monumental about food?
As you can tell, I love to learn and I’m constantly seeking knowledge about just about everything. I’d love to hear your food stories and even feel free to drop questions in the comments if you can relate to my food journey and want to know more!
Thank you for being such loyal followers of QN and you’ll be hearing from me again soon!
Mica Mackenzie is the founder and CEO of The Quiet Nonsense, LLC. She currently lives in Dallas with her boyfriend, Hunter, and their goldendoodle puppy, Ted! Her dream is to see the growth and success of her alternative entertainment company, QN. She’s obsessed with all types of things philosophical and scientific and has a huge heart and passion for those struggling with mental illness. Feel free to keep up with her on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.