The current state of TV cooking competitions is like a buffet: there's ample variety, and more than enough to consume in one go, but stick around too long and your options all start to look the same.
Between "Cutthroat Kitchen," "Iron Chef," "Top Chef," "Master Chef," "Chopped" and their respective Canadian adaptations, there's no shortage of shows for food fanatics to fill up on. So, can viewers find enough room on their plate to stomach one more series?
That's what Anne-Marie Withenshaw, host of W Network's "Pressure Cooker," is hoping for.
"What makes this show stand out is the talent of the home cooks and the stakes. They're competing for the bragging rights as the night's best home cook and that's the title you have to fight for every night, 365 days a year, in your own home — whether you're a parent, a spouse, a roommate. If you cook, somebody's going to be judging your food."
In this case, that "somebody" is the U.K.'s Giles Coren (Million Dollar Critic), a food critic turned TV judge, rating dishes based on taste, presentation and creativity. In addition to a dash of British charm, the show has all the familiar ingredients of successful cooking shows to date: a race against a clock, home chefs battling for kitchen supremacy and the addition of last-minute ingredients.
Each episode spans three rounds. The first two rounds pit home cooks against each other with the help of one celebrity chef contestants must share. But don't expect them to run the show. Chefs function like back-up, lending a helping hand with prep work or offering advice on what ingredients competitors should pick from a rolling conveyor belt each round. The winner of each cook-off advances and keeps their celebrity chef. Round 3 culminates with two pairs of chefs and home cooks duking it out for a year's supply of groceries.
It all sounds familiar on paper, but there's something uniquely Canadian that happens when you blend celebrities, competition and cooks: you create a sense of cooperation.
"You hardly see camaraderie on cooking competitions, you see the knives and the flames ... they're still competitive but there's a sense of camaraderie. We're not sticking these people under the microscope and saying 'you're playing for a job in a restaurant' and 'yes, chef' or 'no, chef' — it's like home," says Withenshaw.
So how does it all play out? Well, HuffPost Canada TV got a sample of what it's like on "Pressure Cooker" during a media challenge and brought a few cameras to record all the action. You can find out how things went down in the video above. (Most important fact: we won. That's right. We won.)
"Pressure Cooker" premieres Tuesday, Oct. 7 at 9:00 pm ET/PT on the W Network.
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