Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Preview Review: Time Machine Chefs on ABC

Art Smith, Chris Cosentino, Jill Davie, and Ilan Hall  
You might be asking yourself, "Do I really need to watch another cooking-contest reality show on TV?" The answer, much like that second scoop of chocolate ice cream (we'll keep that between us, m'kay?) is that it's not about need - it's about want.

If the show is good, then maybe you do want to add it to your must-watch list.

I got a chance to preview the pilot episode of Time Machine Chefs, and while it has a familiar format (three judges, four chef-testants) there are some interesting twists.

For one thing, the winner doesn't get a large sum of money or a new job. It's all for fun, and it looks like a heck of a lot of fun. I'd love to compete on this show, just because it's so ... weird.

The premise of the show is that the four competing chefs are shoved into a time machine that looks like a big blue ...

... refrigerator ...

... and they're whisked off to another place and time. And there, they compete in a cooking contest using historically somewhat-accurate tools and foodstuffs.

They're not using completely historically accurate equipment. No one's going to let these people into a museum so they can scurry off with actual ancient cooking equipment. The cookware and implements looked pretty fresh, but consistent with what was available back in the day. A cast iron pot is still a cast iron pot.

And I also imagine that the environment of those times was a bit ... grungier ... than what the chef contestants are faced with. But it's close enough for entertainment purposes.

Because this was pretty entertaining.

What's there, however, was not as interesting to me as what's missing. You might imagine they set the chefs up in an era with no electricity, but in the first leg of the competition there's also no running water, no whisks, no easy way to start a fire, and no modern clock. Yep, it's a timed contest, but the timing methods were rather ... creative. And for the first stage of the contest, pretty loud.

And the judges ate with period-accurate utensils. Or lack thereof. Loved that part.

Maybe I was so amused by all of this because I'm coincidentally reading Food in History and I'm constantly hmmmm-ing about when things were introduced and where. Not only about what things were lacking before my time, but also about what things were eaten that are no longer on the modern menu.

So seeing modern chefs dealing with a not-modern cooking situation was particularly amusing. And as a plus, I picked up a few new words that I'm going to try to work into my vocabulary. Your spit-turn dogs will come in handy whilst cooking your cockatrice. How does that sound?

While there's no huge prize for the winner of Time Machine Chefs, there is a penalty for losing. The chefs who don't make the cut are not allowed back into the time machine. Oops. I hope they don't have any library books that need to be returned.

The pilot airs on Thursday, August 16 on ABC. Check your local listings for the time. Lemme know what you think.