I have a love/hate relationship with reality television. I venture more on the hate side when it comes to the competition shows because I feel like it brings out the worst aspects of a person’s character qualities. One category of reality TV that I love to watch is the culinary competition shows like Top Chef, Master Chef and Around The World in 80 Plates. They’re interesting, have unique challenges and the competitors have interesting backgrounds and life stories.
One thing that I have noticed about shows like this are that they are not for chefs or cooks who have modified diets. Except for the challenge on Top Chef that Natalie Portman was a guest judge in, I can’t remember any show cooking a vegetarian or vegan meal.
The reason I notice this is because I went fully vegetarian at 18 after I stopped eating beef in high school and pork in middle school. I only know how to cook a very limited amount of meat products and I ate meat for longer than I have not. What about someone who has grown up vegetarian or a vegan who refuses to cook with animal products? Where is there room in competition shows for someone who has never tried or prepared lamb, veal or game?
What about those who observe religious customs and rules? Jews and Muslims can’t eat or handle pork; Hindus cannot eat beef. What will happen to them if one of the challenges involves them having to use these products?
So I have the idea of creating a spinoff of any one of these great shows. Top Chef already has Top Chef: Just Desserts, but I think it’s time for a show that showcases the talents of vegetarian/vegan chefs as well as religiously observant chefs. Same quickfires as Top Chef or unique challenges like Master Chef; just something that everyone can participate well in and succeed in.
And while we’re at it, Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives and Man vs. Food are other great shows. Many restaurants only offer side dishes as meals for vegetarians, but a lot of them have meat in them (green beans with bacon, mac and cheese with pork, black eyed peas with ham hock, etc.) and so do the salads they serve. How about a personality who tours American restaurants that are substantially or completely vegetarian/vegan friendly? Their owners also have stories to tell and they’re automatically unique because a restaurant like that is in the minority of establishments overall. Triple D/Double V anyone?
Just a thought (or two)…