Queue: Food Fanatics

Jordan Figueredo

We can’t all cook, but we can all Netflix. “Chopped,” “The Great Food Truck Race,” “Man v. Food” and “Cupcake Wars” are here for those of us who want to live vicariously through high-stakes culinary competitions.

“Chopped”: 5 stars

Undeniably the greatest cooking show on Netflix (and on TV in general) “Chopped” combines gourmet palates with mystery ingredients that range from mashed potato candy to haggis and just about anything in between, so long as it’s even partially edible. Unfortunately, the Netflix catalogue only features one “collection” of show — 25 episodes spanning the show’s 26 seasons — but it’s enough. Every episode features different contestants, but the premise remains the same: with a mystery box of ingredients unveiled every round, four chefs-turned-contestants must create an appetizer, entree and dessert that marry the basket ingredients in creative ways no matter the strangeness of their flavor profiles, facing elimination after each course until only one chef remains. Various themed episodes including kid chefs, redemption (“Chopped” losers in competition with each other), brunch and bacon, make the show even better, despite the seeming inability (or need) of it to do so. Whether you love to cook, love to eat or love to watch people who love to cook and eat, this show is for you. The only drawback: once you start, you cannot stop.

“The Great Food Truck Race”: 4 stars

Given the spike of food trucks’ popularity, it was only a matter of time until Food Network devoted an entire series to them. Unlike the other series, this show does not rotate contestants every episode, instead having one set of contestants throughout each season. Teams of three travel across the country in their food trucks, trying to out-sell the other teams. One team goes home at every destination, and the winning team receives $100,000 and the keys to the food truck. At times, the culinary genius isn’t as glamorous as it is on “Chopped,” but it’s still definitely worth a watch. You will become attached to a team and will quickly find yourself yelling at your laptop or TV screen, rooting for your team to win.

“Man v. Food”: 3 stars

This show isn’t focused as much on the process of cooking food, but rather the act of eating food. Host Adam Richman travels across the country, seeking out and attempting to complete outrageous food challenges. From the hottest wings in North America to “everything but the kitchen sink” ice cream, Richman tries it all. Your reactions may vary, but jealousy, shock, admiration and disgust are usually somewhere in the mix, sometimes all at the same time. The fact that Richman puts himself through such insane challenges makes for an entertaining Netflix binge, but it’s, understandably, not always a pretty sight.

“Cupcake Wars”: 3.5 stars

Similar to “Chopped,” but nowhere near as addicting, “Cupcake Wars” is exactly what it sounds like: a cupcake competition. Four bakers compete to impress the judges with various cupcake creations, and in the final round the top two bakers must create a themed 1000-cupcake display in order to win the $10,000 prize. If you have a sweet tooth, this show is definitely for you.

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