How Anthony Bourdain Actually Felt About Cooking Competition Shows

Cooking competition shows are quite popular among TV viewers — after all, there's no shortage of ones to choose from, such as "Top Chef" or "Hell's Kitchen" or "Chopped." Many well-known chefs participate in these shows as hosts, judges, or mentors — but not all famous chefs are completely on board with these types of shows. The late chef Anthony Bourdain, who was known for his food travel shows, had his criticisms of cooking competition shows.

In a Reddit Ask Me Anything, Bourdain answered a fan question wondering his thoughts on the TV genre. Bourdain wrote, "There are good ones, there are bad ones. I think 'Top Chef' is probably the best of them." He noted that his daughter, Ariane, was a fan of "Chopped" and "MasterChef Junior," so he found enjoyment in those when he watched with his daughter.

However, he isn't exactly advocating for the idea of turning cooking into a competitive sport, which is why he likes that "Top Chef" requires a high level of technique. He continued, "I have mixed emotions about it. I think a lot of these shows, on one hand, have been good for the industry. On the other hand, they've created an entire species of cook, who really doesn't want to work in a restaurant; they just want to be on TV. And that's always worrying."

Bourdain ended up becoming involved with a cooking competition show

Despite his apprehensions, Bourdain wasn't 100% adverse to cooking competition shows. In fact, during his career, Bourdain appeared as a guest judge on a few cooking competition shows, including 12 episodes of "Top Chef." And, if you're an aficionado of the genre, then you must know that Bourdain eventually got fully on the cooking competition show train when he became a judge-mentor on "The Taste," an ABC series that ran for three seasons from 2013 to 2015. The series involved competitors (both professional chefs and home cooks) making dishes to be blindly tasted by each of the four judges, including Bourdain.

In a 2014 interview with Seattle Magazine, Bourdain discussed his complicated feelings about the genre. He expressed the fact that dealing with those who are in it for the fame is inevitable, but pointed out that dramatic behavior just for the sake of drama won't help the chefs become better at cooking.

Bourdain continued, "Particularly on 'The Taste,' we [the judge mentors were] all about the food. None of our team members ever thought that being a 'character' was the way to win our affection. We bonded very closely with our cooks. That's entirely because they cooked their hearts out for us."