Food Network is about to roll out another high-stakes battle between chefs, hosted by none other than Alex Guarnaschelli, a fixture on the cooking competition circuit. The show’s called Supermarket Stakeout, and it begins with a grocery store “ambush” during which the four competing chefs convince unsuspecting shoppers to hand over their groceries to use as ingredients. But here’s the twist: The chefs aren’t allowed to peek inside the grocery bags to see what they’re getting.
Once the chefs have wrestled food away from regular people just minding their own business at the store they will embark on a three-round culinary showdown. Each chef has a budget of $500, which, along with “charm and persuasiveness,” they’ll use to convince shoppers to hand over their goods.
In the first round, chefs pay shoppers for their groceries without looking in the bags. In the second round of competition, the chefs will only be able to buy ingredients from one shopper, but they can rifle through the shopping bags before paying up. In the final round, the competitors are only allowed to purchase five ingredients, but there’s no limit on the number of shoppers they can negotiate with. A panel of judges will then decide which chef created the most delicious dishes out of the random ingredients, handing down a cash prize to the winner.
This all sounds slightly similar to the wild ride that is Chopped, on which four professional (though not necessarily famous) chefs must use the ingredients in a basket, plus one mystery ingredient (anything from gummy candies to black garlic). The results are sometimes clever, sometimes strange, sometimes gross, but always entertaining, and I predict Supermarket Stakeout will take the same route.
“Supermarket Stakeout is a tough competition where the chefs have to think fast and cook blind out of bags and carts — even if they get an apple, a loaf of bread and a package of diapers, a cohesive, themed dish must be prepared for the judges under a ticking clock,” said Courtney White, president of the Food Network, said in a statement.
Yup, this sounds like another chaotic, heart-thumping, blood-pumping cooking competition that is very much in vogue right now. Not that trying to get dinner on the table at home is that much less stressful. At least Alex Guarnaschelli doesn’t yell at us when we accidentally overcook the pasta. The show is set to premiere on August 13.
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