TV Review: ‘Food Fighters’

'Food Fighters' Review: The TV Dinner

As fresh as last week's leftovers, NBC's Adam Richman-hosted show is the TV dinner of culinary competitions.

As fresh as last week’s leftovers, NBC’s “Food Fighters” is the TV dinner of culinary competitions. Featuring elements recycled from so many similar shows, most of them on cable, the eight-episode summer series might as well be dubbed “IronMasterTop Chef Chopped Throwdown.” That may not have mattered if the folksy appeal of the premise — home cooks challenge professional chefs — weren’t lost in a muddled whirl of fast-paced, low-impact execution. It was originally ordered and shot more than a year ago, and network expectations can’t be too high for a show that’s all filler and somehow never filling.

One unexpected side effect of the long gap between production and broadcast: Host Adam Richman (“Man vs. Food”) recently made headlines both for his considerable weight loss and for some nasty exchanges he had with Twitter followers. That led to the postponement of his Travel Channel show “Man Finds Food,” which had been set to launch earlier this month. Perhaps it’ll mean a few extra “Food Fighters”-related pieces in the media, but the lingering controversy is so minimal it seems unlikely to help or hurt this series either way.

There’s certainly nothing spicy onscreen in this bland concoction of reality tropes. Each week, one of “America’s best home cooks” enters the “Food Fighter arena” to take on a series of five professional chefs, challenging each pro to a different dish from a preselected menu of the amateur’s best dishes. The decision of whose cuisine reigns supreme is left up to a sequestered panel of five everyday citizen judges, who vote their preference without knowing who cooked what. In victory, the home chefs are rewarded with increasing levels of cash prizes up to a maximum of $100,000 if they win all five battles. A loss, however, doesn’t mean elimination; they just miss out on the cash for that round and move on to face the next contender.

Introducing one home chef, five professional competitors, and five cooking battles complete with judging is a lot to handle in a single hour, and “Food Fighters” rushes from one ingredient to the next with little finesse. As food porn, the show is a complete failure. Each individual episode must have been a nightmare to tape (and a serious chore to attend in the audience), but the battles are reduced to no more than few minutes onscreen, leaving little time for process or insight. Richman doesn’t add much beyond canned dramatic observations like, “If the wrappers tear they’re gonna flood with oil!” and “Whoa, that’s a lot of hot sauce!”

The premiere installment’s liveliest moments spring from guest challengers Marcel Vigneron and Lorena Garcia, two veterans of the Bravo franchise “Top Chef” (it’s in the NBC Universal family, natch) well versed in matching big personalities and foodie TV. Vigneron demonstrates the difference an aggressive competitor can make, while Garcia is a dynamo capable of turning a taco challenge into a one-woman show.

Perhaps the lesson is that when it comes to cooking TV, it’s best to leave it to the pros.

TV Review: 'Food Fighters'

(Series; NBC, Tues. July 22, 8 p.m.)


Filmed in Los Angeles by Electus and Universal Television.


Executive producers, Ben Silverman, Tim Puntillo, Chris Grant, Jimmy Fox; co-executive producer, Jack Martin; supervising producers, Jason Stewart, Jeff Kmiotek; writers, Puntillo, Bob Stone; director, Ivan Dudynsky; production designer, Anton Goss; casting, Luke Conklin. 60 MIN.


Host: Adam Richman

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  1. Chris says:

    Lol. These people are somehow able to find all their ingredients, do prep work like chopping, breading, and even hand-making pasta, AND cooking their dish, AND plating them ALL in only 20 minutes?!! People who don’t cook may not realize how time-consuming all this is. I call BS (which is not an acronym for bolognese scampi)!

  2. Luis says:

    I really like this show because it’s entertaining and I like the host but I lost ALL credibility when they allowed a home cook to make “Chicken Enchiladas” on FLOUR TORTILLAS and not even use a red sauce. Green sauce (tomatillo sauce) is acceptable but they are called “Enchiladas Suizas” and NEVER are made with flour tortillas. Shame on you for allowing this…this is like making hot dogs with tortillas instead of hot dog buns!!!!

  3. Teri Richer says:

    Food Fighters is rigged! How does any home cook best an Iron Chef? They don’t! How stupid do the producers think we are? This show would be better if it wasn’t obviously rigged for the home cook to win just about every round and against such well known and respected Chefs. Get real!

  4. tom says:

    Been watching ton of food shows, spotting many obvious errors during this show, how can home cooks know their way around the professional stoves/ovens and well-known chefs fell short? Clearly, they were staged. Not impressed at all. Not going watch it again after just one show. BS!!!

    Hey NBC, can you do something better this crappy shows? Are you just going for ratings, not the real stuff? I think that you ought to get out of food cooking shows really QUICK! Just stick to what you know – drama!

  5. Linda says:

    The home cooks menus are not that complicated–check out Masterchefs –any of them could take on these cooks. The judges seem to find more faults with the pros even if they are minor and they are not comfort food . Honestly–Lorena Garcia losing because of fish tacos and biscuts and gravy. This is not a fair show. Go ahead and saend them to beat Bobby Flay.

  6. Sat through a couple episodes with my daughter…totally lost me! How do these home cooks still keep beating the professional chefs??? The “Host” keeps yelling how much time they have left. The whole premise of this show is BS!!! WTH!!! I can cook pretty well, I should try out as well and win me $100K

  7. eric says:

    Why do they show who they beat before every commercial? Idiots!! Where is the cliffhanger ….jeeeesh NBC geniuses

  8. Hanky says:

    How do these home cooks keep beating these chefs? I guess they tried to mix it up a bit last night when the contestant lost the first 2 challenges, then won all the rest for like 70K? BS!!

  9. This is the worst show on tv everrrrr…..and the fact that nbc approved this show to be aired is dissapointing! Even after filming it, didn’t they watch it and say, this will make people suicidal! The only thing positive about this show, is that it made me turn the tv off and go do something better with my life. And shame shame shame to the chefs who for some reason associated themselves to this show, why nbc, why!!

  10. Sam says:

    I really love cooking shows, but this one is a real disappointment. Totally unbelievable and no real excitement here. Too bad – good concept, terrible execution.

  11. Michael says:

    Oh the latest episode, the contestant cooked what looked like over cooked shrimp because it was fluffy and white and a judge said that the shrimp was gummy, so it was overcooked…the contestant won. I’m sorry but I refuse to believe any professional cook could lose to over cook shrimp. And as a judge how well something is cooked should matter. I will not watch this show because so far the real chefs are 2-13 haha

  12. laurelkaiser says:

    Just like the judge in season 2 said… “and it fell apart”

  13. truthiness says:

    I’d like to point out that one of the judges was a contestant on “Opposite Worlds” on SyFy…which is under the NBC banner. His name is Frankie. This show is rigged. And like in my other reply, this girl was black and had a good sob story.
    This had nothing to do with talent. The producers, like all networks now, will rig something to appease non-whites now. I’m just speaking from observation…if she deserved it, then so be it…but I’m sick of this rigged crap where homecooks “seem” to out-cook TRAINED, EXPERIENCED CHEFS.

    • Michael says:

      The first contestant one with undercooked chicken and she was white…so I get your point but the non white part is a little off base

  14. Karen says:

    And NBC is cancelling Crossbones???? Disgraceful, yes, looks rigged to me!!

  15. Nicole says:

    Nothing against Adam, but this show seems to be rigged! I have never seen a show that tell you who won before the “Coming Up Next”. I have no need to continue watching the show. How much are you paying the judge that always have a complaint. I think they need to reconstruct this show, although the concept is good.

  16. J Daniels says:

    Awful!! It would be better to give the contestants the money and forget the show. What a slap in the face to the professional chefs. They must be extremely well compensated to endure the humiliation. Again, awful!!!!!!!! The “judges” do not have professional palates. Poor show for a summer filler.

  17. The show is rigged. Was excited to see it wasn’t that great. Gave it another chance still not that great.

  18. Becky says:

    OMG !!! Come on why do you all show the contestant and which chef the home cook will be competing against before the commercial break.. Then after the commercial break you come back and announce winner.. Geez y’all blow for the viewers! Terrible show!!

  19. Tarah says:

    This show is Bs…yeah the prize is money if u beat the chefs put what is the incentive for the chefs?? They’re getting paid either way..this is the second episode i waached where the homemade chef Damn near beat everyone…really??? Is it that easy??? Maybe i need to b on the show..i cook all the time and have a job…so not what?? NoT iMPRESSED at all!! Until they call me i ain’t interested ne more n neither r the people i associate with!!!!!

  20. Wes says:

    This show is horrible. There’s hardly any cooking in it. Isn’t that what a cooking show is supposed to be about. Watched the first episode, won’t watch any more.

  21. Tim 0'Leary says:

    The show is ridiculous and stupid. The people judging seem like morons. They clearly try to guess which dish looks the most unprofessional and then pick it because that benefits the contestant. What a fake outcome. Also; why is Adam Richman even on television?

  22. Mike Galli says:

    I Was really excited to watch this show…then when it went to commercial,they tell you she faces new chefs,that’s dumb.These “pro chefs” suck very much and it’s staged.I love food shows and you guys are butchering this.

  23. johnny says:

    this show is sooo staged its not even funny. love adam richman but this show is totally staged!! will not watch ever again sorry!!!

  24. Marlene Moore says:

    I would really love the chance, but I also know it would probably be no contest. I especially loved the last competition…… come on, we all knew that she would lose, look at who she was against!!!! I truly hope this show does not last!!!!

  25. Marlene Moore says:

    Sorry, but this was just sooooo fake!!!!

  26. Alex says:

    They tell you who wins before they actually show it… This show is lame.

  27. Marie says:

    It seems to me the professional chefs are letting her win…

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