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Eater's 2014 Fall Food Television Preview

Illustration: Eric Lebofsky

The cable airwaves are full of culinary shows year-round, with Cutthroat, Chopped Knife Fights the preferred weapon of choice for Food Fighters and more. But if the glut of competitive reality shows is wearing thin — let's call it Beat[ing] Bobby Flay with a dead horse — this Fall brings a new slate of programming that may serve as a palate cleanser. Most notably, PBS brings back its two award-winning documentary series, the Southern-focused A Chef's Life and the Anthony Bourdain-produced The Mind of a Chef. (In the latter, chefs Edward Lee and Magnus Nilsson step into the shoes previously filled by David Chang, April Bloomfield, and Sean Brock.)

Meanwhile, Gordon Ramsay returns to FOX with yet-another new season of Hell's Kitchen and the kids' culinary competition MasterChef Junior, which proved a surprise hit last year. Two print publications will hit the airwaves with similarly named shows: Esquire's one-off special Best Restaurants in America and Bon Appetit's Bravo show Best New Restaurant. And of course, two of the biggest names in culinary television, Bravo's Top Chef and CNN's Bourdain-hosted Parts Unknown return for their 12th and third seasons, respectively.

Noticeably off the schedule as of press time: Travel Channel has still not announced a premiere date for the Adam Richman-hosted Man Finds Food, which was yanked off the summer schedule after Richman's very-public social media tirade. There's also no date for Food Network's previously announced Rachael's Big Tip, the show featuring Rachael Ray leaving large tips to unsuspecting servers (it quietly burned off an episode earlier this Summer). But here now, a look at what's coming up on the Fall television calendar for food-TV fans.

Currently Airing

Top Chef Duels

Network: Bravo
In lieu of a new Top Chef Masters season, Bravo rolled out this spin-off featuring Top Chef alums going head-to-head in one-off culinary battles. Eight episodes remain in the 10-episode season, with upcoming competitions between onetime Top Chef "All-Stars" Mike Isabella and Antonia Lofaso and past winners Stephanie Izard and Kristen Kish. Thus far, guest stars like Wolfgang Puck and singer P!nk have acted as judges alongside hosts Curtis Stone and Gail Simmons.
· All Top Chef Duels Coverage on Eater [-E-]


Network: MTV
MTV's stoner-food culinary competition, hosted by chef Eddie Huang, debuted in mid-July, challenging contestants to "elevate munchies into art." What kind of munchies? In a recent episode, a contestant served up a dish featuring ingredients like candied beef, lemonade, ginger ale, mayo, and cotton candy. Ostensibly, a judge called it "overall good." According to an MTV rep, the current season airs through October 23.
· All Snack-Off Coverage on Eater [-E-]

[Photo: Knife Fight/Facebook]

Knife Fight

Network: Esquire Network
Esquire doubled-down on its second season of this Ilan Hall-hosted competition, which debuted its run of 24 new episodes back in April. A handful still remain, including a San Francisco chef battle between Anthony Strong (Locanda Verde) and Charles Phan, and a Louisiana episode pitting Justin Devillier versus Michael Bryant.
· All Knife Fight Coverage on Eater [-E-]

Great Food Truck Race

Network: Food Network
Chef Tyler Florence returns to host this road-tripping competitive reality show, whose fifth season premiered this past weekend on the Food Network. As in previous years, eight teams of food-truck amateurs will go on a cross-country road trip to win their food truck and $50,000 in prize money.
· All Great Food Truck Race Coverage on Eater [-E-]

[Photo: FYI Network/Facebook]

Epic Meal Empire

Network: FYI
As previously reported, the first season of FYI Network's Epic Meal Empire debuted earlier this summer, bring YouTube hosts Harley Morenstein, Ameer Atari, and Josh Elkin (of Epic Meal Time fame) to television. Like on their popular YouTube show, the trio create epic stunts involving food — whether cooking insanely caloric dishes (giant Oreos) or testing unorthodox cooking apparatuses (making spaghetti in a washer and dryer).
· All Epic Meal Time Coverage on Eater [-E-]

[Photo: FOX]


Network: FOX
Currently, seven contestants remain on this amateur cooking competition hosted and judged by shouty chef Gordon Ramsay, Chicago chef Graham Elliot, and NYC restaurateur Joe Bastianich. Previous challenges this season included fileting whole salmon, making stuffed pasta from scratch, and cooking for a high school football team.
· All MasterChef Coverage on Eater [-E-]


Brew Dogs

Network: Esquire Network
The second season of the beer-focused Brew Dogs debuted back in June, with hosts James Watt and Martin Dickle visiting breweries from Durham, North Carolina (where they brewed the "most caloric beer ever") to Durango, Colorado (where they recreated an ancient beer recipe). The two remaining new episodes this season will highlight two big American cities: New Orleans and Los Angeles.
· All Brew Dogs Coverage on Eater [-E-]

[Photo: Food Network]

Rachael vs. Guy: Kids Cook Off

Network: Food Network
This spin-off of the groanworthy Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off returned for its second season on the Food Network earlier this week, in an attempt to skim some of the success of last year's surprise FOX hit MasterChef Junior. As in season one, child contestants (with their parents watching in a green room) are tasked with coming up with "signature dishes" and selling dishes on camera while TVfoodpeople Rachael Ray and Guy Fieri act as team leaders/mentors/judges.
· All Rachael vs. Guy Coverage on Eater [-E-]


The Feed

Network: FYI Network
Premiere date: August 21
Its original air date was pushed back from early July, but the brand-new FYI Network is ready to unveil its "part road show, part buddy comedy, part talk show" series The Feed, featuring co-hosts Gail Simmons (a Top Chef judge), Marcus Samuelsson (chef and reality TV enthusiast), and Max Silvestri (comedian and onetime Eater Top Chef recapper). Early previews show a focus that ranges from newsy to service-y to wacky.
· All The Feed Coverage on Eater [-E-]


The Mind of a Chef

Network: PBS
Premiere date: September 6
As previously reported, PBS's Emmy-winning The Mind of a Chef, produced by Anthony Bourdain and Zero Point Zero Productions, will feature two wildly different chefs during its third season: Kentucky's Edward Lee and Sweden's Magnus Nilsson. As in seasons past, each episode will focus on one specific theme constantly on the chefs' mind. Lee's episodes will air first, exploring themes like "Origin," "Impermanence," and "Kentucky" with fellow chefs Alex Stupak, Linton Hopkins, and Stuart Brioza. Nilsson's batch of episodes start in November, promising rumination on "Creation," "Winter," and "Documentation" at his restaurant Fäviken.
· All Mind of Chef Coverage on Eater [-E-]

Moveable Feast with Fine Cooking

Network: PBS
Premiere date: September 6
In the second season of this PBS show, Australian chef/host Pete Evans travels the country to throw pop-up dinners with America's "best and hippest" chefs. A season-two preview sees Evans bow-fishing and alligator teasing, plus cooking "impromptu meals" with the likes of Stephanie Izard, April Bloomfield, Seamus Mullen, Gabriel Rucker, and Marco Canora.
· All Moveable Feast Coverage on Eater [-E-]



Network: Food Network
Premiere date: September 8
Onetime boy bander Joey Fatone and Unwrapped host Marc Summers quickly return for a second season of the newish Rewrapped, a culinary competition that challenges contestants to recreate and elevate classic junk-food items. Season one saw snacks like Goldfish crackers, Hostess CupCakes, and the Outback Steakhouse Bloomin' Onion; a press release for season two reveals that re-imagined versions of Chef Boyardee Beef Ravioli, Hostess Ho Hos, and Thin Mints are on the menu.
· All Rewrapped Coverage on Eater [-E-]

Hell's Kitchen

Network: FOX
Premiere date: September 10
Shouty chef Gordon Ramsay will continue yelling through the unlucky-13th season of FOX reality show, which gives its winning contests a hilariously lucrative ($250,000/year) head chef job at one of Ramsay's restaurants. The two-hour season premiere promises a challenge that involves digging geoduck "out of intricate sand sculptures," while future challenges will involve glamping, cooking a "speed brunch," and serving food to guest judge Wendy Williams.
· All Hell's Kitchen Coverage on Eater [-E-]

[Photo: Parts Unknown/Facebook]

Parts Unknown

Network: CNN
Premiere date: September 28
The infinitely quotable Anthony Bourdain and the production team at Zero Point Zero return for the third season of CNN's Peabody Award-winning and Emmy Award-winning travelogue. Details are scarce, but a CNN representative confirms that the season will stretch over eight episodes and include Bourdain's visit to Iran, which he wrote about at length earlier this month. More information, of course, as it becomes available.
· All Parts Unknown Coverage on Eater [-E-]

Food Forward TV

Network: PBS
Premiere date: September
When PBS unveiled its pilot for Food Forward TV back in 2012, it earned a James Beard Award nomination for its take on "Urban Agriculture Across America" (that pilot is available to stream online here). Now, the complete 13-episode first season is ready for primetime, bringing "innovators and pioneers who are transforming the way we eat and grow our food" to PBS. Each episode focuses on the old-school "food rebels" working in different industries, from fishing to seed-saving to revitalizing public school lunches. Premiere date varies; check local listings.
· All PBS Coverage on Eater [-E-]


A Chef's Life

Network: PBS
Premiere date: October 5
North Carolina chef Vivian Howard (of the Chef and the Farmer) returns for a second season of the Peabody Award-winning A Chef's Life. In season one, Howard investigated local food traditions using her Kinston, NC restaurant as the nerve center; season two sees Howard and partner Ben Knight doing the same while opening their second local project, the Boiler Room. The new season will also include a one-hour "holiday special" airing in December.
· All A Chef's Life Coverage on Eater [-E-]

[Photo: FOX]

Bob's Burgers

Network: FOX
Premiere date: October 5
This hilarious comedy about a family-owned burger restaurant collected its first-ever Emmy Award for Best Animated Program earlier this week, and in October, it'll return for its fifth season. As in seasons past, it'll feature comedian H. Jon Benjamin as the titular short-order cook/restaurant owner Bob Belcher and Dan Mintz voicing television's best teenaged girl character, Tina Belcher. Expect many excellent burger puns.
· All Bob's Burgers Coverage on Eater [-E-]


On the Menu

Network: TNT
Premiere date: early October
Details are scarce, but a rep for TNT confirms this long-stewing reality show starring host Ty Pennington (Extreme Makeover Home Edition) and chef Emeril Lagasse will debut in early October, marking TNT's first foray into reality food TV. According to an earlier press release, home-viewers will have "the change to taste the winning dish after every episode," as part of partnerships with chains, concession stands, and "other American food business." Think NBC's short-lived Fashion Star (which allowed viewers to buy the week's designs)… only with food. Survivor's Mark Burnett produces.
· All On the Menu Coverage on Eater [-E-]

Top Chef Boston

Network: Bravo
Premiere date: October 15
The 12th season of this Bravo stalwart goes to Boston, providing host Padma Lakshmi, judge Tom Colicchio, "recurring judge" Richard Blais, and Gail Simmons with ample fodder for making references to chowder and Beantown. An early teaser video reveals upcoming challenges like creating a complete Thanksgiving dinner using old-school ingredients, serving a meal on the field at Fenway Park, and sudden-death Quickfires that can eliminate contestants on the spot.
· All Top Chef Coverage on Eater [-E-]

Best Bars in America. [Photo: Esquire Network/Facebook]

Best Restaurants in America

Network: Esquire
Premiere date: October
As a companion piece to Esquire's annual Best Restaurants issue (and accompaniment to its Best Bars in America show), Esquire TV will reveal a one-off "Best Restaurants" special scheduled to air sometime in October.
· All Best Restaurants In America Coverage on Eater [-E-]

[Photo: FYI Network]

Midnight Feast

Network: FYI Network
Premiere date: October
NYC's iconic Chelsea Market becomes a stage during this competitive reality show, which sees three chefs challenged with using nothing but market products to create the best four-course meal. The twist (of sorts): The cash prize varies per episode — it's 10 times the total of the winner's chosen ingredients — while the losing chefs have to pay their own grocery bill. Chef/Top Chef alum Spike Mendelsohn hosts, while restaurateur John DeLucie and Eater's own Kat Odell serve as judges.
· All Midnight Feast Coverage on Eater [-E-]


[Photo: FOX/Facebook]

Masterchef Junior

Network: FOX
Premiere date: November 7
After a surprise-hit first season, the kid-sized version of MasterChef returns for season two, with a new line-up of precious contestants all between the ages of eight and 13. MasterChef's usual line-up of judges Gordon Ramsay, Joe Bastianich, and Graham Elliot return to act more as mentors than executioners, heaping praise upon the children like "young man, this is one of the best visually cooked veal chops anywhere in the country tonight."
· All MasterChef Junior Coverage on Eater [-E-]


[Photo: Tom Colicchio/Facebook]

Best New Restaurant

Network: Bravo
Just last week, Bravo announced it would team with Bon Appetit to launch its previously announced competition show, featuring Tom Colicchio as host/judge. Based off of Gordon Ramsay's UK show Ramsay's Best Restaurant, the show will pit 16 "of the nation's hottest new restaurants" against each other in a competition judging not just solo dishes or chefs, but the entire restaurant concept as a whole. Bon App's editor-in-chief Adam Rapoport and restaurant editor Andrew Knowlton will act as recurring "VIP diners," while Ramsay and Colicchio act as producers. A rep says to expect the show sometime in "early" 2015.
· All Best New Restaurant Coverage on Eater [-E-]

Fresh Off the Boat

Network: ABC
Chef Eddie Huang's 2013 memoir Fresh Off the Boat becomes a scripted sitcom from ABC, scheduled to debut in the midseason of 2015. The show follows the Huang family's move from Washington, DC to Orlando, Florida, where his parents owned a cowboy-themed steakhouse in the '90s. The 11-year-old Huang acts as a narrator, describing his family's approach to the American dream‚ which "is to fit in" as hijinks ensue.
· All Fresh Off the Boat Coverage on Eater [-E-]


The Taste

Network: ABC
Chefs Anthony Bourdain, Nigella Lawson, Ludo Lefebvre, and Marcus Samuelsson inexplicably return for yet-another season of ABC's The Taste, during which contestants are selected on the mentor/judge teams based off one single bite of a dish. The show will join the calendar as a midseason replacement.
· All Taste Coverage on Eater [-E-]

· All Food TV Coverage on Eater [-E-]
· All 2014 Fall Previews on Eater [-E-]