The end of the summer means the start of peak food TV season. Between now and New Year’s Day, a slew of popular competition shows will return to the airwaves, along with acclaimed documentary series and shows that defy easy categorization, like Martha and Snoop’s Potluck and At Home With Amy Sedaris. A handful of these programs are undergoing — or are about to undergo — major concept overhauls, and the fall TV calendar also includes a few unusual surprises.
Here’s a guide to what to expect from the major networks this fall, listed based on Eater Anticipation Levels:
A Chef’s Life
Major player: Vivian Howard
Premiere: First week of October on PBS; check local listings
The gist: The last season of A Chef’s Life showed North Carolina chef Vivian Howard writing her book, Deep Run Roots, and now audiences will get to see her touring the country in support of that release. The recipes this season will be partially inspired by the destinations on her book tour through the southeast. Howard recently told Eater that this might, however, be the last season to follow that one ingredient/recipe per episode format. “I’ve done every ingredient that makes sense in this particular framework,” Vivian says, “and I know how to stew collard greens and make pickles and preserve, so I think it’s time to do something else.”
Major players: Anthony Bourdain; Zero Point Zero Production
Premiere: October 1 at 9 p.m. on CNN
The gist: Bourdain heads to eight destinations around the world, starting with Singapore, for Season 10 of his award-winning travel program. Parts Unknown keeps getting better with every season, as Bourdain and his crew continue to visit people and places that aren’t often featured on most cable TV travel shows. On November 12, the Parts Unknown run will be interrupted by a television premiere of the Bourdain-produced documentary Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent.
The Mind of a Chef
Major players: Danny Bowien, Anthony Bourdain
Premiere date: To be announced
The gist: The fifth season of this acclaimed, Bourdain-produced documentary series will track the lives of Mission Chinese proprietor Danny Bowien and at least one other chef, still to be named. Although the first four series aired on PBS, Mind of a Chef’s new season is headed to a new, yet-to-be-announced network. By diving deep into the creative processes of iconoclast kitchen professionals, Mind of a Chef helped pave the way for non-fiction shows like Chef’s Table and A Chef’s Life — and it’s still one of the best food programs on TV.
Iron Chef Showdown
Major players: Alton Brown, Michael Symon, Bobby Flay, Alex Guarnaschelli, Jose Garces, and Stephanie Izard
Premiere date: Mid-fall
The gist: The Iron Chef revival continues with a new series featuring all-stars from the show’s original American run, plus the new addition of Gauntlet champion Stephanie Izard. Mark Dacascos, the back-flipping staple of the original Iron Chef America, will return as the Chairman, and ESPN veteran Jaymee Sire will be on board as a reporter. And of course, Alton Brown will be back as host and master of the many-pronged tablet board.
In other Brown news, the host/author/social media superstar will be hitting the road in October for the final run of his popular Eat Your Science stage show. Still no word yet on a release date for the reboot of Good Eats, though, but Brown teased its return earlier this summer.
Martha and Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party
Major players: Martha Stewart, Snoop Dogg
Premiere date: October 16 on VH1
The gist: Two moguls from vastly different corners of the media landscape host televised dinner parties for their famous friends. As audiences learned last fall, this is more than just a stunt show — Martha and Snoop have good chemistry on screen, and they’re both clearly having a lot of fun with this VH1 excursion. Season two will feature cameos from an array of celebrities, including Queen Latifah, RuPaul, Margaret Cho, Wanda Sykes, Craig Robinson, Patti LaBelle, Jamie Fox, Michelle Rodriguez, and P. Diddy.
At Home with Amy Sedaris
Major player: Amy Sedaris
Premiere date: October 24 on truTV
The gist: The Strangers With Candy star and I Like You author brings her unique brand of hospitality and craftiness to basic cable. In addition to recipe demonstrations, Sedaris will teach viewers and her guest hosts how to gut fish, turn raisins into necklaces, and make popsicle stick buddies, among other projects. Check out a teaser clip here.
Bizarre Foods: Delicious Destinations
Major player: Andrew Zimmern
Premiere date: October on the Travel Channel, exact date TBA
The gist: Walking, talking food encyclopedia and all-around charming fellow Andrew Zimmern heads to a new set of culinary destinations to sample the local delicacies. Zimmern’s itinerary this season includes Madrid, Prague, Cape Town, Oslo, and Phnom Penh. Over the summer, Zimmern also filmed a new program about his favorite dishes, called The Zimmern List, but that won’t be hitting the airwaves until next year.
Guy’s Big Project
Major player: Guy Fieri
Premiere date: Late fall on the Food Network, exact date TBA
The gist: In between catching the theater and cooking for the Raiders, Guy Fieri has been working on a brand-new TV show that will involve creating a Food Network program with one of the chefs he met over the last decade of filming Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives. Cooking challenges will be involved, so Guy’s Big Project will combine elements of the show where Fieri got his start, Next Food Network Star, and the series that made him a star, Triple D. This fall, the Mayor of Flavortown will also appear in new episodes of Guy’s Grocery Games and Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, also on the Food Network
Major player: Gordon Ramsay
Premiere date: September 29 at 8 p.m. on Fox
The gist: After a summer full of MasterChef episodes and the launch of his variety show The F Word, Gordon Ramsay is turning his attention back to his first hit cooking competition for Fox, Hell’s Kitchen. The new season is actually an “all star” edition, so expect familiar faces from the previous 15 series. California cuisine trailblazer Wolfgang Puck will be a guest star on the Friday, September 29 premiere.
Although this is the only official Ramsay show that Fox has announced for the fall, the chef recently hinted at plans for another show in the vein of Kitchen Nightmares, and Fox has apparently green-lit a few other series with the network’s culinary superstar. So don’t be surprised if another Ramsay program sneaks its way onto the lineup at some point before the end of the year.
Top Chef and Top Chef Junior
Major players: Tom Colicchio, Padma Lakshmi, Graham Elliot, Gail Simmons, Curtis Stone, and Vanessa Lachey
Premiere date: Late fall on Bravo for Top Chef ; October 13 on Universal Kids Network for Top Chef Junior
The gist: After 14 seasons, Bravo’s cooking competition shows no sign of slowing down. Tom, Padma, Gail, and Graham are all back to judge a new series of Quickfires and Elimination Challenges. This time, Top Chef will be filming in Colorado’s major culinary hubs: Denver, Boulder, and Telluride. No word yet who will be competing during Season 15, but some of the names usually leak before the official announcement — as always, please send all Top Chef casting gossip to the Eater tipline.
Elsewhere in the Top Chef universe, Curtis Stone and Vanessa Lachey are hosting a new spinoff wherein kids ages 9 through 14 will perform challenges similar to the ones on the O.G. Top Chef, including Restaurant Wars. Top Chef Junior will be one of the first series on the forthcoming Universal Kids Network, which is taking over Sprout’s place on the dial in early September. For those keeping track at home, this is the fourth official spinoff of the cooking competition juggernaut, after Top Chef Masters, Top Chef Duels, and Top Chef: Just Desserts.
Moveable Feast With Fine Cooking
Major players: Curtis Stone, Pete Evans, and Michelle Bernstein
Premiere date: September 2 on PBS
The gist: The travel show from WGBH Boston and Fine Cooking magazine will profile chefs and food artisans in America, Europe, and Puerto Rico during Season 5. New co-host Curtis Stone will tour the Pacific Northwest and Southwestern United States, while series veteran Pete Evans will visit Italy and France, and chef Michelle Bernstein will take viewers on a tour of Puerto Rico. The 13 episodes include several elaborate pop-up meals and appearances by many acclaimed chefs, including Seattle empire builders Tom Douglas and Renee Erickson, Guy Savoy, Oakland chef James Syhabout, Top Chef alum Bryan Voltaggio, and cookbook author Patricia Wells.
Also of note: The Travel Channel’s comfort food-obsessed non-fiction series Food Paradise will return for a new batch of episodes in September. In October, the Food Network gets new episodes of standbys Beat Bobby Flay, Chopped, Chopped After Hours, Cooks Vs. Cons, and Worst Cooks in America: Celebrity Edition. YouTube star Hannah Hart has a new Food Network show called I Hart Food, and Bobby Flay and Southern at Heart host Damaris Phillips are teaming up for a new grilling-heavy series in September called The Bobby and Damaris Show. And over the next few months, the Cooking Channel will air new installments of Cheap Eats, Heston’s Fantastical Food, Cake Hunters, The Best Thing I Ever Ate, and Big Bad BBQ Brawl.
Fresh Off the Boat, the sitcom based on chef Eddie Huang’s life, is coming back for its fourth season on ABC on October 3. Sunday night staple Bob’s Burgers will start its eighth season on Fox on October 1. And one of the big sitcom surprises of spring 2017, Superior Donuts, will be kicking off its second season on October 30 on CBS.
Viewers can also look forward to the returns of a few comedies that often feature plots and/or jokes about food and restaurants, including Curb Your Enthusiasm (October 1 on HBO), Broad City (September 13 on Comedy Central), and Brooklyn Nine-Nine (September 26 on Fox).
Greg Morabito is a senior editor at Eater.
Editor: Erin DeJesus