There may be no Gordon Ramsay in sight but that doesn’t mean this cooking show should be dismissed. If you’re a fan of MasterChef Junior then you should also love FYI Network’s Man Vs. Child: Chef Showdown, which pits five children against one adult in an intense cook off.
When it comes to shows about food, the audience has a whole buffet of choices to dine on. Standing out from the appetizing menu is quite challenging. By switching it up with young chefs battling an experienced adult, Man Vs. Child serves up a refreshing, tasty dish.
Debuting in 2015, the 14-episode season featured a roster of child prodigies: Cloyce, Holden, Emmalee, Dylan, and Estie. Their ages ranged from as old as 14, to as young as 7. Each episode sees a high profile executive-level chef step up to the challenge and defend themselves against a horde of pint-sized terrors.
It’s dangerous to underestimate the competition, no matter the venue. These little tykes pack a big punch, proving themselves as formidable opponents in the kitchen. The kids will cook everything from Southern comfort food, to lavish Spanish cuisine, or incorporate trendy ingredients.
The respected talent involved in Man Vs. Child: Chef Showdown bring a certified stamp of authenticity. Well-known in the culinary world, chefs Mike Isabella and Alia Zaine provide commentary and judge the flavorful creations. Guest-starring season one judges included renowned names like Hubert Keller, Ludo Lefebvre, Mary Sue Milliken, and Top Chef’s Antonia Lofaso. Hosting the show is The Next Food Star’s Season 4 runner-up, Adam Gertler.
Each week, contestants must prove their skills in three rounds, creating and cooking different dishes under extraordinary circumstances. The kids decide which of them will duke it out against the adult chef. For the first two rounds, judges taste what each chef has prepared. The second round issues a handicap on one team, like using strange ingredients. For the final round, an esteemed master blind tastes their food. The overall winner gets to rub it in the loser’s face.
Season two increased the pressure with nobody holding back. Season one’s Cloyce, Emmalee, Estie, and Holden returned with confidence from experience to team-up with new chefs Isiah (9), Olivia (11), and Zion (10). They were judged by new guest-starring executive chefs and restaurant owners like Art Smith, Susan Feniger, Eric Greenspan, Jonathan Waxman, Bruce Kalman, and Antonia Lofaso.
Man Vs. Child was well-received by the audience. The competition series has an impressive 7.6 rating on IMDB for its first two seasons. The mega popularity of cooking shows like Hell’s Kitchen and MasterChef created a lucrative sub-genre of reality television, inspiring millions of viewers at home to experiment in the kitchen and steal a recipe or two.
With the unique perspective of child chefs, this series can inspire the audience even more. Younger viewers may feel the urge to get creative in the kitchen and help their parents make dinner. They may also think more about their own health. Instead of dining on fast-food Happy Meals, they may crave some risotto and Beef Wellington instead.
There’s also an interesting juxtaposition revealed between the two competitive styles that children and adults approach the challenge of Man Vs. Child. When asked about what winning the competition would mean to them, seven-year-old Estie said, “I could win… which would be good,” while her adult challenger said, “Winning is the most important thing.” The series reminds us of the pure passion behind the younger chefs. They want to create fantastic dishes because it’s fun. Their innocent joy and expressive enthusiasm are contagious.
Man Vs. Child doesn’t hold back with its criticism. The blind taste test is a perfect example of how fairly each meal is judged. These executive chefs aren’t afraid to say what they think.
Who is your favorite child chef on Man Vs. Child? What was your favorite dish so far? What kind of challenge do you want to see next?
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