With the exception of the Iron Chef shows, I readily admit that I do not watch a lot of reality cooking programs. I’m just not sure what I’m supposed to be getting from these shows that pit big city chefs against each other and force them to concoct 12-course meals without using flour, sugar, water and milk and instead focusing all their food on lavender-infused soy milk. And I supposed I’ve worked in to many kitchens to care about the heightened drama TV tries to lend to those places.
That said, I am addicted to $12 Challenge. It’s a dating and food competition all rolled into one. The tag line for the Web-based series on Food2.com is: “2 Love-Hungry Cooks. 1 Hot Date. 1 Ticking Clock and $12. Oh, and the City is their only kitchen.”
The competitors are regular people — not real chefs — and they have $12 and two hours to buy and cook a meal of the datee’s choice. And they have to use their creativity to figure out how to cook these meals. In the most recent Webisode, for example, Chanell and Athena are competing for a date with Larry who wants steak and eggs (and is, “Hungry for everything — love, food…” Such a player!). Chanell cooks her meal at a dry cleaners using an iron (it turns out that you CAN cook eggs with an iron if you have to) and Athena uses a blowtorch at a body shop for hers. Other wannabe lovers have talked their way into deli’s and restaurants and used real kitchens, but it’s much more entertaining to watch the girls wielding their improvised searing implements to get their food done.
Best of all, the episodes are about five minutes long. Perfect for procrastinating work without demanding too much of a commitment.