When it comes to these two cooking reality shows, honestly, there's no comparison. We watch both of them, but really, only one of the shows has any real merit.
Hell's Kitchen is pure trash. It's about backstabbing, dirty laundry, and cheap editing tactics to extend the show to a full hour. The chefs never create their own food, and they can barely cook the menu given to them. It just seems so contrived too – any time they start to get ahead, have chef Ramsay shout and swear at them to get them flustered so they'll mess up. It's a simple recipe, but thankfully, it's fun to watch. It's like junk food. We love it, but we know it's bad for us.
On the other hand, Top Chef is like a fine dining experience. There's a bit of drama, but the focus is really on the food – with 15 chefs who actually know what they're doing in a kitchen and who continue to stun us with their creativity as, week after week, they make new dishes from the most obscure ingredients. We don't get it in Canada until a few months after it airs in the US, but when we do, we like to savour it. We're only about 5 episodes into the new season – which is already on episode 10. But no rush. This is like a good wine, and it only comes around once a year.
Last week at Costco, we stumbled on the Top Chef Cookbook, which has some of the best recipes from the first three seasons, plus loads of info about a really great show and the contestants. Haven't tried anything for it yet, but you can bet we'll be using it the first chance we get to do some fancy cooking.