This Tuesday on Fox, Mr. needs-a-nap chef Gordon Ramsay brings the world's biggest cooking competition to America with MasterChef. Featuring home cooks competing for $250,000 and the chance to publish their own cookbook, this American Idol of cooking shows doses out more drama than the wildly popular Australian version (tears, tears, tears!) and the role of in-you-face-humiliation by Gordon Ramsay is trumped by stuffishness and snobbery courtesy of restaurateur Joe Bastianich.
The must-watch? The funeral potatoes.
For a pre-show guffaw, make sure to check out the website and watch the two-minute video called "Funeral Potatoes," a segment in which a loaded potato casserole is prepared by a farmer in overalls, then served on a pig plate to the three judges whose expressions after tasting are priceless. Hey, MasterChef may not be the classiest food show on TV, but it sure the hell looks entertaining enough to be recorded this week alongside the premieres of Project Runway and the second season of Jersey Shore.
Now here's this week's foodie TV schedule so you won't miss a thing. For cable channels, check your local listings.
Monday (July 26)
Kid in a Candy Store: "Eye Candy." Artistic desserts are spotlighted. Included: hand-painted caramel apples; tattoo-inspired cakes; Peeps art. "Blissfully Sweet." Stops include a sweets bar in Houston that dips nearly everything in chocolate, including corn chips; a restaurant in Washington, D.C., serving a three-course gourmet dessert menu; a bake stand in Philadelphia's Reading Terminal Market; and a dessert truck in Los Angeles that makes architecturally inspired ice-cream sandwiches. 8 and 8:30 p.m., Food Network
Cake Boss: "Key to the City & A Key-tar Cake." Buddy returns to his hometown of Little Ferry, New Jersey, to be presented with a key to the city. Also: a retro cake is made for a 1980s tribute band. 9 p.m., TLC
The Best Thing I Ever Ate: "In a Bowl." Foods served in a bowl, from chili to gnocchi, are discussed by Food Network stars, including Guy Fieri, Sunny Anderson, and Duff Goldman. 9 p.m., Food Network
Fabulous Cakes: "Philadelphia." Three top bakeries in Philadelphia are spotlighted as they make elaborate cakes for special occasions, including a marriage proposal, a wedding, and an Earth Day celebration. 10 p.m., TLC
Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives: "You Called It." Guy Fieri checks out eateries suggested by viewers, including an old diner in Frankfort, Kentucky, a burger join in Cloquet, Minnesota, and a coffee shop in Fountain Valley, California. 10 p.m., Food Network
Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations: "Kerala, India." Tony visits Kerala in southwestern India and samples many spicy and flavorful dishes, from street food to home-cooked meals. Also: Indian actor Mammootty invites the host to visit him on the set of his action film. 10 p.m., The Travel Channel
Tuesday (July 27)
Hell's Kitchen: The chefs much teach bachelors with no cooking experience to prepare a monkfish recipe, and flagging energy makes things trickier during dinner service. 7 p.m., Channel 10, Fox
(New Show!) MasterChef: Talented home cooks begin their quest to be real chefs in the opener of the series that has them competing for $250,000 and the chance to publish their own cookbook. Their culinary creations will be judged by chefs Gordon Ramsay, Graham Elliot Bowles, and restaurateur Joe Bastianich. 8 p.m., Channel 10, Fox
Cupcake Wars: "Film Festival Faceoff." Contestants are challenged to make baked goods using foods found at a movie-theater concession stand. 9 p.m., Food Network
Chopped: "Wok This Way." The chefs must incorporate trout and white chocolate in their appetizers; whole coconuts in entrées; and two Japanese ingredients in their desserts. 10 p.m., Food Network
Wednesday (July 28)
Man v. Food: "Long Island." The host visits Long Island and orders a 7-pound seafood feast at the Port Royal Grille in Islip. He also indulges in a 7.5-pound pasta platter at Ciao Baby in Massapequa Park; and a giant sundae featuring 2.5 gallons of gelato topped with hot fudge, caramel, and Belgian waffles at the International Delight Café in Bellmore. 9 p.m., Travel Channel
Top Chef: Washington D.C.: "Power Lunch." The chefs prepare bite-size fare, then cerate a power lunch at an upscale eatery. Taste testers include chef Art Smith; politicos Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.); and journalists Joe Scarborough, Mika Brzezinski, and Savannah Guthrie. 9 p.m., Bravo
24 Hour Restaurant Battle: "High Skills Battle." Two experienced teams from Illinois and Texas compete. One has ambitious plans for a European bistro, while the other wants to open a modern piano bar featuring regional American cuisine. Judges include Karine Bakhoum; Ben Leventhal; and Marcus Samuelsson. 10 p.m., Food Network
Thursday (July 29)
Cook Like an Iron Chef: "Secret Ingredient Corn." Corn dishes are prepared. 7 p.m., The Cooking Channel
Ace of Cakes: "Duff Goes to Bat." Germany's Neuschwanstein Castle is re-created in cake. Also: Duff and Katherine deliver a cake to a bat refuge. 10 p.m., Food Network
Friday (July 30)
My Country, My Kitchen: "Gascony With Ariane Daguin." Chef Ariane Daguin tours France. Included: organic poultry farms; a duck auction; a vineyard. Also: poule au pot is prepared. 6:30 p.m., The Cooking Channel
DC Cupcakes: "Wedding Recipe." The ladies make wedding cupcakes using the bride and groom's family recipes. Meanwhile, a new employee gets off to a bad start by accepting a bad order of strawberries. "Fire House." The sisters give baking lessons to a local fireman, who later encourages the ladies to face off in a firehouse bake-off. They also deal with a difficult customer who sends back cupcakes for her daughter's sweet-16 party. 10 and 10: 30 p.m., TLC
Saturday (July 31)
Mexican Made Easy: "Good to Go." Prepared: picnic burritos with shredded dry beef; Mexican-style slaw with shredded jicama, beets, cucumbers, and arbol chiles; and coconut bark. 9:30 a.m., Food Network
Caribbean Food Made Easy: "High Commissioner's Meal." Pepper-pot stew; kebabs. Also: nouvelle Caribbean cuisine. 10 a.m., The Cooking Channel
Paula's Best Dishes: "Dishin' With the Deens." Grilled rib eye, served with fried oysters, garlic mashed potatoes, and caramel-apple cheesecake. 11:30 a.m., Food Network
Giada at Home: "Totally Fried." Fried foods are featured. Included: green-bean-and-asparagus tempura; spicy fried-chicken drumettes; fried rice balls' and fried chocolate-and-banana ravioli. 1 p.m., Food Network
Best Food Ever: "Fab Food Carts." American street foods, from ice cream to escargot, are the focus. "Buzzworthy BBQ." A tour of America's best barbecue joints. "Crazy for Cheese." Top cheesy eats from coast to coast are sampled. Included: French onion soup; pimento-cheese fritters. 8, 9, and 10 p.m., TLC
Sunday (August 1)
Grill It! With Bobby Flay: "Finger Lickin' Chicken." Prepared: grilled chicken cordon bleu; teriyaki-chicken lettuce wraps; grilled rice balls; grilled poached Asian pears; and grilled nectarines topped with ricotta cheese. 10:30 a.m., Food Network
Food Network Challenge: "Ultimate Cookie Clash." Top bakers prepare their best cookie recipes in three rounds of competition that also test their ability to adapt with some surprising twists and turns. 8 p.m., Food Network
Next Food Network Star: "Cooking for Eva Longoria." The five remaining hopefuls get to prepare their signature dishes, but they must also incorporate their least favorite ingredient. Then, each will prepare a dish inspired by a different emotion and serve it to Eva Longoria Parker and chef Todd English at their L.A. restaurant, Beso. 9 p.m., Food Network
Iron Chef America: "Morimoto vs. Hines." Seattle chef Maria Hines is the challenger against Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto. 10 p.m., Food Network
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