Variety reports that Paula Deen, the Queen of Cream, is shopping around a U.S. version of a popular Italian competitive-cooking show. Judging from the available clips, it looks like Chopped but with amateur cooks and Who Wants to be a Millionaire? lifelines. Deen's show will be called Food Chain, but the Italian show it's based on is called Cuochi E Fiamme which translates roughly to "Cooks and Flames." Food Chain is being pitched as a 30-minute show, unlike its hour-long Italian predecessor.
Here's a clip from the Italian show:
Eater has the promo clip that explains how the show will work.
Basically, two amateur cooks face off over three challenges. One tests their basic cooking skills, the second tests their ability to prepare classic recipes, and the final challenge tests their ability to innovate.
With each challenge, the chefs prepare the same dish, and their results are judged by a panel of three judges. The top chef from each round gets to pick which of two dishes he or she will prepare in the next round. Atop that formula are a couple of interesting twists. First, they only get 30 seconds to raid their pantry prior to the beginning of each challenge. Anyone who's watched Chopped chefs scurry in and out of the pantry know this is more than a minor wrinkle. The second twist is that the chefs have two lifelines to bail them out if they're struggling or utterly lost. The first lifeline lets them tag in the chef-host to help them power through a dish. The second gives them another 30 seconds in the pantry to collect whatever key ingredient they'd forgotten.
This show is a hit in Italy, but it'll be interesting to see how it translates to the United States, particularly if Deen is hosting. Italy has a well-defined culinary tradition, but how do you define classic American recipes?