Cooking with Passion

Chesapeake Restaurant Hosts Home Chef Cooking Competition

By Kimberly Cuachon-Haugh

Cooking shows are a television phenomenon that doesn’t seem to be halting any time soon. The first cooking TV show, I Love to Eat, was hosted by James Beard in 1946 on NBC. Then came Dione Lucas, the first woman to graduate from Le Cordon Bleu institute in Paris and the first woman to host a television cooking show. In 1992, cooking shows were kicked up a notch with the premier of Iron Chef. Its suspenseful reveal of a mystery ingredient and high-energy commentary were a far cry from The French Chef with Julia Child.

July 10 will bring about another cooking show, Cooking with Passion. Passion the Restaurant in Chesapeake and 44 Productions in Norfolk have collaborated to contrive a cooking show composed of home cooks going head-to-head, week after week. Inspired by the show Master Chef with the fierce palate of renowned chef Gordon Ramsay, contestants have no culinary training and are driven by their love for food. Similar to Iron Chef, the competition revolves around a secret ingredient. Filmed inside Passion, the two contestants have 30 minutes to prepare and then one hour to cook a dish that will be critiqued by a panel of judges. The winner will then move on in the competition, coming one step closer to winning over $1,000 in cash and prizes and will have their dish featured on Passion’s menu. 

Judge and member of the Tidewater Epicurean Club, Debbie McCarthy said she is “blown away by the talent brought to the competition by non-professionals.”  She is accompanied on the panel by foodie Susan Kaufman, who has judged her fair share of local food competitions; and Passion’s executive chef, Chef Garrett Barner, a Norfolk native who hails from Todd Jurich’s Bistro. 

For Passion owner Michael Gomori, the show’s idea turned reality truly represents “one thing that all people have in common—no matter what their creed, color, political affiliation is— we all eat and we all love good food.”  Gomori revealed that he was pleasantly surprised by the level of knowledge the contestants have brought forth.

Producer and director, Jeff Frizzell, best known for his work on reality show Eish Safari, a Survivor-type show that was kiddified, debuts in his directorial role in Cooking with Passion. He said that he doesn’t know why, but he’s drawn into cooking shows.  “It’s like a game show.  I believe everyone secretly wants to do it because you feel like you can do it too.”   

Carrie Long, a contestant on Cooking with Passion, said that the appeal of cooking shows today is “rooted in the reality phenomenon” and the anticipation of “I can’t wait to see what they come up with.” Her blog The Cook Crook, takes recipes Long has learned through cooking shows, books, websites, and classes, to reinvent them. Long said, “I tend to make up dishes and ad lib recipes I thought it would be a perfect fit [for the show]!”

Cooking with Passion may be labeled as “another cooking show” but it boasts Hampton Roads’ confidence with food. In comparison to Master Chef, the contestants on Cooking with Passion are real—there are no Kardashian antics to them or Jersey Shore stupidities—they are everyday people who have a passion for cooking; that’s it.

Click here for Passion's Web Promo Video!

Add your comment: