Top Chef: Fake Edition

chef_512x512x32One of the more popular reality television programs in the United States is Top Chef, a cooking competition for young professional chefs (cooks). On the show, contestants (people who are participating in the competition or game) try to cook the best possible food, often in a very short amount of time. (Top means “the best” in this case.) It is one of several popular cooking shows now in the U.S.

Many Americans like to cook. Sadly, I am not one of them. But it is possible nowadays to pretend like you’re cooking, even when you aren’t doing all of the normal hard work of preparing a meal.

Several food companies have developed what we might call “half-cooked” or “half-prepared” meals, where most of the work is done for you, but not all of it.

You might wonder why companies would sell meals that were not completely finished. The answer is simple: guilt.

People feel guilty (bad because you did something wrong) about saying they “cooked” something when they don’t have some active participation in the preparation.

This fact came to light (was discovered; became known) in the 1940s, when baking companies discovered a way to sell cake mix (a dry, powdered form of the cake ingredients) that only required adding water and putting it in the oven. When they went to sell the product to (mostly) American women, they hated it!

So the companies tried something different. They made the mix so that you would need to add an egg with the water. That concept was an instant (immediate) hit (very successful). Women said this felt more like “real cooking.”

Even to this day (even today; nowadays), you have to buy an egg to add to the cake mix before baking it.

There are variations (different versions) of this approach (tactic; way of doing something). Some companies package (put into small bags) the individual ingredients (things you use to make food) separately so that you have to “add” them together to cook and eat the food. Again, the companies could just put them all together for you, but people want to feel like they’re cooking.

Another popular version is to require you to buy some “fresh” food, such as vegetables or meat, which is then added to the box of ingredients you get from the store.

I am hoping that someday soon, there will be another edition (kind; variation) of Top Chef called Top Chef: Fake Edition, where people like me who pretend to cook can compete against other fake (false; not real) cooks. I’m pretty sure I’d win.

Is “pretend cooking” popular where you live? Have you ever “fake cooked” a meal?


Image credit: Chef by Juan Pablo Bravo from The Noun Project

This entry was posted in Life in the United States, Television and Movies. Bookmark the permalink.

30 Responses to Top Chef: Fake Edition

  1. emiliano says:

    He dear Jeff, once again here to tell something about the notes.

    Here in Spain there is a TV show that is just the same to the one you said. Sure it is an imitation of it and sure that
    the same program there must be in other countries.

    So, you change from a country to another, swich on the TV. (turn on) and you are seeing the same program?
    It is really so sad and boring such a lack of imagintion.

    Talking about cook, I know a little about how to cook some food, simple dishes that Cuca and me like to eat for
    I was cooking more tan fourteen years since the time Cuca couldn´t cook any more, such a pity as she cooks really good.

    I have never have seen a program about cooking, no, because I use to cook with the ingredients I have previously
    at home. So, so much instructions about how to do this or that is something I am not interested.

    To cook the only things you need it is some food like, fruit, meat, fish, vegetables, salt, onions, garlic, oil, potatoes
    and a imagination…………too much imagination a good memory to remember how our mother first and our couple
    (wife husband, or friends) after cooked, that has been enough for me always.

    It is like a work of art, you need the different colours, a suface to paint, an instrument to plast the colours on the surface
    and it is enough.
    There are people who could do it, and ther people that don´t.

    To me it is easy, never like to read a récipe, instinct or intuition is enough, at least for me.

    Now our Peruvian Isabel cooks, and she is much more better than me as more as ten times.

    Just a pleasure dear friend Jeff to be here once again, after being in my loved London city.
    I have spent eight days really good, like in a dream.


  2. Betty says:

    Dear Jeff

    Thanks for just an stimulating article which makes me typing into the computer.

    It is very odd for me to see people make such a big fuss about cooking. Cooking is a basic skill in life which enable us to eat something cooked, not raw.

    I simply put whatever I think will go well together, together.

    It is important not to put something together which will creat a toxin, and then eat it, as simple as that.

    Emiliano say it all. Cooking is like painting, some people do it so easily, some people don’t know how to do it. However, if people try, everyone can cook.

    In any case it is just food which is the most basic part of human’s life. Don’t tell yourself that you can’t cook.

    Children can’t cook because they are too young. Yet when some children’s parents can’t cook for them due to any reason, the children have to cook for themselves and the parents. They soon pick up the skill just like that.

    So, please don’t deny yourself the fun of cooking food. Start today and you will amaze yourself how easy it is to cook.

    Many thanks again.

    Best Regards

    Betty 🙂

  3. hanmi says:

    Hi~ I like so much these blogs, they’re interesting,impressive,funny and very useful. How creative you are!
    Let me tell you something , when I was a child, cooking was just woman’ s job.
    A kitchen was not a place for men.
    But nowdays it is not anymore, some ordinary men like cooking and do it very well.
    I guess, not professionally, half cooked meals make it easier.
    Sometimes artificial ingredients in fake cooked meals are bad name on it, easy cooking is helpful for beginners.
    Preparing things for 3 min. in a microwave oven and pouring it over steamed rice.
    I like cook but there’s no time to cook in school days.
    Sadly I am a poor( very inferior skill) cook , my family prefer to having meals at any kind of restaurant.
    And thanks a lot for your eslpod teams.

  4. Parviz says:

    Hi Jeff,
    Thank you for this interesting, educational and funny topic. It always feels so good to start my day with glimpse on your blog. You actually save my every day.
    You know I am all about ‘’fake cooking’’. Though I have a good taste for delicious foods, it is always difficult for me to find a time for cooking.
    I am sure when I cooked, it would be delicious, the problem is I just don’t cook.
    I thing about all kind of interesting food during the day, but when it comes to cook them, I step back. Then, inevitably, I have to resort to something pre-prepared, or half-prepared food.
    I know my food habits have changed dramatically during past few years. In the past I had the convenience of someone to cook for me, like my late Mom (who was a great cook), or my sister, who is a great cook. Now, I live far away from my hometown and family.
    When I was younger, I was just trying to be good at school, and never tried to be good at kitchen, that why I feel illiterate about cooking, although its importance continues to stay with me forever.
    Dear Jeff if you held that completion for “fake cooks” I would participate. I Never mind to be placed second, since for me it is always “after you”.
    To your success,

  5. Parviz says:

    Hi emilliano,
    It seems that you still carry on you some of the spirits of your trip to London. I am glad to see that you were passionate in the past, but now you feel young, as well.
    I think it is in that spirit to ask you to tell about the food (your favorites) in Madrid, or in London, if you will.
    Did you enjoy eating new foods when you where in London, or did you deny yourself for what ever reason?
    I love reading your post.
    There is also a friend of mines, who is also interested about your post, after I told her about you and Cucca living together for forty some years, and still feel new and fresh to each other.
    Thank you ,
    PS, I didn’t tell my friend about your Gattufo, because she is fond of mice.

  6. Zahra says:

    Dear Jeff

    Thanks for this article,but i have a question

    One of the more popular programs or One of the most popular programs
    i don’t know this grammer

    Best Regards

  7. Dan says:

    Hi there guys,

    Thanks Jeff for having us in here writing our thoughts, opinions, experiences, and perhaps at time, nonsense..

    I am not sure about that, but there probably is that program here too, or something similar.
    Nowadays, even TV has became globalized. I gather that if a program goes well it gets shown all over the globe.
    Just look on Youtube, you can find the same program in many languages. Like the -wheel of fortune- for instance.

    I had the chance to see one of those programs in the past for a few minutes (I could not resist more than that).
    What I have learned from that is that many people would do E V E R Y T H I N G when in front of a camera. Someone did that too!

    Personally, when I need a recipe, I just look up on the web.

    I prefer simple cuisine over more sophisticated more elaborate one.

    Just like the one we have over here in Italy. The Mediterranean diet.

    If I want I can cook. Problem is that I am getting even more simpler in my habits so I am cooking less. It depends also by the mood I am that day.

    Thank you.

  8. emiliano says:

    Absolutely, I agree with you Betty,
    Your explanation it is very clear and our thoughts are the same about cooking.

    I do think that every body can cook, it is a matter or having to do it.
    One could do it better, more ingredientes, more money or more intuition to
    know the times.
    Other will do worst but possible if they insist and want to cook.

    You said it perfectly well, even children cook when it is necessary to do it.
    Sometimes people make such a fuss about something so simple as being
    well fed.

    My best dear Betty. emiliano

  9. emiliano says:

    Even more, to me it is something like unmoral or dishonest to realice programs so
    complicated about meals having in mind there are millions of people in the world
    that have nothing to eat.
    Children and other that died because are not fed enough, yes our civilization is
    so cruel.
    Some body so rich, expending so much money doing complicated dishes and
    other millions without nothing.

    No, never I have seen a program like this you mentioned Jeff, I am sorry but it
    seems to me like scandalous and exhibicionist about the richness of some

    My best dear Jeff, and sure that you could cook nice simple meals.


  10. Satomi says:

    Hello, Jeff and everyone.

    It is the same situstion in my country, Japan that we do not spend time to cook, or preparing meals.

    There is a TV program which has been liked by wives, who don’t work out and mostly spend a day at home, for a long time.

    It is named “Three minutes Cooking” and brodecasted around noon, every day.

    The program shows how to cook easily using mayonnaise (both advertising and culture).

    I have hardly watched it because I am not at home at the time, and my mother also has not watched it because of work and she is not interested in such a program.

    In addition, recently at bookstores or magazine stands, I have seen cookingbooks about cooking and preparing in a short time for anyone.

    Nowaday, eveyone want diet guide books and also need short-time cooking books, I think.

    So, I don”t know whether the TV show is popular now, but most people feel the same thing, not want to cook from bigining to ending.

    By the way, I often do “pretend cooking” “fake cooked” in Saturday or Sunday morning,

    I just spread tomato sauce and put a slice of cheese some green peppers on toast, just easy!

    My mum praise my fake cooked and I am happy.

    So do Emiliano and Betty say, cooking is art.

    I strongly think so.

    Thank you for reading, bye.


  11. Betty says:

    Sorry I have made a mistake.

    “Thanks for just an stimulating article….”

    I meant to say “Thanks for such an stimulating article….”

    Many thanks.

    Betty 🙂

  12. emiliano says:

    London and English People……first

    My dear gatufo a good friend at home that miss me so much in my
    recent trip to London.
    Poor cat he couldn´t understand why Emiliano was not close
    to him along eight days.
    Emiliano was in London but cats don´t understand nothing
    about this kind of trips.
    He was sad, didn´t eat, did not want to be with other persons.
    along, on a chair without any explanation about what was
    Now he is happy again.


    PROLOGUE….to an England Trip (London and surroundings)


    English people are cold persons?….I don´t think so.

    There is a topic in my country that says English are cold people, they don´t feel the same way that Latinos, from people from the south and so forth.
    To me that´s not true. As always topics are not real.

    Always I have thought that´s was not true, and have some ocasions here in Spain of seeing it, it is onely that usualy they don´t speak Spanish, and Spaniards don´t speak a good English. So comunication among people from both countries it is difficult.

    Same years ago we, my wife Cuca and me, were living in Torrevieja (Alicante) for more tan four yearrs. In winter time the condominium was empty as this buildings of apartments are built to live in summer, to go to the beach, to take the sun and to be out home all day because people use these houses on hollidays.

    Inside the house, with more the thirty apartmentes, there were only two flats occupied. One were Cuca and me lived and other in the same floor with a couple of English people with their dog which name was “Fin”. Nat and Eyleen were their names. They don´t speak a single word in Spanish so it was me who has to star to speak with them.

    I invited them to our flat and talked with them in English, also translate into Spanish what Cuca had to say them and so forth.

    After some weeks our visits were like a rule, they came home and started to learnt some Spanish.
    Eyleen was very interested in learning Spanish as they were going to live near the sea in Alicante.
    They have bough a chalet in the coast and as they were retired they wanted to live in Spain for long.

    After a year of being in touch Eyleen and her husband Nat were like our family in Torrevieja, we were in this town because we have not a house in Madrid city for three or four years. The flat was been built and we have to live on the Alicante´s coast. Torrevieja city in fact.

    After two years Nat, Eyleen´s husband died and it was very very sorry for Cuca and me. Eyleen was alone, sad but absolutely strong, she was coming to see us twice a week from her new house out from Torrevieja.
    She loves Cuca and Cuca loves Eyleen.

    Cuca was her spanish teacher, and I was the one who solved all their mistakes with both languages.
    So English people cold? NO.

    Not for me at least, only it is necesary to speak their languager or them need to speak Spanish to be in touche and be more friendly.

    It is true that old English people don´t make the effort of leaning other languages. Spanish, French or German, as they think English is spoken for all over the world and all people speak their language.
    But new generations of English do learn Spanish or other different languages.

    So, if you don´t speak English with them it is impossible to be in touch friendly. But they are not cold, they are similar to other people from different countries.
    By the way the other close friends in Torrevieja were Maria a Greek woman who was married with a Spanish man Fidel.

    They were also spending long periods of time at the lonely house in winter time, so we were also in close friendship for months and years.
    Maria the Greek woman was absolutely good friend and good person by all means, the same a Fidel her Spanish husband.

    After coming back to Madrid, we have been in touch with Eyleen and Maria by phone, we remember each other a lot.

    Cuca and me miss our friends a lot. We miss Eyleen our English nice woman friends a lot. She was wich ever thing you can imagine, funny, warm, friendly, loving person, but cold?. Nothing more far from reality.

    My best dear Eyleen – Nat, Maria – Fidel, we remember you so much after seven years of not seeing

    Life is so.

    to be continued….

  13. Emmanuel says:

    Hi Dear Jeff,

    here is Emmanuel writing to you from the wonderfull St-Pierre-De-Plesguen in Brittany in the west part of France.
    Here in France we have also a TV show named “Top Chef” it is the same concept (copy/past), we also have “Master Chef”, and a new one called “who will be the next greatest patissier”
    In France thoses 3 primetime TV shows are very very popular. And there is further other less important cooking emissions on each channel.
    Since 3 years ago the interest of french people for cooking rised and we can observe that more personnes take pleasure in cooking.
    It’s my case too.
    So it should be a real pleasure to prepare you and Dr Lucy TSE, a dish if you come in France for holidays.

    Thanks a lot for your reading and your humour.

    Kind regards


  14. Lassana says:

    Hi Everyone,

    In France there is currently this type of TV show about cooking contests.
    These shows are broadcast on several TV canal.

    At start of these shows I was very catch on it, because it was very surprising to see many people make some recipes like a starter, main course or dessert.

    Certain of them cook like a master chef !

    Currently there are many of this type of show TV and it’s broadcast too often I suppose.

    Now I watch less often thsese TV show because they are too similar and the frequency of diffusion is too important.

    Since I have improve my talents of cook. I have never been a very good cook, but my family like my recipes and my meal.

    I think this kind of entertainment is very well, because we can learned recipes or improve our cook, we can discover a new way to cook.

    Thanks Jeef.

    See you soon Everyone

  15. Peter says:

    Fake cooking is somewhat an impossible task to do.

    I mean when you fake cooking ,it means you are not actually doing it. It is just pretend. So , I mean , I don’t get it . How do u come up with a meal at the end of the fake process.

    I mean , if you have some sort of grub at the end ,then ,u weren’t faking. You were whipping up sth.
    I didn’t get what Jeff meant by faking it.
    If it is pretend food , well it is childish
    You can’t fake food preparation when there is an end result ,as you can’t fake writing here when there result which is a comment validates your actually doing it .
    I mean , it sounds like Jeff like playing like children when they have a pretend tea part in which they serve pretend tea and cookies.
    They do fake cook

    I m confused !!
    how does Jeff fake doing it?
    I believe ,there few cooking channels that are cable channels. They are mostly on air in the morning.
    There is one or two cooking channels that are 24/7 ,I guess
    However , my information about the whole cooking deal is half assed because I don’t like cooking. I always whip up sth.
    what i mostly get is : TV foods ,frozen food ,or instant food
    I know one thing that most American are meat lovers. Well ,most of the meat-based food must be prepared from the scratch at the kitchen. There are some half cooked meat at grocery stores for you to buy ,but they are mostly just for one serving and relatively expensive.
    They are not economical


  16. Parviz says:

    Hi Zahra,
    Welcome to ESLpodcast blog.
    Here you shouldn’t be afraid of making mistakes. You just have to continue reading and Writing and your effort will pay off (will be successful).
    To answer your question “one of the most popular” is correct.
    Here is the rule,
    1) program A is popular.
    2) program B is more popular than A.
    3) program C is The most popular program (it is more popular than B and C together).
    But, please, as I already said don’t get confuse with grammar, Just Read the blog and the write something.
    That’s what it was for me when I came here to years ago.
    I hope I have answered your question.
    best wishes,

    [Note: Both “one of the more” AND “one of the most” are both correct.–ESL Podcast Team]

  17. Tania says:

    Hi! And our children can watch The Mickey Mouse Club cartoon on our cartoon TV program.
    It is translated and in our language but the song of the club starts with the same Magic Words
    “Meeska Mooska” without translating them, like every magic word.
    It is a very , very instructive and intelligent cartoon. All children love it.
    I like its march, too.

    “Who’s the leader of the club,
    That’s made for you and me?
    M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E!

    We’ll have fun, we’ll meet new faces.
    We’ll do things and we’ll go places.
    All around the world were marching.
    Who’s the leader of the club,
    That’s made for you and me?
    M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E!

    Now it’s time to say goodby
    To all our company
    M-I-C, See you real soon
    K-E-Y, Why? Because we like you

    Interesting to know more about the Mickey Mouse Club. Why?
    Because we like you , our dear ESLPOD team.

    All the best to you all,


  18. Tania says:

    Hi! Dear Jeff, I am angry with you.
    I had to lie at my public library as looking for “A Clockwork Orange”, the book was only in English.
    And at the librarian’s question if I can manage to read it in English I said “Yes, I can”.
    Can I? Very difficult to me, but incredible, I can follow the action even if I do not know many, many words.
    We translated the title as “The Mechanical Orange”.
    I have not seen the movie, just the trailer on You Tube, but I have read about it on Wikipedia.
    Being a masterpiece, thank you for this new challenge.

  19. Tania says:

    Hi! Dan, good for you! You post your comments further on!
    Did you forget? No politics, no religion among blog friends !
    Thank you for your malleability.

  20. Zahra says:

    Hi Parviz

    thank you so much for your answer, in fact i know grammar more and most
    and i think the first sentence in this article is not correct
    and i am surprised howthe author made this mistake
    and that’s because i ask my question in this way!!!!!!!
    what’s your opinion about this sentence? let me know

    Best wishes

  21. Tania says:

    Hi! Talking about “The Clockwork Orange”…
    I hate the demonic characters, hooligans, violence, ultra-violence, criminals, and all those who choose evil instead of good.
    Alex has a family. I suppose a rich family as he is an educated boy loving and understanding classical music, having money for bars, drugs, and drink.
    After rapes and crimes, after his detention in prison, Alex is released into society.
    To be our friend, no, to be our brother, as telling his story he often says “O my brothers” and “What’s it going to be then, eh?”
    Now he is a new man, he deserves our respect, our friendship. He deserves a family, he is rehabilitated.
    But all his raped and killed victims? Anybody talks nothing about his victims.
    Just the question: what do you choose? good or evil?
    And if you choose good there is the danger to be transformed into a clockwork, into a mechanical creation by the society.

  22. Tania says:

    Hi! It is true the rules are very strict in our society. You sometimes think you are just a robot with the same daily activities, but it is very important to think
    “but what I do I do because I like to do”. Human energy is better expended on creation than destruction.
    I prefer “to be a clockwork toy to be wound up by God than the Devil”.

    I am sure this novel is a great satire of youth subcultures that arose in 1950s Anglo-America.
    Brother with Alex, the narrator of this morbid story, of every new horrorshow?
    Maybe we are “his dirty reader”.

  23. Tania says:

    Hi! “A Clockwork Orange” novel is an “exploration of human violence and human free will”.

    The title was a metaphor for “… an organic entity, full of juice and sweetness and agreeable odour being turned into a mechanism.”

  24. Tania says:

    Hi! May I write some “A Clockwork Orange” quotes?

    “The important thing is moral choice. Evil has to exist along with good, in order that moral choice may operate.”

    “I see what is right and approve, but I do what is wrong.”

    “Senseless violence is a prerogative of youth, which has much energy but little talent for the constructive.”

  25. Tania says:

    “If he can only perform good or only perform evil, then he is a clockwork orange – meaning that he has the appearance of an organism
    lovely with colour and juice but in fact only a clockwork toy be wound up by God or the Devil.”

  26. Tania says:

    Interesting and the point of view of the author, Anthony Burgess:

    “… laws and conditions appropriate to a mechanical creation, against this I raise my sword-pen.”

    I like very much this phrase “sword-pen”.

    Maybe this is one of the reasons (his sword-pen) for which Anthony Burgess is “among the best novelists in England”.

    “His prose is as sharp as frost, his wit demonic, his imagination unbounded.”

  27. Tania says:

    “I like nothing better in this world than a good clean book”.

    Thank you, dear Jeff, for this masterpiece new to me.

  28. emiliano says:

    He Zahra. let me reply your question:

    most…..have nothing to do with…..more in the contest of the phrase.

    When Jeff said “more” he wants to say they are several popular programs on the TV.
    and this is one of popular programs…just because another programs are not popular absolutely.

    If he would said “one of the most popular programs……..” it means few, very few`
    programs that are most popular among several of them that are popular.

    Even it could be only one, if you said “the” inestead of “one”

    The most popular show in the TV. of Spain it was the World Champion match where
    Spain won the Cup of World Champion.

    So, you may see the difference among: One of the more popular (several )/ one of the most popular (few) / and
    finally “The most popular program……(it is only one ).

    Welcome dear Zahra, and sorry because I have taken the site of our dear teacher Jeff, our wise profesor
    who knows everything about English language.

    Dear Jeff, if I have said something wrong please, told us.
    emiliano it is which ever thing it could be less a teacher of English here.

    My best dear Zahra and Parviz.


  29. Zahra says:

    Emiliano: Thanks milion for your complete answer, i get it very well
    and i appreciate Jeff and i respect to him a lot


  30. Tania says:

    Hi! Thank you reminding us of “utopia” , I think a well-known term in my area.
    I do not know its opposite “dystopia”.
    We know about utopian socialism , a term used to define an imaginary ideal society.
    Sir Thomas More wrote “Utopia” (“no-place”) as a comedy or a satire.
    In “Utopia”, there is neither property nor money. The Utopian system is based on the premise that money corrupts government
    destroying justice and happiness in society.
    All property must hold in common.

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