Food Network Challenge

TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
Food Network Challenge TV Poster Image
Competitive cooking show offers lots of tasty fun.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

The series emphasizes the art and skill required for creative (and tasty) food and pastry preparation. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Good sportsmanship is very important for all of the contestants. Depending on the challenge, competitors range from professional chefs and cake decorators to amateur cooks, but they all share a love of food and food preparation.


During some competitions, chefs use blow torches and other construction tools to build their cakes. Some of the more interactive desserts spin and smoke; during one competition, a cake accidentally caught fire.


Names/titles of certain food items occasionally include the term “sexy."


Contestants occasionally swear in frustration, but the words are completely bleeped.


Some of the competitions are sponsored by food companies like Wilson’s and Pillsbury. Some of the baking competitions feature themed shows with characters from movies like The Little Mermaid, TV shows like The Simpsons, The Ringling Bros., and other pop culture media.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Alcohol is sometimes used in food preparation. On rare occasions, a person will be seen drinking a beer or a glass of wine or champagne at an outdoor competition.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this fun food competition show has some very mild sexual innuendo and the occasional fully bleeped expletive. While it's geared toward chefs of all ages, kids will probably be most interested in some of the more kid-themed shows, which feature characters from movies like The Little Mermaid, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, and even TV shows like The Simpsons. Pillsbury, Wilson's, and other food-related companies often sponsor national competitions, and their names/logos are featured.

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What's the story?

On FOOD NETWORK CHALLENGE, cooks, chefs, bakers, and cake artisans from around the world compete for cash prizes and bragging rights. Each episode features a specific challenge in which individual and/or teams of contestants must prepare, cook, and/or construct their culinary creations within a set time limit. Throughout it all, the participants -- and the experts -- offer insight into what goes into their cooking, as well as some advice about how to create interesting dishes. When time runs out, they must present their (hopefully) mouthwatering and/or aesthetically pleasing masterpieces to a picky panel of judges, which includes food experts like veteran sugar master Kerry Vincent and American food journalist Mark Bittman.

Is it any good?

The fun series, which is hosted by Claire Robinson (who succeeded long-time host Keegan Gerhard), presents a wide array of events catering to specific specialty skills in areas like BBQ grilling, sandwich making, pizza dough throwing, and cake construction and decorating. It also features a variety of national cooking competitions, including Pillsbury’s National Bake-Offs.

The show is definitely geared toward cooking and baking fans, but kids may be drawn to some of the holiday-inspired and kid-themed shows, which include creating spectacular birthday cakes and constructing giant Disney characters out of fondant. And een non-chefs may find themselves interested (or inspired) by the ways that people get inspired by food and food preparation.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about cooking competitions. Why are these shows so popular? Who are they intended to appeal to?

  • Do you think the media has changed the way that people look at food and food preparation?

  • Is cooking on a TV show different from cooking at home or at a restaurant? Why or why not?

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love cooking and food

Themes & Topics

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