My family loves Alton Brown from the Food Network. I think I owe a lot of their cooking ability to his shows, especially Good Eats. If you ever want some good lessons in chemistry, do yourself a favor and get some episodes of Good Eats. The food science is explained in a way that I could understand it. Believe me, that is impressive. Alton is right up there with one of my other favorites, Beakman.
One of Alton's latest shows is Cutthroat Kitchen. I know a lot of fans were turned off by this show, where contestants bid on sabotages for their opponents (imagine Survivor with cooking), but we find it fascinating. A contestant without sabotages isn't as interesting as the ones who get them. You can really tell who the creative players are. They are unafraid of a sabotage. They may not win, but they try. My family likes to figure out how we would beat some of the sabotages. I think the tool and work station sabotages are easiest. It's fun to think how you would mix all of your ingredients in colander or prepare food on an odd surface, like a rocking counter or in a ball pit. The sabotages that replace their ingredients vary in difficulty. We watch and discuss what the players could do to work around their food sabotages, especially when they get canned items to replace fresh food. Of course, there are the players who sabotage themselves by forgetting an ingredient or straying too far from the dish they were asked to prepare. Forgetting staples like eggs or cream can really hinder your chances of making it to the next round.
Hardest are the challenges that force you to collaborate with an opponent, especially when they are tied together in some way or need to rely on the other player. There was an episode where two players had to cook each others' meals. They couldn't see the preparation, they could only give instructions to prep and cook it. It was a good lesson in clear communication and good listening skills.
Once the food is plated, a judge (who does not know who was sabotaged or how) samples their offerings and decides who goes on to the next round. Even at this point, creativity can help a contestant who is best able to convince the judge that the meal came out exactly the way it was supposed to. There is a joke on the show that when it doesn't come out right, the chef refers to his dish as "deconstructed." I recently made muffins that got stuck in the tins (I had rushed and didn't grease the pans enough.) I told my son they were deconstructed muffins. He asked what sabotage I got.
It's the little "in" jokes that keep a family together.