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Stream It Or Skip It: ‘Gordon Ramsay’s Food Stars’ on Fox, Where The Famously Hot-Tempered Chef Gets His ‘Apprentice’ On

Gordon Ramsay knows what it takes to run a successful, global food-related company, and that business savvy is the basis for his new Fox show Gordon Ramsay’s Food Stars. On the new series, which also streams on Hulu, 15 competitors compete in 10 challenges to see who will ultimately win a cash prize from Ramsay that will help them expand their existing food-related business. With an emphasis on business rather than cooking, unfortunately it just feels like Ramsay is just looking for America’s Next Top Business Investment.

Opening Shot: Gordon Ramsay jumps right in to explain the premise of this show. “The food and drink industry has never been more exciting. But it’s also never been tougher to succeed. I want to help someone get to the top, investing a quarter of a million dollars of my own cash into their business.”

The Gist: Fifteen entrepreneurs who have created a food-related business, be it an actual restaurant, an app, or another kind of physical product, are competing for Daddy Gordon’s love, er, I mean, to impress Chef Ramsay with their business acumen in order to earn his money, which will be invested into their burgeoning business. So that’s the over-arching premise of the show, but there’s quite a bit of ridiculousness to the series, too. For one thing, the fifteen contestants are made to assemble on a beach in California where they excitedly watch Ramsay arrive in a helicopter which lowers to just a safe enough distance for him to dive into the water just because he can, to raucous applause from the competitors. Ramsay stands there in his wet suit explaining the premise of the show, which is that there will be ten weeks of challenges which will help him determine which of them deserves his money.

Their first challenge is all about making good first impressions, and that’s when we learn that Gordon’s big helicopter entrance was a lesson in how to make a good one. I see what he did there! The contestants are divided into three teams of five and tasked with running a food shack on the beach (think Top Chef‘s Restaurant Wars in a food truck). The rules are simple: the team that makes the least amount of money loses, and one person will get sent home.

As the three teams work on their concepts, it starts to become obvious who the strong personalities are. On the team running the taco and churro truck, Caroline, a tomato sauce company owner who used to party with Paris Hilton is constantly at odds with Lan, a woman who left her six-figure pharmacy job to run a Vietnamese coffee company. The women constantly snap at one another despite having just met.

Over at the Asian fusion spaghetti and meatball truck (I know, what?) a woman named Ashley seems willfully ignorant of foods outside her comfort zone (“What is a soba noodle?” she asks at one point, after having asked her teammates to explain what “Asian fusion” means.) However, Ashley’s criticism of the concept is valid, it seems bizarre to make red sauce spaghetti and meatballs with udon noodles, and even weirder to serve it on the beach. Gordon Ramsay agrees – when he sees the menu, he tells them to step up their game. Ashley smirks silently in the corner.

The truck selling sliders seemed to have their shit together, but when it was time to actually start selling, their burgers were being sent out half-raw, something Gordon was furious about, going so far as to demand that the contestant cooking the meat, a man named Kagen, was removed from his station. Even though Gordon is in his less abrasive, more supportive mode on this show, he’s not averse to dishing out his classic tongue-lashings here either.

In the end, all of the contestants sit together to discuss their successes and shortcomings and have Gordon reveal the winners and losers. To my, Ashley, and Gordon’s surprise, the Asian meatball truck earned the most money and won the day. And the raw slider truck lost, and the chef de ground chuck, Kagen, was sent home.

What Shows Will It Remind You Of? The show is an American version of Ramsay’s BBC show Future Food Stars, and combines aspects of Top Chef, as the contestants have to impress Ramsay with their food knowledge and restaurant-running savvy, with elements from The Apprentice, as they also have to prove the concept of their business ideas while enduring a series of sometimes zany challenges.

Our Take: This show is so The Apprentice that I’m getting PTSD from the seasons when I voluntarily watched that show. (It was a simpler time back in 2004!) There’s a lot about it that’s fun to watch: the editing helps to move the challenges along and build tension, and Ramsay is in his toned-down, decent-guy mode, which is to say he’s equal parts supportive and brutally honest. But the heat of the challenge itself was the only time during the show where I felt invested in anything. Obviously over time, audiences build their loyalty to certain competitors, but so far, I haven’t been given any reason to connect with any of the contestants, they mostly range from generally fine to unappealingly dramatic for no reason.

Despite the fact that I love cooking shows and reality competitions, I don’t feel drawn to Gordon Ramsay’s Food Star. Ultimately, this is a show where a group of business people are just competing to win more money to (barf) grow their business, and while that’s understandable, the show doesn’t provide the satisfaction of watching talented chefs push their creativity, nor does it provide any emotional connection to the contestants and their businesses.

Parting Shot: One competitor, Chris, who runs a “3D printed beverage” business that I refuse to believe is real, explains, “This competition just got really freakin’ real to me. I’m ready to fight. Bring on Gordon.” I’m not sure Chris understands that Gordon is not his competition here but okay. Hey, look over there, it’s a 3D-printed latte!

Sleeper Star: Lan and Caroline are both the “not here to make friends” types who will “throw you under a bus” and all that jazz. I’m waiting to see if the friction that exists is purely between the two of them, or if they’ll rub their other competitors the wrong way, too.

Most Pilot-y Line: “It’s not just about food. It’s about the business of food.”

Our Call: While Ramsay certainly understands what it takes to create a successful business and breathe energy into the food service industry, I’m not sure this show and it’s format are necessary to prove that. I might just be exhausted by competitive capitalism, but I think viewers can safely SKIP IT.

Liz Kocan is a pop culture writer living in Massachusetts. Her biggest claim to fame is the time she won on the game show Chain Reaction.

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