TV’s fresh flavor
Where food programs once turned chefs into stars, The Twelve Feng Taste (《十二道锋味》) turns stars into chefs. Hosted by singer-actor Nicholas Tse (谢霆锋), the reality TV show returns for a second season this month on Zhejiang Television.
But rather than traveling the world to taste exotic dishes, Tse and his clique of celeb friends are now headed to the Chinese countryside. Their goal? To celebrate China’s eight traditional cuisines, Tse said in a recent press conference.
The success of The Twelve Feng Taste’s first season – and its return for a second go-around – herald another evolution in the long history of TV cooking shows.
The earliest cooking shows date back to the 1940s, the days of black-and-white box TV sets. But for many decades, those shows remained stiff and instructional, aimed at getting at-home cooks up to snuff.
But starting in the early 1990s, the hunger for food-based programming reached a climax. In the UK, the competitive cooking show MasterChef would air its very first season, as contestants battled against the heat of the kitchen – and each other – to create the best dish.
Meanwhile, in the US, Reese Schonfeld – one of the minds behind the 24-hour news giant CNN – started to simmer over the idea of a food-only TV channel. That idea would eventually become the popular Food Network, a channel stuffed with back-to-back food programming.
与此同时，在美国， 24小时新闻巨头CNN的智囊之一瑞茜•谢菲尔德开始考虑开设美食频道。这个想法最后造就了广受欢迎的美食频道(Food Network)，频道里全部内容都与美食有关。
It was the start of a surge of food TV shows, from stylized competitions like Iron Chef to the twee simplicity of The Great British Bake-Off. Cooking, once a woman’s chore, became suddenly sexy and prestigious. Chefs were pushed from the anonymity of their kitchens into the spotlight.
But The Twelve Feng Taste flips that formula on its head. Instead of highlighting professional chefs, Tse’s show invites Chinese singers and actors to attempt some of China’s most iconic dishes. But these celebrities sometimes have no idea how to cook. The result is pure kitchen chaos.
The show also sets itself apart with its playful, genre-bending format. It combines elements of travel, celebrity gossip and competition. The celebrities are often pitted against locals in silly competitions that seem like caricatures of more aggressive shows like MasterChef.
Tse himself has proved he has serious cooking chops, to the surprise of many. His fans have been so impressed that they dubbed him “Chef Tse”. With hints that Tse may open his own restaurant, The Twelve Feng Taste’s second season may mark the rise of a new celebrity chef – one who’s more celebrity, less chef.