What do you get when you tell professional chefs to compete with one another by using home cooks that they've taught their secrets to? Most likely it's a healthy recipe for good food, some drama, and a little dash of problems that stem from a lack of control. That's the premise of the Food Network's new cooking competition series,All-Star Academy, which premieres March 1. The show features star chefs Bobby Flay, Alex Guarnaschelli, Curtis Stone, and Michael Symon, who will each mentor a pair of home cooks for a chance at bragging rights (for them) and a $50,000 grand prize for their winning pupil.
Queer Eye for the Straight Guy alum Ted Allen will be hosting, and he says the format for this show is unlike anything else they've done before. "All these people [the mentors], they're all just legends, and they're ferocious," he says. "But when they're competing, they don't have time to talk about strategy. There's certain techniques you need to know to cook A+ food in a short timeframe." Allen explains that his (and anyone else's) inner food geek will love hearing expert chefs talk about their methods with cooks who have less professional training.
"Another side that's really special, and I say that with a wink, is that these guys hate to lose," he explains. "They don't get to cook in this situation. They have to watch amateurs do the cooking for them, and it's kind of a demented torture." The Food Network has begun to take advantage of the chemistry between its on-air personalities-- be it stable or more volatile. In the show, winners of one week's challenge will earn an advantage the following week, often to the detriment of someone else. "The chef's winning is only slightly in their control," Allen admits. "So if their proteges mess up, they're gone."
Allen hasn't been all food and drinks host since Queer Eye ended, though. He's also been a spokesperson for Dining Out For Life, an event that raised $4 million in one night with participating restaurants around the country to fight AIDS. He was also named the honorary chair for AIDS Walk Ohio this year, where he'll represent his home state during a great fundraiser.
Allen can also be seen on The Food Network's Chopped and Best. Ever. Watch a preview of All-Star Academy below.
All-Star Academy premieres Sunday, March 1 at 9 pm ET/PT.