There’s a new competition cooking show hitting the airwaves, but the food these chefs are whipping up is not for the faint of heart.
“No Kitchen Required” follows three chefs as they’re dropped into exotic, remote locations and tasked with cooking locally-inspired dishes. This means finding and hunting their own food, cooking with little or no electricity and impressing a panel of local judges with their take on the community’s cuisine.
Michelin Star recipient Chef Michael Psilakis, “Chopped” Grand Champion Madison Cowan and world-renowned private executive chef Kayne Raymond were the three chefs brave enough to take on the challenge.
“We went in expecting one thing and got something completely different,” Psilakis said. “I love hunting and fishing, but my idea of fishing is going out on my dad’s boat and fishing with a pole, not spearing a fish.”
To kick off the show, which premieres Tuesday on BBC America, the chefs competed in a live New York City-inspired competition. Their “local” ingredients ranged from squirrel and hare to crow and pigeon.
Raymond took on the challenge of preparing squirrel, rolling it into meatballs and serving it from a tagine with buttered couscous, roasted pigeon and a tahini-whipped yogurt.
“I’ve never eaten squirrel, so this is new for me too,” Raymond said.
The chefs said they go back to principles and techniques when cooking something new, which was a normal occurrence on the show when traveling to communities where things like bat and alligator are considered typical proteins.
I love hunting and fishing, but my idea of fishing is going out on my dad’s boat and fishing with a pole, not spearing a fish.
- Chef Michael Psilakis
Cowan did an “exotic twist” on chicken and waffles, serving crow with a cheddar "muffle" topped with bacon and a Japanese-inspired maple syrup.
“Madison had me at bacon,” said NY Giants offensive lineman David Diehl, a judge for the competition.
Host of “No Kitchen Required” Dr. Shini Somara says the chefs all have “very different personalities.”
“Madison cooks from the heart,” Somara said. “Michael cooks like a deep thinker, and Kayne cooks like a surfer-dude, very easy going and freestyle. They cook very much like they are.”
Psilakis impressed the judges with his hare with butter-braised snails, ricotta gnocchi and Greek ragu, topped with fresh herbs and lemon juice.
“I try to tell a story,” Psilakis said. “(On the show) I tried to figure out who the people were and how to convey that through food.”
Psilakis captured all three votes from the judges, making him the winner of the New York City-inspired competition.
“Each had their own individual style and you can really taste through their food who they were…but Michael hit a homerun,” Diehl said.
There was no love lost between Psilakis and his competitors, who each congratulated each other at the end of the day’s competition.
“When we were on the show it was competitive, but we just really enjoyed being in the places that we were,” Psilakis said. “It was more about what do we do for these people because they were so friendly.”
Besides cooking for the locals, the chefs of “No Kitchen Required” tried to do something for the communities that had opened up their culture and traditions to the show. Psilakis brought a knife for each of his guides in the different locations.
“For me, I wanted to leave planting a seed of this memory. I thought of the show as being able to use food to create memories,” Chef Psilakis said. “My food looks simple, but it’s not a simple thing. It’s articulating a lot in one bite and that’s what we’re trying to accomplish. I think the show articulates a lot in one shot and that’s what makes it beautiful.”
So if you’re looking for a show the combines food, travel, adventure and “three guys in a jungle killing stuff,” tune in to “No Kitchen Required.”