Viva Las Vegas: Reality cooking competition shows with challenges inspired by Sin City

Yahoo Contributor Network

It might seem a little strange, but there's a trend among reality cooking competition series to showcase Vegas-inspired challenges. On the one hand, it seems a strange combination: Good cooking is about precision, not gambling and hoping for the best with ingredients … but on the other hand, Las Vegas is home to plenty of ritzy fine dining establishments, so the blend of cooking and Vegas is actually a natural one. In honor of this newly minted culinary destination, here are some great examples of cooking competitions with Vegas-inspired challenges.

"Top Chef Masters"

Now airing its fourth season, "Top Chef Masters" opened Season 4 with an homage to all things Vegas (including having host Curtis Stone dress like a blackjack dealer). The quickfire challenge involved a game of "culinary blackjack" where the chefs were dealt cards with ingredients listed on them. Chris and Patricia won by impressing a group of real blackjack dealers with a beef and catfish combination.

The episode's elimination challenge revolved around creating a Las Vegas-style buffet. Midway through, Curtis supplied a twist: scratch-off lotto cards that the chefs had to scrape away at to learn their handicap or bonus for the rest of the challenge (such as losing time to cook or scoring extra money for their charity).

"Top Chef"

The sixth season of "Top Chef" was filmed in Las Vegas, which meant that a good chunk of the episodes that season included references to gambling and Vegas vacation culture. The season's second episode started with a quickfire where the chefs had to roll a pair of dice at a craps table. The number rolled indicated the number of ingredients the chef could use in a dish (not counting salt, pepper, and olive oil). The season's seventh episode, "Dinner Party," started with a challenge where the chefs had to use a slot machine to determine the type of cuisine they'd be cooking, as well as the "mood" and "texture" of the dish. The eleventh episode's elimination challenge asked the chefs to create a small plate of food inspired by a day trip to their assigned Vegas casino. Michael won that challenge with an "upscale" buffalo wing in homage to the casino New York, New York.

"Hell's Kitchen"

In recent seasons, Chef Gordon Ramsay has taken to rewarding chefs near the finish line with a trip to Las Vegas. In Season 10 Episode 11, the chefs had to take turns rolling a 12-sided die. Each side of the die had a letter on it, and each chef had to name an ingredient that started with that letter that they wished to cook with. The twist: They were working in teams, so the ingredients had to meld well with each other. The winning team (the blue team) got a trip to Vegas as a prize, while the red team had to stay in the kitchen and check on a roasting pig every hour overnight.

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