“Whenever I think of camping I think of Jason and hockey masks so this is going to be a stretch for me.” -Chef Ruddy
Alton Brown’s Camp Cutthroat opened for business on Food Network Wednesday with the first episode of a five-part competition series that brings back Cutthroat Kitchen alumni and sends them to camp for a series of cooking challenges.
When “Porks and Rec” opens, Brown enters camp with a wood briefcase with $75,000 cash (or at least a representation of it), the prize money for the final winner of the competition, and explains the rules to the first three contestants. To start off, they each have to make the classic campfire meal pork and beans, but it’s anything but straightforward.
After they each get to visit the pantry to collect ingredients, Alton explains that he will be auctioning off items from a canvas tent to the highest bidder – the first item is a blindfold, which the winner of the auction can make the other two contestants wear while preparing the dish.
Chef Ruddy, a caterer from Boston, wins the first auction so Chefs Monterey and Emmanuel are forced to take turns wearing the blindfold while the other assists. A second auction won by Monterey makes things a little less comfortable for Ruddy though as he’s forced to wear a six-foot tall backpack.
All three are professionals so they still manage to make awesome-looking dishes even without vision, the strain of a “ridiculous” backpack weighing them down and the added obstacles of Bob the Bear who attacks Emmanuel’s food and an impromptu fishing tournament Monterey has to compete in while her food is still cooking.
Judge Simon Majumdar ends up disqualifying the Frenchman Emmanuel, who was too liberal with one or more of his ingredients, setting up a final cook-off between Monterey and Ruddy to determine a winner.
Confident in her archery skills, Monterey ends up losing an auction that requires her to shoot for her ingredients for a skewer dish. The target has two areas – a yellow bulls eye with the word Good and an outer red circle with the word Bad. Despite bragging about her experience with a bow, Monterey hits the red on all four targets, meaning she has to make do with all less than ideal ingredients – chicken nuggets, potato salad, gummi bears, etc. Ruddy has the challenge of cooking with a long and wobbly skewer and a personal rain cloud (a staff member with a hose) that follows him around while he cooks. The results from this showdown are actually quite surprising and rewarding in the end.
Camp Cutthroat falls into a genre of television I intentionally never watch and it’s over-the-top campy and a little forced at times, but I do look forward to seeing what the next group of accomplished chefs do next with whatever is on the camp menu for next week.