On Family Food Fight, a new show hosted and executive-produced by the restaurateur Ayesha Curry, cooking is competitive, but it’s not a ruthless game. The ABC series pits four families against one another each week, with one group being eliminated and the others claiming their spot at the show’s official competition tables. The remaining families will compete for a $100,000 prize. Along the way, they prepare long-held recipes, bicker about culinary responsibilities, and banter with the show’s judges.
The series, which premiered Thursday, draws on a formula that will undoubtedly feel familiar to anyone who watches game shows or cooking series. If the show were a dish, it’d be a largely pleasant fusion of Chopped, The Great British Baking Show, and Family Feud. Though moments of inter- and intra-family tension emerge, there are no cutthroat scenes, no Gordon Ramsay–esque yells, no uncontrollable meltdowns. It’s fun to watch with audiences of all ages; it’s mercifully nice.
Each episode, Curry evaluates the contestants’ dishes alongside her fellow judges, the restaurateurs Graham Elliott and Cat Cora (the first woman to hold the Iron Chef title). Elliott has served as a judge on MasterChef Junior, the popular kid-focused spin-off of Ramsay’s apoplectic MasterChef. And though there are no young children on Family Food Fight, the show finds Elliott channeling the same gentle energy. The judges lavish praise on families for their successes, such as a banana pudding that inspired Elliott to “believe in a higher power.” It’s comfort television.
As on MasterChef Junior, none of the judges, even in their critiques, condescends to their participants. Errors that would earn scorn or outrage on Chopped—undercooked fried chicken, for example—are met with light admonition and suggestions for how to correct the mistake moving forward (in this case, giving on-the-bone poultry more time in the oven post-frying). For viewers who may not know what tempering an egg means, this can be a welcome tonal choice. Family Food Fight also features miniature cooking lessons from Curry and the other judges, which serve as entertaining instruction for producing classic dishes such as eggs Benedict.