When I first saw Snack-Off I thought I should just copy and paste my review for YTV’s Cook’d right here and just put Snack-Off in place of Cook’d, as MTV’s new cooking show is a near carbon copy of YTV’s. The only main difference is that Snack-Off is done with a slightly older audience in mind. It’s funny when you think about it, when I opened my Cook’d review, I said I didn’t really see anything else like it on TV and here we are just a few weeks later and MTV has virtually cloned it.
Just like Cook’d, Snack-Off has three chefs preparing themed dishes under a time limit in front of three judges. While Cook’d has the pantry, where the cooks rush off to pick up items they need for their dishes, Snack-Off has the same thing only that they merely call it the kitchen and the chefs’ dash for ingredients looks far less frantic in comparison. When time is up, the judges taste the dishes, share their critiques and one chef is eliminated. In the next round things change: In Cook’d they say it’s time to “mix it up,” and may have some of the kids help with making the dishes. In Snack-Off the theme is changed, the kitchen is larger and rechristened as Snacktopia and the cooks have to include a specific food item in their dishes.
Believe it or not, the similarities don’t end there. The winner of both series gets a giant utensil at the end. In Cook’d’s case, the winner gets a huge silver spoon, on Snack-Off, however, the winner gets a giant (but not quite as big) gold spork, which also doubles as a necklace. I wasn’t joking when I said Snack-Off is virtually identical to Cook’d—the similarities are eerie.
However, there are some differences between the two. Unlike Cook’d, the competing chefs on Snack-Off are largely unknowns opposed to professionals as they are on Cook’d. It also appears that the chefs on Snack-Off were chosen in part due to their personalities. While the chefs on Cook’d seemed a bit awkward on camera, the ones on Snack-Off seem a lot more fun and wittier than their counterparts on Cook’d. Not that I’d expect anything less than extraordinary TV personalities from MTV, it is MTV after all where attitude and personality trumps everything else.
I also appreciate that Snack-Off’s host Eddie Huang, doesn’t ask the chefs and judges as many vapid questions to fill time during the show, and the banter that we do have isn’t as inane as it is on Cook’d.
In comparison to Cook’d’s David Keystone, the host of Snack-Off is quite lethargic, but anyone would look lethargic next to David Keystone, that guy does everything besides bounce off the walls on Cook’d. Still, Snack-Off’s host isn’t that great. I mean he’s alright, but he’s utterly forgettable. I wish we could get a happy balance between the two: A bit of the energy of David Keystone and the chill, cool vibe of Snack-Off’s Eddie Huang.
One of the other main differences between the two series is that Snack-Off has clips of the cooks talking about what was going on while they were cooking interspersed with footage of them actually cooking on set. It’s a lot like how you see clips of people talking directly to the camera in between footage of them going on with their supposed everyday life on most of MTV’s reality shows.
While I felt the concept of the show is a bit out there on Cook’d, it seems a lot more tolerable on Snack-Off. There isn’t an equivalent of the cooking the cooks segment (for lack of a better term) on Snack-Off, one of the more off-putting elements of Cook’d. When contestants are eliminated from Snack-Off they simply walk off set and go home. I don’t think the cooking the cooks segment of Cook’d is as fun as they thought it would be. As I mentioned in my Cook’d review, that particular part of the show came across as a public hanging, with the cooks standing on a platform only to have it give way under one of the chefs while the kids are screaming their names.
I’m also happy that there isn’t the equivalent of the Taste Buddies on Snack-Off. Cook’d‘s Taste Buddies were unnecessary and just created more noise and distraction. Not that MTV could fit something like the Taste Buddies on set anyway, as Snack-Off’s set looked significantly smaller than Cook’d’s and it’s also quite shabby looking in comparison as well.
I think if Snack-Off does well we might see Cook’d stick around a bit longer even though it’s truly terrible. Perhaps if Snack-Off becomes popular Cook’d might even air on Nickelodeon channels worldwide. It could very well gain the reputation of being the kids’ version of Snack-Off. That’s if I’m not the only one who dares to make the comparison.
As Snack-Off is an MTV show, there’s of course swearing and occasional sexual innuendo. Things like “#SaltyBalls” appear on the screen, and just look at the title—they must have chosen Snack-Off because “Snackturbation” doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.
Snack-Off is unmistakably an MTV show, while Cook’d is undoubtedly a YTV show. It’s easy to distinguish the two despite their very strangely similar concepts. A good example is with their judging panels. While both have three judges, on Snack-Off you have professional chef Jason Quinn, stand-up comic Yassir Lester and a supermodel Chrissy Teigen as judges. Teigen at times seems as if she was just added to the show to be simply a sex object. It’s not unusual to see her eat the dishes in a suggestive way and she also says suggestive things like “I’m usually a spitter.” The comic on the other hand naturally says things like “But now she’s a swallower.” Then there are times that the two just go off and say absolutely silly things. For example Teigen says, “Georgio is our dark horse,” and Lester follows with, “He’s black you just say horse,” of course she follows up by saying, “Georgio is our horse” after that.
The Cook’d judges are kids and they say things that kids typically would. They certainly aren’t as witty or articulate as the judges on Snack-Off, because, well they’re kids. That’s not to say there isn’t an exception to the rule. Rafferty from Cook’d puts them all to shame, that guy is pure class and how old is he like 12?
There’s no doubt the concept here works better than on Cook’d, but there’s only so far you can go with it. I’m not too sure why I should really care about what three people have to say about a dish that I can’t try myself nor make (until some of the recipes come out in a cookbook later on, but by that time I probably wouldn’t care anymore). Then when you consider the virtually worthless prizes at the end of both shows and the rather dull process of putting together the dishes, Snack-Off isn’t that compelling of a show. Still, it manages to best Cook’d just because it isn’t as tacky (in terms of that cooking the cooks gimmick), the banter is better and it isn’t as annoying overall when working with what is essentially the same boring concept.
Episodes Reviewed: Camping Cuisine & Jelly Beans and Totally Baked & French Fries
Snack-Off airs Thursdays at 10:30 p.m. on MTV
(Featured image: screenshot via mtv.ca)