Take Home Chef

The concept behind TLC’s Take Home Chef is actually kind of cool. Chef goes to a market, sees someone shopping, and offers to purchase the ingredients and help prepare a special meal for the shopper’s loved one and/or friend. I know I wouldn’t mind having a fancy meal prepared for me (the chef really does all the work).

The problems I have with the show are: 1) 99% of the episodes I’ve seen have shown the chef picking up a woman, and 95% of the time she’s going to cook dinner for her man , 2) once they get back to the shopper’s home, she goes away for a bit to get dolled up for the special evening, then comes back to help cook wearing nice clothes, with her hair all done up, and 3)the parting line of every episode, which is roughly “you never know who you’re going to meet in the market, so dress up!”

Re #1: Why aren’t male shoppers approached? Would it be “weird” for a male chef to approach a male shopper and ask who he’s cooking dinner for? Would anyone even think a male shopper might be the predominant cook in the household (if they’re shopping…)?

Re #2: Seriously, who puts on their best clothes to cook? That whole bit just smacks of 50s situation comedy to me.

Re #3: This sounds remarkably like advice mothers used to give daughters: always be prepared, because you never know when or where you’ll meet your Prince Charming!



  1. says

    Wow, that’s a pretty odd premise.

    My husband does all the cooking at my house, so of course reading this I can’t help but indulge in this little fantasy where he brings home a professional chef to take over for him so he has time to get all dolled-up for me and our romantic dinner. 😉

    But I can hardly imagine my husband being willing to bring home a strange chef from the market, much less a camera crew. It’s not clear why women would be okay with that either, but I guess people will do anything to get on TV… 😉

  2. sbg says

    The people who are surprised are usually very “WTF is going on?!”, which is apparently half the fun?

    I dunno. While I’d love a gourmet meal cooked for me, it IS very strange to think about coming home to a house full of strangers.

  3. MaggieCat says

    The only time I’ve ever seen this show approach men in the supermarket was a special 1-hour Thanksgiving episode where they went back to the firehouse and then snuck around to invite everyone’s families down too. (Yes, that was lovely.) But at the beginning, upon “deciding” to approach the three male firefighters (I use the term loosely, considering the double length ep and the holiday) he actually phrased it as “a favour” to the women in the audience, which really annoyed me.

    (And not just because the best cook I ever knew was my uncle, who was the chief of the local FD for ten years. Try and tell him what to do in his kitchen and you’d have lost a hand. Whereas most of the people I know now who say they never cook are women. There’s a whole mess of irritating stereotypes there that bug me in many ways. )

    Also, he looks an awful lot like Rod Stewart. That does not endear anyone to me. 😉

  4. sbg says

    Sounds like an interesting idea that got wrecked by lame stereotypes.

    You know, what they could have done which would have mostly cancelled out my irritation with the idea is alternate chefs. Male chef/female shopper one episode, female chef/male shopper the next.

    Granted, it shouldn’t have to be that way. I see no reason Chef Stone couldn’t bring a guy home. It might be awkward to ask at first, but after practice…

  5. Jennifer Kesler says

    I know a lot of women whose male partners do the shopping and cooking. Some because they like it, others because their jobs start really early in the morning so they get home earlier and they can have it ready by the time she gets there. And these are not all young people. I’m surprised if there’s anyone out there who can still relate to this stereotype of it being the woman’s job to cook for her man, because with the economy virtually requiring every adult in a household work, there are times no one’s going to get fed before 10pm if they insist Mom be the one to do it.

    Maybe the show’s main demographic is very traditional, rural audiences?

  6. JS says

    What bothers me is that they always pick an attractive 20 something year old girl. Why not pick a “mom” or “dad” type and cook for the whole family?

  7. sbg says

    And most of them also seem to be relatively well off. I wonder if he picks upscale stores to troll for women?

    I have noticed, though, that the parting line has changed to make it more about the show and less like a helpful hint for finding Mr. Right at the market.

  8. Jennifer Kesler says

    I have noticed, though, that the parting line has changed to make it more about the show and less like a helpful hint for finding Mr. Right at the market.

    Awesome! Well, we have been a top search term for “take home chef” on Google for several weeks, so I’m going to assume their production assistant assigned to internet trolling found your article and said, “You know, at the very least, we could change the parting line.” 😀

    (I’m taking cues on “how to take credit for something you probably didn’t really do” from Kotaku, LOL.)

  9. SM says

    I enjoy watching Curtis on The Take home Chef. I just wish I could understand his language a bit more. I do miss some of the words then am lost on what he is doing. He could pick me up anytime to cook for my family.

  10. Michelle Gilbert says

    Please pass this message to take home chef?
    I just got a divorce not to long ago and my ex-husband is a chef and I do watch your shows at times if it is not on late. What I am asking if you could come to Vancouver Washington to my apartment and cook a special dinner for my ex-husband and I. I have tried to get things worked out and don’t know if this would work, but would like to try. We have a 5 year old. It would be a miracle if you could get us back together fixing a nice dinner for the two of us. I love fresh halabit fish and I would love to learn how to cook it never made it before. I am hoping you would come and do a show here and help this family get back together at least try? I have had it rough for long time. I had surgery on my back and been crippled for long time and divorced and not handling it too well nor our son and we do get together once a week and do something with our son. I would do anything to be on your show to try and surprise my ex and maybe there would be hope? Maybe not but would like to try. Michelle

  11. Jennifer Kesler says

    Michelle, we have no way of passing this message on to Take Home Chef, as we are not affiliated with the show. You might want to try the show’s message boards. :)

  12. sbg says

    Just wanted to say that while I hate some of the (probably) unintentional messages this show gives, I enjoy watching it because I love to watch cooking-type shows.

    The most enjoyable episode I’ve seen of it, strangely enough, is when Curtis picks up a grandmotherly little woman and she prepares dinner for her grown family. Possibly because she was a hippy, and possibly because there was no weird “hot woman flirts with attractive chef even as she’s getting ready for dinner with husband” feel to it.

    And Rosemary was just cool.

  13. MaggieCat says

    (I’m taking cues on “how to take credit for something you probably didn’t really do” from Kotaku, LOL.)

    Off-topic: does this mean I can take some credit for Studio 60 getting cancelled? Because I’d sort of love that. :-)

  14. justine says

    Here is something interesting- Craigslist.org just posted an “open casting call” for Take Home Chef, asking for men and women between 18-35 to apply to have a dinner cooked for them. So, It sounds like Season 2 is actually a set-up. Rather than actually following the concept of finding someone in the grocery store, it sounds like they will be planted in there, in nice clothes, and instructed to look surprised. Hmmm…
    Well, Curtis is still edible no matter where he finds his dinner guests…..

  15. Gategrrl says

    That makes more sense, because if you’re not a suzyhomemaker who keeps her kitchen spotlessly clean at all times (and the apt/house) like hell most people would allow an off-the-cuff stranger into their home! I don’t think most people like surprises that way.

  16. sbg says

    I actually liked that there were a few women who said that – with a gasp – their kitchens were disaster areas at the moment.

    I also liked that some of them thanked Curtis for cleaning up…while they were off putting on their fancy clothes, of course.

  17. ken says

    where are you now
    watching for a while and can’t find it anymore
    why switch, gotta worry about miami ink. show sucks
    please help as your show, even though repitious was fun
    please help me i’m on optonline

  18. sbg says


    We’re not actually affiliated with TLC or Take Home Chef here.

    I do believe, though, that the show has moved timeslots to 4/3 central on weekdays.


  19. says


    Years ago, before “reality shows” existed, I once dropped a friend off at an place where they cast extras (she wanted to become an actor). As I left, some guy with a clipboard stopped me and asked if I wanted to be on a reality-based show and travel to an island and compete to stay on the island. I didn’t. A few months later, “Survivor” debuted.

    Ever since then, I’ve seriously doubted “reality shows” are NOT carefully cast and at least somewhat scripted.


  1. […] Well, from what I’ve seen of the new season thus far, it’s changed. Now people write in, or send videos, and ask him to come to their house and cook. Is this more fair, perhaps, than limiting the participants to the type of folks who are to be found shopping in the middle of the morning? Or is it less fair, because it’s limiting the show to the type of folks who know how to apply? I don’t know. I did a quick Google search on ’season 2 take home chef’, and I came across this nasty tidbit. June 11th, 2007 at 2:37 pm […]

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