MTV Is Banking on Youth Foodie Culture for ‘House of Food’

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TCA 2014: “Top Chef” meets “Real World” for the youth-skewing cable channel

MTV introduced its new culinary competition, “House of Food,” that the executive producers believe fills a void for the cable channel’s young demographic.

“Food, for our young cast, has become sort of a social courtesy,” executive producer Mike Duffy said Friday at the Television Critics Association press tour in Pasadena, Calif. “This demographic grew up with celebrity chefs. The fact that people get famous for cooking is part of the appeal.”

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“House of Food” is like Bravo’s “Top Chef” meets MTV’s iconic “Real World.” Eight chefs with no culinary background in essence attend culinary school on-camera and live with one another. They’ll get training and guidance from Los Angeles chefs Brooke Williamson of Hudson House, The Triple and Play Provisions; Casey Lane of the Tasting Kitchen; and Brendan Collins of Waterloo & City and Larry’s. In the end, one contender will win an apprenticeship with an L.A. chef.

“The exposure that food has gotten, by nature, has trickled down to the young culture,” executive producer Jenny Daly said of the reason she believes the show will do well with the youth-skewing MTV audience.

“They socialize it. It’s some kind of a passion for them that they, too, can aspire to be, and it’s a profession that has become a creative outlet,” she continued.

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One journalist wondered if cooking was really something that was accessible for younger viewers with very little experience. Duffy believes that the untrained contenders also “meets the viewers where they are.”

“As you’ll see as the series rolls out,” he said. “The proficiencies these contestants learn are accessible to those watching.”

Chef Williamson said that culinary TV has made cooking accessible to home cooks in general.

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“I think that shows like this have actually made food more accessible to the home cook,” she said. “Perhaps, people think it’s easier than it actually is, but inspires people in how they cook for their family in their home.”