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Date posted: 1/12/2005
PBS Launches Cooking Under Fire - Searches for Culinary Superstars
PBS wants to know if you can handle the heat with its brand-new prime-time show and web site Cooking Under Fire. A documentary-style look at a national cooking competition, this exciting new national series will search for America’s next culinary superstar – rewarding the person who exhibits the best mix of talent, drive, and personality with a position as a chef in one of celebrity restaurateur Todd English’s Manhattan establishments.
PBS Cooking Under Fire web site -
“Chefs have taken on a new level of celebrity status around the world, and our goal is to peer into the kitchen and reveal the real world, nitty-gritty skills that are required to make it as a successful chef,” explained executive producer John Rieber  
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Cooking Under Fire launched its nation-wide search for contestants this past Monday, January 10, 2005, with applications available for download from the PBS Cooking Under Fire web site

The production will also recruit via live auditions in three cities across the country: Chicago on January 31, New Orleans on February 2, and Seattle on February 4. 

Production for the 12-episode series will begin in mid February and continue through March, with its premiere scheduled for Wednesday April 27, 2005 at 8pm (check local listings) on PBS. Series judges include chef and restaurateur Todd English; Emmy Award-winning chef and host of public television’s SIMPLY MING Ming Tsai; and acclaimed author Michael Ruhlman (“The Making of a Chef,” “Soul of a Chef”), along with regional celebrity chefs that will assist in the judging and elimination process. The contest will travel to some of the country’s most well known culinary capitals – Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Miami, and New York City.

Cooking Under Fire (formally with the working title “American Chef”), a co-production of WGBH Lifestyle Productions, Lance Reynolds, and John Rieber, will select 12 contestants – ranging from culinary school graduates to at-home gourmands – who will put everything on the line as they embark on an intense cross-country culinary competition. With a mission of educating viewers about what it takes to work in the high-stress, competitive, culinary world, the challenges each contestant will face represent actual examples of what wannabe chefs must endure to succeed: from cooking on a budget, to incorporating regional and cultural cuisine, to the successful pairing of food and wine. 

“Chefs have taken on a new level of celebrity status around the world, and our goal is to peer into the kitchen and reveal the real world, nitty-gritty skills that are required to make it as a successful chef,” explained executive producer John Rieber

Laurie Donnelly, executive producer of WGBH Lifestyle Productions, added, “We want this series to provide greater respect for the people who not only have the ambition that is critical for success in the restaurant world, but also reward them for their demonstrated talent and hard work.”

Based on an idea by Lance Reynolds – who has represented some of America's leading celebrity chefs including Jamie Oliver (The Naked Chef) – and John Rieber, former Senior Vice President of Original Programming for E! Entertainment Television who created programming such as the “Wild On” travel series and “Revealed with Jules Asner,” the series production team includes Donnelly and represents an award-winning combination of feature film, documentary, how-to, and lifestyle programming experts. 

Corporate funding for the series is provided by Chrysler.

Further details about the auditions, broadcast, and production will be made available on the web site in the coming weeks. Visit & for additional information, or contact Dustin Smith, WGBH Boston, [phone 617.300.5337 email: dustin_smith(-at-)] or Tracy Patterson, WGBH Boston [phone 617.300.5339 email tracy_patterson(-at-)

Cooking Under Fire is a co-production of WGBH Lifestyle Productions, Lance Reynolds, and John Rieber. Corporate funding is provided by Chrysler. Inspiration Comes Standard.

WGBH Boston is America's preeminent public broadcasting producer, the source of fully one-third of PBS's prime-time lineup, along with some of public television's best-known lifestyle shows and children's programs and many public radio favorites. WGBH is the number one producer of Web sites on, the most-visited dot-org on the Internet. WGBH is a pioneer in educational multimedia and in technologies and services that make media accessible to the 36 million Americans who rely on captioning or video descriptions. WGBH has been recognized with hundreds of honors: Emmys, Peabodys, duPont-Columbia Awards…even two Oscars. In 2002, WGBH was honored with a special institutional Peabody Award for 50 years of excellence. For more information visit

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