Between Gordon Ramsay’s nerve-wracking, high-pressure Hell’s Kitchen, the scrappiness and innovation of Chopped, and the absolute wholesomeness of The Great British Bake Off, television cooking competitions have a lot of variety. But, despite their differences, they have one thing in common: they all use animal products. That’s about to change very soon thanks to Peeled, the first plant-based culinary competition show for US broadcast.
Set to debut this summer, Peeled will follow in the style of existing reality cooking shows like Beat Bobby Flay and MasterChef. The digital platform vKind will lead the production, having gained interest after launching a concept episode on its YouTube channel. The show is being shot in Las Vegas at the Vegas Vegan Culinary School and Eatery.
“As a vegan and a foodie, I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with cooking shows,” Star Simmons, founder of vKind and show creator, said. “Peeled allows vegans and vegetarians to enjoy cooking shows again and gives plant-based culinary arts a platform to be taken seriously.”
Throughout the run of the show, selected professional chefs will compete in a series of challenges to wow the palates of an all-vegan panel of judges. In each episode, the chef with the lowest score will be eliminated—“peeled off”—and the lucky ones that remain will continue to vie for the title of “Hottest Vegan Chef.” The winner and last remaining chef will pick a charity of their choice to receive a $1,000 cash donation.
“We cherry-picked our chefs from across the country to bring diverse sets of skills and backgrounds to the table,” says Star Simmons, show creator and founder of vKind. The show will feature Chef Jaena Moynihan, a certified health coach from Phoenix, Arizona; Chef Donald Lemperle, founder and executive chef of VegeNation in Las Vegas; Cordon Bleu-trained Chef Nicole Derseweh; and Chef Sandra Hurtault, a French baker and personal chef.
We can expect to see the Peeled chefs whip up dishes that showcase the versatility of fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes as well as products from plant-based brands. Simmons sees this as an opportunity to show audiences how to cook with vegan alternatives like a pro.
“Not all vegan or veg-curious people want to cook purely from scratch, just as not all of them want to use processed products,” says Simmons. “But the truth is, both can be used to make a knock-out meal, and we want to show people what’s possible with this lifestyle. You neither have to be a junk-food vegan nor someone who spends hours in the kitchen to make veganism work for you.”
Vegan competition heats up cooking shows
The panel of judges features former Hell’s Kitchen contestant Chef Josie Clemens, who is also joining Peeled as a co-creator. “Competing in Hell’s Kitchen was a great experience, but not at all hospitable for a vegan chef like me who would otherwise never opt to cook anything that wasn’t entirely plant-based,” Clemens said in a statement. “I was thrilled to learn that vKind would be producing an all-vegan cooking competition. Signing on as co-creator was a no-brainer for me.”
Dr. Miles Woodruff, CEO of the plant-based seafood brand Sophie’s Kitchen, celebrity chef Chris Tucker of ABC’s The Great American Baking Show fame, and media personality Elizabeth Alfano, will also serve as judges. The competition will be hosted by raw vegan chef and restaurateur, Babette Davis, as well as TV host and health educator, Shabnam Islam.
Plant-based chefs are increasingly taking up space in mainstream cooking competitions. Most recently, Souley Vegan founder Tamearra Dyson became the first competitor to defeat Bobby Flay on his show. “Bobby told me my energy filled that place, and he told me it was the greatest episode ever, and that he had never taken off his apron and given it to another chef,” she told LIVEKINDLY earlier this year.
Plant-based chef Teresa Colaço was recently crowned the winner of MasterChef Portugal, not too long after MasterChef Romania’s first vegan contestant, chef Alex Lenghel, was eliminated for refusing to cook beef. Even the most recent season of Channel 4’s The Great British Bake Off featured its first vegan baker, Freya Cox.
“Peeled will prove that vegan chefs and vegan plates deserve a spot at the table with everyone else, and that killing animals is not a requirement for culinary recognition,” says Simmons.
Peeled is slated to premiere this summer and will be available on UnchainedTV, which is accessible through Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire, IOS, Android, and the web.