How Long Chefs Actually Cook On Guy's Grocery Games

When two-time Guy's Grocery Games contestant Tracy Shepos Cenami described 12-hour days on set to Delish, she said the rest of the day's filming focused on aspects of the show unrelated to actual cooking. In fact, most of her time was consumed with the interviews and waiting, which seem to occur individually and force the other contestants to hang around. Talking to, contestant Mark Germano also mentioned that they were picked up from their hotel at 5 AM and were returned there at 6 PM. That's a long day!

Additionally, throughout the genre of reality cooking competitions, the production team's effort seems weighted towards filming segments that don't involve actual cooking. Going over the experience of the Great British Baking Show with Cosmopolitan, Francis Quin, the winner of 2019's competition, described the grueling shoot schedule: "We had to get a train down on the Friday and we'd have a wake up call at 5 a.m., we'd be in the tent at 7 a.m.. We'd wrap filming at about 8 p.m. and then it would be the same again the next day."

Judge Christina Tossi revealed a similar set of conditions to Lucky Peach. While judging for MasterChef takes so long that the food cools, the most time is taken carefully explaining the rules of each challenge so all the competitors are on equal footing.

Cooking for television is a whole different skill

We know reality television is a curated experience. However, when Guy's Grocery Games gives 30 minutes to its contestants for shopping and cooking, it really gives 30 minutes. While it's entertaining to see chefs scramble to choose ingredients and cram them into a dish with the span of half an hour, we have to also credit them with trying something so far outside their comfort zone. After all, as Shepos Cenami stated to Delish, "There's no way any chef, in half an hour, under those circumstances, can have a perfect dish."

In fact, cooking for television competitions is an entirely different set of skills than cooking a dish for oneself; that in part explains why Bobby Flay wins so often on Beat Bobby Flay. In fact, Flay seems to win so often that some on Reddit have speculated that the whole show is rigged. But responses also pointed out that his winning percentage is about 66 percent, which makes sense for such a high profile chef. More importantly, however, someone mentioned the fact that since Flay has spent decades competing on television, he's more or less mastered the time management and pressure uniquely associated with that format.

In Guy's Grocery Games, then, the extensive periods of waiting and talking that fill the contestant's day are in stark contrast to the mere 30 minutes they get to cook. If anything, the curation and editing of the experience reduces the demands of the reality.