In early April, BBC America premiered the network’s much anticipated adventure cooking show “No Kitchen Required.” Hosted by Dr. Shini Somara, the series follows chefs: Madison Cowan, Michael Psilakis and Kayne Raymond. Each week, the chefs travel to a different exotic location where they must work to prepare a meal, reminiscent of the local cuisine, which is then judged by the locals themselves. Before the series premiered, this writer was given the opportunity to pose questions to the talented chefs as well as the highly accomplished Dr. Somara, with their comments giving an inside look at “No Kitchen Required.”
In the first three episodes, the chefs have visited: Dominica, New Zealand and Chiang Dao. In one of the series many strengths, the crew does an incredible job showing the exotic and beautiful environments surrounding them. Dr. Somara spoke to the beauty of not only the locations, but the people who are ultimately the focus of “No Kitchen Required.” “I hope people enjoy the cultural aspects; it has been amazing meeting these different types of people (and) seeing their costumes, their natures, their often very spiritual…ways of life…It’s great to watch the food…but the people have been as beautiful.”
In their comments, Michael Psilakis and Kayne Raymond both spoke about the people and their culture as well. Chef Psilakis says, “ Give(ing) back to these people for opening up their doors to you has been the biggest hurdle. I’m up all night really trying to wrap my head around what can I do … to really pay the tribute that I want to the people who have given me all the memories the show has provided.” Chef Raymond says something similar, “For me to…learn something about myself … and be inspired again to meet these people and these indigenous tribes and… (to) cook and be creative and (to) really give them something back at the same time… has been amazing.”
Each week, “No Kitchen Required” is structured around a number of physical challenges testing the chefs both physically and mentally. Chef Psilakis spoke to this saying, “ I think the most difficult part for me…has been being introduced to things that I’ve never seen before, foodstuffs I’ve never seen before (and) methods of cooking things that I’ve never seen before.” Throughout the first three episodes, the chefs are subjected to extreme weather, unique cooking methods and ingredients (eels, snakes and beetle grub to name a few). Despite the extreme nature of the series and its challenges, each chef expresses the desire to learn something, and not simply focus on the extreme sense of competition common to many contemporary reality shows. Chef Madison Cowan says, “I think it would be a very uninteresting show if one of us just totally ran the table … I think there’s some times when you can kick back and enjoy it and not focus on winning.”
Throughout the first quarter of its run, “No Kitchen Required” has demonstrated that its not simply another cooking show. It is an interesting and beautiful examination of cultures and cusines which are not often spotlighted. If you’re not watching this show on BBC America, check it out.
“No Kitchen Required” airs Tuesday nights on BBC America. In the next episode, airing this Tuesday (April 24th), the culture and cuisine of Fiji is spotlighted. Comcast subscribers in Denver can watch the series at 8:00p.m. on channel 162 (773 HD).