Beat the Chef



Andi Oliver


Resident chefs: Frederick Forster (all series)
Mark Sargeant (all series)
Clodagh McKenna (2019)
James Tanner (2019)
Hrishikesh Desai (2021)
Sophie Michell (2021)


Twofour and Motion Content Group for Channel 4, 27 May 2019 to 7 June 2021 (51 episodes in 2 series)


Skilful amateur cooks take on professionals, cooking the same dish under the same conditions. A jury of gastronomes chooses which version they prefer, and there's cash for the amateur when they come out on top.

Each match runs under strict conditions. The same 45 minutes to cook and plate up, the same basic ingredients, cooked in identical studios. Andi Oliver talks with the contestant and the house chef, and delivers the result.

Beat the Chef Andi Oliver in the kitchen.

Once the dishes have been cooked, the "food jury" of five people sample each, and vote for their favourite. Only one of the jury needs to back the player for them to win cash and progress in the contest; should all the jury prefer the chef's dish, our contender loses all the money they've accumulated so far.

Each round is played against the same chef, it's always contestant versus the same chef.

Beat the Chef The contestant and chef banter across the kitchen.

As the player advances in the contest, so they get less choice of what to make. The rounds are:

  1. A dish entirely of the contestant's choice
  2. Contestant chooses one of three main ingredients to make something savoury
  3. Contestant chooses one of two main ingredients for a sweet dish
  4. Contestant and chef are lumbered with one main ingredient
  5. House chef's signature dish

First round earns £100 per vote, then £200, £300, and £400. If the majority prefer the contender's interpretation to the chef's signature dish, they win £10,000.

Beat the Chef proved popular, and viewership went up through its first series.

Beat the Chef pitched itself between game shows and cookery shows. We think it falls between these two stools: there isn't enough information to have a go at these dishes yourself, and the show is perhaps a little too fast to create tension. They put two rounds in a half-hour show - three rounds in a one-hour show might give all a bit more room to breathe.

Beat again?

A second series was commissioned in early 2020, just before everything stopped for COVID. You can't keep a good programme down, and Beat the Chef finally returned in May 2021.

The format's been simplified somewhat. Each 30-minute show has a single contestant playing two rounds against one famous chef. In the first half, the contestant cooks their favourite recipe, winning cash for everyone who prefers their version to the professional chef's.

In the second round, the chef chooses the dish. Contestants predict how many votes they will get from the tasting jury. If they get it right they win the money; if they get a majority vote they win the £10,000 jackpot. Fail to make their bid, and the contestant leaves with nothing.


Did the Xth member of the food jury vote for Y's dish?

Key moments

The episode where neither the contestant nor chef Hrishikesh Desai submitted anything in the Chef's Choice round; the contestant due to speed, and the chef due to self-dissatisfaction with his dish.


The last episode of series two contained a dedication to that episode's winning contestant John Paul.

Web links

Channel 4 programme page

See also

Weaver's Week review


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