Banking on our fascination with food, MTV is throwing in its lot as a contender in food media with two new shows, MTV's House of Food and Snackdown. According to Variety, both programs will feature a competitive culinary element.

MTV's House of Food, based here in Los Angeles, will incorporate elements of MasterChef, America's Next Top Model and the network's own Made. Except it will focus on aspiring chefs who are assigned mentors among top chefs and then compete to win “the apprenticeship of a lifetime.” It'll join Cooking Channel, which in June broadcast an 8-episode documentary about culinary students called premiered The Freshman Class, in covering the beginning stages of a culinary career.

Snackdown, which is produced by skateboarder and MTV reality TV regular Rob Dyrdek, will be a 30-minute cooking showdown between amateur chefs for a cash prize and a chance to appear in a forthcoming cookbook by the same name. Eddie Huang, owner of Baohaus in New York City and known agitator, will host the program. Model Chrissy Teigen, an outspoken foodist with her own food blog, and chef Jason Quinn of The Playground in Santa Ana are among the panel of judges.

For years after it launched, MTV was the vanguard of cool. But somewhere between Total Request Live, a.k.a. TRL, and one too many Real World vs. Road Rule challenges, the network stopped focusing on music and tried to lead in promoting a youth culture that prized folly as fashionable. Now that Jersey Shore has ended and 16 and Pregnant 2 was cancelled, the network views food as a strategy for a programming boost. And while we're a bit fatigued at the thought of another food competition show, much less two, we'll probably tune in to Snackdown, if only to hear what Huang has to say.

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LA Weekly