Cooking Competitions Get a New Spin with Celebrity Beef

Earlier this month, the brand-new cooking show Celebrity Beef made its U.S. debut on E! In each episode, two celebrity contestants go head-to-head in a cook-off in an attempt to prepare the best dish but also settle their personal scores.

The idea for the show came about at the height of the pandemic, says executive producer Jodi Flynn, president of The Content Group, as “celebrities baking and cooking on Instagram was all the rage.” She adds, “The network loved Jennifer Garner’s cooking segments and how she provided an intimate look into her celebrity life, so we wanted to figure out a way to re-create that for E! We developed a few ideas around the concept, and Celebrity Beef was the name toward which we and the network gravitated. It was originally going to be a remote show, but we then adapted it to an in-studio series and attached Joel McHale.”

McHale, an E! network veteran, serves as host and executive producer. He leads the action in the U.S. series, acting as prosecutor, judge and jury, creating twists and turns with various challenges throughout the showdown. “Joel was always the perfect host for many reasons,” Flynn says. “His quick wit and charm are invaluable to creating an environment where our guests feel relaxed and engaged; that’s what leads to a great show.”

At the end of each Celebrity Beef episode, the contestants present their final meal for the ultimate taste test, as one person is crowned the winner and the duos squash their issues once and for all. The victor also receives a trophy and is awarded $10,000 for their charity of choice.

“It’s not Iron Chef; it’s also not Nailed It!” Flynn says. “It’s something entirely fresh and fun, where things heat up in the kitchen and celebrities settle their beef in a head-to-head cook-off. The food is yummy, but the banter and the games are even better. The celebs really are trying to make a good meal despite Joel’s antics, and they often pull it off, but not without tons of amusing smack talk and silly surprises.

“And while being hilarious and insightful with some really good food, Celebrity Beef gently mocks the seriousness of other competition shows. It’s all in good fun, but some real beefs actually do play out on our stage.”

With regard to casting for the show, Flynn says the team is looking for celebrities with real relationships and genuine issues with each other: “people who want to settle the score in a fun, lighthearted way.”

Two of her favorites from season one of the E! series are Rachael Harris and Cheryl Hines—longtime best friends who have a long-lasting beef between them with multiple layers—and Jeff Lewis and Missi Pyle—also longtime friends who have let bad feelings fester.

The casting, according to Flynn, should be at the heart of any local iteration to come. “It’s important to feature celebrities who have genuine relationships and, of course, a host who can keep the train on the tracks while instigating laughter at every turn.”