Chicago-set fourth season of Top Chef debuts tonight

Top Chef 4 debuts tonight on Bravo at 10 p.m. ET with a 75-minute episode. After spending its third season in Miami, the series moves to Chicago, where 16 chefs–the biggest cast so far–will compete.

Judge Ted Allen tells TV Guide that the competition is, as always, impossibly difficult, and calls the producers “evil” and “sadistic.” The chefs, he says, “don’t get big budgets and they don’t get enough time; if you could give them enough time to plan out a menu, the way they would in real life, more of them would cook successful dishes. We’re saying to them, ‘OK, you have 15 minutes to figure out what to do.'”

He adds that the environment plays a big role. “I don’t know if fans are truly aware of how hard it is: All these contestants give up their cell phones, their iPods, they can’t watch TV, they can’t read books, they can’t call their mommies. All they have is the people they’re trying to defeat — and maybe some nice bottles of wine every once in a while. You’re stuck in this pressure cooker with these people who you may or may not like. For six weeks! And on top of that, you have these evil, sadistic producers coming up with the hardest possible challenges they can think of,” he said.

Top Chef 4 [Bravo]
Top Chef’s Ted Allen Previews This Season’s Big City and Bigger Personalities [TV Guide]

Surprisingly, man not eaten alive on Eaten Alive

Eaten Alive

Discovery Channel’s happy family holiday special Eaten Alive aired Sunday, rewarding viewers for their two full hours of viewing by ensuring that they spent quality time in the company of others instead of wasting that time doing something else that might not have been as satisfying, such as buying things that have labels which accurately reflect their contents.

Winter 2015 reality TV debut schedule

winter 2015 reality TV schedule

Mark your calendars with all these upcoming reality TV show debuts, including Celebrity Apprentice, The Bachelor, and another season of MasterChef Junior, all of which kick off in early January.

There are also 20+ shows debuting in December--including the one-off return of The Sing Off. No winter break for reality TV.

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.