At the start of the Cutthroat Kitchen spinoff Camp Cutthroat, Alton Brown, wearing a red beret and shorts, stood in front of the first three returning chefs. “You cutthroat veterans are some of the first outsiders to set feet inside those gates,” he told them.
That was not quite true, because those gates previously belonged to another reality show that was filmed there less than a year earlier.
Food Network described the show like this:
“Set in a secret location deep in the wilderness, these memorable Cutthroat alumni battle for the chance to win up to $75,000 in a tournament of great outdoors-themed culinary challenges with a diabolical twist. With extreme tug-of-war and canteen cooking to battles in the camp lake, only the contestants with the strongest culinary chops and sabotage skills make it to the end of camp.”
The Camp Cutthroat filming location
But that “secret location” isn’t actually deep in any wilderness, it’s in Santa Clarita, California. More specifically, it’s the set of the Fox show Utopia set. Even the entrance is the same, just with a new sign:
— Clayton Kistner (@sax_aholic) August 13, 2015
A lot of people who were watching Alton Brown’s show noticed that, including a reader who let me know, though others have been asking on social media where it was filmed. Although it’s been dressed with props such as boats and bulleting boards, it is otherwise identical to the Fox series’ location.
After it concluded, I wrote that its set could be reused for other reality shows, including a revival of Kid Nation or PBS’ historical House shows. That was more wishful thinking than anything else, but I’m also not surprised that the set was reused.
It’s not clear when this was filmed, but it is clear that it serves the show well. That said, as with Cutthroat Kitchen, I find the show to be somewhat sad, because it’s Alton Brown’s playfulness without his intelligence, and its his intelligence that I want to watch. (His tour was the perfect combination of both.)
The outdoor location works better than the studio, though. If a show is going to just be zany and silly—with physical comedy, sight gags, and sabotage taking precedent over actual cooking—it might as well go batshit crazy with Bob the Bear, paddle boats, and everything else the outdoors allows.