A New PBS Cooking Competition Is Looking for the 'Great American Recipe'

Amateur cooks will show off their family recipes in the reality series premiering later this year.

Tiffany Derry, Alexandra Ramos, Graham Elliot and Leah Cohen
Photo: Courtesy of PBS

Absolutely nothing is wrong with, say, searching for Ina Garten recipes on Food & Wine and adding them to your permanent cooking repertoire. But inevitably, our favorite recipes tend to be the ones we've gotten from family and friends — recipes with names like "Grandma's potatoes" or "Uncle Gary's soup." Unlike a recipe from a celebrity chef or cookbook, grabbing a recipe from someone you know creates a personal connection (even if they might have found it by searching for Ina Garten recipes).

A new eight-episode cooking competition debuting this summer is hoping to bring those personal connections to our TV screens with an added focus on the diversity of these experiences. The Great American Recipe — set to air on Fridays on PBS — will find host Alejandra Ramos and judges Leah Cohen, Tiffany Derry, and Graham Elliot leading a nationwide search for what the network describes as "treasured recipes from the nation's most talented amateur cooks" while also celebrating "the multiculturalism that makes American food unique and iconic."

"When it comes to food, everyone has a favorite dish, a special memory or a unique story," Sylvia Bugg, PBS's chief programming executive, stated, "and The Great American Recipe offers the perfect way to explore the richness and diversity of our regional cultures in a deliciously fun way."

Individual episodes will reveal these "personal stories and the inspiration behind the contestant's favorite recipes" before the competition culminates with a group of finalists preparing an entire meal for the judges. The winner will land on the cover of the resulting The Great American Recipe Cookbook, a tome that will also include recipes from all of the contestants featured on the show, as well as the host and judges.

"This is a joyful competition series that's all about celebrating the delicious and diverse stories, flavors and people who make up the rich culinary tale of our beautiful nation," said Ramos. "As a Latina woman born and raised in New York and New Jersey, I have always understood American food to be an ever-evolving conversation between the flavors and recipes of our ancestors — wherever they may be from, the influence of our geography and neighbors, and the unique ideas and creativity each of us brings to the kitchen."

As for the judges, Graham Elliot pointed out, "We each have distinct backgrounds and experience that will bring different perspectives to cooking styles from across the nation."

Meanwhile, a bit of bad news if you think one of your recipes deserves the title: Not only have the contestants already been chosen; the series has already been filmed. A spokesperson told us the show held an open casting call and utilized local PBS stations across the country to help spread the word, with the goal of finding recipes that reflected American diversity. (Hey, you never know, there could be a season two!)

The hour-long show is slated to air Fridays at 9 p.m. ET from June 24 through August 12 across PBS, PBS.org, and the PBS Video app — though the network does advise to check your local listings.

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