When trying to please a crowd with different dietary restrictions, it can get a bit…complicated, or should I say CompliPlated?
Food Network’s latest competition show, It’s CompliPlated, puts chefs to the test by using their cooking knowledge to create a meal that everyone at the table can enjoy, regardless of dining restrictions. The show is hosted by Tabitha Brown, an author and foodie who has her own limits as to what she can eat.
“I’m vegan, I’m the only one in the house who’s vegan,” Brown said. “When I first went vegan I was the only one for a few years and as I cook so many different dishes I’m used to trying to please everyone’s palate, allergy or whatever the preference must be .”
In each episode, four chefs compete in three rounds of cooking challenges to create dishes that will please all judges. Brown, who also has a soy allergy in addition to her vegan diet, is joined by Maneet Chauhan as a judge each episode, plus two rotating judges who have their own food preferences/restrictions that the judges must consider when cooking, be it food allergies or eating habits are.
The winner of each episode wins $10,000.
“The goal is to bring the family back to the table where everyone can sit and enjoy a meal together. You know how people come on holidays and hope everyone likes it, that’s the goal. It doesn’t have to be ‘complicated,’ but sometimes it is ‘complicated,'” Brown said. “You have me as your host and judge, then we have Maneet Chauhan, who is my experienced judge, and then we always have two picky eaters that come and they have different tastes. Some of them are gluten free and hate onions. I’m soy-free and vegan, then you have someone who’s a big meat eater who says, “I eat meat, I hate veggies.” So you have these four people and they have to do something that they all enjoy.”
Brown says that despite the restrictions, the creativity displayed by the chefs during the show is unlike anything she’s seen before. Right off the bat, everything that’s prepared has to be plant-based, and chefs have to think fast to make something enjoyable.
“It’s increasing the competition, none of these chefs are vegan chefs, they’re just chefs. So I’m also one of the judges, I have to try too. It has to be something I can eat, and I have a soy allergy, so not only does it have to be plant-based, it has to be soy-free,” Brown said. “It’s amazing to see where these chefs are thinking, how knowledgeable they are about food, how knowledgeable they are in a kitchen, how knowledgeable they are about what food can do.”
In addition to taste, Brown says, chefs are judged on how the food looks on the plate and how it meets everyone’s dietary needs.
“It’s all about how it looks, is it beautiful, is it amazingly plated, how does it taste and did they deliver what everyone preferred,” Brown said. “I’m not a chef, I didn’t go to school to study culinary arts or any of that stuff, but I’m a foodie. I’m a real person, I’m a mother, I’m a woman who loves food and we eat with our eyes. So the first thing you want to do with your food is look at it. If it looks appealing, say, “What is that?” If it smells good, you’re like, “Oh, I want to try that.” That’s how we eat. We eat with our eyes first, we eat with our senses, which leads us to taste it. That’s why it’s important.”
Brown says It’s CompliPlated is unlike any show Food Network has aired before, and viewers with their own dietary needs (or family members with dietary needs) will be able to customize what they see on the show to integrate into their everyday life.
“There are so many things happening [on ‘It’s CompliPlated’] the Food Network has never seen before,” Brown said. “It’s like this is a show that hasn’t been seen before, this is going to be something new and fresh, but it’s also something for everyone because so many people, not just vegans like me, but people with nut allergies or sensitivities, they are dairy free, or whatever the case may be, they will be able to see this and see themselves or see their family member and say oh that’s a good idea we should try that too.
Brown says the show has a range of emotions that viewers will see as they watch. Each episode will also include tips from Brown on how to easily prepare plant-based meals at home (she recommends dishes like tacos, quesadillas, and pasta as easy plant-based options for first-time eaters!).
“I’ll give you these little tips that are quick and easy to implement on a plant-based basis. I hope people see all the things they need and open their minds to say oh I can do something new,” Brown said.
Ultimately, Brown says those who tune in will have a good time and feel right at home while watching It’s CompliPlated.
“I think there’s a feeling of being at my house, of being an invited guest – it’s almost like going to a party. And I think it’s just a lot of emotion that we don’t usually see in a food show. There’s good emotion, there’s ups and downs, there’s laughter, there’s tears, it feels like you’re invited into someone’s house and you can sit on the couch and watch it happen,” Brown said.
“It’s CompliPlated” premieres on Food Network and Discovery+ at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT on Thursday, August 11.