When trying to please a crowd with different food restrictions, things can get a little…complicated, or should I say, “CompliPlated”?
Food Network’s newest competition show “It’s CompliPlated” puts chefs to the test by using their cooking knowledge to create a meal that everyone at the table, no matter what food restrictions they have, can enjoy. The show is hosted by Tabitha Brown, an author and foodie who has her own limitations of what she can eat.
“I’m vegan, I’m the only one in the house that’s vegan,” said Brown. “When I first went vegan, I was the only one for a couple of years, and cooking so many different meals, I’m used to trying to please everybody’s palate, allergies or whatever the preferences needed to be.”
In each episode, four chefs compete in three rounds of cooking challenges to create dishes that will please all of the judges. Brown, who also has a soy allergy on top of her vegan diet, is joined each episode by Maneet Chauhan as a judge, plus two rotating judges who have their own food preferences/restrictions that the judges must take into account when cooking, whether it is food allergies or dietary lifestyles.
The winner of each episode will win $10,000.
“The goal is to bring the family back to the table where everyone can sit together and enjoy one meal together. You know how during holidays you have people come over and hope everybody likes it, that’s the goal. It doesn’t have to be ‘compliplated’ but sometimes it is ‘compliplated,'” said Brown. “You have me as a host and judge, then we have Maneet Chauhan who is my expert judge, and then we always have two tricky eaters that will come and they have different tastes. Some of them are gluten-free and hate onions. I am soy free and vegan, then you have someone who is a huge meat eater that’ll say ‘I eat meat, I hate veggies.’ So they have these four people and they have to make something they’ll all enjoy.”
Brown says that despite the restrictions, the creativity that the chefs show throughout the show is unlike anything she has seen before. Right off the bat, everything that’s made must be plant-based, and the chefs have to think on their feet to make something enjoyable.
“That heightens the competition, none of these chefs are vegan chefs, they’re just chefs. So I’m one of the judges as well, I have to try it, too. It has to be something I can eat as well, and I have a soy allergy so not only does it have to be planted-based, it needs to be soy free,” said Brown. “That’s what is amazing to see where these chefs’ minds go, how well they know food, how well they know their way around a kitchen, how well they know what food can do.”
In addition to the taste, Brown says chefs are judged on how the food looks on the plate as well as delivering on everybody’s dietary needs.
“It’s all about how it looks, is it beautiful, is it plated amazing, how it tastes, and did they deliver what everybody’s preference was,” said Brown. “I’m not a chef, I didn’t go to school to study culinary arts or all that stuff, but I am a foodie. I am a real person, I am a mom, I am 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, you say, ‘What is that?’ If it smells good, you think ‘Oh I want to try that.’ That’s how we eat. We eat with our eyes first, we eat with our senses, which makes us want to taste it. That’s why it’s important.”
Brown says that “It’s CompliPlated” is unlike any show that Food Network has aired before, and viewers with their own dietary needs (or have family members with dietary needs) will be able to incorporate what they see on the show into their everyday lives.
“There’s so many things that happen [on ‘It’s CompliPlated’] that Food Network has never seen before,” said Brown. “It’s like, this is a show that has never been seen before, this is going to be something new and fresh, but it’s also something for everybody because so many people, not just vegan like me but people with nut allergies or sensitivities, they’re dairy free, or whatever the case may be, they’ll be able to see this and see themselves or see their family member and be like, oh this is a good idea, we should try that too.”
Brown says that the show has a range of emotions that viewers will see as they watch. Each episode will also feature tips from Brown about how to make plant-based meals easily at home (she does recommend meals like tacos, quesadillas and pasta as easy options for first-time plant-based eaters!).
“I give you these little tips that are quick and easy to do the plant-based way. I’m hoping that people see all the things they need and open their minds to say, oh I can do something new,” said Brown.
Ultimately, Brown says that those who tune in are in for a good time and will feel right at home while they watch “It’s CompliPlated.”
“I think it gives the feeling of being at home with me, being an invited guest — it’s almost like you’re going to a party. And I think it’s just a lot of emotion that I think we don’t normally see on a food show. It’s good emotions, there’s highs and lows, it’s laughs, it’s tears, it feels like you are invited into somebody’s house and you get to sit on the couch and watch it happen,” said Brown.
“It’s CompliPlated” premieres on Food Network and discovery+ at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Thursday, Aug. 11.