A brand new Food Network show puts the contestants’ taste buds at center stage while they compete for cash.
“Money Hungry” is a high-stakes show where contestants use their palates to find the answers to the food questions presented to them. The five-episode series is hosted by Kal Penn, who was excited to take on the host role in this new game.
“One of the things I like about the food space is the way in which food and ingredients tell a story. A lot of the food shows I like are the ones that talk about ingredients, their sources and the history behind them,” said Penn. “I competed once on Celebrity Master Chef, and after learning more and winning, I got overconfident in my abilities and started cooking more in the past year and a half. When [Money Hungry] came around, I’m not a pro chef but the opportunity came based on an experience of tasting, it was such a cool next step with my food journey.”
Here’s how “Money Hungry” works: one contestant starts off with rapid-fire tastings where the competitors must identify specific ingredients. The competitor then goes on to the main course round, where the tasting challenges under each cloche become more difficult as the rounds go on.
Each episode has two guest panelists, who are able to provide limited use “flavor favors” lifelines to competitors. In the end, only those who make it through all of the rounds will walk away with $50,000 — if the contestant gets a challenge wrong at any point, they leave with nothing.
“Most shows in the food space are based on cooking, not eating or tasting,” said Penn. “Our show merges the two. There’s a story about a particular dish. What’s the missing piece? We have two panelists that went to culinary school, they chime in and point at something and say that this spice goes back 400 years. We’re rooting for people to win money, have a good time, and learn about history.”
The contestants on the show range from talented chefs, restaurant critics, cookbook authors and accomplished home cooks. Penn says that anyone can heighten their palates and get better at tasting, like many of the contestants in the show.
“You can do this stuff, too. The contestants, all of whom are foodies, each of them said to me that you can train yourself to do this,” said Penn. “Everyone knows when food is too salty, too sweet or too hot — with the finer details, you can train your palate over time.”
Penn says that those who tune into “Money Hungry” can expect the unexpected when it comes to the challenge and that there is no limit to what the contestants can potentially have to taste.
“We don’t shy away from what you might see in fine dining, but you’ll see other challenges with food that you might see in a ballpark, like a hot dog or a taco, or on a trip abroad,” said Penn. “We’re not precious about any of that, it’s all a part of the food experience. It’s more inclusive.”
“Money Hungry” premieres at 10 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 10 on Food Network.