Pressure Cooker (game show)

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Pressure Cooker
Directed by Dana Calderwood
Presented by Chris Durham
Narrated by TBA
Country of origin United States
No. of seasons 1
No. of episodes 30
Location(s) TBA
Running time 30 minutes
Production company(s) Glow in the Dark Productions
Original network Food Network
Original release September 21 (1998-09-21) – December 30, 1998 (1998-12-30)

Pressure Cooker is a game show about cooking and food in general. It was hosted by Chris Durham. It aired on the Food Network in 1998.

Three contestants compete, each standing behind a blue, yellow, or pink mini-refrigerator, hoping to earn enough meal tickets to advance to Round 2, the Taste-Off Round, where the winner goes on to try to the grand prize.

The Main Game[edit]

Round 1 (Meal Ticket)[edit]

In round one, three contestants face a game board called the "Meal Mixer". The Meal Mixer always contains four meals: "Breakfast", "Lunch", "Dinner" & "Snack". These act as categories. One additional spot, called "Pot Luck," is also on the Meal Mixer. The first category is always selected by Chris (or in some cases whoever Chris acknowledges won the drawing of lots backstage); after that, a correct answer gives that player control of the Meal Mixer. The player in control presses a button to start the Meal Mixer, randomly selecting a category. A toss-up question is then read and the first player to buzz-in gets a chance to answer. Answering the question correctly takes control of the Meal Mixer, but an incorrect answer gives the other player(s) a chance to answer. Whoever gave the last correct answer always has control of the Meal Mixer.

Whenever a player wins the round and advances to Round 2, Chris takes control of the Meal Mixer for the next question.

The Meal Tickets[edit]

The player with a correct answer not only takes control of the Meal Mixer but also puts up a meal ticket (corresponding to the category that the question came from) on his/her podium, hence the title. For example, a correct answer in the lunch category puts up a lunch meal ticket.

Each meal ticket is represented by a food item:

  • Breakfast - egg
  • Lunch - hamburger
  • Dinner - turkey
  • Snack - bag of popcorn

The object of the game is to get five meal tickets which include one breakfast, one lunch, one dinner, and two snacks.

Note: If a contestant answers a question in a category from which he/she already has one breakfast, lunch, or dinner meal ticket, or two snack meal tickets, that player has a chance to steal a meal ticket from one of his/her opponents. However, if neither of the opponents has a meal ticket that the contestant doesn't have, that contestant gets a free unclaimed meal ticket of his/her choice, aka "stealing from the house."

Don't Play With Your Food[edit]

Midway into round one (announced by a group of parental voices saying "Don't play with your food!"), all three contestants play a stunt that allows them to build or make things from food. The stunt lasts for 30, 45, or 60 seconds, and when time runs out, the results are judged. The player with the best performance (judged either by audience applause or by a quantitative measurement) gets a meal ticket of his/her choice & control of the Meal Mixer. If there's a tie, the players involved in a tie each get a meal ticket of their choice, but Chris takes control of the Meal Mixer.


Potluck is always played one time per show. The contestant plays a solo stunt involving food. For example, the contestant may be given 20 seconds to load one pound of tea bags onto a scale, and must be within two ounces either way in order to win. If successful, the contestant earns a meal ticket of his/her choice.

Winning the Round[edit]

The first two players to get all five meal tickets, or, failing that, the two contestants with the most meal tickets when time is called (signified by a saxophone riff), win the round and advance to round two. If there's a tie for second place at the end of the round, a tie-breaker question is read to the players involved in the tie for advancement to round two. Regardless of the outcome, the third place player is eliminated, but wins parting gifts.

Round 2 (Taste-Off)[edit]

In round two (referred to on the air as "The Taste-Off Round"), the two remaining players face a dish that was made by a Food Network chef. Their job while going back & forth is to identify what ingredients are included in the dish. While identifying, they can take as much of that dish as they want. There are 9 or 11 ingredients, and the first player to identify a majority of the ingredients (5 or 6, respectively) wins the game. An incorrect ingredient or failure to respond in time gives the player a strike. Any player accumulating a total of three strikes is out of the game, and the other player wins, regardless of score. The winning player goes on to the bonus round, and the other player goes home with parting gifts.

Bonus Round ("Pressure Cooker")[edit]

The winning player plays a bonus round called "The Pressure Cooker Round". The giant pressure cooker onstage spins around to admit Chris and the contestant. To start, Chris shows 9 food words and phrases. Each one is part of a bigger list of foods and/or other things, all of them relate to specific subject. The contestant's job is to call out a word and the host reads off the list; the contestant can make as many guesses as he/she can, and if he/she gets stumped he/she can pass and move to the next list by calling out another word or wait until the list is complete. If the winning player gets six subjects correct in 60 seconds (sometimes 75 seconds), he/she wins a grand prize (usually a trip). But if he/she can not do that, he/she still wins a consolation prize.


After its first season, "Pressure Cooker" was reworked as a more serious food quiz program and retitled Taste Test The new series was hosted by celebrity chef David Rosengarten and retained the middle game, in which contestants attempted to identify ingredients in a dish prepared by Food Network chefs.

Glow in the Dark Productions was a NYC production founded by creative staff members previously associated with the PBS game shows Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? and Where in Time is Carmen Sandiego? "Pressure Cooker" and "Taste Test" were produced by Shirley Abraham, Howard Blumenthal, Dana Calderwood, Charles Nordlander and Lynn Kestin Sessler.

External links[edit]