All you need to know about the UAE Family Cook Off reality show

Season 2 of Family Cook Off is back and this time the rivalry is fierce


David Light

Published: Tue 16 Mar 2021, 6:31 PM

Last updated: Tue 16 Mar 2021, 6:33 PM

AS REALITY COOKING shows go, the recipe is usually relatively simple: gather budding chefs in a room, judge their creations and the best one wins. However the latest season of Asianet’s Family Cook off, much like the cuisine on offer, is bigger, bolder and evokes more emotion from participants and hosts alike. In this show, 12 Malayalee families from across the UAE are pitted against each other leading to an extra element being introduced: cooperation. Have you ever tried to coordinate your kin in the kitchen? Too right! You can imagine the explosive scenes.

Hosted by actor Sharu Varghese, the dishes are judged by UAE celebrity chef Cinu Chandran while social media sensation Jumana Khan injects her contagious energy. We caught up with all of them to find out more.

Jumana Khan: I hope to have my own show...

An Instagram sensation boasting just under four million followers, if there’s one thing Jumana Khan knows it’s how to put on a popular show. Beginning to blog at the age of 18, the then student quickly cottoned onto the fact online video content was the future and her standing after beginning to craft clips around trending topics rose exponentially.

“I always experiment with my social media by creating different kinds of content that relates with fans and try to keep them engaged at all times,” Jumana told us about her meteoric Insta journey. Commenting the pandemic actually boosted her ratings and output, Khan credits living in the UAE with affording her more opportunities than most.

“Since all the brands are here and it’s a hub, I get to explore the place and create creative content,” she said.

A relative newcomer to traditional television, Family Cook Off marks a new chapter in Khan’s career.

“This is a whole different experience for me as I got to interact with family teams that were super talented with cooking and I really got to work with a great team. Everyone has really worked hard to make this show come to life and I can see how passionate people are. It has been a great learning experience overall.”

While showcasing the UAE is part and parcel of Khan’s day job, she says Family Cook Off also imparts a great image to a wider audience of something many people forget lays behind the country’s glitzy buildings and star-studded parties: soul.

“We have a lot of food created out of tradition and recipes passed on from generation to generation,” she said on what surprised her about being involved with the competition. “Cooking shows also help bring different cultures from around the globe together and share their cuisine.”

Still in the midst of Family Cook Off’s popularity, it is perhaps too early to delve into Khan’s future plans, though this stint at hosting has certainly given her the presenting bug.

“I hope someday to have my very own show,” she said. “Something like Koffee with Karan...Koffee with Jumana?”

Cinu Chandran: An opportunity to share my cooking style

How does it feel to be part of the show?

I am really honored to be the judge. It has given me a new dimension to pursue my passion. I love to motivate the participants, to make them think out of the box and take that extra step forward to try new and exciting recipes.

How important does it feel to be showcasing the UAE’s talent?

It is important to put out the extraordinary energy, enthusiasm and passion of people in UAE for cooking and cookery shows. I am sure this could inspire a lot of home cooks across the world to come forward.

What kind of dishes have you enjoyed most and why?

I enjoyed seeing participants being truly innovative with the simplest of ingredients provided. A few of their creations were really mind blowing in all aspects, from the ingredients and challenges put forward to them, to the innovation and most of all the taste of the dish.

What made you join this show?

Although, I am a professionally trained chef for more than 10 years, watching culinary styles performed by home cooks gives me a new dimension to explore and try new techniques. It also gives me an opportunity to share my cooking style with the participants on the show. Asianet Family Cook Off is the reality cookery show that gives people a platform to put their best dishes forward and compete at the highest level.

What makes cooking TV so popular do you think?

Bringing variety in everyday cooking is a challenge and nowadays TV cookery shows have become a prominent source for new ideas and recipes for all of us. Most people who are passionate about cooking try to include cooking hacks from the chefs in the shows.

Where in the UAE is your favourite place to eat and why?

For a chef like me, it is hard to stick to one place. I prefer to go around and check out many new places to satisfy my palate and hunger for new trends. At the same time, I am not a fussy eater and I love to eat simple food.

Sharu Varghese: We are appreciated across the Middle East

You’re returning to Family Cook Off, what made you come back?

It is a privilege to be back to host the best family cookery reality show. I have always enjoyed playing the role of an anchor and interacting with our contestants, engaging and learning new things with them throughout the entire season. This show has been growing with great popularity amongst the audience and this excites me to be a part of it.

I always enjoy mingling with the contestants and pulling a few of their strings.

How do you feel it is going?

From the responses of the viewers I have got on my social media pages and other engagements, I feel the show has been well received and appreciated across the Middle East. It is very encouraging and gives me enormous joy to see comments rolling in every time the episodes air on Saturday evening.

How into food are you?

I am a real foodie. The energy and happiness I got from interacting with the contestants was very positive. I have realised there is a special “feeling” of being on TV and it’s not only about the show, but the joy of presenting your own creation (dish) to a larger audience than just your immediate family and friends. Sharing your recipe with everyone is a big thing for participants and passionate cooks. What else could I ask for?

What are your biggest hopes for the future after appearing on this second season?

I hope to look forward to the next season of the show, which will definitely bring the same excitement and some brilliant talent to showcase their culinary skills.

What else do you have going on?

I have a couple of other TV shows in the pipeline which I am considering and I also have a full-time job in Dubai, so I need to ensure that I take up assignments which I can manage and at the same time give my 100 per cent in the character I will play.

Watch the programme at 9.30pm on Saturdays or the repeat on Sunday at the same time on Asianet Middle East.

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