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Pursuit of it All

Judges on the Food Network show "Chopped."

Food Competitions On TV … What’s With The Hair?


I spent most Tuesdays a few years ago watching the show MasterChef, where home chefs compete to become a Gordon Ramsey-dubbed “culinary master” for a large chunk of change, and a cookbook deal.

The show’s okay — interesting enough to hold my attention most nights, but not dynamic enough to keep me from flipping around during commercials … like one Tuesday in 2011 when the What Not To Wear season premiere aired at the same time. (You know how much we like What Not To Wear around here!)

Gordon Ramsey’s all about entertainment, simultaneously making us laugh, cringe, and nod our heads with his expressions and remarks to chefs and cooks who cross his food-focused reality TV path. It’s no wonder the show still airs (new season begins summer 2017)!

MasterChef on Fox with Gordon Ramsey

I do have a pet peeve, though.

And, it’s not just Masterchef, it’s with nearly all the cooking and food competitions on television, and especially those on Food Network.

What’s with the long hair? It’s flowing, it’s swinging around, it’s sweaty, and it’s absolutely NOT practical (nor comfortable) to be cooking in a fast-paced kitchen with those long locks flying all over the place.

All. Over. The. Place.

Quite frankly, I’m surprised Gordan doesn’t bash more cooks, like Brandi, for it … you know … because it’s kinda his style.

Anyway, it’s not just MasterChef. And it’s not just home cooks, either.

Chopped, which is near and dear to my heart, often has chefs—women and men—guilty of the same crime.

Although, I give the Chopped judges credit. Most of the time they do say something, and after a commercial break said chef’s hair is battened down, pulled back, harnessed by a hair band, or SOMETHING, to tame it.

After all this hair-angst, I feel like there’s a need bring up all the other food based programming like Giada at Entertains, Barefoot Contessa, and The Pioneer Woman.

I’m not as bothered by the hairstyles of personalities on these types of “sitcom” food shows for two reasons: 1) They’re not flailing around a kitchen, moving at a ridiculously fast pace; and 2) Aside from staged dinner parties, they’re not actively serving people (who are judging their food!!!) within minutes of making a dish.

But still. A ponytail wouldn’t hurt, folks.

Can we talk about dripping sweat next? Ew.

Liza is a self-proclaimed #wordnerd who loves getting sucked into whimsical novels and epic movies, frequently flying under the coolness radar with her laid-back, practical attitude towards life. A foodie at heart, Liza relishes the chance to both cook and eat. (She's not picky.) She’s on the hunt for the perfect mojito, inspiration for a third tattoo, and world peace. You can also find Liza sharpening her knives over at (a)Musing Foodie.

Comments (27)

  • I absolutely agree with you! Hair falling forward when someone is cooking or chefs sweating is, at the very least, unappetizing but more to the point, it’s unsanitary. I also can’t abide beards that aren’t covered. I’m so surprised that there isn’t more regulation.

    • Sherry Lynn Boyd

      It’s not just the long hair but the fact that the worst person is Rachel Ray she’s always running your fingers through her hair and then touching the food without gloves I don’t get it my mother would have had a fit and she been alive when all these cooking shows were on. You darn sure better not ever touch your hair while you’re in my mom’s kitchen and actually there’s a very few people my mother would even let being her kitchen and if you were messing with your hair you never got invited back it’s called good kitchen etiquette to be clean what good does it do to wear gloves if you’re still going to touch your hair with the gloves on does anybody have any ideas on that?

      • Lydia

        I totally agree. Katie Lee, who never changes her hairstyle, always has her hair pulled forward, never down her back. Then moves her hair out of the way when she eats. Oh but you can leave that crap hang when you cook? My grandma’s first rule, tie your hair back!

    • Mary Duplantis

      I agree. I’m watching chopped and sunny has all this hair hanging around. The other two ladies have their hair pulled back. Too much hair hanging. I wouldn’t want to eat her food.

      • Elle

        I totally agree! All the Food Network ladies have their hair purposely pulled forward. What happened to a ponytail or a nice French braid? Food Networks excuse is there’s not enough time for the show segment to have the cooks practice cleanliness. That may be when it’s implied that the cook is washing their hands but when they come on the set and their hair is purposely pulled forward or when somebody such as Jeff Mauro is standing there cooking and then he does a wipe squeeze of his nose obviously squeezing out nose snot. Why does Food Network ignore this dirty behavior and loose hair flying?

    • Cynthia Zeitner

      I totally agree. Sanititation should be #1 in any kitchen. Somehow its been put on the back burner. Habits are learned over time. failing to stress a sanitary work environment does a disservice to all the young people who are watching and learning what goes on in a kicthen when they watch popular tv shows with a cooking theme

  • Linda Kurtis

    I think it’s absolutely horrible people cooking and baking with long hair and men with terribly big bushy beards. I wouldn’t eat or taste their food. Something really needs to be done about this. I for one have short hair and I take a pint roller all over me before I do any baking or cooking.
    This should not be allowed. I shudder Everytime I see this on TV.

    • Elizabeth

      I am appalled at the SWEAT dripping into the food, wear sweat bands!!!!!! And the long hair they run their fingers thru. My gosh, I would NEVER eat any of that served to me.

  • June Parker Beck

    Thank God! Someone else who cringes as they see the lady chefs whom I call (“Rapunzel’s Revenge”) and sweat dripping from the foreheads of male chefs! There seem to be some fetish for the gals to cover their breasts with these cascades of hair tumbling down in front of them. They also do it on “Say Yes to the Dress” – they put on this gorgeous ‘sweetheart neckline’ gown and then cover their chest with…..uh….with…stringy unattractive hair. Yes – a woman’s hair is supposed to be her “crowning glory” – but this is food for heaven’s sake – not a pretty girl pageant.

  • Abilene Gray

    Drives me crazy to see all that loose hair when cooking food on Chopped! Icky!!!

  • Deborah Ann Byrd

    I agree! I have long hair and before I cook, I go outside and brush my hair back and put it up and then shake myself free of all hair!

  • Linda

    Terrible,I’m watching Silvia colloca
    Cooking like an Italian, She is beautiful
    But her hair is so long & she keeps
    Touching it !
    Tie your back please ! I can’t watch it !

    • Vicki

      Yes! The annoying unsanitary hair cascades! Sylvia Collaco deliberately wears her hair so it falls all over her face and over the food she’s cooking. Sometimes she wears a headband starting BEHIND her front strands of hair. What’s the point of the headband. I’ve stopped watching Food Network because as a vegetarian I find it hard to watch the loads of meat piled upon meat. As I’m typing this I’m watching Sylvia Collaco’s show labelled “vegetarian dishes.” Chefs don’t appear to know what vegetarianism is when they call some dishes vegetarian and add loads of cheese. They should know that rennet in cheese is derived from animal cadavers, so not vegetarian.

  • Sally

    I agree with the flying hair, sweat dripping off noses, touching or pushing back hair with a hand and continuing to cook with that hand, big sweating beards noses and foreheads. It gives a bad impression. How does it not gross out the judges? You would think FoodNetwork should set an example not give the impression all that is acceptable.

    • Joe

      Some women also ave fake finger nails, some extremely long and the wearing of finger rings too.

      • Lydia

        How about Ree Drummond with dangling bracelets and long flouncy shirts hitting the food? Then she announces that she does not have a problem with wearing jewelry when she cooks. We need to call out the “glam squad” and why they think this is acceptable.

  • Pam

    I just googled “people touching their hair on cooking shows” and your AWESOME blog came up! WHYYYY isn’t this an issue or mentioned EVER? I’m currently watching Celeb Edition of Worst Cook’s in America. Between the touching of hair and wiping sweat, I wanna throw up. Who would eat from these people? Is this normal in kitchens? If so, I need to reevaluate my eating habits.

  • Diane McDonald

    Same thing on all the baking shows – it’s just wrong!!! How can their hair not turn up in the food?

  • Lynn Boyer

    So, I am a huge fan of MasterChef Canada. In fact, I really enjoy all of the cooking shows. However, I do not agree with the fact that these contestants do not have to wear a hairnet or wash their hands. I watched an episode recently, not mentioning the name of the chef, of course, who had to step in and help the blue team because they were falling behind, this was his own restaurant. He jumped in to help without even washing his hands, handling meat and veggies. I was somewhat appalled. I understand that this is a television show however, they sometimes serve this food to the public . I had thought myself of auditioning for MasterChef Canada. I am a great cook and have worked in many restaurants right from fast food up to higher end kitchens. But I feel that this is not real, given the fact that sanitary rules are so lax.

  • Fran

    It seems to be the same everywhere. I watch some cooking competitions from Australia and see the hair hanging thing. In restaurants the cooks always wear head coverings, men and women.
    I won’t eat in a restaurant that doesn’t require this.

  • gail

    I hope Mahoney never appears on another food show her hair is horrible. Always looks like she just jumped out of bed and that it could possibly be in the food at any point.

  • Kate puccio

    I never ever ever have any part of my hair hanging down when I’m cooking not only do I tie it back but I also put a scarf on my head I would never ever eat any of the food they prepare on TV it’s totally disgusting how famous chefs females especially keep their hair down while they’re cooking you can’t tell me food does not hair does not get into their food it’s appalling I want ordered a sandwich in a deli and I saw the lady behind the counter with her hair hanging to her waist making a sandwiches I walked out is it a vanity thing I really want to know why why they do this

  • Wendy Marshall

    Yes i agree Bloody disgusting. Right now I’m watching holiday wars finale 3 of the women have theirhair hanging all over there face and shoulder. Shimlin. And other judge don’t say anything. Plus 2 out of 3 guys have beards. Today 12-17-23 9 pm.

  • Christine Brunen

    I agree I’m a cook have had my own restaurant number one was very short hair pinned up hair and hairnets. I find it totally disgusting watching professional chefs on chopped rub their fingers through their hair then go back to chopping touching and cook food someone is eating . Never wash hands it’s so awful to see. I sure wouldn’t eat at a restaurant that I ever saw a chef without appropriate hair covering or hair being pinned up pull back same as beards where a beard net. If you touch your hair face or scratch yourself wash your damn hands before you touch food you’re giving to someone.


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