The show includes a panel of seven guests, who during the course of the show have to choose between one of two dishes being prepared for them. Each dish is made in front of the guests by a separate chef, and the two dishes are always in the same class of food (e.g., dorayaki vs. cream puffs, BBQ ribs vs. grilled tuna collar, takoyaki vs. yakisoba; see their archive page here).
Each of the two dishes always includes some super-special ingredient, which the chefs travel across Japan to find. No matter how mundane this ingredient might otherwise seem to be (e.g., vegetable oil, milk), the show manages to make it sound as though their super-special version of this ingredient is mouth-wateringly good. We love the special ingredient segments, partially because they always include lots of detail on how the ingredient is prepared (e.g., rearing pigs, fishing for tuna, and growing and grinding pepper or oil-producing seeds). The show also has a segment featuring "delicious supporters" of each dish, in which they visit two or three restaurants and see how the restaurant chefs make their own version of the dish (always including the price).
The show never fails to make us desperately hungry for the dishes they prepare. It's also very educational, showing both how traditional Japanese food is made and how certain ingredients are manufactured or obtained.
To help those watching the show for the first time, here's an outline of a typical one-hour episode:
- The two dishes are introduced to the guests.
- The guests make an initial selection between the two dishes, and are moved to one or the other side of the studio based on their selections (one side is red, the other yellow).
- The chefs start to make each dish.
- Each dish's "special ingredient" is highlighted.
- The guests get to sample a tiny portion of the special ingredient (or something cooked with the special ingredient).
- The guests get a chance to change their minds about which dish they think they'll want to eat.
- The "delicious supporters" of each dish are shown.
- The show's chefs finish cooking each dish, typically including some showy presentation.
- The guests ooh and ahh over the food (as they've been doing throughout).
- The guests are forced to make a final choice between the dishes, with much hemming and hawing.
- The show cuts to commercial.
- The guests' final choices are revealed. Whichever dish gets a majority of the votes is served to those who voted for it. Anyone who voted for the losing dish gets nothing to eat.
- The winning guests eat their food happily, while the losing guests look on mournfully.
- The chef who cooked the losing dish eats it in a small room off-set, usually exclaiming about how delicious it is.