MTV puts savory twist on a classic

Philly brothers produce primetime television for the millenials.

MTV has once again put eight strangers under one roof. But this time, they all have knives.

“House of Food” offers a clever twist of popular millennial classics like “The Real World” and “Hell’s Kitchen.” The difference: the whole cast is randomly selected to live together, they’re millennials and now, culinary students. However, feuding cliques have already formed in the first episode, which aired last Monday.

“It’s a season full of crazy twists and turns,” said creator and executive producer Mike Duffy, one of three Philly brothers who spearheaded the show. “Any time you take a group of passionate, 20-something cooks competing in one house, things get interesting. It’s like a powder keg of food and hooking up.”

The concept is simple but original, Duffy said.

There are dozens of cooking shows out there, but few are directed toward the millennial generation, or those born after 1980.

“What ‘House of Food’ does do is take a group of millennials who are passionate about food and considering it as a career, [and] give them the opportunity to see what it is like to be a professional chef,” Duffy said.

The new classroom for the 20-somethings is Los Angeles in some of the highest-acclaimed restaurants within the city. A few chefs in the area, like Brendan Collins, Casey Lane and Brooke Williamson, are the instructors. Each cast member is chasing an apprenticeship under an all-star chef.

However, it’s not all about the cast. Duffy said MTV wanted to create a show designed for its viewers – the millennial generation. Not only can viewers expect to see the cast learning, but they can also learn a thing or two about cooking. However, Duffy said he doesn’t want the show to feel like a lesson.

“So, for the viewer, they are able to watch the first few episodes of ‘House of Food’ and connect with the students themselves, and then actually have their own learning curve,” Duffy said.

Learning is a huge part of cooking and being a chef. However, most folks in the industry either go to culinary school or head directly into the industry. They find their way by climbing a ladder from mom-and-pop shops up to places like Lacroix Restaurant, a top restaurant in Philadelphia.

The culinary school concept comes from Duffy’s younger years. His brother, Bryan Duffy, went to culinary school in Philadelphia. Mike Duffy said he has learned a lot from his brother, but he has also worked in restaurants on the Main Line and Bala Cynwyd, Pa., where he grew up.

Despite all of his success, including his own production company, Ugly Brother Studios, Duffy said he was humble but confident of his show’s growing popularity.

“I’m like everyone else where I just love food,” Duffy said. “I happen to have this professional chef brother and that certainly helped me. But the viewing experience is built for regular people to love it and learn a little something. Hopefully their mouths will water a little, too.”

The show airs Monday at 10 p.m.

Toby Forstater can be reached at

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