The wacky game show where three contestants were tested of their knowledge on food.
Food Network - 9/21/98- 10/30/98
The Main Game
Round 1 (Meal Ticket)
In round one, three contestants face a game board called the "Meal Mixer". The Meal Mixer includes four meals we're all familiar with; "Breakfast", "Lunch", "Dinner" & "Snack". They act as categories. One category is different it's called "Potluck" (more on that later). The player in control presses a button which starts the Meal Mixer mixing (sometimes the host starts the Meal Mixer). When it lands on a category a toss-up question is 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.
The Meal Tickets
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 get five meal tickets which include one for each of the three meals (breakfast, lunch & dinner), and two snacks.
Note: If a contestant answers a question in a category from which he/she already has a meal ticket, that player has a chance to steal a meal ticket from one of his/her opponents. But if neither of the opponents has what the contestant wants, that contestant gets a free unclaimed meal ticket of his/her choice, aka "stealing from the house."
Don't Play with your Food
It's may say "Don't Play with your Food", but as Chris would say "BUT WE WANNA/WE'RE GONNA!". For midway into round one, all three contestants play a stunt that allows them to build or make things from food "hence playing with food" (an example being making caricatures of famous people, real or fictional). They do that for 45 seconds (sometimes 60), and when time runs out all the players share their creativity. The player with the best work gets a meal ticket of his/her choice & control of the Meal Mixer. If there's a tie, the players whom tied get a meal ticket of his/her choice but the host controls the Meal Mixer.
Always played once; it's a special game in which the player matches up food names with the food in which if successful earns a meal ticket of his/her choice. But failure does not earn a meal ticket of his/her choice.
The first two players to get all five meal tickets wins the round & advances to round two. If time runs out before that happens, the player(s) with the most meal tickets advances. If there's a tie when the latter happens, a tie-breaker question is read to the remaining players for advancement to round two. Regardless of the outcome, the third place player is eliminated but wins parting gifts (such as cookware).
Round 2 (Taste-Off)
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 11 ingredients (sometimes 9) and the first player to identify 6 of the ingredients (5 if there's 9) wins the game. An incorrect ingredient or failure to respond in time gives the player a strike. Just like in baseball as well as Family Feud & The Price is Right's 3 Strikes, three strikes and that player is out, and the other player wins. The winning player goes on to the bonus round, and the other player goes home with parting gifts.
Bonus Round ("Pressure Cooker")
The winning player plays a bonus round called "The Pressure Cooker Round". This is where host Durham & the winning contestant stands inside a giant pressure cooker to play. To start, host Durham shows 15 food words & phrases. Each one is part of a 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 & 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.
A similar show called Taste Test which was hosted by celebrity chef David Rosengarten premiered after Pressure Cooker got canceled.