If you’ve ever experienced the thrill ride that is watching a food competition show, then you’ve probably also felt the frustration of the losing team or competitor. Sure, you’re happy for the winner, but you often wonder what becomes of the loser once the studio lights go out and they take the walk of shame off set. But, more importantly, what happens to their leftover food?

Whether there’s a surplus of second-place cupcakes left over like in Food Network’s Cupcake Wars, or an entire pantry of fresh produce and unchosen meats like in Fox’s MasterChef, the fate of uneaten, beautifully crafted, chef-status foods largely remains a mystery.

Spoon investigated three popular competition shows, and here’s what we found out.

Cupcake Wars


Photo courtesy of foodnetwork.com

During this fast-paced war of cupcakes, competing teams from bakeries all over the US fight through round after grueling round, creating the most interesting flavor combinations catered to the particular episode’s theme.

The final round amps up the pressure, asking each of the two last teams standing to create a 1,000 cupcake display in two hours. The winner gets a $10,000 prize and a chance to flaunt their display at a prestigious public event.

According to a Food Network rep, all ingredients that can be saved until the next episode’s filming are saved, and the remaining 1,000 cupcakes are given to charitable organizations or eaten by “hardworking cast and crew.”



Photo courtesty of fox.com

This season-long cooking competition makes its way to viewers in living rooms across the globe, with versions in the UK, US, and Australia.

In the British version of this high-stakes game, all leftover raw ingredients are divided amongst the “youngsters in the crew,” who may be earning less, and the filming crew eats the remaining cooked food. In fact, many of the crew bring their own sets of cutlery to the show.

The Australian version donates much of its remaining fresh ingredients to charitable organizations like Second Bite and Foodbank, which both deliver food to the needy across Australia. Anything not given to charity is taken home by competitors for practice.

We couldn’t find anything specific on the US version, but we can only hope that Gordon Ramsay is charitable enough to not simply throw the leftover food in the faces of the losers.

Great British Bake Off


Photo courtesy of dailymail.co.uk

The UK’s amateur baking competition takes an entire season to complete and promises one of twelve home-bakers a whopping… cake stand. That’s right — these bakers do not compete for money, but rather simply for the experience, the title, and a cake stand with “Great British Bake Off” engraved on it.

So what happens to all the leftover goodies? Apparently, what goes untouched by the judges is quickly claimed by Mel and Sue, the hosts of the show.

Paul Hollywood, one of the judges on the show, describes the crew as “vultures,” waiting to strike as soon as they’re allowed. If we had that kind of temptation at work, we would too.


Although some shows are working to dispose of their leftovers in the best way possible, major food and cooking networks are not always transparent about their practices. Much of the food on these competition shows, especially cooked food that has sat out under studio lights and food waiting to be photographed, likely meets its end in a garbage can.

In the meantime, we here at Spoon dream of a day where all that food ends up in somebody’s stomach — preferably ours.


GIF courtesy of giphy.com