Anyone know? Earliest I can think of is Iron Chef Japan, but there must be something earlier from somewhere.
Looks like Masterchef began a few years before Iron Chef Japan, but the earliest I’ve found was a show called Now You’re Cooking. It was from 1951 and only 15 minutes long. Here’s the description of the show according to IMDb:
“Three women, chosen from the audience via mail, prepare the same dish, with six minutes to augment the basic recipe with their own cooking secrets. A “guest chef” tastes all three dishes, and decides which is the best. The winner receives a wrist watch and a pen and pencil set, and all three contestants receive food products courtesy of the sponsor (Hygrade food products)”