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Celeb Chefs Go Back in Time for New Cooking Competition

ABC/RON TOM(NEW YORK) -- Are you bored with endless TV cooking competition shows?  A one-off show airing Thursday night on ABC hopes to shake things up a little bit.

Called Time Machine Chefs, the show takes a few celebrity chefs -- Top Chef Masters vets Art Smith and Chris Cosentino, Top Chef season-two winner Ilan Hall and Next Iron Chef contestant Jill Davie -- and plunks them down in the "past," courtesy of a "time machine" that resembles a giant refrigerator.   

The chefs will visit China's Ming Dynasty, which was between 1368 and 1644 A.D., and the Tudor era of England, circa 1416 A.D., and be forced to compete in cooking challenges using only the tools available at the time.  That means no running water, no electricity, and bizarre food that nobody eats today.  The chefs will compete for the title of "The Greatest Chef in History."

Asked why he felt the need to appear in yet another cooking reality show, since he's currently on Top Chef Masters, Smith calls himself a "serial cooking competitor" and tells ABC News Radio, "I love a challenge...and it was such an amazing challenge when I heard about it.  The idea of actually cooking in a different time period and actually using the equipment of that era as well as the food."

Smith also feels that Time Machine Chefs, as crazy as it sounds, ups the game a bit on all these shows. "There is a need in the whole reality cooking show business for something more exciting, more fun, something more engaging," he explains. "And what I love about Time Machine is that it's entertaining. People see what the period was like,'cause it's very authentic, and I also believe, too, that it's educational."

Art says that the craziest thing he had to cook during the competition was something that would take modern-day Americans aback: a peacock.  "You know, I grew up on a farm," Art says, admitting he had a very hard time with that particular dish. "Everything had a name and we had peacocks and I love them -- the most beautiful, majestic bird -- and I'd rather have it as a pet than eat it."  But, ultimately, he admits, "It's very delicious.  It tastes like turkey!"

Time Machine Chefs airs Thursday at 9 p.m. ET.

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