Summer is about throwing meat, fish and veggies on the grill; tossing salads of all sorts; savoring watermelon, peaches and cherries; and downing iced tea and lemonade by the gallon.
But there comes a time when the sun has finally gone down, the embers have died, stomachs are full, and the time for relaxing in front of the television has come -- just in time to get some new recipes for the next summer cookout or just watch other people sweat in the kitchen.
Here are a few suggestions for your TV food menu:
"Food Network Star" (Sundays, Food Network): Currently in its ninth season, the competitive reality show still strives to produce a chef worthy of his or her own show (although the Season 2 winner, Guy Fieri, continues to be the biggest success). Each week, judges Bobby Flay, Giada De Laurentiis and Alton Brown put the competitors through their paces.
"BBQ Pitmasters" (Sundays, Destination America): Each week, viewers meet the kings and queens of fire, as they compete for cash and prizes in barbecue cooking competitions around the nation.
"Man, Fire, Food" (Mondays, Cooking Channel): Among cooking methods, putting fire to food is as old as mankind. Each week, from small campfires to high-tech grills, host Roger Mooking explores the transformative possibilities of flame.
"Chopped" (Tuesdays and Thursdays, Food Network): Ted Allen continues as host for the cooking competition show, in which four chefs compete in each episode to take unusual mystery baskets of ingredients and turn them into tantalizing appetizers, entrees and desserts.
"Chef Roble and Company" (Wednesdays, Bravo): The reality show follows Brooklyn-based caterer Roble Ali as his business continues to grow and attract such celebrity clients as John Legend, NBA star Tyson Chandler and Phaedra Parks from "The Real Housewives of Atlanta." Among the additions to the show in its second season is Rob McCue, a pastry chef who appeared on Gordon Ramsay's cooking competition show for FOX, "Hell's Kitchen."
Speaking of "Hell's Kitchen," if you like its culinary leader, you'll have any number of opportunities to see him this summer ...
"MasterChef" (Wednesdays, Fox): Ramsay and fellow chef/judges Graham Elliot and Joe Bastianich continue putting talented amateur chefs through challenges and cook-offs to determine who will succeed last season's winner, legally blind Christine Ha. A junior edition featuring talented youngsters is planned for the fall.
"Hell's Kitchen" (Thursdays, Fox): In this competitive reality show, Ramsay subjects would-be chefs to the heat of the kitchen and his explosive personality, along with the challenge of living in close quarters, to feed guests and find an ultimate winner.
"Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares" (various times daily, BBC America): The most recent season of Ramsay's American version of this British show, called "Kitchen Nightmares," ended in May. But fans can tune in every day to see an episode from either the U.S. or British show, in which Ramsay swoops in to turn around failing eateries.
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