I don't know what I expected.
On the one hand this is the sort of show that some people say they want: true stories (as far as we know) with no manufactured drama (as far as we know). On the other, and perhaps as a result, it's kind of boring.
Actually, one student has manufactured quite a bit of drama, at least in one episode dedicated mostly to her butting heads with the teachers and administration. But honestly I've known people like that--and much worse--so it didn't strike me as extreme.
I guess the reason I don't think there's much fakery going on is that all the conflict is so pedestrian. Will Ben come up with tuition? Will Tiffany break her academic probation?
The show does knock out some of the glittery expectations of culinary school (and there is a clever play between Tiffany, who has a few entitlement issues going on and acts as if her life difficulties should earn her leeway, and Ben who owns a taxidermy shop and does not complain when he's called up on his late tuition, allowing "They've got a business to run") but what is culinary school without glamour? It's school. And it's not a school we as viewers get to learn anything from.
Other than Ben and Tiffany there's a secret stripper with a heart of gold and a young veteran working through mental and physical damage from the wars. They've both been given quite a bit of screen time but have yet to make a huge impression on me. (Except that the vet has short term memory loss and he's struggling with what that will mean in the kitchen; that kind of got to me.)
Cooking Channel has promoted the heck out of this show (although the commercials are so drab they might be hard to notice) and it's strange that so little has been said about it, here or anywhere else. I couldn't even find a Wikipedia entry for it. CC surely likes it because it's super cheap to produce, and also, as I mentioned earlier, this has a lot of the attributes that reality fans say they want in a show. As far as we know it's a no-phony real deal documentary of life as a culinary student times four.
I wouldn't tell anyone to watch this because it's particularly good. What I am afraid of is that, if the show isn't successful, it can be used as an example of how what viewers say they want isn't really the case. "We tried low-key, we tried honest. No one watched."
In which case, we can either refine what we say we want in a reality show, or we can prepare ourselves for Guy's Cooking School.