Smells like tween spirit
KIDS and cooking proved a ratings winner for the MasterChef Australia franchise last year.
This year, TDT may well be hoping Junior MasterChef proves a palate cleanser for audiences left disillusioned by the way the senior version of the show ended in early August.
Criticised for being too long, overly dramatic and missing the likeable ingredients which made it a ratings winner, MasterChef Australia ’ s finale left a bad taste in viewers’ mouths with a three-hour split finale designed to boost the disappointing ratings of TDT’s The Renovators.
Two months on, it’s up to the kids to make amends. According to new full-time Junior MasterChef judge Matt Moran, the youngsters are up to the task. Moran is stepping out of the hefty shadow of Matt Preston to take up fulltime duty on the show as Preston takes a break from the format.
For Moran, and fellow-judges George Calombaris and Gary Mehigan, it means there’s been no respite – filming of Junior MasterChef began straight after the finale of the senior version. But the injection of kids, Moran says, has been as much of a refresher for the adults as a holiday.
‘‘ Working every day with a stack of fired-up, talented youngsters between nine and 12 years old will do that,’’ he says. ‘‘ They’re just great kids. They’re enthusiastic and ridiculously talented.
‘‘ And that enthusiasm is infectious. You just can’t help but be lifted by it.’’
After putting in a season as fourth judge on the senior MasterChef already in 2011, Moran concedes audiences may find the junior version a welcome break. ‘‘ I think I actually like the kids’ version better,’’ Moran says.
‘‘ It’s about the rawness and the pure delight in cooking. This is positive, free spirited, there’s no controversy. There’s no nastiness, there are no crushing disappointments. They speak their mind, there are no agendas.
‘‘ The only thing we have to watch is our swearing. And I’m doing pretty good with that.
‘‘ Yes, we have a swear jar. The fine is $ 20. It goes to charity at the end of production and it’s less than $ 100 half-way through shooting.’’ Celebrity cook and TV personality Anna Gare has rejoined the adults on the judges’ panel for season two, but in the first week of the show – top 50 week – it’s another highprofile female who captures the kids’ attention when Prime Minister Julia Gillard drops in. There’s also a surprise international adventure and the regular mystery box challenges as the season unfolds.
Moran has two children of his own who ‘‘ love to eat, but aren’t too concerned with the preparation’’, so he is bowled over by the talents of the Junior MasterChef crop.
‘‘ These guys just blow me away. They are producing food you would not believe,’’ he says.