In th­ese cook- offs it’s hard to care who wins

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Tv -

FOR rea­sons no­body quite com­pre­hends, the Ten Net­work is pin­ning its fu­ture re­al­ity tele­vi­sion hopes on a lo­cal cook­ing show copied from this English pro­duc­tion al­ready screen­ing here on pay TV.

Well, it needed some­thing. Given the col­lapse last year of the in­creas­ingly pa­thetic Big Brother , an­other pro­gram had to fill its space and MasterChef Aus­tralia is it.

Dis­patches from those who’ve peeked be­hind the pro­duc­tion’s scenes are cau­tiously pos­i­tive. That there’s a no-name host at the helm in the shape of for­mer mag­a­zine ed­i­tor Sarah Wil­son doesn’t seem an in­sur­mount­able prob­lem, and more than 7500 home cooks from across Aus­tralia have al­ready ap­plied to ap­pear on the pro­gram, which pits am­a­teur chefs against one an­other in a con­test judged by two pro­fes­sion­als.

The Bri­tish se­ries, on which the lo­cal ver­sion is to be based, has been screen­ing on Life­Style Food for yonks, with John Torode and Gregg Wal­lace as judges and hosts. The con­cept, ba­si­cally, is that the am­a­teur cooks must de­vise two or three­course meals in short time­frames, usu­ally us­ing the pro­vided in­gre­di­ents. The win­ner, who then moves on to the next round, is judged by Torode and Wal­lace.

The masterchef is even­tu­ally crowned af­ter many cook-offs and other chal­lenges, in­clud­ing time spent in pro­fes­sional kitchens.

It’s an OK show and one that has had a long life­span as a re­sult of pe­ri­odic over­hauls that have changed its look and con­tent.

Tonight’s episode is typ­i­cal of what the show is all about. Six wannabes, rang­ing from a young car­pen­ter want­ing a ca­reer change to two stayat-home moth­ers who reckon they

Least lik­able food pre­sen­ters: John Torode and Gregg Wal­lace know their way around a kitchen, com­pete to make the show’s quar­ter­fi­nal. Each con­tes­tant is chal­lenged to make a meal from dis­parate in­gre­di­ents, in­clud­ing lamb, toma­toes, saf­fron, dried apri­cots and rasp­ber­ries. The re­sults are as­ton­ish­ing only in terms of their aw­ful­ness.

Six soon be­come three and then a win­ner is anointed. This per­son then en­ters the quar­ter-fi­nal along­side fi­nal­ists from other episodes.

There are a cou­ple of prob­lems with MasterChef . First, Torode, an Aus­tralian who runs a food busi­ness in Lon­don, and Wal­lace, are surely the least lik­able food fig­ures on TV. Se­ri­ously, if you passed ei­ther of them in the street, you’d push them over. Not only are they rude and ar­ro­gant, but both eat with their mouths open.

( In the Aus­tralian ver­sion, Mel­bourne-based chefs Ge­orge Calom­baris and Gary Me­hi­gan will, hope­fully, be more per­son­able.)

There’s also lit­tle time to get to know any of the con­tes­tants, and as a re­sult it’s hard to put an ef­fort into giv­ing a fig who wins.

So who does win tonight? Tune in to find out, if you can last that long.

El­iz­a­beth Mery­ment

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