What to say if you liked it
An updated BBC classic spiced with a witty, Cowell-esque judge, sugared with extra ‘tests’ and all plated up with innovative presentation that leaves the mouth watering for more.
What to say if you didn’t like it
The culinary equivalent of this boring, formulaic show would be raw tofu spiced with a single salty tear from a viewer at a loss of how else to deal with yet another cookery programme being force-fed down the throat of a country already so engorged with similar shows that it is ready to collectively vomit up a TV Chef stew all over Nigella’s cleavage.
What was good about it?
• Andy, who just missed out on going into the next round, was an immediately likeable contestant with an unkempt beard and huge, friendly, staring eyes, who made up in quiet enthusiasm for what perhaps he lacked in style.
• The Indian chef Sirus was a welcome respite from the judges, John Torode and Gregg Wallace, as he refused to hector the contestants or play to the camera and generally proved that not all chefs have to be annoying egomaniacs.
• Contestant Charlotte was an office manager by trade. It showed, with her office speak, bumptious insistence on organising things and typical management hand gestures that are only honed by people who use the word ‘pro-active’ in a non-ironic way. It made for amusing television and gave a sense of relief that one didn’t have to work for her.
• Judge John Torode commented that risotto should only be stirred in one direction when cooking or the rice grains ‘break up’. This was either brilliant codswallop designed to unsettle contestant Xanthe, or a rare but excellent culinary tip.
• Judge Gregg Wallace commented that he could have eaten “a bucketful” of Charlotte’s pudding. “Yeah, I noticed that,” whispered a deadpan Torode.
What was bad about it?
• Disappointingly and despite its name, the show didn’t feature mooning randy teenagers trying to cook three course meals while drunk on Babycham and high on Es on the dance floor of a cheap foam party club in Ibiza where for each utensil used they had to down a triple vodka and sambuca from a pint glass (Actually, that show is already in production for Sky One).
• No Loyd Grossman! What happened? Did he get fired for using his culinary fame to set up his pasta and sauce empire?
• The first meal they had to cook was using cod. Come on BBC, cod are nearly extinct and you wasted six fillets on a couple of judges who only ate a mouthful of each.
• The judges wanted so desperately to be Simon Cowell (particularly Torode) that they might as well have begged for a cameo in an extra on the Shrek 3 DVD. The old MasterChef never would have had this ridiculous posturing, and was all the better for it. The worst moment was Torode, vainly seeking to inject needless controversy, berating Charlotte for conjuring an extra course with the ingredients. He reacted as if she’d just served him a Happy Meal.
• Torode’s dismissal of one of the contestants who had failed: “Goodbye, Sarah!” he scowled. How about dropping the poor parodies of Cowell and Anne Robinson and just being yourself, John?
• Xanthe got through the initial stage, but no real explanation was given as to why she was any better than Sarah – leaving us to assume that she only advanced because she looked like Nigella’s less-talented sister.
• There was virtually no insight into how the dishes were made beyond montages with a vague voiceover, which seems to defeat the point of the programme. If we can’t learn something from it, isn’t it just some people we’ve never heard of fighting over a prize to cook in a restaurant we can’t afford to go to?
• We hate the term “plate up”. Always have. The verb “to plate” should only be used in the context of the construction of jewellery.