Masterchef Reactions

Who is this smiley chump anyway ?
Who is this smiley chump anyway ?

Well the first episode has screened, so I thought i’d give a little reactionary post as to my thoughts.

1) It was fairly boring. The characters they chose to focus on were not the ones I found particularly interesting and I didn’t find any of the supposedly heart wrenching stories very heart wrenching. If they were going to go to the effort to generate contrived back stories for people then you’d think they’d at least make them more dramatic.

2) Why did Sydney and Adelaide come first ? Perth was the first city to have auditions, so for some reason I assumed there’d be some kind of chronological order to the finding of the final 50.

3) The judges were neither particularly inflammatory nor endearing, and the “Give us something better” remark from George was clearly staged as you’re pretty much resigned to making whatever you’ve just spent the last hour preparing before you go in to see them. Personally I find Gary particularly unlikeable as a pompous Englishman, I’m waiting for George to make some interesting cooking related comments and not just revert to wog boy stereotypes, and Matt Preston to wear less makeup and lose the cravat.

4) It is nothing like the UK series. This is not exactly a revelation. I knew from day 1 that it wasn’t going to be anything like the UK series, which seems to be able to focus just on the food and not get bogged down in drawing drama from the stone that is the lives of some of the contestants. When you target the lowest common denominator that is the prime time TV viewing market you have to give them the whole package.

For all of that however, I still found it vaguely entertaining, and the chili crab dish that took former pro-golfer Lucas Parsons through (not that he was ever not going to make it), would have most likely beaten my meager efforts. Though I am glad that I didn’t have the judging eyes of the world looking at my dish, because if it went down anything like the sweet chilli pasta guy, I would die a horrible death of shame.

*** Update after seeing episode 2 ****

I think I liked episode 2 much more than the first one, probably because it was talking about contestants from Perth who I got to know a little during my audition. As expected all I saw of myself was a crappy blurry pan of our staged excitement as we stood outside in the heat waiting to get into the goddamn building before the auditions took place, but hey, I guess that’s something.

I did love seeing Trevor do well, The Navy diver… he was in my group of ten and the guy is a truly lovely genuine guy. During the initial heats he cooked a lobster, scallop, and chicken terrine. I had the pleasure of tasting it and it was very tasty. Youngster Robert (who cut his finger) has a great story that will no doubt come out somewhere along the line of him using his first pay cheque to buy truffles. He was a nice kid too and I’m glad he got through to the final 50 at least.

I think I also got a glimpse of Charles who was also in my group of ten who cooked what looked like steamed dumplings, and Pete, an old family friend and one of the first people to ever show me that a bbq could be more than just crappy sausages and overcooked steak smothered in bbq sauce. Pete would serve up crayfish, crab, and prawns with his own home made dipping sauces. It was a scary new world for a kid from the country to encounter, and one that looking back on it, may have indelibly shaped my view of cooking.

Reminiscing aside, the show delivered a little more excitement than the first episode, tho that was probably because of my attachment to the characters. Hopefully the ones that do make it through the finals are able to maintain that attachment.

It is a little disappointing seeing so many people go through to the next stages who were in my group when I felt my dish was quite strong, but I am working on a killer sob story for next year, so don’t you worry.

Anyway… what did you all think ?

72 thoughts on “Masterchef Reactions”

  1. The most entertaining thing about Masterchef last night was the ‘Continental’ soup commercial during the add break where they all forgot poor Peter’s name.

  2. interesting… i agree with all of your points. if i am to go by my experience at the press club it would pay for george calombaris to focus on what is coming out of his kitchen and the lack of customer service rather than prancing around on telly.

    1. I must have missed that one MsGourmet. In a fit of poetic resonance I happened to be cooking a pea and ham risotto during Masterchef and burnt my tongue on it at one point… Clearly a sign that I should not have made it onto the show. I did find the rest of the advertising quite hilarious though…as well as the ever so subtle masking of brand names used by contestants.

      Debs, you may have a point there. I didn’t make it to Press Club last time I was in Melbourne, but one can only wonder how important these guys are to the running of their restaurants if they can bugger off for extended periods of time and everything carries on as per usual.

  3. Hi Matt, I agree with some of the points you raised.
    Reading jacks blog I was shocked to hear how a program like this fed their contestants & judges mind you, on crap food-It was quite shocking actually as I believed, wrongly as it turns out, that a show about cooking & raising the bar, would in the very least offer good food for those involved?
    There seems to be a bit of a global shift toward questioning whether the chef should be in his or her restaurant(days off accepted)& spending all this time doing a show might have some punters reluctant to pay for the understudy on their visit.
    As to the matter of devaluing the currency of these chefs by appearing, I reckon Mr Colombaris has the most stock to gamble with, is it worth it?

  4. Well I recorded it and fast forwarded thru the adds so missed anything entertaining. I’ve never watched any of the other Masterchef programmes so have nothing to compare it to. I didn’t mind the programme, although I wouldn’t waste an evening watching it in real time. It was okay to watch over brekkie the following day.

  5. OMGAWWWD how fake was George! He was acting like the big tough angry judge on the show but that is so not him. His a total pushover! if you watched ready steady cook, you will know what i mean ^_^

  6. Hey Matt –

    Only caught the last 5 minutes of the show last night but I thought I saw a brief shot of you in their “next week trailer”.

    I don’t know why but SYTYCD came to mind when I saw those last few segments. Then again, it is channel 10.

  7. Lol, I was looking forward to seeing you reactions on the show.

    But you’ve gotta admit, it was pretty cool to see that guy grinding on demand at his cafe using a La Marzocco Linea

  8. I think it’s all a bit of a joke! Clearly the judges have no say – and what’s with Georgie going all Ramsay on already pre-selected Adelaide contestants?
    I was on the masterchef forums Sunday night and have a feeling someone let slip who the winner was, as 10 minutes later, the post had mysteriously disappeared! I guess I’ll find out in 12 weeks.
    Channel 10 have got it so so wrong. What a shame.

  9. Sadly I have to agree with you, although I haven’t seen the UK show. I was at least hoping that tonight’s show would provide some entertainment in the form of seeing someone I know (of course I would like to have seen someone I know being given an apron and not being publicly mocked for making something shamefully mediocre, or daring to make something other than what their cultural heritage would suggest they should make)

    I must say I was on the edge of my seat with suspense with their sneaky way of saying (over and over again) “Unfortunately……………….. you’re going to Sydney!” Those tricksters!

  10. I completely agree with everything you said, at some points it was so painfully staged it was awkward – almost like an episode of Mr Bean.

    I hope it improves and they give a bit more of the food side, I see enough depressing stories on the news.

  11. You can tell the Perth audition was the first. The judges were particularly flat especially Matt. Thefirst episode gave a bit of a buzz but today was boring.
    I think I’ll follow it on twitter which hopefully will tell me when it starts to get interesting.

    1. Ah dear 2-minute noodle cook. You did indeed give the nation a lovely little bit of drama. Though I can think of other reasons I think I’d prefer to get some air time :) You did very well though, congratulations for getting through to that point.

      So everyone…
      I think we’ve boiled it down to these core facts for masterchef auditionary success:

      – Wear heels
      – Cut or otherwise injure yourself to prove your unflinching desire
      – Forget a major utensil or ingredient
      – Cook entirely the wrong thing for your given ethnic stereotype (apparently not done).
      – Tear up at will

      A combination of two of more of these and you are good to go !

  12. Keep on singing Francesco and John Curtin! It’s great to see the Western Australia’s Music, Theatre and Visual Arts from Gifted and Talented Education programme represented on Masterchef Australia. I enjoyed Francesco’s home-style cooking using his family recipes. I thought the mussels were sensational, the sort of dish home cooks watching TV would like, to learn cultural heritage and to cook the dish themselves. The other home-style dish I enjoyed was rice in vine leaves made by Alan. Everyone I met at the audition was down to earth and definitely a food enthusiast.

  13. I didn’t mind it. It could have been so much more over dramatised than it was…. yes really!

    Good points for next year Matt, I totally agree. Point 4 and 5 are the most important.

    Maree, there is no winner yet, still 10 weeks off. Someone is bullsh*ting on the forums.

    Jack

    Good to see the episodes are available on their website, so i don’t have to be chained to the tv

  14. I was surprised to see the judges admiring one of the contestants high heels. One poor girl in my group got totally ripped to shreds for her high heels.

    And I think the winner has already been decided. A few weeks ago the whole crew were at a well known Sydney restaurant (with windows blacked out) & they were apparently celebrating who the winner was – and I’m not going to tell you who.

  15. So even my humble blog is not immune to bullshit and rumour mongering… Who would have ever that it’d come to this…

    Tofu, we deal in facts here. If you have some to share, then share, but don’t spread lazy gossip if there’s nothing to substantiate it.

    And to all my true believers… there’s always next year… Or perhaps never.

    1. Where’s that fact come from Ed ? I’d have thought they’d wait til they knew anyone was watching to plan a second one… I can’t say I’ve heard many positive reviews from anyone.

  16. An EP I know well at the production company told me. I was told Ten had already signed on for number two. I’d imagine the ratings will improve once they are down to the top groups but it could be a long slog.

  17. Geez, I’d be a bit suprised if they did plan for season two at this stage, I have yet to read a single positive (viewer) review

  18. Haven’t had time to watch all episodes, but I agree with you. Already over the tears, sob stories and excuses for being average and yet getting through!! Still, like a train wreck, I can’t look away!

  19. Hey Boo and Tofu, I heard, from a reliable source, that there are still more than eight left being filmed as we speak !

  20. Yes likewise I have heard they are still filming.. perhaps the event Tofu refers to may have been a celebration of the top 10 for “instance”!!! If they do go to a second series then lets hope they take on board the plethora of criticism handed them and make a show with integrity with food as the HERO and not “tears and heels” !! Perhaps ED could pass that on to the EP, ASAP so that MC doesn’t end up another S-H-I-T RTV program,,

    1. Sorry but I have to disagree on that last one… I tried that and it didn’t get me anywhere… I worked this cleavage for all it was worth dammit… Perhaps successful flirting is a little gender specific.

  21. but Matt I saw some serious flirting going on with Sarah and the female producers by some male contestants.
    You may not think flirting with Sarah would help but wait until you see her tasting and adding her thoughts to the judges comments tonight in the challenge.

  22. Jack…trust me there was flirting with the female producers. But then I think that was more a matter of habit than an actual attempt to further my chances. I’ll be watching yet again tonight.

    On a side note, how are you finding the editing of the episodes as opposed to your recollection of events ?

  23. The editing is out of sequence to the real event. If you watch the line up shot, You will see some who has not present their dish already in the line up. Some events happens over 2 days, but we wore the same outfit to makes it looks like one day. Onion chopping happens over 1 day till 1AM and the next challange happens over 2 days.

  24. Have watched every night so far. The show is so disappointing after watching every series of the BBC original over the last few years. I think next week I will watch Rosemary Schrager, on Fox Food, who is back with her cooking contests.
    I was “amused” that so few contestants did poorly with the bolognaise ingredients.

  25. The editing is good, but confusing if you know the sequence it was filmed in. Its extremely obvious the ‘characters’ that stories are being made around. For me, its been interesting to see the auditions and see the people I know and get to hear their sob stories. Most didn’t share this once we were all together in the top 50.
    Its been fun watching the last couple of nights and seeing my bored face in the background every now and again, the truth is we couldn’t hear or see a thing of the judging so any shots of people smiling or cheering is because we were either told to or could vaguely make out something was going on and wanted to support our buddies.
    Looking forward to the pig challenge, but read Day 5 from my post first! http://eatingwithjack.blogspot.com/2009/03/food-takes-over-final-days.html
    Jack

  26. As a REAL chef, in one of melbournes top restaurants, this whole show disgusts me.
    Firstly, how can anyone believe that these people TRULY wanted to be a chef? coz it is actually a little bit easier than going through this show… you get off your arse, you walk down to your local tafe, and sign up for an apprenticeship.
    Then you actually progress through restaurants based on your ACTUAL talent, not your sob story.

    As for the winner getting an “internship” in a top restaurant…
    my top restaurant wouldn’t even want them as a dishy…
    we mock ALL of the contestants, within the food industry they are all laughing stocks

  27. Matt, It was my field boots (and hat), not “killer heels” that got the cameras following me. My geological colleagues are all on the floor laughing, a much needed break from all the doom and gloom of a resource downturn. I am the least comical geoscientist in town and I hope my clients don’t have time for reality TV. They wouldn’t want a clown carrying their multimillion dollar exploration projects.

  28. Real Chef, I gather you have watched all episodes thus far?? Whilst I don’t neccesarily agree with format / emotive nature of this reality TV it is important to remember that this is days and days of material edited down to an hour long TV show. To suggest that all the contestants have a sob story is a little far fetched, just a convience for the production company maybe. Without knocking the apprenticeship program you seem to forget that many, many chefs hats and michelin stars are owned by ‘untrained’ chefs. Charlie Trotter, Heston Blumenthal, Neil Perry, Tetsuya… you would know that as well as any one.
    I find it amusing that people in hospitality (I am one) feel the need to trash these reality hospo shows. (Remember My Restaurant Rules!!)I personally don’t have any reality TV ambition, but isn’t having our industry on prime time TV a good thing?? Do you honestly think that your average joe knows the first thing about what is required to run a kitchen / create a dish? This is eye into our world for most viewers and respect for our industry will come with that.
    I see chefs every day who don’t give a shit about food, a crazy idea I know but anyone who has worked in a restaurant knows it is true. (Staff meal is a constant reminder)At least these people in the show do give a shit and are prepared to put there reputation on the line to prove it.

  29. simon, i know it is edited down, and i am sure some of them are talented cooks… without doubt better than some ‘chefs’ i have worked with…
    and yes there are many great ‘untrained’ chefs, but they didnt try to get flown to the top off the back of a tv show, they got a job at a resturant and worked their arse off…

    what is disgraceful is that these people “desperately want this” yet so far one has actually gone to try and do it (the cleaner). I believe if any of them REALLY wanted to be a chef, their resumes would be in our inboxes, and they would be on our doorsteps, not at a studios…
    that is why they are looked down upon by the industry.

    i dont suggest all contestants have a sob story… but i am damn sure that those who are just talented, without the story, probably wont, and apparently haven’t, made it to the top 20.
    (probably a good thing for them, i wont remember their face, and if they dont put it on their resume they may actually get hired)

    if the prize ‘internship’ is with george, i’ll laugh even harder, between his 3 he is advertising for app’s every few weeks…
    by the time the show ends he would have hired a dozen apprentices (he does go through alot… but with conditions at PC, i’m not suprised)

  30. in regards to MRR, that was funny, because it really was what life is like when a hospitality virgin buys a resturant thinking it is easy and they can retire into it…
    only difference is the senior staff are usually doing everything they can to stop the owners ruining the place so everyone can keep their jobs….

  31. Crikey Matt you’ve stirred up the pigeons with this one, I haven’t watched the show as to be honest every time Aus t.v “tries” to emulate a popular programme from the U.K it fails….the originals are way better, maybe its a population thing…bigger pot to choose from, presenter thing…bigger pot to choose from, production thing…..no reliance on commercial branding for funding and therefore more “real” or maybe unlike sport, reality t.v is just one thing pommies get right.
    Shaz

  32. I agree Sharon. Why I bag the show so much is that I love to sit and watch telly and am desperate for something great and aussie. Also as a writer, I know how scarce the opportunity is to produce anything. When you see the money drained into something so rough and unpleasant, it is a heartbreak for anyone who has ever pitched a show

  33. I can understand it must be Max, it beggars belief that the show has been running for so long in the UK yet here from the above observations it shouldnt be given a second chance……dont bother with next years pitch Matt stay clear!!!!

  34. who is writing the cook book, coz i can’t imagine they’d let the winner write it (even if they were capable)

  35. Well, Linda Kowalski could ghost write a cookbook as could Poh. As could any of them.

    All Linda’s recipes would have the words beep2run in front of them or misspolonia, or at least a URL to her latest website promoting herself. Or maybe even to the Deal or No Deal website! Or, perhaps a clue that she is a marketing student and marketing, you guessed it, HERSELF!

    All of Poh’s recipes would have a picture of Poh, scowling of course, attached to them along with the URL of her latest exhibition.

  36. @RealChef
    Jamie Oliver often says he “isn’t the brightest banana of the bunch”, yet he has put out cookbooks. All the bloggers at the auditions were already writers in their own right. I met a journalist at the Perth audition who is clearly after some writing deal. And then there’s Belinda with her own written recipes to impress the judges…

  37. Well, the Tall Poppy syndrome is alive & well. I’m getting a bit tired of you all picking the show to bits. I’m actually enjoying it. Yes , you are all entitled to your opinions but can we keep it on a more positive note? Maybe because it is too close to home & a lot of the bloggers have been through the audition process. Just sit back & relax & let it unfold, like the British Masterchef. Move on, or change the channel

  38. This has to be the worst cooking show on television. Have not seen so much fakeness by the judges, especially that George Calombaris. He should concentrate on getting back in his kitchen himself. He needs to be put back in his spot. As for the show as a whole, lacks entertainment and real cooking substance. I much prefer watching Gordon ramsey, Nigella Lawson and curtis stone. These are a number of chefs that George Calombaris bagged in an interview.
    I have tried to watch the show on a number of occasions but cringe at some judges comments and have to flick.
    Thank goodness for the lifestyle food channel on foxtel!

  39. Same reality tv formula, maybe they could have called it “So you think you can cook?” Or “Cooking Idol” Or “The Biggest ratings loser”

  40. @2 minute noodle chef

    i wasn’t implying the contestants COULDN’T write a cook book… i am sure 1 or 2 of them probably could (probably better than me)
    but the produces certainly wouldn’t leave it up to chance.
    IF that is the prize, you could bet every cent you have there a few already written ready to have the winners name attached. (like idol with thier “albums/single”)

    @nicole
    …george? BACK in the kitchen?
    you are mistaken my dear, take it from those inn the know, he walks into press club, maha or hellenic republic 2-3 times a year…
    the most time he spent in press club last year was when he filmed that god awful dodoni fetta ad

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