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 ?