And you thought Masterchef was a cooking competition
It would appear the knives are starting to come out in the MasterChef Australia household as the $100,000 prize gets closer, with allegations of game playing and possible sabotage. And you thought it was just a cooking show - no, it is an extremely entertaining reality TV show.
With the ratings of MasterChef Australia nudging the two million mark it would appear that people who do not usually partake in reality TV are watching this show. To the horror of MasterChef UK fans the Australian version uses a different format, and has cherry picked the best bits from other reality TV shows.
So if you are a fan of MasterChef and this is your first foray into reality TV, here are some other shows you may enjoy. Key elements of each of these have been cleverly pinched by Masterchef Australia’s producers.
Survivor is a show where strategy and alliances, mixed with lack of food and pest infestations play a major part in a game where ‘tribes’ of contestants are isolated in rugged or tropical terrain. At each tribal council, after a vote, a person is eliminated from the show to the well worn phrase “The tribe has spoken”.
Reasons for being voted out can range from being weak in a challenge to just being plain irritating. At times the stronger contestants are kicked out as they pose too much of a threat to other weaker players who want to take out the US$1,000,000 prize.
The Thursday night episode of MasterChef has its own little mini tribal council where the contestants on the losing team have to vote off the person who underperformed in a challenge. Surprisingly this has worked fairly so far, however the last peer elimination of Brisbane mum Sandra appeared to have little to do with the previous day’s challenge, and more to do with personality clashes.
As the MasterChef final week becomes closer expect some contestants to be more strategic in trying to get the stronger cooks out of the competition so they have a better shot at the prize.
Top Chef is a US show where professional chefs go head to head in different challenges for the honour of taking out the title of, you guessed it, Top Chef USA. Each week there is a quick fire challenge which is a 30-minute pressure test, and an elimination challenge.
The elimination challenge is normally a high pressure scenario which can vary from cooking with a difficult ingredient on set, catering for a function or wedding, or the much anticipated ‘restaurant wars’ where two teams of chef’s must create a restaurant for one night.
The thinking man’s crush Padma Lakshmi who is a former model, cookbook author and Salman Rushdie’s ex-wife is the co-host with laconic and straight talking chef, Tom Colluchio. Both sit on a judging panel of four to eliminate one chef each week.
MasterChef Australia has done many challenges in a range of ‘real life’ scenarios including a wedding and a catering challenge. However since the set has a restaurant built into it, expect an Australian version of restaurant wars which will result in an elimination of a contestant and some entertaining kitchen meltdowns.
Another aspect of Top Chef that MasterChef Australia has poached is the filming of the contestants in the house they share. Both shows have a penchant for filming the contestants in the bathroom doing their morning ablutions.
A team of contestants vie to become Donald Trump’s “apprentice” in this long running reality TV show, which is about one thing - the money. Each week Donald tells a contestant from the losing team ‘you’re fired’ and they must pack their bags and leave.
Most of the challenges involve teams tackling tasks related to marketing or sales, and normally the winner of the challenge is the team that makes the most money.
MasterChef Australia has had a couple of challenges that have been more about the amount of money made, than the quality of the food itself. For example, two teams had to set up a food stall at the Sydney Easter Show and the team that made the most money won.
These episodes have been entertaining and it has amused me that other contestants snark about the other person’s food, most notably how a risotto was made. However, the flavour of food has no impact on who will win and since these are one-off situations it is not like they have to worry about return customers.
The biggest dilemma is how much to charge for the dish and get a good marketing strategy implemented, as can be seen by beer merchant Chris’s pamphlets which helped set the red team up for a win in the sushi challenge at The Ivy.
MasterChef Australia has been successful in not just obtaining amazing ratings for Channel Ten in a range of demographics, but the US, the home of reality TV, are interested in pinching the Australian format for their own version of the show.
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