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MasterChef Review

MasterChef Review

Gordon Ramsay hit the television once again this summer with a new show on Fox entitled ‘MasterChef’.  After ‘Hell’s Kitchen’, ‘Kitchen Nightmares’ and ‘The F Word’ I wasn’t sure I wanted to dive into yet another one of his programs.  Though I realize kitchen life isn’t as glamorous as everyone thinks, I found his approach to running the kitchens over the top and the bulk of his shows to be very similar and predictable.

I was pleasantly surprised however, by MasterChef.  The show revolves around discovering the next great Chef from home kitchens across America.  Joined by Joe Bastianich (a vineyard owner and restaurateur with Italian Chef Mario Batali) and four-star Chef Graham Elliot, Ramsay will test and award one home-based cook a prize of $100,000 and their own cookbook along with the title of ‘America’s First MasterChef’.

In the first few episodes, contestants were given their first cooking challenge.  Each contestant had full access to pretty well every ingredient they could imagine and was asked to create their ‘signature dish’ in an hour, in typical Ramsay fashion. After preparing the major elements of their dish, contestants then went behind closed doors to present and plate their dish for the three judges.  If two of the three judges said ‘yes’ to the contestant and their dish, they received a MasterChef apron for a chance to compete.

The episodes started off well, but then fell into the typical pattern of reality television.

Contestants came from all walks of life but seemed to have the same sob story.  ‘I won’t let you down, I promise’, ‘Give me a chance, I know I can do this’ and ‘This is something I’ve wanted to do my whole life’ were just a few of the choice phrases used on the judges to make them vote ‘yes’.

Ramsay, in a few bold moves gave one lady the chance to redeem herself by going home, grabbing ingredients for an authentic dish and coming back for a second chance; in another case Ramsay  told Elliot he had made a mistake in saying ‘no’ to a contestant that he felt should have received an apron.

Overall, though MasterChef may bring some new ideas and surprises to the screen, I felt that it is just like another one of Ramsay’s shows: predictable and common.  It felt like ‘Iron Chef’ meets ‘American Idol’ in my opinion. One harsh judge (Bastianich), one judge that gushes and sometimes doesn’t know what he’s saying (Elliot) and one somewhat impartial judge (Ramsay).  Sound familiar? Ramsay’s approach with the contestants was more forgiving however, and perhaps that will be the only surprise of the show.  I’ll probably end up watching most of the episodes to see how it progresses but I’ll pass on next season-if it gets renewed.  Great idea, good premise, not so good on the execution and creativity.

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