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Masterchef Australia – How To Make Season 3 Even Better.

Season three of Masterchef Australia is already open for applications, and soon auditions will take place all over the country for the chosen few to be given the chance to appear on the highest rating show on TV in Australia.

But for the production company how do you ensure that Season 3 is going to continue to captivate its audience and make the show even better.

Here are a few ideas (obviously some have been mentioned in comments previously by various readers):

  • Blind tastings to ensure no favouritism from the judges, however if you are Jimmy it would not matter as they would always know which dish was his;
  • In the beat the chef challenges make sure it is an “independent” dish not the chef’s signature dish to make it a more even playing field;
  • Not allowing the peanut gallery to shout out advice when the pressure tests ie the elimination challenges are occurring, they should have to live or die on their own merits;
  • Better editing – not making it so obvious what dishes are going to be tasted or who will be in the top or bottom three, and show more of the dishes;
  • More prize money – the $100,000 is starting to look a bit low rent considering the amount of cash this franchise is raking in. Also casting is key  $250,000 would ensure high quality contestants would apply. Also more cash could ensure the knives are out and people play a bit more strategically;
  • Don’t let the other contestant’s decide who will be given a second chance. I think Jimmy got back in because he was a safe option, they knew what his limitations were;
  • If they are going to show house footage show more of the contestant’s interacting with each other not just to camera or the obiquous bathroom shots;
  • In the final’s week  - no advice should be dished out by the judges, particularly with menu planning or cooking techniques. It is a competition, Courtney was just about told by Matt Preston to cook pancakes with lemon curd for dessert in the mystery box challenge in final’s week.

Also one of the great things about the show is the challenges, and there were some crackers this year like the army challenge, the cruise ship, and even the dreaded CWA debacle.

So here are my ideas for some challenges for the next season:

  • A catering event or meal to be judged by food bloggers – this would have two pluses, as they would be articulate and knowledgable about the food, and they would generate plenty of publicity through their readership;
  • A hospital food challenge, see if they can plate up something palatable within a limited budget;
  • A vegan challenge, I know they have done this on top chef, but it always send the chefs into a spin;
  • Restaurant wars – Ok I know another one pinched from Top Chef, but then about 50% of the challenges are anyway – the two teams have to open a restaurant, devise a menu and then deliver to the public and the judges. This is on each season of Top Chef.
  • A wok challenge  - more asian food challenges please, I think this could be a good elimination challenge;
  • Cooking something from an aisle in Coles – Again a Top Chef one (sorry I am not coming up with a lot that are original) where each contestant is given an aisle where they can only choose ingredients from that section to cook a dish with;
  • Get teams to make some products like sauces, chutney’s, jams etc, and see which team sells the most at a local Farmer’s Market. A cross between The Apprentice and Masterchef; and
  • Another wedding challenge, including cake, that was fantastic from season one.

What do you think the producers should do to mix it up a bit for Season Three? What challenges would you like to see?

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25 comments

1 FlossAus { 07.30.10 at 2:56 pm }

They actually did the Restaurant Wars – it was the Italian bistros in Surry Hills. It was the episode that cop quit and Marian made the awesome spinach pizza thing after the menu stuff up.

2 Reality Raver { 07.30.10 at 3:02 pm }

FlossAus – you are right, I suppose I would just liked to have seen this challenge a bit later in the season. This was one of the first ones of the series, so we could see a bit more depth in their menu development and food skills. I thought they were thrown into the deep end with this one.

3 Culinary Boner { 07.30.10 at 4:17 pm }

Why don’t they just ‘jump the shark’ big time and make next year’s contestants enter as ‘partner teams’ like they do on Amazing Race. This would have the production wetting their pants in excitement. Days would be spent with marker pens and whiteboards trying to get the ‘best’ mix of teams to cover all the stereotypic demographic ‘tribes’.
“Right, we’ve got our funky Asian gay guys, the intense bull dykes, and the aspirational married couple, but were missing a hillbilly bogan pair, a Hillsong couple and some Twilight-obessed faux-goth gen-Yers. Get yer skates on and start checking through those applications again.”

4 Whist359 { 07.30.10 at 4:19 pm }

Camping challenge where teams must take all equipment and ingredients and cook in the great outdoors (similar to army challenge but with less people to cook for and no equipment on site). First day on a Deserted island mystery box with items like coconut and fish with just a bench (no knives/ovens).

How about a challeng that sends them to Antarctica to cook for the scientists at our base down there?

5 awesome { 07.30.10 at 6:07 pm }

Well, no. Marion did not make an awesome spinach pizza when someone stuffed the menu up – it was Carrie (who??) and she made an awesome rocket pizza when someone stuffed the menu up.

6 MrSwinger { 07.30.10 at 6:47 pm }

Carrie was the one actually cooking the pizzas, but Marion was the one *making* them, and proceeding with the rocket pizza was her idea.

7 Liberty { 07.30.10 at 6:57 pm }

RR – along the lines of vegan, what about a “gluten free” or a “low calorie” (Hells Kitchen did a 3 course low cal. challenge and they had dietitians on hand to count the calories). HK also does blind taste tests, so more it’s more of a palette test, I guess. What about a gourmet food cart (also TC) – a bit similar to what they did on MC1 at the Easter show. Would also love to see an Australian Bush Tucker challenge where they can only use indigenous spices (lemon myrtle, wattleseed etc.)

8 Muru { 07.30.10 at 8:37 pm }

“More prize money – the $100,000 is starting to look a bit low rent considering the amount of cash this franchise is raking in. Also casting is key $250,000 would ensure high quality contestants would apply. Also more cash could ensure the knives are out and people play a bit more strategically.”

I strongly disagree with this. If I were to apply for Masterchef Australia, I would be applying for the crazy amount of publicity I would garner – the amount of money I could win wouldn’t even factor into my decision to apply, even if it were $500,000. I’m willing to bet that even the truly best “amatah” chefs in the country would be applying for the publicity, because that’s something money can’t buy.

9 anon { 07.30.10 at 9:31 pm }

Start with the basic skills tests like pastry and pasta to weed out all the one trick ponies – though that may get rid of most of them!

10 reality raver { 07.30.10 at 10:05 pm }

Culinary Boner – Isn’t that show called My Kitchen Rules?

Whist59 – love the dessert island one, but make them catch the fish and climb the coconut tree.

Awesome and Mr Swinger – impressed by both your memories on this one. I can remember the pizzas but that was about it.

Liberty – now that bush tucker challenge would be really interesting I think, but do it later in the season with the better cooks for them to have any chance of plating up something palatable.

Muru – interesting and valid points. But not that I would know buy if you did want to open a restaurant $100,000 is not going to get them very far, but as you say the publicity they get is priceless.

11 Kyeema { 07.31.10 at 8:45 am }

In my mind there is nothing wrong with recreating some of the great challenges they had in Series 1 and 2 for series 3 because the outcomes would be different with different people and circumstances. For example, The fishing challenge in series 1 (where Trevor famously ended up serving bait)! The CWA challenge could be re-jigged as well using an indoor kitchen. The outdoor kitchen idea is perhaps more suited to catering for outdoors type events – not a ladies tea party!
I agree the prize money is pretty pathetic in view of the show’s ratings and advertising income. On the other hand, the public recognition gained by the contestants is a priceless opportunity to advance their careers in food if they are inclined to make the most of it!

12 Liberty { 07.31.10 at 4:46 pm }

Just watched the first episode of Masterchef USA. They wheel out the trolleys just like in season one here (cook in front of judges and share a bit of their story). In a preview it showed them doing a wedding and a large army challenge later on. One of the first challenges is to cook one egg. I guess what I’m saying is that the MC formula is really the same worldwide. They’re not going to deviate too much from what works. BTW – at the moment the Aussie one still rules!

13 Anonymous { 07.31.10 at 5:01 pm }

Agree with comment 9: start with basics like tasting hollandaise and making omlettes

14 seepi { 08.01.10 at 1:44 pm }

I liked the kiddie birthday challenge, but they could mix it up a bit by doing a surly teenager party.

15 Anon { 08.01.10 at 11:47 pm }

Things they could improve on Masterchef:
-feature a wider range of world crusines as there are still some major ones they have never featured in two seasons
-agree with Liberty there should be a Bush Tucker Challenge
-contestants should be drawn from a broader range of backgrounds and wider age groups (one would have the impression that no-one over 40 and without a law degree can cook in Australia)
-need a judge who knows Asian cruisine. Constant criticism we heard was the Gs were too readily impressed by an Asian dish
-more respect needs to be shown to ‘basic’ cooking. Please redo the CWA challenge as anon in #9 suggest start with the basics.
-less obvious with the product placement…otherwise print a product bingo card so we can play along at home
-since they are in the house for nine months maybe they can do a Stephanie Alexander Garden-esque challenge whereby they grow the produce and using only those ingredients cook something in a final week challenge
-why do the constestants have to have a food dream…let it be about finding the best amata chef in the country who just wants to use the prize money to pay off the mortgage rather than go bankrupt with a failed restaurant six months later.

16 Kyeema { 08.02.10 at 8:28 am }

LOVE the Stephanie Alexander type garden challenge idea!

I remember early in this current season the contestants had to go into a market garden and pick produce which they then had to cook – didn’t someone get confused between celery and parsley?

I also like the bingo card idea for product placement Anon!!!!

17 Culinary Boner { 08.02.10 at 11:13 am }

One thing that struck me about this year’s series compared to 2009 is the fact that I am not cooking any of the recipes featured. From the 2009 series I still make that terrific paella – the one with the crust that Matt stroked – as well as two of George’s meals – his yummo lamb shanks with mastic and his baked beans.

The paella recipe -http://www.masterchef.com.au/paella-a-la-maestre.htm – is a super master recipe. Not only can you change the seafood type (eg. prawns or cuttlefish rather than mussels), you can make a really good non-seafood version with chorizo and chicken thighs. The sofrito is really good also as a base for other meals – such as a spanish/portugeuse style fish stew. Virtually nothing from this year’s series rocked my socks, sorry to say.

18 Suzanne { 08.02.10 at 5:24 pm }

My pet peeve is the use of store-bought stock, especially when they carry on about using store-bought mayonnaise. I think they should have to make their own batch of stock at the beginning of the series, to be frozen in litre batches and used whenever stock is required. And if they make a crap stock to start with, then they will have to adjust it every time they use it.

As far as challenges go, I’d be happy to see the same/ similar ones that they have already done, with the following provisos:
- Tighten up the editing and forget the constant back-announcing and voice-overs.
- Lose the constant pseudo-dramatic music.
- Instead of just having to make one dish per mystery box/ invention test, they should have to make several either of the same or different. I think they did do that sometimes, but it would more closely replicate either a restaurant or even cooking at home – who spends 90 minutes making one serve of one dish?
- Put me down for more blind tastings, though it was interesting to read Adam’s point in Who(?) about being able to explain things to the judges when you present it yourself.
- Less drama queen antics from George and Matt, they were much nicer when they were being themselves without the added histrionics.
- If we can’t see all the tasting of all the dishes, perhaps they could release out-takes for the website, or “MasterChef-Uncut” so we can see them all.

I’m sure I’ll think of some more – I consider it part of my Masterchef detox therapy :-) .

19 Masterchef Australia Vignettes – Julie Goodwin and Gary Mehigan | reality ravings { 08.02.10 at 11:22 pm }

[...] you want good ideas for next season, this blog’s readers have come up with some crackers on this blog post. [...]

20 Anon { 08.04.10 at 12:14 am }

Using Campbells Stock (well grabbing it) was the only way that some contestants got air time this season.

Which brings us to another point-they should do a challenge where they can prep up to a day before hand. The Gs did it in Masterclass…

21 Duke nukem { 08.06.10 at 12:00 am }

I’d like to see the show take a “health and nutrition” angle next season and promote healthier eating.
I’d love to see G & G cut out the animal fat, salt and butter they’re so addicted to.

22 Renato de Leon { 04.03.11 at 10:27 pm }

I just watched a show of JuniorMasterchef Australia, kids aged 9 – 12 competed against each other cooked food that fed a team of football players. Why are they doing it… for show. Meanwhile in another CNN advertisement, it implied that it is injustice to task young girls to fetch water. What is the difference? The children in JuniorMasterchef are from a first world country while the young girls alluded as tasked to fetch water from a well is apparently from a country where there is nowater in the faucet. The first is for show, the latter is for survival… the first is foodwith variety of well-choiced ingredients cooked by kids for feeding a team of well built athletes, the latter is water vital for survival of a family.
What really are the basis for using theterm child abuse? Who made them? Who use the term? To whom do they say it is child abuse?

23 Masterchef Australia – More Promotional Stuff | reality ravings { 04.23.11 at 10:04 am }

[...] is an blog post I did last year called  Masterchef Australia Season 3 – How To Make It Even Better. It has ideas about how to make the show even better and some ideas for [...]

24 Anon { 05.25.11 at 12:04 pm }

I would just like to say that Aussie MC is streets ahead of its compadres in the UK, and definitely in the US. Agree with some of the comments above, particularly the video editing comment. It is pretty obvious who has struggled in a given episode, without the need to emphasise it on screen. That said, the UK version is only around 10-12 episodes. The Australian version is so much more focused on personality, the techniques, the food etc. it is way ahead. In terms of quality of food, UK and Aus are probably on a par, if anything UK is a little more “refined” in the latter stages, but the Aus version has way much more going for it – masterclasses, more interaction with the people involved etc. – as one might expect it’s more earthy, human and vital, and there’s much more to learn. If I have one criticism, because of the number of episodes and the nature of the tests, I think the outcome tends to be more random in the sense that strong contenders who have one bad day can be gone. Adds to drama, but maybe not the right result at the end. Whatever, my money’s on Jay.

25 Anon { 05.25.11 at 12:10 pm }

Also, fair comment on the recipes – the chances of me “tenderising” an octopus on a rock in central London, cooking up a red wine sauce in a bag and making my own pasta to go with it are pretty limited….

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