Masterchef Australia Is Back And It Has Gone Retro
Masterchef Australia has turned back the clock and has started the new season with the auditions to select the top 50.
This was much different from last year where it started with the top 50 already picked and a helicopter flying in a huge box onto an island in Sydney Harbour. So as they said they are going back to basics.
After only seeing one hour of the new series I am not going to make any grand pronouncements on whether Masterchef has got its mojo back, this will be revealed in the coming weeks when we see the casting, the challenges, and what the judges are doing.
Here is what we know already about season four:
- The show has changed production companies and is with Shine, however the personnel were the ones that started the show at Fremantle Media;
- It is going to be all about the cooking,
- The Top 50 was filmed in Melbourne;
- The overseas guests are Jamie Oliver, Rick Stein, and Buddy from Cake Boss;
- I had heard rumours that Anthony Bourdain also filmed a guest spot, but then he is probably more classified as writer and media personality these days rather than chef;
- The immunity challenges have been tweaked with;
- The cooking challenges are more achievable in particular giving the contestants realistic time frames to complete them; and
- The top 12 are going to Italy.
All the people who had gotten through the first Australia wide auditions were now in Melbourne to cook for the judges. They had an hour to prep and then five minutes to finish off in front of the judges.
Personally I think the strategy here is to not cook something that hinges on cooking it exactly to perfection. We saw a lot of over cooked salmon, and undercooked chicken and pork.
Also three trends I noticed was the return of the sun-dried tomato, which even though the eighties are back this ingredient could have stayed there, teachers applying for the show and food being served on wooden boards.
Bianca a teacher was the first person we saw cooking and she made Ricotta and Spinach Gnocchi. She knew how to get on the judges good side to by saying she used full fat ricotta and did not believe using low fat products, and also she drizzled olive oil over the finished dish. She received the Masterchef apron.
Fresh faced eighteen year old Rick was flown down from Brisbane saying even though he was at Uni he wanted a career in food.
George asked the obvious question “Rick you are 18 years old, why don’t you do an apprenticeship?” I was hoping that Rick would come out with a speech about the award conditions of apprentice chefs but he didn’t he shuffled his feet and looked caught out.
His pork was raw and the judges could not eat it. Matt Preston told him if you want to go and cook go and sign up for a course.
Amina who had the unusual heritage of Egyptian and South Korean parents showed even though she doesn’t eat pork she could go far in the competition. She knows how to use a knife and her dish of Kofta With Spicy Sauce, Vermicelli Rice and Fatoush looked fantastic. Matt Preston tried to create some drama around the fact that she would not be able to eat pork, however Gary did not think it was an issue. There have been vegetarians put through to the top 50 previously so she has a wider palate then them. She was through.
Kath who runs an art gallery in Western Sydney made Singapore Black Pepper Crab. It looked delicious, however I could not work out whether I liked her or she irritated me, but she deserved to get through.
The producers have decided to make the female viewer happy by pushing Ben a good looking teacher from Tassie through even though his seafood curry did not look fabulous and the prawns were barely cooked. Let’s hope he can find his cooking legs and he stays on the show for awhile.
Tegan a youth work who plays roller derby made Ricotta and Parsley ravioli was also in.
Yukio who made some sort of salad was over wrought with emotion when he was given his apron.
The policeman from Cairns who interrupted his honeymoon to be there undercooked his chicken and even with George’s help could not make it to top 50 with his stuffed chicken breast. However they did tell him to come back next year.
Mario a 40 year old automotive detailer from Melbourne had better luck with his stuffed chicken breast with sun-dried tomato. His personality and enthusiasm appeared to get him over the line. But Matt Preston did look like he was over hearing people say they wanted to open their own restaurant, and probably was even more underwhelmed when he heard he wanted to call it ‘Rendezvous’. He was given an apron but was told he would have to lift his cooking.
Is the show going to be all about the cooking? I doubt it but let’s not forget the drama was what made it such a success in the first place. The issue for the producers is to find a nice balance between the two.