Time to give reality television shows a break

03:05, Jan 24 2014

I have a confession to make. Despite my penchant for high-brow humour and television snobbery I actually like reality television shows.

Well, certain reality television shows. Specifically anything involving food.

Now that may not be a surprise to some of you, particularly if you've looked at my photo or spent two minutes in my presence.

But there's something oddly addictive about watching food on television - so much so that if I was forced to watch only one television channel for the rest of my life it would be Food TV.

This shaming admission has been brought to you off the back of two separate developments in cooking-related reality shows - the (fairly recent) return of the US version Masterchef on Prime and the forthcoming TV3 show The Great Food Race.

Let's start with the latter.


The trailer doesn't exactly make me want to watch it - unless you count the awesome moustache on judge Lorenzo Bresolin, which probably deserves its own show.

Throw in Edvard Grieg's Hall of the Mountain King as the soundtrack and I'm already playing Manic Miner on my old ZX Spectrum in my head.

But even the fake skydiving shots won't stop me from giving this a shot.

The TV3 website makes it sound like a cross between Come Dine With Me and The Amazing Race so it has a good grounding.

Now I just need to identify which of the contestant pairings are the arrogant ones, the thick ones, the ones that everyone wants to win, the scrapping ones and the related ones - only via photographs on the website.

I'm willing to give this one a chance even if it's just to find out if my preconceptions are accurate.

The return of the US version of Masterchef is of much more interest in the Kilpatrick household.

Hosted by the ubiquitious Gordon Ramsey, the rotund Graham Elliot (who has to hold his hand under his fork in case all the food falls off) and Joe 'The Stare' Bastianich it contains all good reality show cliches.

In fact we spent a good part of the first two episodes - those when we see the greatest triumphs and fails among the 100 selected contestants - trying to identify:

1) Which one had a sob story that moved the judges

2) Which one would have their family invited in for the good/bad news

3) Which one would end with Gordon having to make the decision while putting the index finger on his right hand over his face

4) Which one would be the first to cry

5) Which one would get the chance to run out and get some new ingredients and cook a second dish.

Sadly number five was missing from this year's opening few episodes, but the rest showed up as expected, including a huge number of tears.

Still, it's not that I watch it for. The chefs who served up something I wouldn't serve to my worst enemy (deep fried creepy crawlies, beaver tail) have gone and I can now indulge my foodie side.

I've borrowed many ideas from Masterchef, both from the US and New Zealand over the years and it's made me a much better cook.

We even went to Euro to taste last year's winner Aaron Brunet's degustation menu and were served by the man himself.

And, despite being happily heterosexual, Josh Emett's presence does add a touch of greying glamour to a Sunday night's viewing.

So I won't hear a bad word said about cooking reality shows.

Now the rest? That's fair game...