It's time to get nasty on reality television

02:47, Feb 04 2014

After finally confessing to my love of cooking-based reality shows, my public outburst now looks even worse after this week's viewing.

The returning Masterchef New Zealand (TV One) and the debuting The Great Food Race (TV3) started on Sunday night with the shows head-to-head for at least some of the time.

But neither show has so far delivered anywhere close to the drama and excitement that is offered by either My Kitchen Rules or Masterchef USA.

Let's start with The Great Food Race.

For a show which features 'Race' in the title and used visuals of one in the adverts the first show (and presumably the second one too) was decidely non-racey.

Host by Zoe Marshall and judged by restaurateur brothers Leonardo and Lorenzo Bresolin the show looks like it's supposed to be a cross between My Kitchen Rules, the Amazing Race and Come Dine With Me.


But in order to get to the actual racing (and presumably the most interesting parts of the show) we have to sit through an episode of four couples hosting each other and the judges in order to narrow the field down.

None of these couples are hoping to become professional chefs so their cooking skills, on first viewing, appear to be below that of Masterchef.

There are certainly more disasters on show as each team gets all judgey on the other team's efforts, with one team's attempt to grill haloumi appearing to take somewhere in the region of 45 minutes.

Were they trying to power the grill with Paul Henry's hot air?

Even Lorenzo's magnificent moustache couldn't save the episode for me. If there was an award for best facial hair on New Zealand television, this guy would win it hands down.

But neither he nor his brother seemed willing to criticise too much - and even when forced to wait 80 minutes between courses still talked about it with a smile on their faces.

A team got eliminated. Which one? I'm not sure. They were pretty bad and their meal was terrible but none of the teams really struck me as someone I want to root for.

I hope the forthcoming race around New Zealand (which will cut the teams from six to four) and then race around the world are interesting because it didn't have the greatest of starts.

My only concern is people will have already turned off before they get to that point. Time will tell.

Perhaps it's just because we're too nice in New Zealand but without Gordon Ramsay or Joe Bastianich, hosts of Masterchef USA, delivering withered rants and angry stares and mouthfuls of obscenities, our cooking shows just don't quite cut the mustard so far this season.

Masterchef New Zealand has shown that in its opening two episodes so far.

If you want a full recap of Sunday and Monday's shows before reading on then please do so.

But, to be honest, you haven't missed out on an awful lot.

Last night's dessert show, featuring Donna Hay, had the opportunity to be car-crash television at its best.

Impressive looking Black Forest cakes were asked for and teams were struggling despite having the recipe in their hands.

But when Donna Hay started helping some of the teams and appeared to be rooting for them all I just sighed.

The tasting was slightly better, but even Josh's withering looks at one team gave the impression he still really liked them and didn't want to hurt their feelings.

Where were the comparisons to dog poo? Can't Ray McVinnie think up a decent insult for tasting a disappointing chocolate cake?

And using split cream in a ganache shoud cause Simon to go red in the face with steam coming out of his ears.

There was none of that.

Yes, I want cartoon villians in my reality television shows and I'm not sorry. I'm sure both Gordon and Joe are personable people in real life and just act out a part for their show.

Isn't it time that at least one judge in both shows took that role of pantomine villian?

Having said all that, of course, I won't be giving up on either show just yet. Masterchef has given me much pleasure over the years (Team Nadia represent!) and The Great Food Race deserves to actually be judged on the race.

But my love affair with cooking shows is at an all time low. Something needs to happen quickly or I'll be voting myself out of the kitchen.

Meanwhile, I'm off to enjoy some natural hot wholegrain oats cooked in a half-cream liquor served with a compote of steamed green apples and a dash of cinnamon.

Or porridge as I usually call it.