Double the trouble for Masterchef

23:01, Jan 29 2014
HIS EYES SAY IT ALL: Josh Emmet's signature stare must be just a touch disconcerting for the contestants.

It's Masterchef, but not as we know it.

This time, in the show's fifth series, contestants have entered as pairs, doubling the drive to win the coveted title which has launched many a cooking career.

Expect some bickering, a few tears and a lot of laughs from the double acts. It is, after all, a reality show. They come as siblings, couples and besties from all over the country, and they all wanna win so bad it hurts.
Judges  Ray McVinnie, Josh Emett and Simon Gault  are back at the helm.

And this series, Emett says, is a whole new kettle of fish (expect lots of puns).

''First of all you have two brains instead of one. Four hands instead of two.

''You watch them brainstorm. They hatch a plan and play to each other's strengths. They develop strategies. They have more confidence working as a pair. They are much more bullet-proof than if they were doing it alone.''

Gault says the judges have had to make sure each contestant is pulling their weight. There's no room for dodging in this show.

''We try to get them to stand together but also alone. We have to make both people in the pair stand up and be accounted for, not hide behind the other. We want to see their raw emotion. Their highs and lows.''

The pressures in the kitchen have been high and there can be tension between the pairs, Gault adds.

Love it or hate it, we all know that tension and confrontation are the essential ingredients in a reality show. But Gault reckons that sort of malarky is of no interest to the judges. It's My Kitchen Rules, he says.

''There have been moments of bickering, spats between the pairs but we don't get involved in any of that. It's all about the food for us, not what the couples are like with each other. All of that ends up making them stronger together in the end.''

The best part of Masterchef is seeing how much the contestants progress, Emett says.

''It's like working with a new young chef in your kitchen watching them learn and develop skills and respect their ingredients.

''You can see the light in their eyes when they accomplish something new. These guys . . . grow in confidence so much. It's great to see they can take criticism and actually apply it. Our job is to get them thinking and pushing themselves as cooks and question what they are doing.''

They're gonna get down and dirty in these challenges, says Gault, who confesses to feeling like a proud dad watching the would-be chefs slog it out to create the best tucker they can.

''They go through so many highs and lows but one thing is for sure; they'll never forget these challenges whether it's good, bad or just plain ugly.''

Whatever the challenges ahead for the group there will be some tough talking and high expectations from the judges.

To get a place on the show, you have to show more than just willing. You have to show something extraordinary.

''I like to give them a bit of a grilling,'' says Emett with a steely look perfected from years working in some of the hottest and hardest kitchens in the world.

''The bottom line is I am giving them my time and my knowledge and that's hard work. I want to get something back and see them develop and improve. I want to see results.''

MasterChef  New Zealand, 7.30pm, Sundays and Mondays, TV One.