Great Food Race sizzlingly competitive

01:11, Feb 17 2014
leonardo and lorenzo bresolin, zoe marshall
UNDERCOOKED: The Great Food Race judges Leonardo, left, and Lorenzo Bresolin, with host Zoe Marshall.

Another week, another food show.

While many of us may be over them - and I have to admit I am not one of them - there is no doubt they continue to rate highly.

The blockbuster, of course, is MasterChef New Zealand on Sunday nights on TV One but, in direct competition to it on TV3, is The Great Food Race. It seems a curious decision by TV3 to have it competing head-to-head and, predictably, they are losing the ratings war.

That doesn't necessarily mean it's worse though, so Mrs Brown and I thought we'd give it the once-over. After a little thought, we have to say it's not too bad. It's certainly competitive, with four couples going head to head each week, but it still comes across as a poor relation of Come Dine with Me.

Sadly, The Great Food Race (GFR) doesn't have a narrator to take the proverbial out of some of the competitors, and they do need it. You can see reality TV Queen Julie Christie's influence everywhere with lots of mentions and product placements, and even ads during the show. Countdown is everywhere, with Air New Zealand not far behind. Fair enough in one sense, because they are putting up much of the prizes, but once or twice would be enough. As it is, the Australian-owned Countdown can do with a bit of positive publicity at the moment, but this probably isn't the way to do it. Who knew whether the food the couples bought was of Australian or New Zealand of origin?

Last week four couples hosted a dinner party in their homes. They were marked out of 10 for the experience of the evening, and the food, for a possible 20 points. At the end, one couple would go home. To say it was competitive would be an understatement. This lot were up there with the Black Caps. The will to win was genuine and the producers even introduced a twist late in the piece, when judges Lorenzo and Leonardo Bresolin, brothers and restaurateurs, told competitors that the top two would pick which other team would go through, and who would go home.


As it turned out, Tracey and Matt, the first couple, went. The marks were a bit harsh, and Tracey was the most colourful in many ways. We were constantly told she was 12 years older than Matt, whatever that had to do with anything, but, when they hosted their dinner, she dressed like Dolly Parton and had more jewellery on than Tiffany's.

Mrs B got put off the concept because judge Leonardo wore his cap inside and at the dinner table for the first three dinners. It brought the whole thing down, she reckoned. How could he judge formal dinner parties when his own etiquette was so lacking?

The Great Food Race does have some redeeming qualities and one of them is the ending at 8.30pm. It's just a pale and undercooked comparison of MasterChef.

■ Homeland [Soho, Wednesdays 8.30pm] is as good as ever. It was a huge hit for TV3, but lost it to Sky when TV3 went into receivership.

I feel for those who have watched every previous series but cannot now watch it because they don't have Sky TV. Soho is an expensive extra to have on Sky (Mrs B bought it for me a couple of years ago if I agreed to give up the Rugby channel, which I did) but many Sky viewers do not have Soho and don't want to sign up for more expense, and who would blame them. It all seems rather mercenary.

■ It's been relatively easy to ignore the over-the-top coverage of the Winter Olympics from Sochi this week. Prime and the Sky network have gone overboard, pretty much the same as our competitors, who struggled to keep their feet, um, skis, during their events.

The more modern free skiing and snowboarding events were supposed to be our strength but, from what I've seen, our athletes seem to go up in the air and end up on their bottoms, meaning they've missed every final so far. What a waste of resources it has been all round, so far.

■ I have to a confession make, Foyle's War is my favourite programme on the box these days. Sadly it's restricted to UKTV (Mondays 10.30pm), which means many viewers will miss it.

If you do get the chance, record it, you'll be glad you did. It may be set in World War II, but it's much more than that and even Mrs B thinks it's great.

■ Finally, one to keep an eye out for is The Paradise (Prime 8.30pm, tonight).

It is a period drama from the BBC and has similarities with Mr Selfridge, being set in early department stores. If it's half as good, it will be a cracker.

The Timaru Herald