Since moving to the UK, I have been watching you. Like millions of others, it has encouraged me to become more inventive in my own kitchen. You’ve ingrained phrases like ‘buttery biscuit base’ and ‘bags of flavour’ into our collective vocabulary. You are responsible for the careers of the likes of Thomasina Miers, Mat Follas and Dhruv Baker to name a few.
But Masterchef, oh dear Masterchef, of late my love for you has started to wilt like the lettuce in my fridge. You see, I discovered Australian Masterchef (before it moved to Watch and meant my meager Freeview could no longer access). The upshot is: It’s better than you. It is active, engaging and far less scripted. Plus you get to know the contestants, you root for them, and they know how to run a competition that entertains as well as informs.
My dear Masterchef, you have the feel like every other BBC reality programme. Over edited. Over produced. It’s like comparing X-Factor to The Voice. Even when the X-Factor is having an off year, it is far more entertaining than The Voice is. In Masterchef the action seems forced, there is no real enthusiasm (except the muted variety). When you introduced the invention test with the multi colour boxes, the total enthusiasm came from a silent camera scene with the boxes appearing at the different stations. Yes, I’m sure those in the production department are in their element with the quality of their camera work and post-production editing, but that was also true five years ago.
In the beginning it was great viewing the journey that the chefs went on, but now the cooks are coming into the kitchen producing food that would have been a quarter or even final standard five years ago. Plus, given Gregg Wallace is the host, it is a sacrilege you don’t champion local producers or the different culinary cultures of the UK. Hell, even the Great British Bakeoff does that!
Compare if you will, with the show I cheat on you with, Aussie Masterchef. They go on road trips and the challenges are actually challenging (and widely varied). They don’t just cook for chefs, they compete against them. Imagine how amazing it would be to see a BBQ challenge in the Borough Market against the crew from the Pitt Cue Co? But you don’t, you bring them in to critique and leave. Boring. The most interesting you’ve been this series is when you had Jay Rayner come in and he asked for a three ingredient dish. Of course you awarded someone who had four, which essentially awarded a cheater.
Also, I know the UK is the home of ready meals, but maybe it’s time to recognise that proper cooking is more than just what you can produce in an hour. Sometimes they take hours, or mere minutes. Plus it isn’t just meat and veg, good chefs need to be all rounders, including bread and pastry. Yes in Aussie Masterchef the pressure is high, but it also leads to amazing creations. The last amazing creation from Masterchef UK was panna cotta in a bowl….. I’m sure it was tasty (and credit to Ping there), but…….yeah.
I know it is difficult to reinvent yourself. My day job consists of teaching history, and I am always looking for new and exciting ways to not only have students learn but also get them excited. It is tough, but when you get it right you know it. Then you start all over again, because nothing stays new forever. Masterchef, you have two great and knowledgeable hosts in Wallace and Trode, but its time to reinvent the format of the show to get the best out of them.
Dear Masterchef, I love you for the impact you’ve had, but frankly you are starting to bore me. Like the relative at a dinner party who tells different variations of the same joke, good at first but starts to wear on you a bit. If you don’t change, next series I might not bother to tune in.