A Brief BBC “MasterChef” Rant…

I do have some very interesting recipes queued up, but have not published latterly because photography is lacking, will remedy this soon.  Meantime, I would like to make a comment about bloody MasterChef, the BBC TV competition for amateur cooks.  The new series is underway in the UK with a huge set, multi-kitchen stations, limited larders and bright, harsh spotlighting and so on.  Last night on the show these two geezers, pretty much unheard of by the general public outside of presenting this programme, were whittling the number of contestants down from 20 to 12.  The new format and set create a hugely competitive atmosphere, with these poor souls/contestants lined up in rows at tiny worktops, given limited ingredients and told to get competing.  Even if contestants spoiled their dishes, which in the horribly stressful atmosphere created an exact half a dozen of them did big time, they still had to walk what must have seemed like a mile of shame through this airport hanger to deliver up their messed-up meal for critique.  Appalling.  This is not in any way shape or form what good cooking is about.  And it is not any place from where good cooking comes, which I think was fairly obvious from what was served up. 

Cooking is about putting nice food on the table that you have taken pleasure in creating and making.  Cooking is not a competitive activity, it is not about foodie this and fashion fads that and what the magazines say–who cares if you know off the top of your head how to cook samphire/salsify/satay/old socks…if I ever need to know how to cook bloody anything I fancy I have a bookcase of books and an internet connection.  So fecking what is this competition all about, is it now down to which amateur cook can physically take the unbelievable, artificial stress better than the rest?  Did you count the number of blue elastoplasts by the end of that programme?  It was not this way in the past, it was full of lovely, slightly quirky/nerdy people cooking up a storm after their own fashion and it was nice telly.

So, frankly, I get enough of all that stressy stupid bollocks at work, I am not incorporating that kind of false thinking into my home cooking via some BBC meme shoved out there on a public broadcast remit.  I hope applications for places drop off a cliff for them, but with all the drama and close-ups and tension and opportunities for contestants with impossibly white teeth and shiny hair, I reckon MasterChef will now attract thousands of emotionally warped wannabee “celebrity amateurs”.  I scent tabloid news and private life horror scandal already, dear goodness.  And all of that can only impoverish our world.  To finish, last night was simply indigestible, where on earth is the Zantac?

[If you don’t know what I am talking about here is the link on the BBC website:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006t1k5]

30 thoughts on “A Brief BBC “MasterChef” Rant…

  1. Lou

    Well, I agree about the way they have ramped up the stress. I would never enter in a million years. It is a bit cruel to make it so stressful in the hope (successful hope) that the contestants will crack up and cry a lot.
    However, I am still going to watch. I love seeing the successful ones put up inventive and beautiful looking food.

  2. I know what you mean…we live in hope! But, last night there was not that much of interest going on, maybe tonight is better, I have it recorded so am off to see if it gets any better.

  3. Ive fallen off the masterchef watching wagon but watched this after friends were commenting. Don’t think I’ll be watching again. Is TV all just about humiliation now and not learning. I liked learning how to put something together, make something I did know how to cook better. Totally agree with your rant.

  4. Romans

    Look, the whole thing about Wallace and Torode now is they are just a couple of blokes trying to reenergise this competition via their production company. Being together again seems to be enough, for them anyway! I think they look upon all this now as a bit of a laugh. Pantomime cookery. They’re just simmering for a strictly y factor. Why get so stuck in if you hate it so much! Its just good entertainment!

  5. Dave

    I’ve been enjoying Masterchef for a few of years now, since John and Greg took over. I look forward to the 3 nights per week and getting to know the contestants, their food and their skills in more detail. This “once per week” X Factor style show is substandard in my opinion. Great I’m sure for suspense junkies but pretty poor for foodies. I just get the impression that ITV are spreading the show a bit thin with all of the spin offs “Junior Masterchef”, “Masterchef The Professionals” and “Celebrity Masterchef”. John & Greg don’t seem to have had time to record enough episodes so they changed the style to compensate. In my opinion best thing about this series is that India Fisher is still there!

  6. Dave

    Please check my last post and change ITV to BBC – Don’t know what I was thinking (it would be much worse if on ITV)!

  7. Debora

    I loved masterchef I even like the ridiculousness of Greg and John. I was excited by it’s return-really actually excited. I think the new format is rubbish. Rubbish. Rubbish. Rubbish. It is so infuriating that the BBC assume we need a format that spoon feeds us drama, emotions and narratives. Some of us can actually be entertained without this. I actually liked the ordinariness, the non descript studio and that I had to use my imagination to fantasise about who these people were outside of the kitchen. N

    apart from some of it’s documentariesmasterchef is the only BBC programmes I like.

  8. Tim Burns

    I love Masterschef. I find Greg and John to be great judges. They are objective, impartial and give honest comment and criticism, unlke other reality competitions there is no grandstanding. The contestants are there from choice and know the score. The stress is “ramped up” but that makes it all the more engaging. I go on the journey with the contestants and shed tears for the failures and triumphs alike. Long may they prosper. If you don’t like it don’t watch but why wish it to fail?

  9. what have they done to this once brilliant programme? In my view the best part about the previous format was the individual contestants cooking their own dishes to progress through the rounds. Nothing glitzy, just all about the food, the contestant and the critique. What we have now is some jazzed up hollywood version of a programme that s main appeal was a no nonsense approach to cooking ability with a low budget set and feel that was the great appeal. Iv watched this progamme for many years now but cant watch anymore of this new format as it s totally lost it s way into a big dramatic blockbuster nonsense when it was simply just about the food and that s what we loved, the simple low key programme that was once so great. Shame on you BBC

  10. OK, so far only a couple of “we like” and most of us don’t. I have now stopped watching. I could go look at the viewing figures and give you an analysis/interpretation but I just cannot be fagged, if figs are up then we are catering to the lowest common denominator and the magic wand of reality/mob pleasing TV strikes again, wot a surprise, the mob always like the gladiators being slayed. I maintain what I said was true originally, good cooking does not come from the place they are creating with this new format on that show, and MasterChef is poorer for it.

  11. Alistair

    Well I don’t mind the new format. Granted I still prefer the old one and the first round in this new style was particularly annoying television. One may argue that the stress is too much but most of the contestants aspire to run restaurants and have to be aware of, and cope with, the demands of working under pressure. It would not be wise to unleash the first 20 into top class restaurants so the contestants are wittled down to those who are likely to cope. What’s the problem?

    • Not sure if this is about running restaurants for all these people, but in any case banging out service under pressure is not the same as the artificial stress & drama created on Masterchef, & I do not think it makes particularly good telly. Pressure & stress are two different animals, one good & one bad.

  12. mawcraw

    I used to really look forward to Masterchef – it felt like honest real life with a genuine focus on great food. Now I feel it has become formulaic – the contestants and the viewers are being manipulated by the new structure of the programme with a focus on emotions and competitiveness. I am going to watch it tonight because the contestants are out working in restaurants and that used to feel authentic. Lets hope we get some of the genuine food excitement and drama back.

  13. Steve Platts

    Masterchef used to be a multi night brilliant watch, this new format is ok, but once a week is just not good enough. Surely it can be programmed as before.

  14. Big T

    I couldn’t agree more with some of these comments. This new format is atrocious. It irritates the snot out of me wathcing it now. I dont think I can actually stand to wtch it for much longer and tht saddens me. I miss the old format and studio. I’m also getting sick of the husky voiced woman who does the voice over too! It’s like a crap M&S food advert!!

  15. Rosie

    I can’r belive how sexist this program is. It is obvious they get rid of females, not so pretty ones. The chap Kenneedy tonight produced the ugly dish with no finesse at all. He should have gone but he is one of the beautiful people. This progamme makes me so mad……It has nothing to do with talent but looks.

  16. dufi

    I have noticed what really is the problem with every single TV (you folks call telly) program, the VIEWERS! Everybody and anybody seem to be an expert critic. They won’t develop such programme formats like Masterchef without the demand, comes down to basic principle of supply and demand, doesn’t it? If you don’t like it, don’t watch it! I like it so I watch it, simple! Greg and John? Well I think they make damn great judges.

    • Hmmm, supply & demand tv? What would that really look like do you think? Wall to wall porno & violence perhaps? If you pander to the mob then it is the fall of the Roman empire all over again–just a view. We are commenting here on a trend that a lot of us see and don’t particularly like. You might want to think why that might be–or not. Your life.

  17. Biggles

    Someone said it earlier – the best thing about this programme is that the absurd India Fisher is still there, which shows just how far it’s sunk…..

  18. Limpars Wand

    BUDGET! Now it just looks like some generic american cooking competition. Why copy a show like top chef, it’s god awful! What a blunder from somebody.

    Agree totally about the set and the lighting. Just one wee point, if you are going to focus on the competition rather than the food, at least make the format comprehensible. What is with all these random cook-off stages appended to each show? Some of them have cooked twice the dishes… a complete garble, makes no bloody sense at all.

    The show has lost its sense of humour. What a shame, someone take note before the show ends up in the toilet with all that wannabe michelin grub.

  19. Hi…couldn’t agree more – I refuse to watch!! I also find that it is so out of the sphere of ‘regular’ or even ‘a tad fancy’ cooking especially in the later stages which puts me off anyway!

  20. Viv

    Another episode looming tonight. I have to watch. I have to. Even though I know my expectation will be dashed to smithereens and instead of coming away inspired to knock up a fancypants meal for Him Indoors at the weekend, I’ll be kicking the living daylights out of the coffee table as it’s too weak to fight back.

    Yes, things need to be revamped to show that they’re growing, evolving into something better… but MasterChef had already done that with The Professionals.

    Oh lord… just occurred to me… are we going to see the inscrutable Monika, and Chef Michel, in a similar, overlit overglossy environment later this year????

    That, for me, will be A Disaster.

  21. Laura

    I get so bored of telling restaurants which cheeses are not vegetarian and it’s so depressing can’t even get it right on masterchef. Unlike most people who comment I haven’t watched previous series and don’t generally watch any cooking progs. Got a bit hooked but no more straight back to what I all sterotypes and prejudices I had previously. Oh so passionate and opinionated and critcal and x must be done this way and y just has to be right. All it needed was quick check of the vegetarian society website or ask any serious veggie. Not asking for vegan this prog has done veggies no favours as probably have to repeat myself even more and no doubt put up with ‘but on masterchef they..’ thanks a lot 🙁

  22. Maggie Matthews, Leek

    This series of Masterchef has been without doubt, the best ever. You have taken the contestants to new levels and introduced them to new and exciting methods of prepping and producing food.

    I really would have liked all three to win – hardly a breath between all three. Well done! When are you back with more?



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