Sadly this new iteration of the MasterChef brand doesn’t quite live up to its potential in the premiere episode. Shiny new chef-in-charge Marco Pierre White is part of the problem ...
The entertainment world is awash with remakes, sequels and spinoffs. And let’s face it, most of them are a steaming pile of crud, cheap cash-ins that dilute whatever made the original successful. But MasterChef: The Professionals should’ve been that one rare instance where the reboot was stronger than the blueprint from which it sprang. After all with experienced chefs instead of amateurs there emerges the possibility to scale even yummier culinary heights.
But sadly this new iteration of the MasterChef brand doesn’t quite live up to its potential in the premiere episode. Shiny new chef-in-charge Marco Pierre White is part of the problem. For someone who has achieved so many accolades and has such a volatile reputation White comes off as kind of... boring. The TV commercials have clearly depicted him as a tough guy (if you took a shot every time they mentioned how White made Gordon Ramsay cry you would be on the liver transplant list) but it’s a bit of a fib as he really doesn’t hurl invective in the same bossy, foul-mouthed way Ramsay does. About the toughest Marco manages to get is when he’s yelling “Push! Push! Push!” like some sort of crazed gastronomic doula.
Another issue is that the focus seems to be on everything but the food. We never get to find out what dishes were served up to whittle the contestants down to the top 18 (which is a tragedy akin to filming Idol but skipping the fan favourite of the audition process) and the contestants are challenged to cook a menu White has devised, when I would’ve much preferred to see some recipes of their own on the stovetops. We’re also treated to some fairly dramatic back stories from the contestants – Akuc was a refugee, Coop has a sick daughter and Bonny is deaf (and Ten can you please stop doing that extremely uncool thing in the credits where you mute the theme song when Bonny appears) – but we’re never given any insight into even the basics of what type of cuisine they’re passionate about. I don’t know who told the editors that viewers won’t appreciate talent unless it’s garnished with a side serving of struggle, but it seems a little demeaning to reduce the contestants in this way instead of letting their cooking speak for itself. And frankly the only reductive behaviour we’d like to see on MasterChef is if it’s in relation to a scrumptious sauce or stew.
Hopefully these issues will be rectified as the series goes on and White finds his footing, we get to see more of a glimpse of the contestants’ cuisine cred and, most importantly, the spotlight is put squarely back onto the food being plated up. But in this first episode things seem to be off to a slow simmer, when the recipe requires a rolling boil.