MasterChef Australia

2013-05-31_2047The first thing you’ll notice about MasterChef‘s 5th season is the diversity of contestants.

This is a show that has always embraced a global spirit, but this year it’s a smorgasboard of diversity.

Amongst the 22 finalists are faces with heritage from Indonesia, India, Italy, Laos, Thailand, and Pakistan. There are gay contestants, single mums, Muslims, senior, an opera singer, carpenter, stockman, personal trainer, and student.

Things get underway at the MCG (where the first Amazing Race Australia also began). Those three amigos, Matt Preston, Gary Mehigan and a super-slim George Calombaris welcome them to a scene of great sporting battles, dividing them into men vs women teams. Unlike the reception to the show’s promo, it’s all laughed off and embraced by those at the centre of it. If they’re not offended, then maybe this won’t be so sexist after all.

After a bit of team bonding in the locker room they race onto the MCG turf -yes, including through an AFLstyle flag- where they are given their first team challenge. That will involve them leaving the MCG, buying ingredients from Coles, and cooking a three course meal. But first there’s a small matter of some eggs to be sorted, in a challenge not dissimilar to a previous season.

In the supermarket we get all the Coles branding, while tempers begin to rise amongst contestants under pressure. One of the female team is a current Coles employee (now that’s what I call product placement) and has a clear advantage in snaffling her ingredients in no time. A promo that included this scene concerned me for its subtle shift in tone, but again in context it’s not quite as stark.

The Masterchef kitchen (now housed at the Melbourne showgrounds) looks warm with more trimmings than its former abode in Sydney. During team cooking, the contestants overdo the goading of one another. Either they are overly-enthusiastic, or being prodded by producers. It’s a bit hard to know if the Boys v Girls challenge will wear thin across the two weeks it appears or whether it will ramp up the jeopardy.

As is the MasterChef style, we learn more about the backgrounds of each contestant via video packages.

Samira loves her shoes and bags. Noelene is the offal queen. Michael is annoying me already but Daniel C is distractingly good looking (move over Hayden).

In the second episode you’ll peek into the new house, no clues yet on its location.

The next challenge will see them serve up a range of dishes that range from excellent to gross. There’s not much cohesion yet, but it’s early days.

There’s a good rapport between judges and contestants and this group is upbeat if not necessarily grasping the canyons they will have to cross if they have any hope of holding our attention and making it to the end.

Balancing the mix of drama, personality, authenticity and cuisine is the challenge for the producers.

MasterChef is like mum’s chicken soup. It will warm your insides just enough for you to think about asking for seconds.

Masterchef Australia airs 7:30pm Sunday – Wednesday on TEN.


  1. Secret Squirrel, 1.1 million out of a population of 23 million is an extremely poor rating considering that the first episodes were launched in time slots where there was absolutely nothing worth watching on the other channels. There was no competition. Let me remind you that when Masterchef Professionals went up against My Kitchen Rules, MKR outrated MasterChef 4 to 1. Then with real head-to-head competition, MasterChef only rated just over 0.5 million. If you read my previous comments you will realise that my prediction is that the ratings will drop off over time as people get sick and tired of the Men vs Women thing. Even if the sexist theme is only for 2 weeks, the damage done in those 2 weeks may be irretrievable.

  2. The house is in Caulfield North, Howitt Road. One of the premium streets in the area, known locally as The Golden Mile. Surprised they wouldn’t go somewhere closer to the showgrounds

  3. Did anyone read the article above, or watch the show?

    Boys vs. Girls is onlyfor the first two weeks!

    Then theres different themes each week, I think I read somewhere, most likely here!

    Once they find the men and women of the bunch then things will heat up! 🙂

  4. Hmmm, I think the rather passe “battle of the sexes” slant could do more harm than good by alienating a significant part of TENs target market. If the women dominate over the men then many of the male viewers will just stop watching, and if the men dominate over the women then many of the female viewers will stop watching. Seems like a recipe for disaster (ratings wise). Again the producers and marketers of the show just don’t seem to be able to see past the end of their collective noses. Perhaps it’s just a desperate attempt to add spice to this year’s series where the contestants are not quite of the same calibre as last year’s series (by the judges own admission).

  5. jezza the first original one

    Crunch time for ch10 and the future of MC. It is sure to give them a lift and maybe into 3rd place for the week….

  6. Surprised that they are broadcasting this so soon after the underwhelming Masterchef Professionals. I take it that they have done away with the qualifying rounds and are starting straight away with the Top 24?

  7. Secret Squirrel

    I wonder if the argument over the cost of ingredients was because they were trying to actually make one of Curtis Stone’s meals for under $10 without having half the ingredients already in the cupboard?

  8. I’m just about done with reality genre but I am really looking forward to this. I just hope they don’t take the route of MKR and have nasty contestants (actors?) to create the drama.

    From the latest tranche of commercials it’s looking like they won’t so here’s hoping.

    Thanks for the review.

  9. carolemorrissey

    Really looking forward to it tomorrow night. So that fight from the promos, looks like it’s in tomorrows show. Interested to see what happened in context.

  10. muscledude_oz

    Channel TEN has brought back MasterChef too soon. We had a season of Masterchef before Easter – just a few weeks ago – and the public is sick of it. MasterChef is an ailing franchise anyway and overdoing it like this might just be its death knell.

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