“I don’t know who any of you are. I haven’t got a clue,” Marco Pierre White tells the 10 celebrities before him on Hell’s Kitchen Australia.
Well, that makes 2 of us, Marco. Apart from a handful of folk, I needed screen titles to help me identify who many of this lot were.
Ironwoman, NRL champ, Olympian, British Reality Star ….ok if you insist. It sort of begs the question: if a TV network & production company can’t drum up enough recognisable faces, why not just go with non-celebs instead? The US edition has run for 16 seasons with competing pastry chefs, sous chefs, caterers, deli managers, pizza chefs and more.
Instead we get “stars”, most of whom appear to be waiting for their next gig, who freely admit they can barely cook an egg. This strikes me as a waste of Marco Pierre White’s time. After all he’s known for demanding nothing but the best. So why would he fly all the way to Australia to front this show, given he’s told us in the past that MasterChef Australia is “without question, the greatest cooking show on earth?” I guess given he hosts this in the UK, we have our answer (trivia: he also fronted Aussie format The Chopping Block in the US).
Cooking an egg is the first challenge in this apparent test of skills, which wouldn’t even make the auditions of My Kitchen Rules. But this lot are already a hot mess. The Chase’s Issa Schultz, The Bachelorette‘s Sam Frost, WAG Candice Warner are about to drop like flies as the “very phenomenal chef” (to quote, Ms. Frost) Marco peers down at their handiwork.
If there is any fun to be had from this exercise I suppose it is in watching them squirm outside of their cliche ‘comfort zones.’ That could put Hell’s Kitchen Australia into the “trash TV-so-bad-it’s-good” basket but I suspect the very idea of that is an anathema to our imported ringmaster.
The format for this involves a skills challenge and service challenge with one poor mug sent into the “last chance cook-off”, to be joined by 2 more across the week. A field challenge service is also on the menu. At the end of it all is $50,000 for their desired charity.
But there was also some serious smoke and mirrors going on.
In the service challenge, where two teams serve 60 diners, one contestant tells us, “Marco’s already done all the elements, so we only have to heat them and add the egg.” WTF? Where was the pastry cooking for these entrees? Delivered by Uber Eats?
That effectively means we are watching struggling celebrities assembling dishes in between Marco yelling “Where’s my fish, where’s my fish?” So which part of this Reality is actually real again, I’m confused? And let’s not get started on those exterior shots of a villa-like building which are doubtless nowhere near the studio interior. Seven does this all the time, along with resisting a 60 minute episode.
The other drama that unfolds in the first episode is former politician David Oldfield clashing with Real Housewives Pettifleur Berrenger, whilst telling us he is the victim of housewife ‘abuse’ from wife, Lisa. If he’d seen the show, he’d know we all are.
The one saving grace here is that Marco is knee-deep in this format, unlike the criticisms levelled against Adriano Zumbo in Seven’s last failed attempt at a cooking show. He stalks the supermarket-branded kitchen wielding his knife in such a way that it will probably make this unsafe for children.
I’m sure for those who last the distance there will be growth in the 10 celebs’ skill-base but right now Hell’s Kitchen Australia lacks the authenticity required of committing to a stripped primetime format in what is already an over-crowded genre.
Step away from the benches.
Hell’s Kitchen Australia premieres 7pm Sunday on Seven.