MasterChef USA: reviews

So is it "Simple and familiar" or "Cold, flavourless and should be sent back to the kitchen"?

Hot on the heels of our finale, MasterChef has just launched in the US, where much of the format is based on the Australian production.

But the series is fronted by Gordon Ramsay, whose schtick as provactive chef is well-established.

In a top-heavy Reality market, so far, the critics seem divided.

LA Times says:
Its pleasures are simple and familiar. There is the usual mix of boastful losers and shy winners, of tiresome cutting remarks and delightful delighted approval. Any spark of a backstory — he’s doing it for the kids, she’s doing it for her folks — is blown up, for at least a little while, into a fire. We meet the talented, the untalented, and the more or less talented who swear on their mother’s spatula that if they’re given a chance they will work harder than anyone has ever worked before, or who promise, implicitly, to bring the sort of drama the producers crave as much as, if not more than, pure capability. In reality television, every contest is also a soap opera.

Reuters says:
On other cooking shows, like Ramsay’s “Hell’s Kitchen,” contestants are professional chefs. There is an assumption that their food is palatable. In “MasterChef,” cooking talent varies dramatically, which makes taste a more important unknown. Even so, the show manages to be hugely entertaining and involving thanks mainly to the judges’ personalities and the ability of the producers to spot emotionally charged stories when they see them. Sometimes these elements work together. A fleeting note after the closing credits said “decisions were made by the judges with input from the producers. Some deliberations occurred off camera.” In other words, taste might count for a lot less than this series would have you believe. Unlike many three-judge shows, this one doesn’t fall into the predictable pattern of good cop-bad cop-middle cop. Although Bowles is a little more flexible than the other two, any of them are capable of skewering an unpalatable dish.

Miami Herald says:
Gordon Ramsay, the host of Fox’s MasterChef, is also a bit of a cartoon, albeit the type you find drawn on bathroom walls. Instead of ranting obscenities at professional chefs, as he does on Kitchen Nightmares and Hell’s Kitchens, Ramsay is bellowing them at amateur cooking contestants. But otherwise this show is pretty much identical to the others. Ramsay reduces the cooks to tears, reduces their spouses to tears, and probably beats their children and steals their kidneys, though you’ll have to buy the deluxe Blu-Ray DVD to see that part. Even Ramsay’s most barbarous fans are likely to find this formula so thin by now that, by comparison, Louise Roe looks like a blimp.

The Globe and Mail says:
Anyway, the competitors come and go. One if the most appalling segments involves a fella who is, apparently, a farmer by trade, He cooks a potato dish. It fails to pass muster with the judges. When the poor fella has departed, one if the judges cackles, “He’s farmer, right. So it looks like cow dung topped with cheese.” The only reason to include the poor guy was, obviously, to mock him. And then there’s the guy who doesn’t put enough salt in something he cooks. There follow scenes of blubbering and tears as his family gets involved. The contrived sentimentality of it is, frankly, vomitous.

HollywoodChicago.com says:
Almost laughably trying to blend FOX hits “American Idol” and “Hell’s Kitchen,” the new cooking competition show “Masterchef,” which debuts on Tuesday, July 27th, 2010, is nowhere near as interesting as either and falls ridiculously flat when compared to the excellent “Top Chef.” With clearly-scripted, false moments and hysterically little focus on actual FOOD, “Masterchef” is cold, flavorless, and should be sent back to the kitchen for a refund…….Even the “positive” auditions, the folks lucky enough to get an apron, feel scripted. That’s the problem with “Masterchef.” It doesn’t feel genuine in the way it treats its winners or losers. And we see laughably little actual cooking. A shot of pasta in a pan, a cut to a jar of sauce — but we get very little sense of what the contestants have actually made and what it tastes like, as the writers, I mean, producers focus more on the personal stories of the chefs. Is this a personality contest or a cooking one?

(I give our current affairs shows 24 hours to get this one on their running sheet as a story!).

25 Responses

  1. Woazers, so after watching MasterChef USA I think the judges are nasty and tear strips into the contestants who are there to learn cos at the end of the day they are not classically trained like Gordon Ramsay or that fat plonker judge & if my Mum was a well known Italian cook & owned numerous restaurants then shucks I’d be a pretty good cook too lol however in all seriousness I’ve watched other MasterChef programmes from Australia, New Zealand and UK and the judges are way more encouraging, give positive feedback and don’t talk down to the contestants. MasterChef USA yeaaaaaaaah not a fan anymore!!!

  2. now I understand why the world just hates Americans. the contestants appear to be unfriendly, uneducated, ill-mannered, ill-tempered and arrogant–the recipe to be anti social. Can’t complain about the judges: in fact, they are the ones making the show a bit funny. mind you, they earned their rights to be such jerks, making comments- constructive or derogatory, they are knowledgeable and experienced of the business. Incomparable to MC aus. MC US is like an arena in Roman times-Barbaric people in and around it.

  3. masterchef USA is a complete let down from masterchef Australia which i watched with great enthusiasm. the judges seem to forget that the contestants are amateurs and instead of encouraging them, they seem to take great joy in giving nasty comments and in some cases, not even having the decency to taste the dishes put before them. Perhaps the judges should watch their Australian counterparts, they certainly could learn a lot. I Dont have any desire to watch the show anymore, but cant wait to see the next season of masterchef Australia.

  4. David, how about a follow up story considering the facts on the ratings – as people were very quick to point out what a flop this would be.. even before it aired… From AAP…

    A US version of reality TV cooking show MasterChef, with fiery chef Gordon Ramsay as one of the judges, has made an impressive debut.

    MasterChef, airing on Fox on Tuesday night (local time), drew almost 6 million viewers – making it the highest-rated premiere of the current US summer TV season.

    The ratings haul continues the show’s impressive performance, with Australian and British versions major hits.

    – AAP

  5. I thought the Aus version does have some producer input and that’s not surprising, considering this is a reality tv show and you can’t have really good cooks but just awful (uncharismatic) personalities on screen.

  6. “decisions were made by the judges with input from the producers. Some deliberations occurred off camera.”

    Why do you think we wouldn’t do that? Lets face it, if someone comes to the auditions and cooks one of the best meals there but is totally un-tv friendly they are not going to pick them are they?

    It’s televison, the bottom line comes first and your bottom line is not going to look very good if you populate your show with dero’s

  7. “decisions were made by the judges with input from the producers. Some deliberations occurred off camera.”

    this is rather telling, and one hopes the Aussie version hasn’t been doing that and just not declaring it. It would be sad to think that decisions were made more on the producer’s wishes rather than the contestants’ actual performance.

  8. Aside from the fact that America, in general, doesn’t like show formats that didn’t originate in their country, they’ve really cemente the show’s early death by having Ramsey as a judge.

  9. interesting comment by reuters about the involvement of the producers. wonder if it was a rule in the format bible US producers felt compelled to declare to a US audience, but not an Australian one? Might change people’s opinions about the honesty of our original “TV juggernaut”? Perhaps Adam and Callum were handpicked on day 1? The (pre-planned?) Marion eviction certainly ramped up audience numbers toward the end.

  10. This will be a hit. It’s easy to forget how critical many people were when MC Australia first begun. If you search this site and find the early comments you’ll find a huge amount condemong MC Australia a flop…

    Given time this will pick up.

  11. I knew this show would be a flop in USA.

    Why can’t they see that in Australia we are nice to our contestants and tell them polietly that they didn’t put enough salt or tell them it doesn’t taste quite good but never to ridicule them and that is what makes our version so successful.

    At the last Masterclass all the contestants were acting like friends not enimies and the fact they were cheering Adam on in the finale is proof of that.

    No one is mean and they all love each other. That is what makes this show so successful and that judges are nice too.

Leave a Reply