Ok I’m confused.
As I’m watching the latest food show from Seven I find Manu Feildel, casting his eye over a menu of food that he’s about to be served, by two amateur cooks. There are master interviews from teams to camera, and before long he is hovering over their pans, questioning decisions as they race against a clock. Later opposing teams seated around a dining table offer appraisals, some of whom reckon they can do it better.
It’s the first episode of
My Kitchen Rules Plate of Origin, which I’m led to believe is a brand new format.
Oh and there are two giant dinosaur backbones adorning the set, and I have no idea why….
This is of course the long-awaited follow-up for former MasterChef judges Matt (sans cravat) Preston and Gary Mehigan who have switched networks for a “World Cup of Food” contest. There are 10 x 2 teams, each representing cuisines of China, France, Cameroon, Venezuela, Italy India, Greece, Lebanon, Vietnam and Australia (hand on heart, I have no idea what Australian cuisine is… lamingtons and meat pies?).
In each episode two teams will cook up a two-course meal to avoid elimination in their ultimate quest for $100,000. Everything takes place outdoors, beside a giant pool at an unnamed Dural mansion which even boasts a (Coles-branded) greenhouse. Producers appear to have gone to the trouble of installing benches, ovens and even dressing the pool with a podium and footbridge. Banners of nations also unfurl, a tell-tale hint of what would have been post-Olympics…
With 10 nations represented, the show is one of the more diverse Seven has served up. There is colourful wardrobe from Cameroon, cultural humour shared around the table and jovial rivalry from spicy Venezuela to romantic France.
While Australia v China (seriously…) sweat over a hot hotplate, our Grand POObah judges get it easy, sitting back and watching from afar, occasionally entering the cook for expert advice.
For the contestants it’s all very serious as Aussie Ethan insists, “This is my life’s work and I feel that deep in my soul.” Woah.
“Dude check out this beetroot,” minutes lates, could also be heard….
When it comes to tasting time, the food looks pretty tempting, and teams around the table (who mercifully will not score), are largely devoid of the catty, bitchy comments of the former MKR -except the downside is there’s also little drama as a result. Any national rivalries can be overcome with a hearty Meat & Three Veg or a yummy dessert, it seems, which is a positive message.
The rapport between Manu, Matt & Gary is evident (apologies to George / Pete) and by episode’s end one team is headed to an elimination in a subsequent episode. In night two it’s France v Greece.
Yet somehow this recipe is lacking. International dishes aside, it feels like every other cookie-cutter cooking show we’ve seen (especially its predecessor). I don’t know how long Seven spent preparing their dish but it feels like once Matt & Gary were signed everything was thrown into a TV blender. It’s not poorly produced, but this is Family Food Fight meets MKR out by the pool. I suppose everything is going to be downhill after MasterChef which is produced to within an inch of its life for aspiration and emotion.
At 10 episodes at least it isn’t a big commitment for viewers, so if you’re missing competition food this may hit your sweet spot.
If not there’s lots of time to wonder what the hell the dinosaur backbones are out by the pool.
Plate of Origin airs 7pm Sunday, 7:30pm Monday & Tuesday on Seven.